IMPLANTABLE TECHNOLOGY: ADVANCEMENT EMBEDDED
Author: Suparna Mukherjee
College: University of Calcutta
The present era has witnessed our exclusive dependence on technologies and the recent times illustrate a leap of faith towards a sci-fi future with progress in the IMPLANTABLE TECHNOLOGY. In the near future, our bodies will have embedded technologies, satisfactorily replacing carriable gadgets. India, as of now, has experimented implantable cardiac devices[i] and implantable pancreas,[ii] which if successful on animals and humans, will be used in patients on a mass scale.
Implantable technology is a class of objects that can be inserted directly into the human body to modify, enhance or heal in ways that non-embedded devices cannot.[iii] It is not a new concept and has already been predominant in the medical world with pacemakers, bone prostheses, and silicone implants. Cochlear implants have been around since the 1980’s, contraceptive implants since the late 1990’s. A few epitomes demonstrating the blooming relation between technology and medical science and the evolution of human health care encapsulate[iv]-
- Brain implants to treat paralysis;
- Vagus nerve stimulation to treat severe epilepsy;
- Transcranial direct current stimulation and Transcranial Magnet Stimulation to treat conditions like chronic pain, pharmaceutical resistant depression, fibromyalgia, OCD, Parkinson’s and schizophrenia;
- Bionic eye including Retinal implant chip and Bionic lens for restoring sight and making super sight possible;
- Contraceptive Microchip that releases contraceptives at specific intervals, can be turned on and off wirelessly and need not be removed from body for conception due to its external switch-off ‘ability’;
- Pain alleviating implants; and
- Implants for cancer cell detection;
Colloquially referred to as ‘biohacking’, this is now entering the mainstream society as well. In the foreseeable future, our soon-to-be body parts will encompass:[v]
- IMPLANTABLE SMARTPHONES connecting us physically to our phones in literal sense;[vi]
- HEALING CHIPS as a potential alternative to the current method of surgery or other invasive ways of treating diseases;[vii]
- CYBER PILLS containing microprocessors that can text doctors directly from inside our body, sharing inside information to help doctors know if we are taking our medication properly and if it is having the desired effect;
- SMART TATTOOS that can also perform useful tasks;[viii]
- BRAIN-COMPUTER INTERFACE using a baby aspirin-sized array of electrodes implanted into the brain, that enables the neural signals to be ‘decoded’ by a computer in real-time and used to operate external devices;
- MELTABLE BIO-BATTERIES to generate power inside the body, transfer it wirelessly where needed, and then simply melt away;
- SMART DUST comprising arrays of full computers with antennas, each much smaller than a grain of sand that can organize themselves inside the body as-needed networks to power a whole range of complex internal processes;
- THE VERIFIED SELF which could be used to ID every single human being with implanted RFID chips;
- IMPLANTABLE 3D SMART ORGANS with right kind of plastics, structure, and media for making skin, bone, tissue or any organ in the body;
- INTERNAL EARPHONES with minuscule chips implanted in both ears, and magnetically connected to a wire coil worn around the neck;[ix]
- INGESTIBLE PASSWORD PILL which will memorize passwords for us;[x] and
- IMPLANTABLE COMPASS as the first internal guiding system which will cause a slight shake under the skin every time the wearer faces north.[xi]
But despite the heightened convenience, the cultural and technological implications of “cyborg future” are vague; the formidable nemesis being probable infections, patient-doctor de-personalization, malicious hacks, data exploits and privacy concerns. Although the intelligentsia is striving to defeat the recognizable foes, only TIME can answer the “How long?” which is still in limbo.
[i] See http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0019483215002631, last visited on 23/11/17.
[ii] See http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/iit-team-makes-implantable-pancreas/article19583181.ece, last visited on 25/11/17.
[iii] Kinder D. (2014). USA TODAY: Implantable technology will get under our skin. See https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/reviewed-com/2014/03/27/implantable-tech-is-the-next-wave/6914363/, last visited on 25.11.17.
[iv] Lawrence C. (2016). CONNECTED DEVICES, WEAR: The Future of Wearables Is Implanted. See https://readwrite.com/2016/02/19/future-of-wearables/, last visited on 23/11/17.
[v] Medix, Top 10 Implantable Wearables Soon To Be In Your Body, posted on 27th October 2015, see https://wtvox.com/3d-printing/top-10-implantable-wearables-soon-body/, last visited on 25/11/17.
[vi] With embedded RFID chip inside arm for storing and transferring art to handheld Smartphone, embedded sensors that turn human bones into living speakers, eye implants that let an image be captured with a blink and transmitted to any local storage and a system that can display images through artificial skin or eye implants.
[vii] Uses cyber-implants directly connected to Smartphone apps in order to monitor and treat diseases in real time. Additionally, a bionic pancreas with tiny sensor on an implantable needle for monitoring diabetes and swallowable capsule-sized circuits that monitor fat levels in obese patients and generate genetic material that makes them feel “full”, are already under research and construction.
[viii] Uses an implantable skin mesh of computer fibers that can monitor your body’s inner workings from the surface, an NFC chip embedded in a finger letting us unlock things or enter codes simply by pointing or micro-particles that can be injected just under the skin, like tattoo ink, for tracking body processes.
[ix] Produces music, detects Wi-Fi signals, magnetic fields and even heat from a distance, see http://www.appcessories.co.uk/implantable-wearables/, last visited on 24/11/17.
[x] Invented by Jonathan Leblanc, top developer of world famous company PYPAL, and known to the world by a presentation called “ Kill all Passwords”, see http://www.appcessories.co.uk/implantable-wearables/, last visited on 24/11/17.
[xi] Invented by Brian McEvoy, an Electronic Engineer and Biohacker. See http://www.appcessories.co.uk/implantable-wearables/, last visited on 24/11/17.
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