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1st November 2014

If only implants could …

Implants have been around for decades now and have gradually walked the route of proving how indispensable they are. They established themselves in orthopaedics and dental offices and gradually started taking over new frontiers: becoming the new heart, eye or pancreas. Here’s what they’ll be upto in the next few years.

Act smart

Many of the major MedTech companies today are

working on making implants smart. Giving them sense could make it possible for implants to alert people if anything goes out of the ordinary. They can protect themselves from damage, alert of infections, protect themselves, and send messages and alerts to smartphones if intervention is needed.

Give me power

Electronic implants can be as tiny as a penny but they still need a lot of power. It’s not exactly feasible to keep them going with a palm sized battery pack. Scientists at Stanford have found a way to get around it and provide power through the body’s own tissue. What makes it amazing is that they use the body as a transmitter, placing the battery itself (the size of accredit card) outside the body.

I do my job and I degrade

Implants should be implanted until they’re job is done. It could be a lifetime, a decade, a few years, or a week. While previously, researchers focused on making them more durable to minimize replacements, many implants today are created to dissolve safely once they served their purpose.

Think of a bone fracture. The doctor would insert titanium or steel rods to aid the healing and keep the bone in place, but then another surgery is required to remove these. Scientist now are able to create materials that have all the properties of an implantable steel screw but once the bone has mended they simply dissolve into it. Or a breakthrough in medicine: tiny wireless implants that deliver antibiotics and then dissolve without a trace.

I can do that too

Your future birth control, your wearable activity tracker (and then we might need to change that name), your med-reminder or insulin pump. It seems like anything can be implanted in the future.

Chips that can monitor specific parts in your body could predict epileptic seizures, heart attacks, and deliver the right dose of medicine instantaneously. We’ll see, judging from how far they’ve come in the past decades, I think we’ll see some pretty cool implants in the next years.

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