Our world is a better place as a result of the fusion of formidable forces with the aim of engendering unprecedented solutions. A classic example is how mechatronics was birthed from the fusion of mechanical engineering and electronics. Biomedical engineering is another area where technological advancement is seemingly unstoppable. All these culminate in a Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry which is worth over 65 billion dollars.
Nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and intelligent computing are modern technologies making the field of medicine record astounding success and this is causing the emergence of miniaturized devices. What affects the size and functionality of an electronic medical device? We shall discuss it in subsequent paragraphs.
History of Medical Devices
About 30 years ago, the only medical gadget in most homes was probably the first aid kit. Medicine sought only to self-medicate injuries and unforeseen sicknesses, however, the ability to properly monitor the health of individuals or prevent health disasters was not guaranteed.
Subsequently, the high cost of technology was being eroded and this caused sophisticated tools such as prosthetic limbs, orthotic devices, mobility aids, and sensory aids. Also, kits such as health status indicators, pulse-oximeter, and others which measure the performance of the blood are categorized. The advancement which led to increased accessibility also caused those who benefited from home care to increase from 1.64 million in 1995 to 8.3 million in 2004.
Features of Medical Devices Now
Think of medical devices now and the image gets smaller and fancier. Wireless health trackers, pacemakers, and cochlear implants are some of the pervasive examples. What really makes a medical device futuristic? Why do people employ it?
1. Enhanced Sensing Capabilities
For the elderly and disabled, a functional medical device is one which is able to cater to their needs without creating confusion or pandemonium. Devices that can track changes in moles in order to identify any anomaly, ones which facilitate hands-free control, and most importantly, which understand other input devices.
2. Energy Efficiency
Modern devices will need to consume less energy while they deliver more value. To be able to achieve this, the power supply unit of the medical device is built to be compact and extremely energy dense.
Gone are the days when bigger was better. Now, we want devices which are almost invisible to the naked eye. Thanks to nanotechnology, devices can be made with so utmost compactness.
The DNA was one of the most celebrated scientific discoveries of the 21st century. DNAs contain genetic information of humans and researchers are able to leverage these features in understanding the way the human body works. The DNA nanorobots can sense their surroundings and respond appropriately without any form of control. They are also able to trigger a chemical reaction or convert electrical energy into mechanical force.
For a very long time, the problem was to devise a means to mask themselves from the immune system without getting kicked out. Initially, the immune system was digesting the nanorobot within seconds, however, the Harvard team coated the device with a lipid bilayer, injected it with dye, and this resulted in profound success. A DNA nanorobot can fold into tiny devices that move like macroscopic machines.
Apparently, not only the fusion of fields yield positive results, companies can also come together to create astounding solutions. One of such scenarios unfolded when GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), one of the leading pharmaceutical companies, and Verily Life Sciences, Google’s brainchild came together to invest over 700 million dollars in this bioelectronics project.
This device, when placed inside the human body, can detect, treat, or even cure diseases. In order to accomplish this, GSK was tasked with the creation of a map detailing the nerves and explaining the effect on organs of the body. Verily took care of the engineering of the device and the initial results are encouraging. The device, which has been tested on animals, is expected to take the form of a pill and by 2023, it should be ready for government inspection.
Stanford University is leading the pack in this regard and they recently released their newest solution, electroceutical devices. To understand how this device works, we need to visit the two different classifications of electromagnetic waves- far-field waves and near-field waves. The far-field waves do not interact well with the human body but they can transfer energy over long distances, while the near-field waves work antithetical to this principle.
A mid-field wireless transfer, however, recently emerged and it is being used to create this device which is able to impact the vital organs better. It can be planted in very deep regions without fear as it can be readily charged via a small external power source. This device is about the grain of rice while the external power source is as small as a credit card.
The hallmark of any progressive society is changing and our world has embraced this mantra wholeheartedly. Teams spearheading research and development are not resting on their oars, creating innovative solution daily. It is safe to say that the future advancements will surpass our expectations.