Some of the coolest and most innovative technology solutions are happening in the medical field. Here are some that caught my attention:
Telepathy Machine: Using brainwaves, a neuroscientist has decoded the electrical activity in the part of the brain that processes speech into something we can understand. In the experiment, subjects with electrodes attached to their brains listened to a short conversation, and then brain activity was recorded and fed into a computer that translated the activity into words. This does conjure up scary visions of the government reading people’s minds, but the doctors have a more altruistic vision of someday being able to give a voice to people who have lost the ability to talk through disease or injury.
Crab-like Robot: This robot has been used to remove the early stages of a patient’s stomach cancer. The robot is attached to the end of an endoscope and has two arms, one that pinches and another that hooks and cuts. Unlike a human hand, the “crab” is able to make tiny movements without shaking, and it also reduces the risk of infection and, because everything is done internally, of an external scar. It will be commercially available in about three years.
Printing Body Parts: One of the odder things that have come out of the medical field is the printing of the first transplant part. An 83-year-old woman suffering from chronic jaw infection who was not a good candidate for reconstructive surgery due to her age opted to try the latest technology. The shape of the woman’s jaw was determined with an MRI, which transmitted the information to a 3-D printer that made the new jaw with thin layers of titanium powder. The process of printing took 3 hours, and attaching the new jaw took 4 hours––less than a quarter of the time it would have taken for traditional reconstructive surgery. When the patient woke up, she was able to speak and was sent home four days later with her new jaw.
Author: Susan Hallinan