Sometimes technology is scary, sometimes it’s useful, and sometimes, it’s downright amazing. This is one of those times. In Switzerland, a group of scientists from Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), created a mind-blowing microchip. The world’s smallest microchip, will be inserted into the human body, and will read the chemicals in blood. The chemical read will then be sent to your smartphone using bluetooth. This is useful for a number of reasons, but perhaps the most incredible use this tiny chip will have, is preventing catastrophic health events.
The implant is a mere 14mm. There are five chemicals the device measures in the blood. The most potentially useful chemical it measures, is called troponin. Troponin is such a vital chemical to measure, because it can predict heart attacks. Other chemicals this chip measures are glucose, lactate, and ATP. Glucose is another very useful chemical to measure, saving diabetics the trouble of constant testing, and giving them immediate warning when glucose levels drop, or rise suddenly.
The chip will charge through a complicated wireless charging process. An external battery patch powers the chip with 100 milliwatts. The device is powered through the skin, without plugging it in. Wireless charging is still in it’s infancy, as most smartphone users know, so it remains to be seen how effective these types of devices will be.
The reason this chip is so special, isn’t it’s ability to read blood, or even it’s size. The thing that makes this device remarkable, is its ability to transfer the information it’s gathered to the cloud. When there’s a sudden spike in troponin, your phone could call 911. If you’re diabetic, and your glucose drops, you can be reminded to take your insulin without so much as a prick. If the levels are dangerous or life threatening, medical personnel can be notified. Medical information being collected automatically, and uploaded to the cloud, seems like something that would have been considered science fiction as recently as ten years ago.
Personally, I find these kinds of technical advances in medicine massively exciting. While flying cars may still be years off, but progress in medicine is so much more useful to society. With all of the fear surrounding rising healthcare costs, it’s a relief to know some positive changes are being made to be proactive, rather than reactive when it comes to medicine. Here’s to a healthy future.
Image by unkown (http://www.biophotonicsworld.org/uploads/43) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Emily Manke is a health and lifestyle blogger in Portland, OR. Her interests include biking, hiking, cooking, gardening. She is a bit of a health-nut, and loves learning about all things health-related. She sometimes contributes to the blog for this General Dentist in Vancouver, Washington.