Biomedical engineering is a highly interdisciplinary domain that applies complex engineering principles and design paradigms to develop cutting edge medical technology. It focuses on solving medical problems by conducting intensive research to optimize healthcare technology. The life changing ideas are emerging into reality through the innovation spectrum thus transforming the health care. Here are some latest innovations in the field of Biomedical Engineering that have majorly impacted the future of the field.
- Mind-Controlled Prosthetics
Huge population in the world is unable to use their limbs due to accident, injury, illness, congenital disorder or amputation. The advances in neuroscience and robotics have allowed the researchers to develop prosthetic limbs that could be controlled using the human brain. This technology is created to interface the prosthetics directly with the human nervous system with the help of brain-computer interfaces. Recently, researchers at John Hopkins University have developed a prosthetic having the ability to control fingers of the amputee using the mind by implanting an array of 128 electrodes over the region of the brain that controls hand and arm movements. The prosthetic has been designed by taking into account the motor and sensory data to trigger the electrical signals to move the corresponding fingers. This technology needs much more brain mapping and computer programming to bring the product in the market to restore finer hand function to amputees.
- Skin Inspired Sensor
The advanced research in the field of electronics have implemented biosensor to monitor the wound on patients at real-time. This biosensor detects the alteration of physiochemical changes in the body to examine the wound-healing progression critical biomarkers. The electronic skin also has the potential to develop stimuli sensing prosthetic systems. To sense the electrochemical alteration, the gold sensor cables have been used to mimic the skin elasticity. The researchers are still working on this skin-inspired sensor to create a multifunctional sensor that can determine the biochemical activity in the wound-healing process without evoking any inflammatory response.
- Smart Contact Lens
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has recently discovered a smart contact lens with a flexible micro battery that provides augmented vision assistance along with relaying the visual information wirelessly with a high performance and accuracy. The lens enhances the normal vision by providing virtual and augmented reality view to the wearer without the need for bulky apparatus. It allows the user to focus on distant as well as closer objects simultaneously. The DARPA has been looking for an autonomous smart contact lens for more than a decade that could provide telescopic vision to soldiers.
Researchers have developed 3D-printed nanoscale robot that can maneuver within the body to attack diseases. The nanobot is a durable, economical device ranging from 0.1 to 10 micrometers designed using biocompatible materials. It serves as miniaturized surgery elements to repair damaged cells or entire replacement of intracellular structures. It has revolutionized the treatment of nanomedicine as it has the potential to replace pacemakers by treating the heart’s cell directly. Nanobots can be planted into a patient’s body providing direct access to the diseased areas. These bioengineered bots when tested in the mouse tumors have shown the capability to deliver small doses of drugs with great precision. As the traditional chemotherapy drugs kill both healthy and cancerous cells, the researchers are focusing on nanorobots that could differentiate efficiently to surpass the current treatment.
- Wearable Magnetoencephalography (MEG) Scanner
Traditional method of imaging for the brain activity is performed using an array of cryogenically-cooled superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDs) placed on the helmet. Magnetoencephalography is a biomedical imaging technique to record brain activity for identifying brain disorders and to pinpoint the source of seizures.
A wearable MEG system has been developed by researchers at University of Nottingham and University College London that can record the brain activity of the subject at real-time. This system comprises of an array of optically pumped magnetometers (OPM-Magnetic sensors) mounted in 3D printed helmet over the right sensorimotor cortex and four reference sensors placed in order to measure background interference. The OPMs could capture MEG during natural head movements. There is enough research that needs to be conducted to bring this product to the market.
Ms. Sanjana Sanzgiri
Imperial Overseas Educational Consultants