Most important technological advances of the future
As the landscape of modern healthcare changes with each passing year, we come more and more in contact with incredible medical technological advances
Recent technical and software advances have enabled modern researchers to dream up any kind of machine or service, and realize into reality their designs with increasing pace. These amazing additions to the world of healthcare give us a clear glimpse into the world of medicine and are challenging new researchers to dream a little bigger and realize the potential of devices that will change the way we do everyday medical practices.
Here are some of the most important technological advances that are currently changing the landscape of medicine:
1. Augmented reality
More and more companies are investing into the development of augmented reality (AR). While the initial tests were made with simple solutions that were offered in portable gaming consoles and Google’s Glass test kit, the wider adoption of AR technology is just within our reach. Microsoft’s Hololens has already managing to reshape some of the diagnostic procedures in medicine, enabling doctors to see in 3D space the rendering of users organs and bones. Similarly, a clinic in Germany has already started experimenting with augmented reality platform that is powered by simple iPads. With it, surgeons during operations can “see through” inside the patient’s body and see their internal structure such as blood vessels (with data gathered from previous scans) in the liver without the need to open organs. This enables them to perform more precise excisions.
2. AI brains
Many books and novels have depicted the arrival of the Singularity – a moment when AI systems would become so powerful that would become aware of themselves, and thus, become alive. Today, software and hardware developers from all around the world are working tirelessly on new forms of digital platforms that are based on processing neurological information. The end goal is not only creation of new digital life forms, but according to Google who has recently hired famous computer scientist, inventor, and futurist Ray Kurzweil, to enable us humans to transfer our brains into digital space where we could continue living forever. The secret of immortality may be hiding in the digital space after all.
3. Cyborg enhancements
More and more people each year can be officially categorized as cyborgs – humans whose biological functioning is enhanced using some sort of technological add-on. While this concept was until now realized in much more subdued manner, the current wave of cybernetic enhancements that are being tested today is on a whole another level. Advances in future medical technology will enable wearers not only to repair physical disadvantages such as the missing arm or impaired eyesight but will enable them to even gain the superhuman ability that will range from the simple ability to see increased spectrum of light to the being able to easily lift very heavy objects. The true popularization of cyborg-like enhancements will happen when people who are perfectly healthy start asking for their body to be augmented.
4. Medical 3D printing
If modern 3D printers can create parts for space rockets, why shouldn’t they be able to be used in medicine? Modern researchers have embraced medical 3D printing since the advent of this technology, enabling researchers to create brand new ways of helping people. The implementation of 3D printing is incredibly wide reaching, being able to cover everything from custom broken bone casts (why encase your hand into boring white cast when you can design something stylish for yourself?) to the incredibly thin and precise scaffolding on which a new artificial heart tissue can grow. Today, one of the most popular use cases of medical 3D printing is inside “ e-NABLING the Future project” which enables anyone to help people around them create from the scratch a brand new prosthetic hand. This initiative has helped countless children and adults from all around the world the ability to use 3D printed hands.
5. Behavior change influenced by gaming
We all know that when we are having fun, we easily learn new things. Modern researchers have finally come to the conclusion that gaming can be utilized in many medical procedures. One of the most notable use case scenario of that is behavioral change, or more precisely improvement of patient adherence and compliance. One of the early examples of this gamification of medicine can be found in various medicine adherence apps and service that provide users with gaming-like points whenever they successfully adhere to their medication prescriptions, treatment timings and adherence to scheduled doctor visits. But it’s not all about infusing gaming into traditional medical services. Games themselves can very successfully promote healthy behavior. The recent example of this is the planetary success of Pokemon Go, which motivated millions of people to walk outside with their friends.
6. VR treating diseases
Every time when we adopt some new technological development, we risk introducing new and unforeseen health risk into existence. For example, the recent trend of adoption of VR headsets could lead to the development of new conditions and illnesses, such as virtual post-traumatic stress disorder (v-PTSD) in which gamers who frequently spend time in VR battle-themed games start experiencing real symptoms of as those soldiers who fought in real wars. These and similar addiction-like conditions may start appearing in the near future any time we adopt life and perception-changing technologies.
7. Real-time diagnostics
More and more surgical devices are starting to be equipped with sensors that can deliver useful information to surgeons in real-time. One of the most striking examples of this technological advance comes in the form of intelligent surgical knife called iKnife by Zoltan Takats of Imperial College in London. It has the ability to heat up tissue that surgeon is cutting, and the onboard sensors are immediately tasked with testing the tissue smoke with onboard mass spectrometer in a bid to discover whether or not the tissue is malignant. This real-time data enables doctors to precisely know how to precisely extract only cancerous tissue, and leave much more healthy tissue behind than it was possible before.
8. Holographic data input
During the last several years, the mix of miniaturized projector and sensors that can detect the positions of users hands and fingers have led to the adoption of first models of holographic input devices. This technology will enable doctors to start manipulating complex computer systems during procedures, without the need for them to touch any physical input device which could possibly contaminate their hands.
9. Crowdsourced healthcare
Medical researchers have recently come to the conclusion that modern technologies can easily general populations, enabling new communication services that can greatly benefit medical research. For example, recent asthma study managed very quickly to attracts thousands of people via a simple smartphone app that delivered medical surveys and adherence tips. This enabled researchers to gain not only access to much more precise answers but also wider set of sensor data that could be used for determining new factors of research (for example geolocation could determine what areas are triggering asthma attacks the most).
10. Multi-functional radiology
Radiology is one of the medical specialties that has undergone biggest changes over the last several decades, and many are expecting that this fast growth will continue in the near future. One avenue of advancement will be found in multi-functional radiological machines that will be able to detect numerous medical problems, test for several biomarkers and notice multiple symptoms at once. One day, this technology will enable people to undergo a single scan and detect everything that is wrong with their health.
A word from Telehealther
The world of medicine is currently experiencing rapid growth of the unprecedented scale. New types of medical procedures, medical devices, and telemedicine services enable patients to more easily access healthcare and improve their way of life.
Telehealther is committed to closely follow and report all the latest announcements from the world of medical science and digital health.
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