In today’s society, we have heard so much about “bionic” body parts that have the ability to provide functionality to a person that they have been missing because of their disabilities. In 2003, scientist Ray Kurzweil first tested a computer chip designed to replace the hippocampus, the area of the brain often damaged due to disorders such as Alzheimer’s and other degenerative brain diseases. In 2015, Ray Flynn received the first bionic eye transplant and in 2013 the first entirely bionic human (named Frank), with fully functional biological systems, was revealed.
In recent years, advancement in medicine and biomechanical engineering have allowed scientists to come up with a host of new cutting edge devices to replace organs, limbs, and other parts of the body. Here are some of the latest technologies and most promising projects involved in the making of the bionic body.
For instance, a completely artificial heart was developed by SynCardia, and has already been used in 1,250 patients awaiting a heart transplant. The device is a battery powered, self contained, total replacement system. SynCardia is not studying whether its artificial heart could be a permanent solution in people who can’t have transplants.
The i-limb quantum, by Touch Bionics, allows patients with prosthetic arms to program up to 24 commands into their smartphones related to control grips and movement. The robotic appendage uses myoelectric technology to function, which allows small sensors to detect minute muscle movements related to the programmed tasks, and a computer in the patient’s hand translates them into dozens of precise actions.
In the future, the use of bionics could see us enter a phase of designed evolution, where technology makes up for our shortfalls and the delicacy of the human body. We could create eyes that saw more of the colour spectrum, cochlear implants that heard beyond our current wavelengths, limbs that could scale mountains and dust that can detect illness.