In my new book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine coming out this August, I’ll feature plenty of analyses of the potential dangers we will all have to face due to new technologies. There will be new diseases because of the excessive use of virtual reality applications and it will be a real challenge to persuade people not to live an entirely virtual life.
A new article on Techcrunch, Immersive Infections, features some of these threats with a focus on augmented and virtual reality. It’s worth running over the examples it comes up with in order to prepare for the threats of the next few years.
One of the key components of Augmented Reality (AR) tech is its ability to facilitate interaction with the real world in new ways. This means that in order to provide digital content overlayed on the real world, these devices require the use of cameras.
A camera attached to an AR device that is attached to you can be a very dangerous thing. Consider if you will, malware that can use said camera to take pictures during a user’s most private times. These instances are never meant to be seen by the public, but by using the connections to social media these devices will no doubt have available, a cyber criminal can post these pictures onto the user’s social media whenever they want. Of course the most likely scenario would be if the user refused to pay a ransom.
The technique of 3D printing clearly went mainstream this year. 2014 was the turning point. After successfully printing out in 3D working liver tissues, heart valves, prostheses, medical equipment and many more, it is ready to revolutionize almost every aspect of medicine.
As printing out biomaterials is possible and actually faster than growing cells in laboratories, we might not be far from printing out living organs eradicating organ donor waiting lists forever.
In the latest developments, scientists from the Universities of Sydney, Harvard, Stanford and MIT made a groundbreaking announcement that they have worked out a technique making such vascularisation possible within the 3D bioprinting process. It means now it became possible to create vascular networks within printed biomaterials, then organs as well. Here is a summary of the method:
To achieve this, the researchers used an extremely advanced bioprinter to fabricate tiny fibers, all interconnected, which would represent the complex vascular structure of an organ. They coated the fibers with human organs-3endothelial cells, and then covered it with a protein based material, rich in cells. The cell infused material was then hardened with the application of light. Once hardened the researchers carefully removed the coated fibers, leaving behind an intricate network of tiny spaces throughout the hardened cell material. The human endothelial cells were left behind, along the tiny spaces created by the fibers, which after a week self organized into stable capillaries.
I’ve been writing about the potentials Google Glass might have in healthcare (see the list below the image) and now here is a great article describing some examples and medical specialties that could benefit from using it the most.
- Wound care
- Intensive Care
- Emergency Response
I would definitely add medical education to the list. Now students don’t have to look over the shoulder of the surgeon but actually can watch what the surgeon is really seeing right now on huge HD screens.
Here are some other articles dedicated to this issue:
The UC Irvine medical school in California made a good decision and started experimenting with using augmented reality in the classrooms by giving medical students Google Glasses which might help them with anatomy, clinical skills, and hospital rotations.
As someone living with such digital technologies, I have to say if it is used in the right way, it will truly improve their chance for better studying the art of medicine, as well as their scores. Why not incorporating these in the traditional curriculum if they can add clear value to education?
Irvine will be the first medical school to fully incorporate Glass into its four-year curriculum. Its first- and second-year students will use the device in their anatomy and clinical skills courses, while third- and fourth-year students will wear Glass during their hospital rotations.
“I believe digital technology will let us bring a more impactful and relevant clinical learning experience to our students,” UC Irvine’s dean of medicine Dr. Ralph V. Clayman said in a statement. “Enabling our students to become adept at a variety of digital technologies fits perfectly into the ongoing evolution of healthcare into a more personalized, participatory, home-based and digitally driven endeavor.”
Graphene, a 2-dimensional crystalline allotrope of carbon, is capable of detecting the entire infrared spectrum with visible and ultraviolet light therefore it could be used to enhance human vision although there have been technical limitations such as the fact that it can absorb only 2.3 percent of the light that hits it. This problem seems to be solved now by researchers at the University of Michigan.
To achieve this amplification, the researchers started by sandwiching an insulator between two sheets of graphene. The bottom sheet has an electrical current running through it. When light hits the top sheet, electrons are freed and positively charged electron holes are generated. The electrons are able to perform a quantum tunneling effect through the insulator layer, which would be impenetrable in classical physics.
“If we integrate it with a contact lens or other wearable electronics, it expands your vision,” Zhong said in the release. “It provides you another way of interacting with your environment.”
I’ve told you in my recent white paper, The Guide to the Future of Medicine, we would soon experience the rise of “recreational cyborgs” with augmented human capabilities just because they can afford it.
Read more news about the future of medicine every day on MedicalFuturist.com!
I was invited to write an article about 10 ways technology will save our lives in the future for CNN.com and I was happy to do so. It was featured today on the main page of CNN. I hope you will find it useful. Here is the introduction:
The medical and healthcare sectors are in the midst of rapid change, and it can be difficult to see which new technologies will have a long-lasting impact.
Ideally, the future of healthcare will balance innovative medical technologies with the human touch. Here, I’ve outlined the trends most likely to change our lives, now or in the near future.
I’m very excited to announce that this semester we launch a new course, “Disruptive Technologies in Medicine” with Professor Maria Judit Molnar MD, PhD, DSc, the scientific Vice Rector of Semmelweis University. Our plan is to prepare medical students for those future technologies they will face by the time they start actually practicing medicine. I want to persuade them that the relation between the human touch and technologies is AND instead of OR.
Here are the topics we will cover with experts.
- How Exponential and Disruptive Technologies Shape The Future of Medicine
- Personalized Medicine – Genomic Health
- Point of Care Diagnostics
- The Future of Medical Imaging
- Social Media in Medicine
- Harnessing Big Data in Healthcare
- Biotechnology and Gene Therapy
- Mobile Health and Telemedicine
- Regenerative Medicine, Optogenetics and 3D Printing
- Medical Robotics, Bionics, Virtual Reality, and Future of Medical Technologies
We are going to teach them offline and online at the same time with plenty of assignments and interesting projects such as collaboration with the students of the course of Kim Solez at University of Alberta.
Feel free to follow all the developments and announcements of the course on Facebook. All the seats are already taken by international students. This is going to be an amazing semester!
I’ve been giving talks about the future of medicine for years and many times, part of the audience is worried about losing the human touch of practicing medicine by using more technologies. As a medical futurist, I want to make things clear here.
The relation between the human touch in medicine and disruptive innovations is and; instead of or as people tend to think. By losing the quintessence of practicing medicine, the real-life doctor-patient relationship, we would lose everything. Although without using innovative technologies, it is becoming more and more complicated (if not impossible) to provide proper care.
When I was 10 years old, I volunteered in computer shops to learn the hardware part of PCs. That time a man kept on coming back to the shop as he was expecting a delivery of a brand new hard drive he ordered some weeks ago. It was a hard drive of 40 megabytes (yes, megabytes) and he told me he had no idea what he would do with so much space on his computer. After almost two decades we have over a zettabyte of information online. It is practically impossible to keep up with that without using proper technologies. Moreover, it doubles now every 12 months, and soon will double every 12 hours.
The real challenge here is finding a balance between these; and it’s easier than you would think. By preparing for what is coming regarding medical innovation for all stakeholders of healthcare, we get a chance to start working out the methods and solutions in time, therefore we can use more and more efficient and secure technologies in medicine without losing the human touch of the doctor-patient relationship.
This is the topic I cover in my new book which should be out in a few months’ time. Wish me luck!