Biomedical Engineering Innovative Projects

Biomedical Engineering Projects nowadays range in various products. All of them are innovative projects. Digital tattoos, mind-reading exoskeletons, RFID implants for recreational activities, 3D printed drugs: new and amazing innovations are developing in healthcare and medicine almost every day, all thanks to Biomedical Engineering!

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We shortlisted some of the most interesting ideas and technology developments that hold the potential for opening doors into a breath-taking future.

Here is a comprehensively curated list of some spectacular biomedical innovations, including augmented reality, tissue engineering and artificial intelligence:

  1. Multi-faceted reality generates new methods for medical education

Virtual, augmented, as well as mixed realities are technologies that are presenting new experiences for human senses. While the difference among these technologies may seem negligible initially, their use and application in healthcare is extremely different.

AR allows users to witness the actual world via digital information being projected onto the environment nearby. On the other hand, VR shuts away everything else entirely and brings about a different simulation to the user, while mixed reality involves an interaction with the nearby world while simultaneously projecting information into it. 

A case in point: Microsoft HoloLens offers radical educational novelty for medical students by projecting the entire full-size anatomy of the human body through the device. Students are able to view all the organs, bones or veins in complete clarity in 3D format.

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With constant technological improvements underway, future medical professionals will have better access to the human anatomical representation in all its vividness for surgical analysis or educational purposes.

Mixed reality education is already deemed better than textbook education by almost all of its patrons. Some universities already plan to incorporate it in their revised curriculum. In 2019, Case Western opened its health education campus in association with the Cleveland Clinic, where human anatomy was taught via virtual reality instead of cadavers.

  • Brain-computer interfaces as remedial technology to help the paralyzed

Recent research has lent immense support to the area of brain-computer interfaces (BCI). Dr. Christof Koch of the Allen Institute for Brain Science and Dr. Gary Marcus of New York University and revealed to The Medical Futurist about novel brain implants are the equivalent of yesteryears’ laser eye surgery.

Although the field still requires significant advancement in the coming years, the possibilities are limitless! Consider a retinal chip lending perfect eyesight-even in the dark! From cochlear implants correcting deafness to memory chips bestowing the memory power of a computer, biomedical innovations bring sci-fi to life.

  • Neuro-prosthetics In Use:

Although light-years away in terms of mass-commercialization,  neuro-prosthetics have already been introduced into the market. You can now search and purchase retinal as well as cochlear implants– the former was already approved by the FDA way back in 2013. There are also implants for Parkinson’s patients which send electrical pulses into the brain, to revive damaged neural pathways affecting motor control. Expensive and rare brain implants exist as therapeutic remedies for people paralyzed with neural damage after an accident/physical shock. A chip inserted at an appropriate spot inside the brain reads and translates electrical signals to regenerate motility and communication. A middle-aged paralyzed man, Thibault, made headlines for being able to move all his limbs with the aid of a ‘mind-reading’ exoskeleton. We hope for more such stories to emerge in the near future.

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  • Recreational Cyborgs

Numerous famous examples of cyborgs already exist, now it’s only a matter of time to see such marvelous beings walk free not only within sci-fi movies, but all around us. The ‘cyborg-fascination’ will soon start a new contingent of enthusiasts who will be willing to implant devices within their bodies to attain novel experiences.

Advances in biomedical engineering will not merely repair and restore bodily defects like impaired hearing or eyesight but will also generate superhuman abilities. In the coming years, you can get ready for artificial intelligence enabled hearing aids, earbuds that help you become multilingual, or RFID chips which already solve your linguistic hurdles.

While a patient using pacemakers or implanted defibrillators can already be categorized as a cyborg, coming years will witness increased cases for implantation requests of certain devices even from those devoid of any medical conditions.

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  • Dinosaur shaped 3D printed drugs for Kids

While the idea might seem absurd at the outset, consider the fact that 3D printing in itself was an unimaginable concept some time back. Yet, biomedical engineering advances have made it possible to 3D print chocolates, guns, even houses! It’s only the next logical step in the natural progression of things biomedical engineering makes possible.

The FDA approved a drug called “Spritam” (manufactured using 3D printers) in August, 2015. The powdered drug is printed layer by layer which helps it to dissolve faster than regular pills. If reports from the Daily Mail are to be believed, then scientists are already planning to lend 3D printed drugs some odd shapes; such as those of octopuses or dinosaurs, so as to make them more appealing for children. Professor Simon Gaisford and Professor Abdul Basit, saw immense potential in 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry; which is what encouraged them to come up with FabRx in 2014. They predicted that they shall be able to commercialize 3D printed drugs for kids in the next 5-10 years. 

  • Gamification in health insurance: a real game changer

As of November 2017,  United Healthcare and Qualcomm announced that they would incorporate Garmin and Samsung wear-ables as a part of their national wellness program. It allows eligible participants to earn more than $1,000 every year by walking up to a certain limit. This is a beneficial association among wearable manufacturers, health insurance companies, and the principle of gamification. Gamification means using fun incentives, which could slightly nudge or encourage people towards adopting a certain behavior – such as a healthy lifestyle as far as health insurance companies are concerned.

However, the question is whether there must be a limit to such gamification processes. Will patients’ private data be at risk? Will mass surveillance become the new norm? How will the relationship between employees, employers and health insurance companies be affected? As an increasing number of corporations provide health insurance packages equipped with gamified tracking options to their employees, such ethical questions will have to be answered.

  • Biomedically engineered food to plug food shortages

Will you be ever open towards a cup of synthetic tea? How about a bite of some lab-grown meat? Can you down a glass of artificial milk? Will vitamins and nutrients substitute a meal in a protein-shake?

Sci-fi movies like Star Trek, the Matrix, or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy gave us a glimpse of life with artificial food. However, the possibility of eating synthetic food might’ve already arrived, ensuring a constant supply of nutritious food for millions of humans who might otherwise go hungry due to famine and general food shortage.

Researchers at the Cultured Beef Project extract muscle cells from a cow’s shoulder, grow them into a culture on a nutrient mix, and regenerate muscle tissue from layers of that culture. Thus, one gets whole meat from just a few cells!

In another example, the Netherlands-based company, Mosa Meat in 2013, introduced their first synthetic meat hamburger in London. They ensure to make artificial beef commercialized within the next 3-4 years.

Another company based in San Francisco, called “JUST Inc.”, (known better as the controversial food enterprise: “Hampton Creek“), is developing synthetic chorizo, cultured foie gras, and artificial nugget. Its researchers are simultaneously developing cultured meat, and they expect to introduce it soon.

Thus, as Biomedical Engineering expands with leaps and bounds, we can expect more exciting innovations in the field in times to come.

This article is a follow up of the previous Biomedical Engineering Fun Facts article.

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