Technology has had a dramatic impact in healthcare. With the advancements of smartphones and tablets, and the number of medical devices, apps and peripherals being devised for them continues to grow everyday.
Recently, a Stanford engineer, Ada Poon, lead a project which has created tiny robotic medical devices that are powered by wireless technology.
According to Stanford University, the implantable machines are small enough to easily move through veins. These injectable nanobots can carry out medical tasks, gather diagnostics and even deliver drugs into the bloodstream.
Ada Poon concurs,
“Such devices could revolutionize medical technology. Applications include everything from diagnostics to minimally invasive surgeries.”
The development of these machines has many implications for the mobile health landscape. Because these machines are controlled wirelessly, it is conceivable that mobile apps can be developed that take advantage of all their functionality. Indeed, the iMedicalApps team has previously reported on smart pills with edible microchips capable of transmitting physiological data to smartphones or computers. The system captures exactly what medications have been taken.
Additionally, we have previously mentioned the Endoscync wireless video transmitter which can send endoscopy images to an iPad for viewing. These examples represent the advancements that have been seen in medical technologies recently and offer a glimpse into the future.
The development of these tiny machines came after Poon made an interesting connection.
“She realized body cells conduct electricity poorly, but are unexpectedly receptive to radio waves. The revelation spurred her team to develop a remote radio-control for medical devices advanced enough to perform minor surgeries, take diagnostics and analyze patients”.
Since these machines are still prototypes, there are a number of obstacles they still have to face, including getting FDA approval.
“Since Stanford’s robots run on wireless technology, the FDA may take an especially detailed look into the effect high-frequency radio waves have on body tissue, since those waves power the devices.”
The potential medical benefits are evident, though and should have some practical uses that have a positive impact on patient care.