In the past, innovation often came through breakthroughs that had a grand scale. The Industrial Revolution brought with it sprawling factories that first flexed the power of modern technology. The first cars were powerful metal feats of mechanical engineering. Now, the revolution of technology is the opposite in scale. The biggest pushes towards a brighter future come in our ability to shrink down the tools that have brought us success on the larger end. Currently, engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have created the very first dust-sized wireless sensors that may be implanted within the body. Here are five reasons this is such a huge development in the scientific community.
THE DEVICES ARE NOT POWERED BY BATTERIES AT ALL
The devices are not powered by batteries, and instead use a cutting edge technology that allows a wireless transfer of energy. Sounds crazy right? The robots are routed through a type of energy called “NFC power,”, an energy that can be transmitted to a device through radio signal. For now, the technology is still in its infancy and requires an NFC device to be within a few inches. Obviously this is only the beginning, and eventually scientists and engineers are hoping to increase the viable power transfer distance.
THE SENSORS COULD TELL YOU CRUCIAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR HEALTH
The specific micro-bots that are being developed are called Neural Dust, and are sensors meant to monitor all the moving parts in your body. Hypothetically, these sensors could communicate information in real-time to your Fitbit or similar device. Bodily qualities such as skeletal muscle movement, your internal nerve signals, and organ functions, could all be monitored by this device. Imagine a sensor that would know immediately that you are having a heart attack, or regulate epileptic seizures. The potential applications are nothing less than astonishing. This is the first time a technology able to do this has been ready due to its size and ease of acceptance into the body.
NEURAL DUST IS SMALL ENOUGH TO FEASIBLY FLY UNDER YOUR IMMUNO-RADAR
For anyone getting an organ transplant, they are given an enormous cocktail of immuno-suppressant drugs. The human body can be a bit fickle at times, and doesn’t take too kindly to outsiders. These sensors, at an astoundingly small 1 millimeter cube, are feasibly small enough to fly under the body’s immune system radar. Just so you know, that is about the size of a grain of sand.
THE TECHNOLOGY COULD BE A MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH IN PROSTHETIC TECHNOLOGY
The wireless nature of the technology could aide the neural-uplink to a prosthetic limb. Even the most sophisticated prosthetics currently available require a wire to connect the power source, the limb and the brain. Neural dust, if further developed, could allow a wireless transfer of energy, information, and neural commands to the limb.
THIS DEVELOPMENT PROVES THAT TRANSHUMANISM IS ON THE WAY
Trans-humanism is the idea that through technology, mankind will achieve a thorough acceleration of evolution. Rather than wait generations to gain new abilities that allow us to live better and healthier lives, think of bio-compatible technology as a super epic short-cut. Don’t get too carried away though, as some medical ethicists have a large degree of reticence about using tech to boost human viability. Although about genetic manipulation, the film Gattaca does a great job bringing up one of the most common arguments against trans-human tech. In a world driven by money, will technology such as this solely benefit the ones who can afford it? Will it become another way the poor can’t hope to ascend the cultural ladder, by permanently making the wealthy essentially super-humans whose performance couldn’t be matched by regular means? These are important issues to consider as these sorts of advances become more common. For now, be totally comfortable marveling at this out of this world development.
Overall, this is a gargantuan development in science. Yet, just as with anything else, it will be important to wonder about the implications of advancing forward technologically. Except for that microwave in Back To The Future II that made pizza instantly, because we all need that now.