Medical technology has undergone some of the most revolutionary changes of any field in the Twentieth Century. And while many of the advances have included drugs, many more have involved the technology physicians use to diagnose and treat illness. Several winners of the Design News Engineer of the Year award have won for the medical-device breakthroughs they have brought about, including Rowland Redington (MRIs), Terry Haber (safe needles), Victor Poirier (left ventricular heart device), Dean Kamen (infusion pumps for dispensing drugs), and our most recent winner, Lynn Otten, who developed the first device to receive FDA approval for long-term implant in the brain. It controls essential tremors from Parkinson's Disease.
Here are some of the other medical breakthroughs of the century:
The first practical electrocardiograph, invented by Willem Einthoven in 1900.
The first X-ray patent, awarded to William Coolidge in 1917.
The electroencephalograph, 1929.
The first artificial kidney for humans, 1943.
The heart-lung machine, 1953.
The cardiac pacemaker, invented by Wilson Greatbach, 1958.
The laser, which enables present-day applications such as non-invasive retina surgery, cauterization of stomach ulcers, and the clearing away of cholesterol blockages of arteries.
Functional neuromuscular stimulation, 1961.
Fiberoptic endoscopes, to enable physicians to visually examine body cavities and hollow organs without invasive surgery, 1968.
Positron Emission Tomography, 1970.
Computer Axial Tomography, 1970.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 1979.
Lithotripsy, the ultrasonic technique for crushing kidney stones.
Functional Electrical Stimulation for grasp-and-release motor prosthesis.
The Jarvik artificial heart, 1982.
Cochlear implants, 1983.
The Parastep motor prosthesis system for limb control, 1995.
And many more. What others would you add to this admittedly partial list?
With major product releases coming from big names like Sony, Microsoft, and Samsung, and big investments by companies like Facebook, 2015 could be the year that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) finally pop. Here's take a look back at some of the technologies that got us here (for better and worse).
Good engineering designs are those that work in the real world; bad designs are those that don’t. If we agree to set our egos aside and let the real world be our guide, we can resolve nearly any disagreement.
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