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?
During a teardown of the iPad Air and Microsoft Surface Pro 3 at the Medical Design & Manufacturing Show in Schaumburg, Ill., an engineer showed this "inflammatory" video about the dangers of maliciously mishandling lithium-ion batteries.
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Much has been made over the potentially dangerous flammability of lithium-ion batteries after major companies like Boeing, Sony, and Tesla have grappled with well-publicized battery fires. Researchers at Stanford University may have come up with a solution to this problem with a smart sensor for lithium-ion batteries that provides a warning if the battery is about to overheat or catch fire.
In this new Design News feature, "How it Works," we’re starting off by examining the inner workings of the electronic cigarette. While e-cigarettes seemed like a gimmick just two or three years ago, they’re catching fire -- so to speak. Sales topped $1 billion last year and are set to hit $10 billion by 2017. Cigarette companies are fighting back by buying up e-cigarette manufacturers.
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