Innovations in medicine and technology are rapidly approaching capabilities humans could only imagine. Things from artificial organs to prosthetics are becoming as good as the parts they’re replacing. Some even have features that surpass what we can do with our natural bodies.
These advancements and other research in the realm of robotics, diagnostic and treatment devices, nanotechnology, and medical implants may one day make humans superior versions of their natural selves. Some of these technologies are currently the subject of ethical and moral debates that question whether medicine should have the capability to make us super-human. As research moves on 2014 could be the year some of the more controversial medical innovations are ready for prime time.
Click on the photo below to check out 10 of the new medical technologies and methods that are giving us super-human capabilities.
The Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS, being developed by the Department of Defense is being likened to the one worn by the lead character in “Iron Man” for its qualities of near-invincibility. It can not only to monitor when a soldier has been injured, but also potentially heal a wound by applying treatment. The US Special Operations Unit, which is developing the suit, also is planning to include an exoskeleton framework with hydraulics around the joints to give soldiers extra movement, power, and strength beyond what they normally would have. A prototype of TALOS is expected in June, but this photo of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) WHAT is a sneak peek of what the technology may look like. (Source: DARPA)
Cabe - we can take the technology and use it differently. Like the Internet. TALOS could help snow and ski patrols or forest firefighters. Exo-skeletons could help staff in hospices and nursing homes safely lift patients.
@Cabe: I do not think the intent of the military has changed a great deal since when I was discharged in 1970. If it has, I apologise. At that time the majority of military weaponry wass not designed to kill, but rather to maim and wound. That is more damaging logisticly. It is also more effective in damaging enemy morale. War is very nasty and the goal is to win. Hopefully to win without even firing a shot, but win none the less.
All of these technologies are impressive. I was especially interested in the tissue regeneration technology that allows human skin to regenerate on patches. Many people can be helped with this breakthrough as the technology develops further.
I agree, Greg. Equally impressive (and inspring) is the high school student who created a prosthetic for his cousin after she lost an arm in a bad car accident. These advancements always seem more impressive to me when they come from the minds of the young.
Thanks alot for such an impressive and informative article . No doubt the regeneration of tissues is really a very good and unique idea and will help a lot of people suffering with different medical issues .
No doubt all the mentioned technologies are really impressive and helpfull i but other than the tissue generation i also liked the medication for diseases like cancer that will only treat with harmfull cells without destroying other cells and immune system . This process will no doubt help the cancer patient suffering and will result in an healthy treatment as well.
The nanotechnology drug delivery system was also one of my favorites. Focused drug delivery with minimal disruption to surrounding healthy cells will also help improve treatment methods and possibly lower costs.
Yes, Greg, I agree, I think focused drug delivery holds a lot of promise. I actually wrote a feature story about some of these technologies you might have seen or, if not, would be interested in: http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=271201
Having watched my mother die of cancer and see the drugs meant to heal her only make her too weak and tired to enjoy anything in her final days, I am very interested in how this can help improve treatments, especially for that terrible disease.
Thanks for your comment, Greg. I found that interesting as well, as it not just helps people heal faster it actually helps them create new tissue. Very helpful indeed, especially for applications like burn victims.
Thanks Elizabeth. Yes, I was thinking the same thing for burn victims (especially children). It would be wonderful if this technology could be used to quickly reconstruct skin and rebuild tissue to help accelerate the healing process.
Elizabath personally I do not like the idea of an others mind reading, Cause that I feels it will lead to lose the privacy and will lead unexpected problems. I do like to know the ideas of others also.
Well that was the theory behind The Bionic Man, which I wrote a story about: http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=270180
When you say "artificial man," it all sounds a bit creepy, but indeed, this seems entirely possible. Right now they can recreate about 2/3 of the human body with artificial means. I'm sure 100 percent won't be too far off!
"When you say "artificial man," it all sounds a bit creepy, but indeed, this seems entirely possible. Right now they can recreate about 2/3 of the human body with artificial means. I'm sure 100 percent won't be too far off!"
Thanks Elizabeth for the link. In future we can expect similar thing too.
You're welcome, MyDesign. The more I write about some of the new medical breakthroughs, the more I become both impressed and even a little frightened at what is becoming possible. In some ways it's really incredible and these breakthroughs will really benefit humankind. In others, I worry about some kind of Frankenstein scenario! But progress marches on, regardless.
"The more I write about some of the new medical breakthroughs, the more I become both impressed and even a little frightened at what is becoming possible. In some ways it's really incredible and these breakthroughs will really benefit humankind. In others, I worry about some kind of Frankenstein scenario! But progress marches on, regardless."
Elizabeth, when we look from certain angle it reflects more for human advancement. But through other angle can lead to disaster too. I mean the consequence when technology falls into wrong hands.
Yes, in a way it kind of reminds me of the Internet, Mydesign. It has been a really amazing idea that's changed our lives in so many ways, but people like hackers take advantage of it and use it for ill purposes.
"Yes, in a way it kind of reminds me of the Internet, Mydesign. It has been a really amazing idea that's changed our lives in so many ways, but people like hackers take advantage of it and use it for ill purposes"
Elizabeth, exactly. Certain peoples are approaching technology with negative mind and continue with similar experiments.
Yes, Mydesign, and this is pretty much true in all of life, isn't it? It's all about perspective. If you want to look at things positively, great, but there are those that choose the negative way in many aspects of life, and this is what leads to problems. Since technology was created by humans, human nature like this comes into play in a big way.
The Iron Man suit would be handy for sure...I'll have ot revisit the Aliens films to see the cargo mover you're talking about. But anything that would make moving house easier is fine with me, especially as I am facing a potential move myself soon!
Thanks Elizebeth for such an interesting post , Brain to brain interface is a very good thing. It can help in many ways like controllig thr brains of the other not only this but also in controlling the actions of others as well. This technology can be very usefull in crime department to control the crime of the suspected people as well This is what i beleive and it is just a assumption maybe i am wrong
Developing an artificial brain will be a great acheivement for scientist. Because it is not necessary that they will be successfull in developing virtual brain they in dong so tthey will come across differen t functions and neurons of the brain which will help increase there understanding .
Indeed, Debera, this is the goal of targeted drug therapies--to treat only the areas that need to be treated so other areas are not affected. I think it's a bit of a Holy Grail of this type of treatment. Scientists are getting close.
Elizebeth apart from the cancer cure genetically modified children is also a good idea and thougt if this is possible it will help to improve the living and lives of many people who inheret diseases . It can make lives easier no doubt a very good thought .
Elizebeth no doubt its an excellent post and what can i do I am really getting fascinated by majority of the technologies I also liked the process of getting back the memory its an awsome one . Those who have lost there memories in any accidents or shocks now they can recover their ost thats great hatsoff :)
Thanks, Debera. Yes, that would definitely be helpful technology to people who have lost their memories for whatever reason. i also know some people who would like their memories erased like in that film "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." I think I have actually seen technology that could make this possible, too!
Yes, Debera, I think that's exactly the point. The artificial brain will give doctors and scientists insight into how the brain works, not necessarily be something that will be used to replace a real brain in a human. That seems a bit too scifi and creepy! But you never know--with the way medicine is progressing, perhaps that will someday happen as well. I don't think I want to be around to see it, though.
"Yes, Mydesign, and this is pretty much true in all of life, isn't it? It's all about perspective. If you want to look at things positively, great, but there are those that choose the negative way in many aspects of life, and this is what leads to problems. Since technology was created by humans, human nature like this comes into play in a big way."
Elizabeth, there is an old saying "Man propose and God dispose", in new tech era it's changed by "Likely minded peoples propose and negative minded peoples disposes"
Fascinating stuff Liz. You always come up with something extra ordinary and surprise me. I am really excited about the technologies dealing with the brain. Projects like Recovering Active Memory and brain-to-brain interfacing are just out of this world. I am looking forward to how this all concludes, as brain is a very sensitive organ and it will be a remarkable achievement if we manage to heal and control it. Perhaps one day i will be able to record my dreams and watch them when i wake up by just plugging a USB on my laptop.
Thanks for the compliment, Daniyal. I agree the brain stuff is pretty incredible, especially your idea about dreams. How many of us would love to know what we've dreamed about, but of course we always forget even the most vivid dreams. I think that technology would be amazing.
This will be the Ultimate Exercise Suit. Just think how hard it is to get regular exercise. How slow exoskeleton development has been. The exercise market would give it a push. This has all been about decreasing physical stress but the opposite must also be true. The same technologies that assist you in climbing steers while recovering from an injury. That same technology could oppose muscle movement on daily walks. The UES would be use by astronauts to decrease the affect of micro gravity. I am oppose to technology that weaken us. UES would leave the user stronger after removing it. Frankly Ultimate Exercise Suit I can see everyone.
The defense market place is insignificant when compare to the civilian market. Every sport team would want their athlete to wear UES when they are not on the field. Insurance companies would want their clients to wear a UES. That will protect them and strength them. Insurance companies are the biggest beneficiary from health clients.
The UES product development needs a push beyond the narrow perspective of the military. I am surprise that Google, Microsoft or other tech giants are not running with this. These technologies have the potential to make us better, as ubiquitous as clothing. The UES would become clothing.
I am not a fan of DARPA and think they do a lot of unnecessary projects. A scientist in Japan already has a suit that allows a person to have extra strength. A suit with armor sounds like the mechwarriors in the old japanimation shows.
Well you are certainly entitled to your opinion, John. But I think DARPA has done a lot of worthwhile and notable research, even if some of it isn't applicable beyond the military. I agree in a way, though, that sometimes the agency goes a bit too far with technologies that will only have a very narrow use. NASA, in my opionion, thinks more broadly when it comes to R&D.
I think to some extent this sound like a good idea and it is really fascinating. After going through the slide show above, I have remained admiring these projects. But I got a question, doest it really has to be developed to fit soldiers or should it just be for anybody in need? That is my worry. What do you think if somebody is more superior to you with respect to these projects? Take it in the essence of human vs. super-human. Don't you think there will be exploitation? If it is medicinal that is great but I still have my doubts.
Thanks for your comment, AnandY. I think you're making a couple of points and I understand what you mean about both of them. In terms of the soldier suit--yes, it would be better and make more sense if this type of technology is available to anyone in need. And in some cases, especially with the exoskeletons, it is--many people who lost the ability to walk are using things like Ekso to get up and walk again.
And yes, there is a great debate on whether people should be allowed to create technologies that make us super-human. I'm on the side of technology myself, and think these things will only help the human race, but of course should be used with care. But I am sure that a moral argument could be made, especially according to the point you make, that these technologies could definitely be exploited, and not for positive gain.
"I'm on the side of technology myself, and think these things will only help the human race, but of course should be used with care. But I am sure that a moral argument could be made, especially according to the point you make, that these technologies could definitely be exploited, and not for positive gain."
You are right Elizabeth. But again if the person is a mentally or physically handicapped, using technology to improve its capability is fine, but other side of making use of technology for competing each other would lead to only miserable life.
Indeed, Mydesign, you as always make a very good point. That's exactly the conundrum with some of this enhancement medical technology. Where do you draw the line between improving people's lives when something has been taken away from them physically, and just improving a human's physicality just for the sake of doing it?
"That's exactly the conundrum with some of this enhancement medical technology. Where do you draw the line between improving people's lives when something has been taken away from them physically, and just improving a human's physicality just for the sake of doing it?"
Elizabeth, that line has to be drawn by the policy makers.
Two researchers from Cornell University have won a $100,000 grant from NASA to continue work to develop an energy-harvesting robotic eel the space agency aims to use to explore oceans on one of the moons of Jupiter.
Is the factory smarter than it used to be? From recent buzzwords, you’d think we’ve entered a new dimension in industrial plants, where robots run all physical functions wirelessly and humans do little more than program ever more capable robotics. Some of that is actually true, but it’s been true for a while.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.