Today medical sensors can measure a variety of health parameters, granting people insight into their exercise habits, stress levels, sleep quality, and even their brain activity. Wearable fitness trackers are equipped with many of these functions, but as the size of health sensors shrinks further with advances such as health-monitoring digital tattoos, we’ll be able to understand our bodies and health like never before.
Currently the medical MEMS and sensor market size is approximately $2.8 billion.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is what enables a digital device to see and recognize objects (such as a bar code), understand and reply to speech (“OK, Google”), make decisions, and learn to change its thinking behavior as it analyzes over billions of data bits in the distributed memory known as the cloud. IBM’s supercomputer, Watson, for example, has been tested at several clinics in the decision-making process. While the doctors spoke with patients, Watson checked through medical records and made suggestions. The final call was still up to the doctor.
AI is infusing the modern healthcare system.
Augmented reality (AR) is set to revolutionize medicine and healthcare. From improving medical training to making pharmacy benefit management more effective, this technology is predicted to make a huge impact in the coming years, because it will change the way healthcare professionals interact with patients and objects.
AR medical applications that allow students to have a better understanding and a more hands-on experience with the human body are already being developed. When it comes to care management, wearable devices such as smart-glasses can be used for registering details of patients instead of manually inputting the data into a system. And when it comes to complex surgeries, AR can help surgeons become more efficient by locating a tumor, for example.
Today there are about one thousand da Vinci surgical robots in use around the world. Some medical schools, such as the University of Washington, are teaching future surgeons the skills which are needed to control the robot instead of manually performing certain operations.
The da Vinci robot is a complete robotic surgical system that includes surgical instruments, visual aids, and consists of several mechanical arms attached to surgical instruments, as well as an additional arm equipped with a camera.
Whether or not fully-automated surgery becomes realistic, robots are on their way to playing larger roles in the medical practice.
At some point in the future, robots on the nanoscale could live in our bloodstream and prevent diseases by alerting the patient when a condition is about to develop. They’d be able to interact with our organs, measure every health parameter, and intervene when needed. With extreme precision, they’d deliver drugs, or work like an army of nano-surgeons, operating from within.
Sound too good to be true? At the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, nano-robots have already been tested in a delicate environment: the eye. They were able to propel through the vitreous humor, the clear gel that fills the eye, and deliver drugs in the retinal area to treat age-related diseases, such as macular degeneration.
Nano-robots can be a small solution to big problems.