Coming Soon: Sexy Silicon Socks For Your Heart
Soon you will have to buy underwear for your internal organs. A silicon sock is the first bendy implant to be invented. It covers your heart with a sheath of electronics, measuring temperature, pH, and electrical activity in different regions of the heart.
It's expected to eventually replace a pacemaker, stimulating the heart to regulate the heartbeat, as well as cover other internal organs like the brain, measuring and improving functionality electronically.
With recent developments in pacemaker technology, there doesn't seem to be a huge need for more heart pacemaker technologies, but I suppose this silicon sheath is just at the beginning. It's part of the growing trend of data capturing, to discover more and more about how our bodies work, so we can invent more ways to keep ourselves healthy and well for longer.
Another aspect of the design is dissolvable electronics. One of the biomedical engineers involved in the project, Christopher Bettinger, specializes in edible electronics, and suggests the device could be used to record vital signs during surgical procedures. In theory, if the implant is only required for short periods of time, it could dissolve internally, removing the need to repeat a surgical procedure to remove it.
I imagine they will have to design a minimally invasive method to implant the device, transporting it along a catheter with a mechanism to deliver it into place around your heart.
It's not yet in animal trials as one of the biggest challenges is power. The sock is designed to be implanted completely, so power has to come from microscale batteries embedded in the device itself, or transmitted wirelessly from a source outside the body.
It's clear this is a long way off. Hopefully long enough to make me a blue stripy version. Who says that internal underwear has to be ugly? What color would your heart sock be?
[Thanks to NewScientist for this one]