The Future Could Bring Nano-Chips Placed in the Body that Monitor Your Health (and Possibly Other Things?)
Technology Articles 10/9/13
By: Sarah Wilson
Health is a topic of conversation in America that will get many people's ear perking up, as we live in a society that is ultra-conscious of our appearance, longevity, and overall physical wellbeing. We spend our hard-earned money on the latest anti-aging trends and undergo procedures to add years to our lives. Rarely questioning the possible side effects or repercussions, we generally accept the latest advancements in technology without questioning just how far it can go. The latest scientific achievement of concern? A nano-chip that can monitor your cells, and aid in determining just how healthy you are.
Every year, scientists come closer and closer to making the creative inventions seen in science fiction films more of a reality. What is initially made to produce good things in the world, make positive changes, or simply ease everyday life, can just as quickly take a turn for the worst. Not many people stop to think of the effects of what happens when such advanced technology gets in the wrong hands. For every ingenious do-gooder, there is always someone with questionable motives lurking in the shadows.
So, when researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) made the recent announcement that they have successfully created a nano-chip that could make a huge impact on how we learn about our illnesses and monitor our health, try taking a step back from the concept, and evaluate what this really means. Basically, our private lives and actions are constantly being monitored in numerous known and unseen ways, and now, our health status and the inner-workings of our body could now become an open book.
A couple of professors and their team have designed a device that makes it possible for medical personnel to measure the electrical status of a cell on a micron scale. They've figured out how to use a carbon nanotube-based chip to evaluate the electrical charge that the cell gives off, which undergoes a change when a cell becomes sick.
Scientists believe they have discovered a way to create a 'lab on a chip' for the inside of the body that could keep an eye out for the presence of foreign cells associated with bacteria and viruses. One of the professors working on the project feels that the sensors could be created to report and transmit information on a patient (such as whether or not they have a disease) to a wristwatch. A scenario given to illustrate the possibilities of such technology is a patient waking up in the morning showing a specific symptom. Instead of the patient making a trip to the doctor's office, a physician can tap into the watch instead, and give directions according to the information they retrieve.
Another professor working on the project stated that a powerful tool, such as the health-monitoring wristwatch, is still years away from seeing the light of day. However, he did state that they are not the only people doing this kind of work, so who knows what other scientists and companies are trying to achieve.
What does this kind of technology mean for the future of healthcare?
How invasive can such a body-chip get? How do we know that it won't contain other features, such as being able to transmit the whereabouts of a person, or emit electrical charges that can interact with the cells in the body? What if an epidemic breaks out, and the government uses the technology to track (and possibly deal with) the infected?
These are just some of the things to think about as this type of health technology becomes increasingly advanced. Also, let's consider for a minute that the higher ups in charge of marketing and controlling such technology had a less-than-honorable agenda, and wanted to use the nano-chip to do more harm than good…possibly progress plans for a New World Order that could affect entire populations or aim to control specific groups of people.
It's really not a far-fetched concern to have.