One of the most important ways that technology is affecting high-tech machinery is the marriage between hardware and software applications. This increasingly symbiotic relationship promises to affect all areas of our lives– from what we eat and drink to the cars we drive and how we manage our health care.
Image sent by author
Health Care Innovation
Dennis Lo, the doctor who in 1997 discovered that a fetus sheds some of its DNA into its mother’s bloodstream, has been working on a "liquid biopsy" technique that can detect cancer in the early stages using a few drops of blood and a gene-sequencing machine that decodes millions of DNA fragments. The results are compared to the mapped human genome, revealing early signs of tumors or abnormalities before other symptoms appear. The CEO of Illumina, a San Diego company that builds the gene-sequencing machines predicted a $40 billion dollar market for these tests.
Julia Greer, a Caltech scientist, has created a new ceramic substances that is stronger and lighter than any other ever made. This creation was made possible by specialized machines that allowed her to control structure on a nanoscale over larger areas. The potential uses for this new discovery include decreasing the weight and extending the life of batteries. Biologists have also shown an interest for the potential of the nanostructured material as a scaffold to grow bones to replace those that degenerate. The machines she needed to conduct her research didn’t yet exist, so she rebuilt and customized existing machines to her own specifications.
The Hardware Connection
The rapid advance of technology has led to the invention and development of new processes and new machinery. Precise results depend upon the precision of the machinery used to produce them. Since machines can perform multiple functions with slight modifications, parts for those modifications are in high demand. Companies like Phoenix Specialty make custom spacers in diameters ranging from .040 up to 6"and down to .0005". They also utilize a wide variety of materials to accommodate the exact degree of electrical conductivity, weight, and temperature tolerance levels needed.
Proteus Digital Health is one good example of a company investing in technology to increase consumer safety. For those who forget their medications, they’ve developed smart pills that contain a sensor. Activated by electrolytes, it transmits a signal to a wearable patch which sends the data to a smartphone! So far, technology continues to advance as rapidly as our collective need for solutions.
By Lizzie Weakley