Convergence, like the stars aligning in the clear night sky, is a momentous event in the tech industry. The world of cybernetics just had such a moment. Researchers at Tel Aviv University are reporting that they have discovered a way to 3D print tiny, bio-compatible devices which will enable the creation of a whole new generation of cybernetic implants and limbs.
Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are tiny devices, no greater in size than a single millimeter, which aid in the workings of all manner of consumer products. Traditionally, these MEMS are made out of silicon, metal or ceramics — none of which are all that easily integrated into say, a vascular system.
But a new polymer, supplied by French chemical producer Arkema/Piezotech and adapted for 3D printing by Tel Aviv University doctoral candidates Leeya Engel and Jenny Shklovsky, changes all that. Safer, more comfortable, efficient prosthetics could be created.
Incorporating all manner of tiny actuators and sensors, these prosthetics could also accomplish many of the same tasks which today are incorporated into smartphones and computers. The possibilities of this new wave of cybernetic limbs are truly mind boggling. In the words of Engel herself:
"The use of new, soft materials in micro devices stretches both the imagination and the limits of technology... this field is like Legos for grownups."
It may still be a few years before we see the advent of the "smartlimb", but when we do, humanity will have taken another giant leap forward in the realm of cybernetics — and maybe even in the quest for immortality.