7 real-life cyborg implants

7- The most natural bionic hand

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Artificial limbs are an amazing development that can give a patient something they’ve never had before — or something they had and lost. Early prosthetic devices were fairly crude, but technology has come a long way in the past few years. This summer, a 29-year-old woman received what is easily the most advanced and natural prosthetic hand available. The BeBionic device, made by the UK-based Steeper Group, is designed to mimic the human hand better than all of its predecessors, with 14 precision grips and 337 mechanical parts. Thanks to this awesome prosthetic, Londoner Nicky Ashwell, who was born without a right hand, was able to ride a bicycle for the first time in her life.

6- Superhuman vision

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Corrective vision surgeries, like LASIK, are one way the vision-impaired can restore their sight. Another is this bionic implant that can make your vision three times better than 20/20! Ditch the contacts and the glasses, and forget about painful laser surgery that might wear off in a decade. The lens, developed by Ocumetics Technology Corp, promises to give you perfect vision for life. Dr. Garth Webb insists that it works as sort of a permanent contact lens. An eight-minute outpatient procedure adheres it directly to the eye’s natural lens, and it can help anyone obtain superhuman eyesight.

5- An electronic glove for your heart

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Pacemakers are clunky objects that are implanted in the chest above the heart, with cables leading to the blood-pumping organ. A new generation of pacemakers represents a huge departure from the old style, using an elastic membrane of electrodes that wraps around the surface of the heart, sort of like a glove. In addition to keeping the heart’s rhythm in time, the membrane makes use of electrical stimuli (helpful in case of a heart attack) and monitors cardiac rhythms more accurately than previous designs.

4- Mind-melding silk implant

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This is one implant that can really blow your mind: It actually melts onto it. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia created a thin, flexible implant partially from silk that “shrink-wraps” onto the surface of the brain. The implant’s job is to record brain activity, which is particularly useful in treating patients suffering from epilepsy, spinal injuries and other neurological disorders. Other micro-electrode array implants have existed before, but the silk component is a game changer, since that’s what makes the new implant flexible enough to conform to the surface of the brain. This allows for more stability in the long run, because your brain actually shifts and moves inside your skull. (Did you know that?)

3- Get inked for your health

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Diabetics must frequently check blood glucose levels, and managing the condition can be an exhausting experience. What if all they needed was a tattoo? Researchers have developed nanoparticle ink tattoos that continuously monitor patients and detect the moment their blood sugar goes outside the ideal range. The ink is created by wrapping nanotubes in a glucose-sensitive polymer; once it’s under the skin, it seeks out glucose and fluoresces. Patients with these tattoos will need a wristwatch-like device to read the ink’s messages, kind of like a secret decoder ring. And unlike a traditional tat, diabetics won’t have to commit to a design for life; these nanoparticle tattoos only last around six months each.

2- The world’s most advanced spinal implant

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Paralysis is one of the most challenging conditions to overcome, but medical science is getting closer every day. Earlier this year, Swiss researchers developed a material called e-Dura that could be the key to helping paralyzed people walk again. The flexible material can be applied directly to the spinal cord to conduct electrical impulses along stretches where nerve damage is causing lack of movement. Unlike other spinal implants, which can irritate the spinal cord with friction, e-Dura promises to more closely mimic natural spinal tissue so that it essentially fits right in. Although it’s in the early stages of research, this nifty little implant could go on to make a huge impact in the world, one step at a time.

1- Wireless control of contraceptives

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Birth control is a hot topic in the field of medical research, especially where implants are concerned. Researchers are working on a contraceptive implant that can be controlled wirelessly — unlike existing devices, which must be removed by a medical professional to stop the flow of hormones. The concept may seem a little science-fiction-y but it has some strong backers in the Gates Foundation and researchers at MIT. Because the implant can be used for up to 16 years, it could be a smart option for poor and developing countries, as well as the rest of the world. The technology already exists and is used to administer medicine to osteoporosis patients, and now researchers are working on adapting it for birth control so that testing can begin.

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Fabio Evagelista is a Brazilian writer.

Crossed Paths is the first book of the Myra-Hati trilogy, an epic adventure in a post-apocalyptic world, for the lovers of sci-fi / fantasy genre. This is the author’s first work published in America.

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