This medical implant is roughly the size of a U.S. quarter, and is designed to be placed under a patient’s skin. It can be filled with various kinds of medications designed to prevent or treat everything from HIV to diabetes. Once implanted, it can be controlled wireless from a smartphone or other device via a Bluetooth connection. Medication can be delivered on a consistent dosage, or by increasing or decreasing doses. Depending on the dosage required, the implant can continue to deliver drugs for up to a year before it needs to be replaced or removed.
The key to this medical implant’s small size and long battery life is in how the medication is actually delivered. Other devices, like insulin pumps, rely on mechanical pumping to inject the medication into a patient’s body. That pump increase the bulk of the device, and also requires a significant amount of power. Instead of using a pump, this implant uses silicon nanachannels to draw the medication towards a nanofluidic membrane using small amounts of electricity. Once the medication reaches that membrane, it can be absorbed by the body. This technology could dramatically improve the regularity of drug delivery, and is set to be tested in space on the International Space Station in 2020.