Aki's eye: Reinventing medicine

Imagine customising your medication and printing it as needed via a 3D printer.(123RF)

The 'Greek Geek' highlights some of the stories from the world of tech that caught his attention.

Electric tide turns

One of the major stumbling blocks holding back the widescale adoption of cars is the lack of a widespread network of charging facilities. However, in Europe, the recently formed IONITY consortium (composed of Volkswagen, Ford, BMW and Volkswagen) announced it's going to aggressively roll out at least 400 fast charging stations across Europe by 2020. This will make long distance journeys in electric cars easier.  A little closer to home, it’s estimated in South Africa there are currently around 2 500 electric vehicles, 500 private charge stations and 100 fast-charge points.

Custom drugs

Imagine customising your medication and printing it as needed via a 3D printer. A study led by Max Shtein, professor of materials science and engineering at Michigan University, could change the way medicine is dispensed. Researchers adapted a technology from electronics manufacturing called organic vapour-jet printing. What they’re able to do is print ultra-precise doses of drugs on a dissolvable strip, a micro needle patch, or any other type of dosing device. In the future we may see these printers in hospitals, pharmacies or even clinics printing medication customised for each patient’s condition. No wastage, no reason to carry huge amounts of stock and, of course, the safety concerns for patients who may mistakenly take a wrong dosage of medication.

Self-detect diseases

Dr Noushin Nasiri from Sydney's University of Technology 
is revolutionising how we diagnose diseases. Nasiri is working
 on a breathalyser, powered by nanotechnology, that will be able
to detect diseases via a person’s breath. The technology, packed
 with sensors, is able to analyse biomarkers found in human breath
 to help diagnose diseases such as lung cancer, breast cancer,
 diabetes, asthma, Parkinson’s disease and even liver failure. Nasiri
 says this technology is three years away from becoming public.
 Her ultimate ambition is to have the sensor embedded into smartphones and results being delivered instantly to an app on the device, cutting out the need for expensive hospital tests.

Drive me home Waymo!

Google has been working on self-driving cars since 2009, averaging 40 000km a week in city environments. To date the company has travelled almost five million kilometres in self-driving vehicles.

Now, the Google self-driving car project, called Waymo, is going public. Starting off in Phoenix, Arizona, the early riding programme will offer rides to people commuting in an area with a radius of 100km. Until now humans have been monitoring the self-driving cars by sitting either in the passenger or driver seat. During the public trial, Waymo employees monitoring the programme will sit behind the driver’s seat. These vehicles will have autonomy level four, which means a human needs to be present (they are there as a safety precaution). Next is level five autonomy – no humans – and it would seem we’re not far from that.

Revolutionising patient diagnoses

A new device is set to assist how doctors diagnose patients. Butterfly iQ is the first ultrasound machine on a semiconductor chip to be cleared by the FDA. A probe connects to an iPhone, and a doctor has an instant view on the part of the body being inspected. Butterfly's Ultrasound-on-a-Chip technology enables a low-cost window into the human body, making high-quality diagnostic imaging accessible to anyone. It couples the hardware to a deep learning artificial intelligence application that assists clinicians with both image acquisition and interpretation. A traditional ultrasound machine can cost anything over $100 000. The Butterfly iQ could cost $2 000 and should be available early in 2018.

sponsored by
sponsored by