This week in my DIY class health we were asked to sketch devices that could, at some point in the distant future, help monitor some aspect of our physiology or experience - fantasy self-monitoring devices. These are my quick sketches.
I was interested in the idea of self-monitoring devices that could carry out what today would be considered quite advanced laboratory analysis in a persistent way - carrying out ongoing genetic analysis of our biome or monitoring for specific antigens.
I was inspired microfluidic lab-on-chip systems, genotyping chips, rapid diagnostic kits and camera pills. I was really heartened that the cost these technologies has fallen considerably in recent times.
I took a leap to imagine a time when these devices are so cheap and small that they could persist in our bodies in some way. In all cases, the devices carry out their work inside the body and send data back to the user's watch, phone or tablet - where the data can be displayed, analysed, shared and acted upon.
Semi-Persistant Genotyping Pill
This pill is essentially a miniature genetics laboratory. The person takes the pill, which travels through the gastrointestinal tract, building a genetic fingerprint of the organisms it encounters.
In the diagram I show a bacterium being captured by the pill, having its DNA separated and analyzed, before being genotyped and data sent back to the user.
Persistent Genotyping Lab/Patch
This miniature genetics testing lab would carry out a similar function to the genotyping pill, but in the bloodstream.
The lab would be inserted under the skin, or during surgery - and would fixitself to the wall of a vein or artery, capturing microorganisms for genetic analysis. This would allow the user to get near real-time information about the strains of viruses they are exposed to and the types of bacterial infections they have travelling in their bloodstream.
This is a lab-on-chip device that sniffs for particular antigens in the bloodstream. The lab carries specific antibodies that bond with corresponding antigens that arrive via the bloodstream. When an antigen is detected, that information is sent back to the user.
I enjoyed this exercice; it's nice to just sit and sketch ideas - completely unencumbered by constraints (or knowledge!) - to see what happens. Though these devices are fantastic, I do like the idea that once-in-a-lifetime (or very infrequent) medical testing could become something much more immediate and persuasive. What that means of course is to be discussed and explored.