Also, but not only for disabled people: Active without contact.

Illustration Angela Smets/ Text Susanne Gold

In the 1974 film The Six Million Dollar Man, a man who was barely alive was reassembled. What was science fiction at the time is now increasingly reality. We have bionic ears, artificial insemination and limbs, pacemakers, implants of all kinds, and we will probably continue to fuse with our machines.

For some time now, we have been working on reassembling our bodies and making them work. Since the beginning of mankind, we have adapted to different environments and living conditions. We have been trying to improve our health, speed, strength and mental abilities for just as long.

Long life instead of early death

In the past, people all over the world had many children. Since the living conditions were generally difficult, many people died at a young age. From about 1750 onwards, progress in agriculture and medicine improved living conditions and death rates began to fall. The child-rich vintages of the past became old-rich vintages of the present and future, which are confronted with fewer and fewer births. Flexible and mobile old people could make a significant contribution to social life with their sound knowledge. No wonder, then, that medical technology is particularly looking for solutions to reduce the infirmities of old age.

Medicine is the only profession that is working ceaselessly to destroy its livelihood (James Bryce, politician and diplomat)

Artificial heart, liver, kidney and blood

Whether plastic bones, human body parts from the laboratory or the 3D printer, contact lenses with data windows, augmented reality or artificial skin: the technologization of diagnostic and therapeutic services is in full swing due to the synergy effects of information technology, genetic engineering, molecular biology and pharmacology. After all, health is the most important good for people.

Interdisciplinary Medical Technology

Due to the latest developments in medicine, which is linked to many other disciplines, such as nanotechnology and material sciences, most visions of the future are already being implemented in the world’s research and development laboratories today. The healthy, modified human being is the goal.

If we humans today consider ourselves the pinnacle of evolution, you can probably hear a hybrid being of the future laughing quietly.

Especially in medical technology, one should never say never – seemingly irrefutable truths can be thrown overboard from one day to the next. (Ulrich Eberl, science writer and physicist)

Our medicine reflects not only the state of our science, but also our ethics and morals.

Our progress in civilisation can be measured in particular by how we deal with the weakest members of our society. The extent to which their protection is anchored in our morality is demonstrated by the current worldwide lockdown. Many healthy people around the world are staying at home to protect the weaker members of society, so that they are not infected with COVID 19. Today, the guiding principle of the unavailability of human life, which must be defended as a gift in all its phases – even in crises – is not only valid in medical ethics.

All over the world, researchers are concentrating on innovations that can reduce or even cure human suffering.

In our information society, the use of a computer has long become a cultural technique alongside reading, writing and arithmetic. No wonder, then, that these technologies have found their way into medicine in particular. A special area of medical technology is the development of aids for disabled people. The aim is to give them back as much as possible of what they lack.

Mobility and personal freedom!

Stephen Hawking, Prof. Sang-Mook Lee or Mario Marusic aka DeeJay Ridinaro bear witness to the importance of providing all people with disabilities with an accessible way into the world and the use of information technologies. What two decades ago was produced as visions of individual pioneers, has now long since developed into its own specialist sector with a wealth of technically mature solutions.

A young researcher at KAUST University has dedicated himself to this goal in particular. Abdullah Almansouri wants to give disabled people the greatest possible freedom with his research. He says that it makes him happy if he can make a contribution to making the “world a better place”.

Abdullah Almansouri 1Almansouri, who has already won a number of prizes – such as at the ICM Conference 2018 or the MMM-Intermag Conference 2019 – is mainly concerned with wireless power supply and sensor technology.

His applications focus on the potential of magnetic skin, which enables the tracking of eye movements and the contactless control of devices.

His ultimate goal is to help people with severe forms of physical disabilities such as quadriplegia or quadriplegia to achieve a better quality of life through more freedom and mobility.

For people who can’t use their hands or legs, its development should help them to switch on the light or open a door by themselves.

To make this possible, he developed a prototype of the magnetic skin for severely disabled people, which is comfortable for the wearer to wear.

This skin can be thought of as a “portable electronic tattoo”. To make it, Almansouri mixed elastomer matrix with magnetic powder and let it dry at room temperature. He then magnetized the resulting material with electric and permanent magnets, depending on the intended application, to finally perfect the system with a magnetic sensor for the numerous standard solutions.

Socialdistancing: Numerous application possibilities

Its innovation has already been tested for sleep laboratories, where it was used to track eye movements.

However, the use of this development is not only conceivable there, but also wherever a distance must be kept due to the risk of contamination, for example in laboratories, hospitals and operating theatres.

We are currently experiencing a time in which we all experience how important it is to be able to remain active over distances. The value of such innovation for modern medicine is obvious.


About the author: founder and owner of the future and science blog “Utopia Collector”. The futurologist and science journalist is a lecturer and advocates a new understanding of the human work force and successful man-machine cooperation. Contact her? Either by e-mail or simply follow her on LinkedIn.

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