From 3D printed organs to smart fabrics to Edge technology, the first quarter of 2019 has shown some interesting promise in innovation. Stay abreast of the latest trends that may dominate our lives in 2019 (or are just exciting to hear about).
3D Printing in Medicine
While 3D printing is already being used in the area of wearable medical devices such as prosthetics, innovation is taking place in another area altogether - organs. An Israeli team of researchers has been able to 3D print a heart with a patient’s own biological material and cells. Although the heart is only about the size of a grape and has yet to be transplanted into animals, this is a significant step towards printing body parts. The team created an organ with cells and blood vessels, chambers and other structures.1
The next step will be to ”program” a 3D-printed heart to function as a real heart does. This will likely be followed by transplanting it into lab rats for testing.
Tech watches have been a leader in innovative wearable technology over the past few years. This year, a new trend is gaining momentum in the field of smart fabrics. Scientists have been working for a while on creating a material that could change its insulating properties in response to the environment. They finally succeeded in 2019. Using a material made from specially engineered yarn coated with a conductive metal, University of Maryland researchers created a fabric capable of automatically regulating the level of heat that passes through it.2
When worn on a sweaty body, the material releases infrared radiation to cool down but when the environment becomes cool and dry, it will reduce the amount of heat escaping. This new innovation is not yet commercial, but it signals some big developments in comfort-adjusting clothing ahead.
With the advancements in IoT (Internet of Things) devices, the ability to quickly move data from one point to another has emerged as a significant challenge. Data usually will need to go from the device to a central data center located far away, causing buffering delays. Edge technology offers a solution by reducing the physical distance between the data source and its eventual destination. It’s sort of a local processor for analyzing the data from an IoT device before or without the data being transferred to a central repository. For example, if you had a voice-based smart home assistant and it answers a qu
estion of yours without needing to communicate to its main data center, it would be considered an edge computing device. This technology may prove to be critical in the future in the development of autonomous cars, where a few milliseconds of lag could be the difference between a safe journey and disaster.3
1 3D Printing of Personalized Thick and Perfusable Cardiac Patches and Hearts/Advanced Science
2 Scientists develop first fabric to automatically cool or insulate depending on conditions/February 7, 2019, University of Maryland
3 How to Reduce Latency Using Edge Computing/vXchnge