Towards Personalized Medicine: The Evolution of Imperceptible Health-Care Technologies

Tasnim, F., Sadraei, A., Datta, B., Khan, M., Choi, K.Y., Sahasrabudhe, A., Alfonso Vega Galvez, T., Wicaksono, I., Rosello, O., Lopez, C., Dagdeviren. C.†, Foresight, 20(6), 589-601, 2018.


When wearable and implantable devices first arose in the 1970s, they were rigid and clashed dramatically with our soft, pliable skin and organs. The past two decades have witnessed a major upheaval in these devices. Traditional electronics are six orders of magnitude stiffer than soft tissue. As a result, when rigid electronics are integrated with the human body, severe challenges in both mechanical and geometrical form mismatch occur. This mismatch creates an uneven contact at the interface of soft tissue, leading to noisy and unreliable data gathering of the body’s vital signs. This paper aims to predict the role that discreet, seamless medical devices will play in personalized health care by discussing novel solutions for alleviating this interface mismatch and exploring the challenges in developing and commercializing such devices. Since the form factors of biology cannot be changed to match those of rigid devices, conformable devices that mimic the shape and mechanical properties of soft body tissue must be designed and fabricated. These conformable devices play the role of imperceptible medical interfaces. Such interfaces can help scientists and medical practitioners to gain further insights into the body by providing an accurate and reliable instrument that can conform closely to the target areas of interest for continuous, long-term monitoring of the human body, while improving user experience. The authors have highlighted current attempts of mechanically adaptive devices for health care, and the authors forecast key aspects for the future of these conformable biomedical devices and the ways in which these devices will revolutionize how health care is administered or obtained. The authors conclude this paper with the perspective on the challenges of implementing this technology for practical use, including device packaging, environmental life cycle, data privacy, industry partnership and collaboration.

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