Cyborgs: Living organisms and technology merge
Considering biological systems from a computational perspective has led to remarkable advancements in the area of human and animal interaction with technology. Some envision an age of post-humanism in which the lines between technology and living organisms blur.
Research activity in the field of applying electronics technology to biology is growing rapidly. Bio-electronic materials will impact many areas including healthcare, environmental protection and food supply. Due to improved bio-compatibility, it is believed that the majority of wearables will be implantable in 5-10 years. Bio-electronic interfaces will enable the direct communication between biological and electronic components - e.g. polymer-based fiber probes that can stimulate nerves and record neural activity. In a few years, brain-machine interfaces (BMI) that allow users to control machines or prostheses with their thoughts might be available. By sending electronic signals through the body, researchers hope to cure certain chronic diseases.
Another emerging area is the field of living technologies hybrids of wetware and hardware. Researchers have induced conductive polymers into a plant, creating a living circuit. And there is a growing community of people called bio-hackers who want to use wetware to augment humanity and thus, in the true sense of the word, create cyborgs.
Neuroprosthetics market (motor, auditory prosthetics/cochlear implants, cognitive prosthetics, visual prosthetics/retinal implants) is expected to reach USD 14.6 bn by 2024, an increase of almost 250% compared to 2015 (USD 4.2 bn).