14 Emerging Health Technologies That Will Change The World

Policy Horizons Canada worked with futurist and data visualizer Michell Zappa of Envisioning to produce a report called MetaScan 3: Emerging Technologies and accompanying infographics. We are reproducing the summary for emerging health technologies.

Bionic ManJoshua Roberts/ReutersBionic implants will be here soon.

Below are technologies related to health under three key areas of accelerating change: Augmentation, Treatments and Diagnostics. The first area assists both less abled and fully able people to improve their senses, thought and biological functions. Treatments improve different kinds of illness, from genetic diseases, to organ replacements and anti-ageing. Diagnostics will improve greatly over these next 15 years, enabling doctors and citizens to learn about their medical state in real-time.

We have included predictions based on consultation with experts of when each technology will be scientifically viable (the kind of stuff that Google, governments, and universities develop), mainstream (when VCs and startups widely invest in it), and financially viable (when the technology is generally available on Kickstarter).


Medical tricorder: A hypothetical handheld portable scanning device to be used by consumers to self-diagnose medical conditions within seconds and take basic vital measurements. A common view is that it will be a general-purpose tool similar in functionality to a Swiss Army Knife to take health measurements such as blood pressure and temperature and blood flow in a noninvasive way.

Scientifically viable in 2019; mainstream in 2022; financially viable in 2025.

Biohacking: A techno-progressive cultural and intellectual movement which advocates for open access to genetic information and defends the potential of truly democratic technological development. Biohacking can also refer to managing one’s own biology using a combination of medical, nutritional and electronic techniques. This may include the use of nootropics and/or cybernetic devices for recording biometric data.

Scientifically viable today; mainstream and financially viable in 2022.

Labs on chips: Devices that integrates one or several laboratory functions on a single chip of only millimeters to a few square centimeters in size. LOCs deal with the handling of extremely small fluid volumes down to less than picoliters. They represent safer platforms for chemical, radioactive or biological studies.

Scientifically viable today; mainstream and financially viable in 2018.

Biometric sensors: The use of biometrics to telecommunications and telecommunications for remote biometric sensing. Potential applications include monitoring blood levels, infections and efficacy of vaccine.

Scientifically viable today; mainstream and financially viable in 2015.


Lab grown bladderWake Forest UniversityA lab-grown bladder.

Organ printing: The use of a combination of cells, engineering, material methods, suitable biochemical and physio-chemical factors to improve or replace biological functions. The term is closely associated with applications that repair or replace portions of or whole tissues.

Scientifically viable today; mainstream in 2018; financially viable in 2019.

Personalised medicine: A branch of genomics where individual genomes are genotyped and analysed using bioinformatics tools. These may eventually lead to personalised medicine, where patients can take genotype specific drugs for medical treatments.

Scientifically viable today; mainstream in 2017; financially viable in 2027.

Prenatal gene manipulation: The direct manipulation of an embryo/foetus genome using biotechnology.

Scientifically viable in 2020; mainstream in 2022; financially viable in 2024.

Epigenetic therapy: The phenomena whereby genetically identical cells express their genes differently resulting in different phenotypes in, for example, the formation of cancer originating from cancer stem cells.

Scientifically viable in 2018; mainstream and financially viable in 2022.

Anti-ageing drugs: Breakthroughs in tissue rejuvenation with stem cells, molecular repair, and organ replacement (such as artificial organs) might eventually enable humans to have indefinite lifespans through complete rejuvenation to a youthful condition.

Scientifically viable in 2022; mainstream in 2024; financially viable in 2027.

Medical nanobots: A subfield of robotics that studies how to make robots that emulate living biological organisms/functions mechanically or chemically. The main objective of this technology applied to medicine is to enhance the human body’s capabilities or treat malfunctions with robots capable of re-programming and adapt to different conditions, always mimicking organic functions.

Scientifically viable in 2024; mainstream in 2026; financially viable in 2027.


Enhanced organs: Engineered replacement organs for humans that perform better than their natural counterparts. Examples include artificial red blood cells and super-livers (via genetically engineered organs that overexpress key proteins). Respirocytes, for example, are theoretical artificial red blood cells that carry oxygen 200x more efficiently than red blood cells.

Scientifically viable in 2024; mainstream in 2026; financially viable in 2027.

Machine-augmented cognition: Refers to the effective use of information technology to augment human cognition using intelligence amplifying system of tools. Information retrieved from the brain would then be used to feedback necessary stimulus to accomplish determined brain functions.

Scientifically viable in 2019; mainstream in 2020; financially viable in 2022.

Biologically extended senses: The idea is based on the principle that the brain evolved to handle one construction of reality, yet now can overlay multiple local and remote experiences simultaneously, creating new cognitive perceptions. Biological senses can be enhanced and produced artificially, which adapt and transform to address different kinds of stimuli for specific purposes.

Scientifically viable in 2021; mainstream in 2022; financially viable in 2028.

Bionic implants: Microscopic technological structures that extract biometric information from an organism to analyse its performance and improve specific biological functions with assisted feedback. In terms of personal biometry, bionic implants represent great tools to empower preventive medicine and develop customised solutions for specific organisms and diseases.

Scientifically viable in 2015; mainstream in 2017; financially viable in 2019.

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.