In Massachusetts, researchers have developed a contraceptive computer chip that can be implanted under a woman’s skin and release a small dose of levonorgestrel every day for 16 years.
The release can be stopped at any time using a wireless remote control.
It works by storing tiny reservoirs of the levonorgestrel within the device, where a small electric charge melts a seal around the hormone and prompts the release of the dose – 30 micrograms -into the woman’s body.
Dr. Robert Farra from MIT said:
“The ability to turn the device on and off provides a certain convenience factor for those who are planning their family”
The chip, which its creators say will be “competitively priced,” measures 20 mm x 20 mm x 7 mm.
Bill Gates has already backed the project, which will be submitted for testing next year and will probably go on sale by 2018.
But the team is facing some challenges with this project.
They must completely secure the device so another person can’t have access to activating or deactivating it without the patient’s knowledge.
Farra says that communication within the implant must occur at a skin contact level distance so somebody from across the room can’t tamper with the system.
In the wake of the Hobby Lobby case that severely restricted a woman’s access to contraceptives, biomedical engineer Gavin Corley said that this new implant technology can potentially open doors for women whose access to traditional contraceptives is limited.