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Next-Level Evolution: Enhancing the Human Body With Anthrobots, Organic Transistors, Brain Implants, and More

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Enhancing the Human Body

Technological innovation is happening at a breathtaking, rapid pace in every sphere of our lives, electrifying and enhancing the human body in profound ways. A multitude of groundbreaking breakthroughs are being tirelessly made to enhance our human body, so it doesn't come as a surprise that the human augmentation market is expected to explode to be worth an astonishing $645.9 billion by 2030, skyrocketing up from about $143 billion in 2022.

Enhanced physical and cognitive capabilities aren't just a futuristic concept tucked away in the realms of science fiction anymore; instead, diligent research and robust investment have paved the way to pioneering tools and prototypes, seamlessly making human augmentation more accessible and practical.

So, today, let's see what it is all about and what kind of experiments and innovation is happening in this space!

What is Human Augmentation?

To start with, human augmentation is essentially about enhancing the human body, aimed at increasing our capability or productivity. Also referred to as Human 2.0, this enhancement in the ability to perform both mental and physical actions is being achieved with the aid of external tools or by integrating them into our bodies.

Already, we can witness wearable devices such as smartphones and smartwatches, integral parts of our daily routines, significantly enhancing our communication abilities. Similarly, other external tools like eyeglasses, microscopes, and highly sensitive microphones are actively being utilized to augment human abilities.

There are many other different forms of human-enhancing technologies gradually making their way into the market, encompassing a wide range, including:

  • Gene therapy
  • Brain-computer interfaces (BCI)
  • Brain implants
  • 3D bioprinting
  • Organic transistors
  • Robots
  • Virtual agents
  • Augmented reality (AR)
  • Cyberware

Concurrently, the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is further catalyzing advancement in this sector. From a simple prosthetic limb to a fully AI-controlled cyborg, technology is enabling us to significantly enhance human potential.

Now, let's take a deeper look into all that is going into this industry and how different innovations are helping advance human capabilities.

Human Advancement Technologies 

Modern advancements in science and technology have led to a variety of solutions for enhancing the human body. These technologies, as detailed below, help overcome the body's limitations, either temporarily or permanently, through natural or artificial means.

Wearables

Wearable interactive technology offers a seamless and sophisticated integration with the physical and digital world around us, effortlessly bridging the two realms. It provides us with intuitive, easy-to-use extensions, turning interactions with smart objects into a fluid, second nature. Moreover, it gifts us with essential, timely data, smartly filtering out all the unnecessary noise, ensuring we're tuned in to what truly matters.

They aren't new, but their adoption has certainly grown, with ABI Research forecasting $1.9 billion through 2025 in the exoskeleton market, which is a type of augmented technology that bolsters human performance. Exoskeletons are used for industrial purposes in construction and manufacturing as well as for rehabilitation in physical therapy.

Another product in this line is smart glasses, which gather resources to help us navigate the web. Giants like Meta are aggressively working on this, with Netflix and AccuWeather already having their apps optimized for smart glasses. Some e-glasses come fitted with cameras to produce images on their front end and can be connected to the brain. Intelligence glasses can further enable you to make a call, record movements, and guide GPS navigation, weather information, and even changes in your body. 

In the translator's segment, Timekettle allows you to be a polyglot at the push of a button. Meanwhile, motion translators convert sign language into speech and, in coming years, could be expanded in the form of mobile apps.

Click for the list of the best wearable health tracking companies to invest in.

Organic Transistors 

Organic transistors are emerging as promising candidates for biosensing applications thanks to their biocompatibility, flexibility, and extensive processability. These devices rely on interaction between active layers and target analytes. 

Up until now, the development of organic transistor-based biosensors has been challenging; however, recent achievements are beginning to help overcome these hurdles. Key strategies employed include the molecular design, the assembly of organic semiconductors and biological receptors, and the suppression of the Debye screening effect.

Scientists have been boosting the performance of these organic transistors, which act as switches, by flipping their design from the conventional horizontal on its side. For example, a new type of device called an organic electrochemical transistor (OECT) switches by controlling the number of positive charges (electrons) in a semiconducting polymer through ions from an electrolyte. 

Meanwhile, researchers at Tufts University Silklab created microprocessor-scale transistors that can detect and respond to biological states and the environment. Instead of insulating material, this device has silk fibroin, which can be precisely deposited onto surfaces and then, using other chemical and biological molecules, can be easily modified, and its properties can be changed. Using this, the team developed a highly sensitive and ultrafast breath sensor to detect some cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases.

Earlier this year, Columbia Engineering researchers also developed the first ever stand-alone, conformable, organic bioelectronic device, which is 100x smaller than a human hair and is capable of not only acquiring and transmitting neurophysiologic brain signals but also providing the power required for its operation.

Anthrobots

Another technology helping human enhancement is anthrobots, which are human-like robots. Most recently, researchers demonstrated their potential in healing and regenerative medicine by making these biological, self-assembling robots from human tracheal cells but without genetic modification. These multicellular robots can be anywhere from hair-width to pencil-point size and are capable of movement and encouraging neuron growth.

These robots, as stated by researchers, are created from frog embryo cells called Xenobots. These devices can navigate passageways, record any information, and collect material. Moreover, they can heal themselves from injuries and, on top of that, replicate on their own. These bots can further help understand how the genome and environment work together to create tissues, organs, and limbs and how to restore them with regenerative treatments.

There are also nanobots, which allow for precise interaction with nano-objects and can be big in the medical industry. These devices are deployed in the human body to perform functions to increase immunity. 

Prosthetics 

Another way for enhancing the human body through human augmentation is taking place via replication, with technology now having the capability to replace compromised human abilities. For example, prosthetics that replicate a limb can perform tasks in a way that is strikingly similar to the original limb, thus becoming an essential device for human use. These devices not only enable people with deformities to perform routine functions but also to exhibit high levels of skill.

This could be as straightforward as lift ware augmentation, providing dining utensils for older adults or individuals with tremors or limited mobility, or finger prosthetics for those who have suffered an accident or an amputation. For instance, Naked Prosthetics specializes in custom hand prosthetics that endow users with very high levels of dexterity.

Technological advancement is also streamlining the creation of these prosthetics. In this realm, 3D printing is revolutionizing the design process, transforming it into a fully digital workflow. This process involves capturing a limb's 3D scan with a digital scanner and then utilizing CAD software to generate a personalized design profile, which can be seamlessly imported into a 3D printer for the manufacturing of customized prosthetic sockets.

Brain Implants 

When it comes to brain implants, companies such as Elon Musk's Neuralink are revolutionizing the way the human mind interacts with computers. The company is currently gearing up for the human trial of its brain chip implantation, having received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Meanwhile, other companies like Kernel and NextMind are exploring ways to make this possible without resorting to invasive methods like surgery.

While there are serious concerns about BCI, it also has the potential to unlock the neuron's capabilities. Brain implants hold immense promise for treating neurological disorders like Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, and chronic pain. They are also pivotal in areas like neuromodulation, controlling prosthetic devices, and monitoring brain activity.

Brain chips could further be instrumental in treating sleep disorders and enhancing memory through specific organ stimulation and neurofeedback. Looking ahead, we can envision their use in expanding human capacity to store more information, thus offering enhanced capabilities.

Click here to learn more about brain implants.

Bioprinting

Then there is bioprinting, which is garnering a lot of attention. It involves the creation of organic tissues, such as organs, bones, and skin, utilizing 3D printing techniques. While this technology is still in its earliest stages, companies like TissueLabs are actively engaged in building human organs and tissues in the laboratory, thereby redefining the medical industry. In 2022, surgeons in Texas achieved a milestone by implanting a 3D-bioprinted structure of a patient's ear onto them.

In this domain, various techniques like bio-ink-based 3D printing, extrusion-based 3D bioprinting, laser-assisted 3D bioprinting, and stereolithographic-based 3D bioprinting are employed to develop bioartificial organs.

Meanwhile, companies such as Altos Labs and Calico Labs are focusing on aging tech. In pursuit of this goal, Altos Labs has been developing specialized cell therapies, notably those based on induced pluripotent stem cells.

Click here for the list of best 3D bioprinting stocks.

Artificial Intelligence

From communication, finance, healthcare, and recruitment to art, entertainment, food, and fashion, AI is transforming various areas of our lives, significantly increasing our possibilities as human beings and enhancing the human body in unprecedented ways. In this vein, DeepMind, acquired by Google, has developed an AI named Alphafold that aims to predict the shape of structured proteins, enhancing our ability to fight diseases and develop medicines, thereby improving human health.

AI, in tandem with neural implants, is also being utilized to treat disorders such as epilepsy and Parkinson's. It does so by extracting deep information and then activating the neural implants at the most optimal time. The application of this technology can also enhance our understanding of the brain and boost cognitive abilities by directly interfacing with and stimulating specific brain regions.

Furthermore, there are AI assistants who may act on our behalf, based on our behavioral patterns and preferences, to carry out tasks ranging from simple to complex efficiently. These systems can be particularly beneficial for elderly people and those with disabilities, specializing in assisting with specific body functions.

The integration of AI with robotics is also leading to the development of surgical robots equipped with inbuilt optics for extra-sensory information. These robots are capable of performing highly skilled surgeries, aiding surgeons in achieving greater precision, especially in complex procedures like neurosurgery. 

Click here to learn all about investing in artificial intelligence.


Companies Developing Human Body Enhancing Technologies 

All these advancements aren't limited to just big tech companies; many small and medium-sized businesses, especially startups, are being active participants in this revolution. So, let's take a look at a few prominent names in this field:

1. BrainGate

The company implants micro-electrodes in the brain, enabling individuals with spinal cord injuries, brainstem strokes, and ALS to control external devices like computers merely by thinking about them. Back in 2021, the company's clinical trial showcased the use of high-bandwidth BCI equipped with external wireless transmitters. More recently, BrainGate achieved a significant milestone in restoring speech for individuals who have lost their ability to speak due to paralysis, reaching speeds approaching the conversational rate of 160 words per minute.

2. Synchron

Rodney & Phil Use Our Brain Computer Interface

The developer of the Stentrode BCI implant, which utilizes blood vessels to capture signals from the brain, is primarily focused on treating neurological disorders and restoring lost functions to patients with severe paralysis. Synchron is actively conducting clinical trials to assess the safety and feasibility of its device, which enables patient-directed brain control. Notably, the company, backed by investors including the US Department of Defense and DARPA, became the first to successfully implant a BCI into a human patient last year.

3. Emotiv

How EMOTIV neuro tech and EEG headsets are unlocking the human brain

The US-based bioinformatics company, known for its work in understanding the human brain using EEG, is currently manufacturing intuitive wearable neuro-headsets. These are specifically designed for scalable human brain research. Emotiv also offers access to professional-grade brain data. Its CEO and founder, Tan Le, envisions this data being used to “track behavioral and cognitive performance,” thereby enabling the creation of more personalized products.

Other companies involved in human augmentation include Google, Raytheon, Apple, Microsoft, Meta, Samsung Electronics, Neurable, Vuzix Corporation, Blackrock Neurotech, Ekso Bionics, Magic Leap, Temia, Kernel, MindMaze, Rewalk Robotics, and Second Sight Medical.


Conclusion

As we saw, a lot is happening in enhancing the human body to augment human capabilities and make our lives better. However, human augmentation is not without its issues; it has actually been subject to growing ethical concerns, especially with the advancement of AI and its increasing dependence on it. Moreover, there are issues in the form of unfair competition, high cost, accessibility, privacy, reliability, and security.

The thing is, humans have always been striving to improve their natural abilities, and with the human augmentation market presenting us with the opportunity and promise of becoming “superhumans,” thanks to technological evolution, everyone wants to be on board. It is already a megatrend, so what is important is striking the right balance of technology innovation and user safety before it is implemented in society at a wider scale.

Gaurav started trading cryptocurrencies in 2017 and has fallen in love with the crypto space ever since. His interest in everything crypto turned him into a writer specializing in cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Soon he found himself working with crypto companies and media outlets. He is also a big-time Batman fan.