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06. Safe fragrances
05. DNA mass information store
04. Garden mounds for permaculture
03. Silver as high-tech material
02. Micro needle transmits medications and light
01. Electricity storage in gravity systems

12. An eye on space hazards
11. Water purification through freezing
10. Solar shingles
09. Trinary code
08. Vegetation-based battery materials
07. Indoor position location
06. The interface industry
05. Hypersonic aircraft
04. Re-usable glass packaging
03. Vein patterns as personal ID
02. Magnet making bacteria
01. Ultra-light solids

12. Ultrasound in water
11. Projected touchscreen
10. Electric airplane
08. Glass hard disc
04. Nuclear hazard
03. Clearing “sewer soap”
02. Water harvesting
01. Tea bag size personal water filter

12. Human powered water transport
11. The Technium
08. Bio-remediation of oil spills
07. Cleaner coal
05. Oil spill remediation
04. Solar towers
03. Brain-computer
02. Biodiesel producing bacteria
01. Hydrogen producing bacteria

12. Levitating living organisms
11. A new blue
10. Polymer magnets
09. Electric vehicle batteries
08. Implantable cancer monitors
07. Algal biofuel
06. Geo-Thermal Heat Pump
05. Battery powered roadster
04. Fenestration
03. Text to voice
02. Implantable ID chips
01. Air cleansing building material

12. ebooks
11. Energy Harvesting
10. Private space-flights
09. Virus identification chip
08. Bio-fuels
07. Electronic financial trading
06. Bio-remediation
05. New tech agriculture
04. Manufactured Hotels
03. Magnetic Induction
02. Genetic Vaults
01. Solid-state lighting

12 Bacteria in agriculture and industry
11. Blue revolution
10. Electronic nose
09. Nuclear sarcophagus
08. Shape shifting technology
07. Thought activated technology
06. Green is cool - make me look green
05. Electronic 'drugs'
04. Super-canals and super-ships
03. Environmentally friendly technology: greens versus grays
02. Agriculture: food,fiber and fuel
01. FPGA floating-point performance surpasses microprocessor

08. Energy sources for electricity compete
07. Universal interface (UI)
06. Magnetic levitation
05. Light pipes
04. Storage of electricity
03. Automotive engines
02. Molecular assembly
01. Introducing Technoscan Newsbriefs

Vol. 2, No. 05. May 31, 2007
ISSN 1932-3018

Electronic "drugs"
Positioning this technology in the
Functionality Grid
Reformatted from: Van Wyk, Rias J: Technology - A Unifying Code, 2004, SMG, Cape Town, p.34. Based on: Ropohl, Gunter: Eine Systemtheorie der Technik, 1979, Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich and Vienna, p.178.
This Newsbrief focuses on trends in medical electronics, particularly the development of devices that act on the nervous system. In terms of the Atlas of Technological Advance, it deals with the functionality of information processing.
Medical technologies reflect the same patterns of technological competition and confluence as are found in the greater technological universe. To seek areas of competition it is convenient to organize human physiology into functionalities that handle matter (M), energy (E) and information (I), respectively. Medical interventions and treatments can then be distinguished by their primary effects on transport, processing or storage within the MEI metric.
One example of this competition is the announcement of an electronic device to treat obesity. The device stimulates a part of the nervous system to inhibit the desire for food. This intervention is aimed at the I-system in the human body. The more conventional treatments for obesity such as gastric bypass focus on changing the transport of (M), while drugs are often aimed at the (E) system.
The choice of electronics (I) as opposed to drugs (E) or surgery (M) is a part of a larger pattern of technological substitution in medical technology. Other examples include devices to treat:
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Low back pain
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Pain during surgery
Technology executives and investment professionals should anticipate an upsurge in treatments focused on I. Look for increased competition between two therapeutic approaches, medical electronics and medical drugs.

Compilers: Biltz, George, and Van Wyk, Rias J. George Biltz is a practicing physician and teaches human physiology at the University of Minnesota. E-mail:

© Rias J. van Wyk, 2013. Editor.