Here's a pretty intriguing prospect: long-term birth control delivered via microchip. Your doctor can switch it on or off remotely, as your reproductive decisions demand, and it lasts 16 years. It's like an IUD without the insertion horror stories!
You can think the Gates Foundation for this glimmer of contraceptive futurism. According to CNET, Massachusetts-based MicroCHIPS has already developed a chip with the basic capabilities, as an all-purpose drug-delivery system:
The chip releases the contents of the reservoir when a minute electric current from a small internal battery is passed through the hermetic titanium and platinum seal, melting it and allowing the dose to release into the body.
Clinical trials with osteoporosis sufferers were promising. Now they're refitting the chip as a contraceptive pumping out levonorgestrel, under the auspices of the Gates Foundation Family Planning program. When you're ready to get pregnant, the doc simply disables the chip with a wireless signal. The Gates Foundation focuses on solutions for the world's poorest countries, but this seems likely to have much wider appeal. The goal is to get clinical trials approved next year, in hops of hitting the market by 2018.
Of course, as the Verge points out, the big question is security. More and more medical devices are Internet enabled, but they're often terrifyingly hackable. Everybody shit bricks over Heartbleed; imagine if there'd been unplanned pregnancies on the line. Unless this chip is encrypted to kingdom come, it's hard to see anybody taking advantage.
Photo via Calek/Shutterstock.