At this year’s it@Cork event, attendees got to see a person be transformed from a human into a cyborg with help from a smart implant.
Now in its seventh instalment, it@Cork’s Tech Summit this year was heavily focused on all things future from the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on healthcare, to the tech industry’s responsibility to make social media as safe a space as possible for children.
But certainly one of the more eye-catching events was Denis Canty, co-chair of the event and senior director of automation at the AI Software Labs in McKesson, being upgraded to become a ‘cyborg’.
With help from Dr Patrick Kramer, chief cyborg officer of Vivokey Technologies, Canty received a smart implant live on stage, a first for an Irish audience.
Speaking of its potential, Kramer said that implants such as this will be increasingly common in a future of biohackers.
“This will increasingly change us humans and will radically change our skills in every aspect of life,” he said. “Cyborgs can and will become commonplace. People are already using smart implants in place of their car keys.”
“Further developments in this field – expected to come on stream this summer – include the implantation of next-generation chips which will allow people to replace their smartphones with a microchip.”
From 3D-printed organs to robots
Staying on the topic of biohacking and cyborgs, Cameron Auld, a process engineer with Axiel3D, showed attendees the potential for 3D-printed organs as a quicker and safer means of arranging an organ transplant.
“In a nutshell, Axiel3D has revolutionised the world of surgery by creating 3D models of human organs ahead of surgery,” he said.
“This moves the planning stage from 2D imaging to 3D modelling, which reduces time in surgery and improves patient recovery time through the reduction of time spent in surgery.”
There was also some love for more traditional robots, such as Stevie the helper robot.
Led by Trinity College Dublin’s Prof Conor McGinn, Stevie was a project launched last year. The robot is designed to help older people and those in need of care, giving them something to look after them when a human carer isn’t around, while also providing some much-needed company.
Speaking of the event, it@Cork’s director Gillian Bergin said: “The innovations we were fortunate to learn about [at the event] are life-changing and that is not overstatement or an exaggeration.
“3D-printed organs and digital health devices are changing how we deliver healthcare – a sector which has benefited monumentally from technology-related patient treatment developments over the years.”