Natural forms are inspiring the design of safer, and improved medical devices. Will this lessen publ

The public are showing a concern about rapidly emerging medical technologies, such as wearable sensors, particularly for patient safety and compatibility. Here, we discuss how innovations are underway which aim to address some of these concerns by designing safer, more flexible devices, by drawing inspiration from nature.

Medical industries are introducing electronic sensors to help monitor our health. We also use similar devices in our day-to-day activities, like running around the block, while using a heart rate monitor on our arm.

Medical devices can be placed on our skin as wearable devices (wearables), or even in our stomach, as digestible pills. The sensors can measure what is going on in our bodies, such as heart rate, and blood chemistry. This might sound like something from a sci-fi movie, but this is a newly emerging trend which we might start to see becoming part of our day-to-day reality.

What we need in medical devices

For these intricate devices to be durable, there are extensive developments underway in these technologies and the materials associated with them. Wearables require advanced adhesives to attach to our skin, which need to be durable, flexible and breathable, maintaining skin-to-skin contact on the body in a range of stressed conditions, like while swimming or cycling.

Implants require appropriate materials to be used for durability and flexibility on the body, and are often made from crude-oil derived products, which can cause physical complications. The body may interpret these as foreign objects, and creates a problematic immune response.