The Bulletin

3D printed cyborgs closer to reality

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Biology and electronics are merging

Princeton University scientists have successfully combined organic tissue with electronics, potentially extending the boundaries of human hearing well beyond natural limits.

3D printed cybernetically-enhanced organs - they are a thing. Last week, Princeton announced that a team of its researchers had made it possible for people to hear better by merging man and machine. They used 3D printing to interweave cartilage grown from calf cells with a nanoparticle antenna, and it was accomplished with equipment that you can order online.

The scientists aren't proposing the creation of Star Trek inspired "Borgs" but are instead exploring the potential to help people who have experienced hearing damage or other injuries.

"Bridging the divide between biology and electronics represents a formidable challenge that needs to be overcome to enable the creation of smart prostheses and implants," said David Gracias, a Johns Hopkins University professor and and co-author of the research report.

"Electrical signals produced by the ear could be connected to a patient's nerve endings, similar to a hearing aid. The current system receives radio waves, but [Gracias] said the research team plans to incorporate other materials, such as pressure-sensitive electronic sensors, to enable the ear to register," Princeton's press release stated.

Princeton noted that support was provided from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and National Institutes of Health.

(image credit Wikipedia commons)

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— By on May 14, 2013, 11:55 AM PST

David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure