The concept of implanting birth control that lasts for years is nothing new, but the idea of implanting remote-controlled birth control that can work for a decade and a half sure is.
But if things go according to plan, that kind of technology could be on the market in the next few years.
The MIT Technology Review reports on MicroCHIPS, a Lexington, Massachusetts company that has designed a wireless contraceptive chip that is meant to be implanted in the arm, abdomen, or buttocks and dispense 30 micrograms of levonorgestrel a day. The tiny chip is 20x20x7 millimeters and can be controlled wirelessly.
Yep, remote-controlled birth control. The device supposedly works for up to 16 years (most implanatables last for only a few years), and can be turned off when a woman wishes to conceive.
Apparently, the whole idea come from Bill Gates. Check out this from the MIT Technology Review:
The idea for the device originated two years ago in a visit by Bill Gates and his colleagues to Robert Langer’s MIT lab. Gates and his colleagues asked Langer if it were feasible to create birth control that a woman could turn on and off and use for many years. Langer thought the controlled release microchip technology he invented with colleagues Michael Cima and John Santini in the 1990s and licensed to MicroCHIPS might offer a solution.
You may know Gates as that Microsoft dude or as the man who's trying to make a next-gen condom. MicroCHIPS is one of the many companies that have received backing from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. That Bill Gates is sure on the cusp of some sort of sexual technology breakthrough.
This isn't entirely new ground for MicroCHIPS, who in 2012 announced clinical results from their first successful human trial of an implantable, wireless drug delivery device. That trial dealt with post-menopausal women and the device delivered a daily dose of an osteoporosis drug – but the wireless technology was similar to what they're envisioning with the implantable birth control.
"This trial demonstrates how drug can be delivered through an implantable device that can be monitored and controlled remotely, providing new opportunities to improve treatment for patients and to realize the potential of telemedicine," said Robert Langer, cofounder of MicroCHIPS, at the time of that trial.
Although the chip will have to undergo encryption to prevent tampering (nobody wants hacked birth control), the device is hoping to start testing in the US as soon as 2015 – and it could hit the market by 2018.