Remote Controlled Contraceptive Chip You Can Turn On For 16 Years

The Pill may soon become a thing of the past

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© 2017 Pranjal Mahna Flickr

Imagine that instead of having to take a contraceptive pill everyday, you could be fitted with a microchip that administered you with a miniscule amount of hormone every day for sixteen years.

This wonder might be as close as four years to market, and has been developed by researchers at The Bill Gates Foundation.

The way it works is the chip is implanted under a woman's skin, so that it can release a small dose of the hormone levonorgestrel. The chip measures at 20mm x 20mm x 7mm, and can be deactivated at any time by using a wireless remote control.

While the chip itself would obviously be an incredibly convenient way to use contraception, concerns about the security of the chip have been raised. If the chip can be activated by a remote control, how can we be sure that it won’t be sabotaged or interfered with in some way? Dr Farra, one of the researchers have countered these concerns with assurance that "communication with the implant has to occur at skin contact level distance".

He told the BBC that "someone across the room cannot re-programme your implant...then we have secure encryption. That prevents someone from trying to interpret or intervene between the communications."

This is reassuring, and would allow for the chip to be used for other drug administration too. The clinical trial for the contraceptive chip is on schedule to begin next year, with possible widespread availability in 2018.