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Can You Make Medical Devices Out of LEGOs?

Using ribbons, buttons, LEGOs and 3D printing, this scientist is trying to make it easier and cheaper for doctors and nurses to create medical devices

Medical device supplies. Image: Elemental

From pacemakers to heart rate monitors to nebulizers, medical devices are a key part of medicine these days. But they're also expensive, delicate and hard to get if you're not at a state-of-the-art medical facility. In this video, Elemental video scientist Boonsri Dickinson visits Jose Gomez-Marquez, the director of the MIT Little Devices Lab, at Maker Faire and takes a look at the various ways he's using things like LEGOs to make cheaper, easier and more hackable medical devices. Bonus: much of the video is shot through Google Glass.

Using ribbons, buttons, LEGOs and 3D printing, Gomez-Marquez is trying to make it easier and cheaper for doctors and nurses to create and fix medical devices. And the project has changed at least one person's life. Gomez-Marquez tells Dickinson the story of a man who used a DIY  nebulizer—a little device that turns drugs into mist to be delivered into the lungs—and then used it on his infant daughter when she had pneumonia.

Here, you can see Gomez-Marquez's talk at Stanford Medicine X this year:

It's probably not time to make your pacemaker out of LEGOs just yet, but that time might not be too far away either.

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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