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What if Your Cells Could Communicate with Your Phone?

Learn about the Nature Communications’ report that claims your smartphone could communicate with cells.

At a basic level, we already have technology that can understand how our body functions. There are wearables and smartphone apps that can determine our heart rate or general health according to how many steps we take per day. But what if we could take this a step further: what if our smartphones could understand our very makeup? It may sound like a far-off and futuristic idea, but scientists are getting closer to finding a way for our bodies to communicate with technology (and vice versa).

According to a report by Nature Communications, scientists have figured out a way to restructure bacterial cells so that they can understand electronic signals. This means that this technology could be used as a way for our smartphones to communicate with our body’s cells — our smartphones would be able to understand our bodies, and potentially order our cells to perform certain functions. However, the latter point is perhaps farther in our future.

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Here’s a closer look into the manipulation process.

More specifically, scientists were able to genetically modify bacteria so that the bacteria would respond to “redox” molecules. The electrodes of a microelectronic device could then give instructions to the redox molecules. They were able to get the bacteria cells to turn “on” and “off,” too, so they could have more control over the process. The scientists performed various tests, of course, and were able to manipulate single cells and an entire group of cells.

What could this technology be used for?

If a smartphone is able to communicate with your body’s cells, it could also better understand your cells. This would be ground-breaking — we’d be able to understand how our bodies work, how disease works, and maybe even more about how our brains work. This technology is so impressive because it could be used to treat disease. Could this technology potentially answer why a cell mutates? If it could, that would be truly revolutionary for cancer research.

At a more basic level, this type of technology could determine whether or not we have an infection, and what sort of bacteria is involved. Therefore, we could receive more effective treatments. Devices could potentially treat disease by reprogramming bacteria cells, or issuing new “commands.”

Imagine the future of this technology.

Further, could this technology be used for creating Westworld-like robots — robots that appear more human than humans? Perhaps that’s too far off. Nonetheless, if this technology could help to cure cancer, that would be impressive enough.