I have written on a number of occasions about Optogenetics and its promise for medicine. Here is another story, via Medgadget, that reports on advances in the field. In summary, scientists were able to use optogenetic techniques – which allows light to stimulate specific brain neurons – to induce REM sleep in mice.
How might these advances impact medical device design? Right now, optogenetics requires a light source to be placed surgically in the brain. Obviously, such invasiveness needs to be overcome for optogenetics to have widespread use in humans. I foresee companies and educational institutions seeking to develop methods of placing light inside the brain via a worn device, rather than requiring surgical implantation. Just as oil was the dominant driver of the 20th century, light will be the driver of the 21st.