hydrogel medical deviceFlexible electronics are the wave of the future. And combining flexible electronics with soft, pliant hydrogel material is going to transform medical product design.

From MedGadget, we learn that researchers at MIT are developing hydrogel materials and incorporating sensors and drug delivery mechanisms into them.

The key here is the flexible nature of the hydrogel, and the fact that it can stretch and conform as the body moves. Hydrogels with flexible electronics embedded in them will allow us to move away from devices encased in rigid housings and toward supple structures that are more compatible with the human form, more comfortable and more natural. Furthermore, hydrogels are mostly water – as is the human body. The MIT researchers envision hydrogel-based medical devices not only as body-worn products, but as implantable devices as well.

Medical device designers would be wise to pay attention to advances in flexible electronics and in hydrogels, and plan for their use in next-generation products.