“It might be a matter of years, not decades, before bio-printed replacement organs are a reality. Are you ready for the era of the acceleration of science?” – Futurist Jim Carroll
This is a still picture grabbed from the video of my keynote yesterday – Sunday, weekend work! – in Edmonton, Canada, for a group of optometrists and eyecare professionals. The quote was used on stage for this group, as well as for a group of dentists in Toronto, Ontario, just a few weeks earlier. I really need to write a blog post around the trends I covered for both groups, but for now, the fact is this: research into the concept of 3D printing body parts – replacement organs, lenses, and molars – using live tissue instead of inert materials, might be here sooner that we think. At least, that is the crazy science-fiction like idea behind the quote – but as everyone is learning, the crazy is becoming faster sooner.
That doesn’t mean we will see the mainstream arrival and adoption of such a trend, but it does mean that these professions are on the edge of a new era, with concepts that simply might not have made sense years ago.
On stage, I used a story of what happens when we repair a tree – and how it is similar to how we repair a tree with damage that we want to preserve. For a tree, we use cement, wires and other methods when trying to hold it together. For a tooth, we use enamel, amalgam, and wire to try to hold it to together. In the future, we’ll fix that tree with live material grown specifically for that purposes. In dentistry and eyecare, we are already seeing that trend emerge.
The future? It happens slowly – and then, all at once!