We'll be able to 3D print replacement organs
3D printers have done some cool stuff -- you know, helping people with ill-fitting earbuds, college kids with crooked teeth... turtles. But thanks to some huge developments in the field of regenerative medicine, 3D printing is about to get a lot more legit. The ability to print living tissue -- suitable for implant into live humans -- is (nearly) here. The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine has built a device called the Integrated Tissue and Organ Printing System, which layers living cells atop a “scaffolding” of biodegradable plastic to create growing muscles, cartilage, and even bone. It sounds crazy, but in animal tests, these implanted pieces of tissue have actually been shown to thrive. So as soon as they confirm the long-term safety of it, it'll be possible to print out replacement organs for you and your loved ones, which is a way better scenario than the organ harvesting that went on in that Scarlett Johansson flick.
Surgeons can use virtual reality to avoid risky surgeries
Virtual and augmented reality is going to make our concerts and football games way more badass in the future, but its also a huge game changer for doctors. Instead of the shitty 2D animations doctors use today, 3D renderings of patients will eliminate the need to perform dangerous procedures in order to determine a prognosis or treatment plan.
VR and AR expert Jody Medich told me about a four-month old girl with a congenital heart condition who was deemed inoperable, as there was no way to accurately see what was going on with her heart without cutting her chest open and physically feeling around -- an incredibly dangerous thing to do to an infant. But doctors got creative and converted her 2D MRI scans into a 3D model they could assess in VR via Google Cardboard. It let them see everything they needed and ultimately saved her life.