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Three Ways to Build an Artificial Kidney

Wearable, implantable, and bioartificial kidneys could improve and extend patients’ lives

4 min read
Photo: Stephen Brashear
Renal Utility Belt:  Engineers have invented a kidney dialysis device that a patient can walk around in.
Photo: Stephen Brashear

Three research groups taking very different approaches to building an artificial kidney all have the same goal: giving people with kidney failure an escape from today’s dialysis routine. Dialysis keeps people alive, but it’s also pretty terrible.

A typical patient goes to a clinic three times each week to be hooked up to a dialysis machine, then lies there for 3 or 4 hours while blood cycles out of the body, through the machine, and back in again. The machine substitutes for working kidneys by filtering out toxic waste products, maintaining the balance of electrolytes, and removing excess water.

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Are You Ready for Workplace Brain Scanning?

Extracting and using brain data will make workers happier and more productive, backers say

11 min read
A photo collage showing a man wearing a eeg headset while looking at a computer screen.
Nadia Radic

Get ready: Neurotechnology is coming to the workplace. Neural sensors are now reliable and affordable enough to support commercial pilot projects that extract productivity-enhancing data from workers’ brains. These projects aren’t confined to specialized workplaces; they’re also happening in offices, factories, farms, and airports. The companies and people behind these neurotech devices are certain that they will improve our lives. But there are serious questions about whether work should be organized around certain functions of the brain, rather than the person as a whole.

To be clear, the kind of neurotech that’s currently available is nowhere close to reading minds. Sensors detect electrical activity across different areas of the brain, and the patterns in that activity can be broadly correlated with different feelings or physiological responses, such as stress, focus, or a reaction to external stimuli. These data can be exploited to make workers more efficient—and, proponents of the technology say, to make them happier. Two of the most interesting innovators in this field are the Israel-based startup InnerEye, which aims to give workers superhuman abilities, and Emotiv, a Silicon Valley neurotech company that’s bringing a brain-tracking wearable to office workers, including those working remotely.

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