Repurposing Medical Implants: from Therapeutics to Augmentation

Public Information Session – Wearable Sensing Technologies: What we have and where we are going! Panelists: Gordon Wallace @UOW, Joseph Wang @USC, Katina Michael @UOW

Event: Wearable and Implantable Sensors Workshop, Friday 19 August 2016, Leon Kane-Maguire Theatre, AIIM Facility, Innovation Campus, North Wollongong.

Draft program here

Title: Repurposing Medical Implants from Therapeutics to Augmentation: the money is where the market is

Abstract: For over 55 years we have witnessed the development of heart pacemakers [1]. Incremental innovations have meant that this product technology has advanced as the industry surrounding it has created better componentry and connectivity. Once we considered the application of implantables for those who only desperately required it for life sustaining purposes, often as a last resort. Today, however, the emphasis is shifting from a restorative need to replace a human function that has been lost or degraded, to one that is preventative and takes on a guise of human augmentation. In all we are witnessing the rise of persuasive computing- that which not only acts as a tool or media, but also as a mechanism to change attitudes and behaviours of social actors through direct interaction or through a mediating role. For example, companies like Medtronics wish to implant sensors in everyone [2]. Their belief is to take the medical technology to the whole market, relying on a medical platform for non-medical control, care and convenience applications. The question is not whether we can achieve this technically, but whether answers to questions about ethics, culture and society can keep pace with rapid scientific advancements [3].


[1] Catherine M. Banbury, 1997, Surviving Technological Innovation in the Pacemaker Industry, 1959-1990, Garland Publishing, Inc. New York.

[2] Eliza Strickland, 2014, Medtronic Wants to Implant Sensors in Everyone, IEEE Spectrum,

[3] Roger Achille, Christine Perakslis, Katina Michael, 2013, “Ethical Issues to consider for Microchip Implants in Humans”, 7th International Conference on Ethical Issues In Biomedical Engineering, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, New York.

Panelist 1: Professor Gordon Wallace

Is involved in the design and discovery of new materials for use in Energy and Health. In the Health area this involves using new materials to develop biocommunications from the molecular to skeletal domains in order to improve human performance via medical Bionics. In the Energy area this involves use of new materials to transform and to store energy, including novel wearable and implantable energy systems for the use in Medical Bionics. He is committed to the translation of fundamental discoveries into practical applications. He is a passionate communicator, dedicated to explaining scientific advances to all in the community from the lay person to the specialist. Gordon was recently appointed to the Prime Ministers Knowledge Nation 100. Gordon is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), Institute of Physics, and Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI). He has published more than 800 refereed publications; a monograph (3rd Edition published in 2009) on Conductive Electroactive Polymers: Intelligent Polymer Systems and co-authored a monograph on Organic Bionics (published 2012). He has recently co-authored an eBook on 3D BioPrinting He led the presentation of a MOOC on 3D Bioprinting on the FutureLearn platform. Gordon has supervised almost 100 PhD students to completion and has mentored more than 50 research fellows. Gordon completed his undergraduate (1979) and PhD (1983) degrees at Deakin University and was awarded a DSc from Deakin University in 2000. He was appointed as a Professor at the University of Wollongong in 1990. He was awarded an ARC Professorial Fellowship in 2002; an ARC Federation Fellowship in 2006 and ARC Laureate Fellowship in 2011.

Panelist 2: Joseph Wang

Joseph Wang is a Distinguished Professor and Chair of Nanoengineering at University of California San Diego (UCSD) and the Director of the Center for Wearable Sensors (CWS) of the Jacobs School of Engineering. Before joining UCSD in 2008 he held Regents Professor and Manasse Chair positions at NMSU and served as the Director of the Center for Bioelectronics and Biosensors (at the ASU Biodesign Institute). Wang is also a Honorary Professor from 6 different universities and the recipient of two National American Society Awards for Electrochemistry and Instrumentation. He was the recipient of the 1994 Heyrovsky Memorial Medal (of the Czech Republic), the 2012 Breyer Medal (Royal Australian Chemistry Institute), and the 2013 Spiers Memorial Medal (Royal Society of Chemistry), for his major contributions to electrochemistry. He is also a RSC Fellow and AIMBE Fellow. Wang serves as the founding Chief Editor of the Wiley journal Electroanalysis and on the editorial board of 15 other journals. The research interests of Dr. Wang include the development of advanced nanomotors and nanoactuators, nanobioelectronics and electrochemical biosensors, wearable sensor systems, and advanced materials for biofuel cells. He has been the mentor of 25 Ph.D. candidates and 150 research associates. He has authored over 980 research papers, 11 books, 20 patents, and 35 chapters (H Index 111). He was ranked as the most cited electrochemist in the world in 1995, the ‘Most Cited Researcher in Engineering’ during 1995- 2005. Website:

Panelist 3: Katina Michael

Is a professor in the School of Computing and Information Technology in the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences at the University of Wollongong. Katina has been the editor-in-chief of IEEE Technology & Society Magazine since 2012, a Senior Editor of IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine, and more recently an associate editor of Ethics and Practices of Biomedical Engineering. Katina also has served as a board member of the Australian Privacy Foundation since 2008, and has been a volunteer for the Consumer Federation of Australia since 2010. Her main research area is in the social implications of emerging technologies with a specific interest in implantables technologies for medical and non-medical applications in relation to socioethics and culture, privacy and security, risk and trust, law and regulation.