back to article Wireless-controlled contraception implant is coming, says MIT

MIT's decade-plus pitch to embed microchip-based drug-dispensaries in humans has been re-framed as a microprocessor-based, wireless-controlled, fully Internet-of-Things-compliant, implantable contraceptive. Since 1999, MIT's Robert Langer et al have been pitching the idea of using microchips to deliver medicines. The idea, way …

  1. Don Jefe

    It should come with some sort of flashing light that let's you know if she's got the safety off. Not just for trust issues (that's a whole different ball of wax), but for couples that don't want a baby but also enjoy copious amounts of drugs, alcohol and quickie sex in national monuments, art museums and VIP motorcades.

    1. Kharkov

      Quote: '...quickie sex in national monuments, art museums and VIP motorcades...' Unquote

      Forgive me for this but the first thought to go through my mind was...

      All these places usually offer Wi-Fi so... to discourage illicit nookie on their (very public) premises, might they have their Wi-Fi set up to... switch off the contraceptive implant?

      That'll dampen their amour...

      1. Jad

        RE: switch off the contraceptive implant?

        It looks like this is an activate each time type of thing, the power it uses to give out the drug appears to come from the wifi signal ...

        The 2 problems I can see with it:

        1) if it's manually delivered (or automatically delivered by a specific device) you have the chance of it not being delivered, or not getting the signal from the device, and therefore not activating.

        2) You could receive a major dose (problematic?), and then not have any of the drug available in the future ...

  2. Charles Manning

    Contraceptive patch

    Microsoft gives this a completely new meaning.

    PS Where's the Playmobil?

  3. Mark 85 Silver badge

    "MIT's house magazine says the idea of using it for chip-borne contraceptives was sparked by a visit by Bill Gates to Langer's laboratory."

    So.. they want to prevent more Bill Gates's?

    Ok.. seriously now... are these people nuts? The device can be turned off wirelessly and there's no encryption and since it's not mentioned, probably no security. Maybe Bill and MS are the inspiration... for a huge lawsuit. Taking it step further, If the same device were dispense other drugs, there's possibilities for all sorts of nasty things to happen. For example: dispensing pain killers. Turn it off or turn up the flow rate... very bad, either way.

    1. stucs201

      I read elsewhere that the range of the wireless is pretty much 'skin contact', not across the room. If you're going to get that close in order to interfere with it then you have many more options of how to do harm, ones which don't even need the victim to have an implant.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Then the solution for a malcontent is to use one of two things: more power or better direction. With enough power (regulations be damned) you can hit the thing across the room. It's also possible to use a WiFi directional antenna that focuses the directed energy, allowing for a longer range albeit at a narrower angle.

        That's always been the fear with NFC. Sure, the spec only provides enough power for a point-blank shot, but what malcontent's going to stick with the standard, and how will the NFC device be able to tell the difference on its end?

      2. PatientOne


        The range would be determined by the power of the transmitter, where as the chip would be the receiver unless they're using some form of handshake between the two.They might try combining the transmitter with an induction loop to power the chip during reprogramming, which would control the range, but it still doesn't stop someone tampering with the chip while the woman is asleep.

        Yes, this would likely be the partner, but this isn't a given.

        It also doesn't protect the chip from outside interference which might just scramble or fry the chip.

        It also limits medical investigations as this kind of implant would have to be treated the same as a pace maker (MRI scans? Sure...)

        I know the BBC article on this spoke of encryption and security, but that's barely the tip of the iceburg.

    2. Trigonoceps occipitalis Silver badge


      Why not take off the other clog and throw it in the works?

  4. Robert E A Harvey


    How is it powered? A 20year battery? Or perhaps from ions in the blood?


    1. Woza

      Re: Power

      Powered by abstinence, of course!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Power

        The power of Love.

        1. WraithCadmus

          Re: Power

          The power of love

          A force from above

          So it's solar-powered?

          1. Graham Marsden

            @WraithCadmus - Re: Power

            No, it only works when she's on top!

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. Steven Raith

              Re: Power

              Kinetic action, like those wristwatches, was considered but quickly dropped for obvious reasons.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Power

    probably got a generator just like those ones in the torches you shake up and down

    1. DropBear

      Re: Power

      probably got a generator just like those ones in the torches you shake up and down

      But that makes no sense - that would logically go into the male, while it's presumably the female who has the impla.... waaaait. Ooooooh, clever! It needs to be... plugged in periodically to recharge, huh?!?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wonderful device

    Now if we can just get any device cleared to administer the male contraceptive medication that has been as effective and as safe as the female pill for years now we might actually ... naah not going to happen.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Wonderful device

      If it meant more action without the risk of leaving a trail of paternity suits I would cheerfully embrace a male implant.......depending on where it is going to be implanted.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wonderful device

        Only if it also dealt with STDs as well...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wonderful device

        male contraception?

        In south america the males eat stevia for that.

    2. PatientOne

      Re: Wonderful device

      What male contraceptive medication?

      Currently we are still trying to develop one that works without triggering some rather undesirable side effects not limited to the loss of sex drive, while actually being effective. Suppressing Testosterone, which triggers sperm production, is not only ineffective but triggers quite a few side effects, including loss of sex drive. Artificial testosterone is also lacking in effectiveness, more so than suppressing natural testosterone, and still has problems with long term use (permanent sterility being the biggest concern).

      Focus is on alternatives, but when something might be ready - who knows?

      So currently there are no male contraceptive medications available for the public. At least not here in the UK, and I haven't heard of any breakthrough from elsewhere, so I ask again: What medication?

  7. TheColinous

    So, after a night out at the pubs with the lads, you're supposed to start to worry about pgp keys through a boffin designed console interfaces when you want a bit of nookie with the partner? Right... I can see that it will be a hit.

    1. Steven Raith

      "Ooh, baby, your TripleDesmond encryption is so hot. No, seriously darling, I can smell burning, I think the heatsink broke..."

    2. James O'Brien

      Dont even get me started

      In how you might have to reboot it after applying a firmware patch to the device.....

  8. regadpellagru

    Looking forward ...

    To all the articles on security issues around those new IoT thingies.

    And their consequences ...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some corrections

    I saw a much better written article on this (sorry I can't find the link) and assuming it was correct there are a few things left out here that were made clear.

    It includes a battery supposed to last 16 years. Didn't specify the type, but nothing was said about the need to recharge it. Since all this does is distribute a microscopic dose of the drug each day, it should require a minuscule amount of power.

    The dispensing is automatic, there isn't any way to tell it to dispense a dose, causing overdose or running out of the drug prematurely.

    The one control you do have is being able to turn it on/off, so you can have kids without having to remove it. I hope the security is amazing and it requires something pressed right up against the skin to work. Stealing your SSN is one thing, but imagine if hackers could compromise home routers and have them run a program that flips the switch on birth control (makes the ones that are on go off, and vice versa) That would go down as the most catastrophic hack in the history of world for those affected.

  10. Colin Miller

    implantable contraceptives

    The is already a long-term implantable contraceptive pill; IIRC it has small hole at one end so that the drug slowly leaks out, and into the woman's bloodstream. If it is removed early, fertility generally returns within a few months.

    Given this, it could be possible to put a small ball-valve (Silence at the back!) at the end of it, with a NFC powered link to turn the valve turn the contraception on and off; it would remain in its last state when not powered. If the remove can query the state of the valve, then it will reassure both partners about the state of the device. However, the woman, could, if she doesn't want to get pregnant, but her partner does, turn the device back on after sex.

  11. Mike 16 Silver badge

    Ball Valve

    One word: RISUG (OK, one acronym)

    I'm sure Reg Readers know how to decrypt that.

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