The makers of a contraceptive that can be turned on and off at the push of a button hope the device will be available to the public by 2018.
The pregnancy-preventing microchip is implanted under a woman's skin and can be used every day for up to 16 years — that's longer than copper IUDs, which can last up to 10 years, and hormonal IUDs, which usually last five. The device delivers 30 micrograms of levonorgestrel, a synthetic hormone, daily and has a remote control so it can be turned on and off. "That provides a certain convenience factor for those who are planning their family," Dr. Robert Farra of MIT told the BBC.
The project has been backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and will continue its pre-clinical testing. One major detail to figure out is how best to encrypt the microchips in order to prevent a hacker from taking control. "Communication with the implant has to occur at skin contact level distance," Farra said. "Someone across the room cannot reprogram your implant. Then we have secure encryption. That prevents someone from trying to interpret or intervene between the communications."