A researcher shows a flexible solar cell film at the Thin-Film Device Laboratory. What else could this film be used for? (Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

A researcher shows a flexible solar cell film at the Thin-Film Device Laboratory. What else could this film be used for? (Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

People wear cyborg-type suits made by the Cyberdyne company. The suits can help paraplegic patients to walk. (AP/Shizuo Kambayashi)

People wear cyborg-type suits made by the Cyberdyne company. The suits can help paraplegic patients to walk. (AP/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Will inventors figure out a way to put smartphone tech into people’s brains? (Pixabay)

Will inventors figure out a way to put smartphone tech into people’s brains? (Pixabay)

Kenjiro Fukuda says a parasol covered with his film could use sunlight to charge a cell phone! (AP/Jens Meyer)

Kenjiro Fukuda says a parasol covered with his film could use sunlight to charge a cell phone! (AP/Jens Meyer)

Cyborg Future?

Posted: November 1, 2022

How else could we use cyborg bug tech? Kenjiro Fukuda and his team at the Thin-Film Device Laboratory designed the film that fits on cockroaches. Mr. Fukuda has other big ideas too. He makes the film from microscopic layers of plastic, silver, and gold. Could he build these into clothing? Or could he craft a patch that sticks to a person’s skin? Maybe such devices could keep track of vital signs. Maybe one could tell breathing rate, heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. That’s like a built-in doctor checkup!

Cyborg tech already helps people with medical needs. Accidental damage to the spine can make a person unable to walk. Doctors insert electrodes beneath the injured spot. These help the brain communicate with the spine again.

Some even ask: Are people turning into cyborgs already? People depend on smartphones a lot. Smartphones give directions. They entertain. People use them to calculate, communicate, check the weather, and much more. Should people go farther with cyborg tech? Some suggest putting electrodes into people’s brains. Will people someday upload information directly to their minds—no screens required?

Another, less crazy idea: Right now, Mr. Fukuda’s film uses sunlight to power the bug backpack. Could scientists cover a parasol with the same material? (A parasol looks like an umbrella, but it offers shade from the Sun instead of protection from rain.) Mr. Fukuda says this super parasol would suck enough sunlight to charge a cell phone!