Could it be the holy grail of birth control: one that women can turn on or off with the click of a remote control—and would last for almost half their reproductive lives. Massachusetts-based MicroCHIPS is developing a remote-control-activated contraceptive chip intended to be implanted under a woman's skin in her buttocks, upper arm, or abdomen. The 2cm-wide device contains a 1.5cm-wide microchip that can store 16 years' worth of levonorgestrel on it; when activated, it releases 30 micrograms of the hormone each day, though doctors can alter the dosage remotely, notes the Tech Times. The project is being backed by Bill Gates.
"Individual device reservoirs can be opened on demand or on a predetermined schedule to precisely control drug release," MicroCHIP's website reads. Currently, the lifetimes of hormonal birth control options max out at five years, notes the MIT Technology Review. As for sci-fi-inspired concerns like the possibility of the device being activated by someone without the woman’s consent, developers are working on securing the device’s encryption and note that the device can only be activated at skin-contact-level distance, the BBC reports. Pre-clinical testing is expected in the US next year; the device could be available to the public in 2018 and would be "competitively priced," say its developers. (Read more Bill Gates stories.)