Microchips, a Massachusetts-based company spun out of MIT that has received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is working on a chip that is implanted under skin and can provide effective birth control for up to 16 years.
Each day, the 20 mm x 20 mm x 7 mm device releases 30mg of levonorgestrel, a hormone used today in contraceptives. The drug sits in microreservoirs that are covered by titanium and platinum seals. Once a day, those seals are temporarily melted thanks to a small internal battery, which allows the levonorgestrel to enter the body.
If a woman wants to conceive, she can simply turn off the chip with a wireless remote control, and turn it back on when she wants the drug to be released daily again.
The advanced technology will enter pre-clinical trials next year and Microchips wants to reach market with the device by 2018. The chip could also dispense other types of drugs, but Microchips is working with contraceptives to start.
As BBC notes, there are privacy issues that Microchips must figure out before the chip is in use — for example, making sure no one but the user can activate or deactivate the device.