Innovation in technology is truly remarkable. By definition, it continues to amaze us year by year no matter how many great leaps forward we take.

Healthcare is an area in which technological advancements are particularly incredible, as we get to see some of the world’s best and brightest nurture unique ideas into breakthrough inventions that change countless lives for the better. To celebrate the achievements of the past year and build a foundation for the year to come, we’ve looked at some of the many ways in which new technology shaped healthcare in 2016.

1.       Prosthetic limbs that move naturally

There seems to be a huge breakthrough in prosthetics every year, and 2016 was no different. Medical researchers made further leaps forward in the quest towards neurologically controlled prosthetic limbs, which has been tested on veterans who lost limbs while serving along with other amputees. This brings us ever closer to developing a prosthetic that can be controlled by the mind quickly and smoothly.

2.       3D-printed body parts

As we touched on in a previous blog, healthcare is one of many industries which has been transformed by the evolution of 3D printing. The technology is now being used to create medical instruments, implants and even body parts, with an increasing number of 3D-printed joints being used during surgery. This is just the beginning of what could be countless applications of such truly innovative truly.

3.       Training through virtual reality

2016 was a big year for the virtual reality scene, and many innovators were quick to apply it to the healthcare industry. A number of sophisticated tools were developed last year to aid medical professionals and students in terms of training and patient diagnosis. This unique application of the VR platform is a great way for individuals to gain experience in virtual environments that would otherwise be difficult to recreate.

4.       Real-time food scanners

Do you ever know what you’re really eating? Now you will thanks to products like the SCiO scanner, which use near-infrared spectroscopy to establish the chemical makeup of food and beverages. This allows the scanner to display a nutritional breakdown on an accompanying app, giving you more control over your diet. Developers hope the technology can be applied to moisture levels in plants and even blood alcohol content.

5.       Cell-free DNA testing of foetuses

Cell testing during pregnancy is sometimes necessary to identify a number of chromosomal defects. While these tests are sometimes required, the process of acquiring the cells from the unborn baby is quite invasive and can increase the risk of stress or even miscarriage for pregnant mothers. Thankfully, medical advances in 2016 have allowed doctors to start testing foetal DNA using the mother’s blood, rather than the traditional form of cell acquisition.