Inside the Medicine Cabinet of the Future

High-tech health care isn't just for hospitals. For some of the most innovative advances soon to come, check your bathroom

by +ISM

+ISM

Your future medicine cabinet will integrate home, pharmacy and doctor's office into a digital health network. It will work with next-gen health-care products–disease screeners, needle-less injectors, sunscreen pills–but its most important product will be the information it can give you and your doctor about your health. Here's a look inside your future home-care center.

Bacteria-Powered Mouthwash
Mouthwash fortified with "good" bacteria will fight the growth of the pathogens that cause gum disease. Florida-based biotech company Oragenics plans to introduce the concoction in Europe next year.

Needle-Free Injection
Syringes will shoot drugs into your bloodstream without the bother or pain of needles. The biotech firm Aradigm has developed a device that opens a tiny hole in your skin with a blast of compressed nitrogen and then delivers a dose of migraine-fighting medicine.

Continuous Glucose Monitor
The FreeStyle Navigator, now under FDA review, uses a sensor implanted under the skin to measure the blood glucose of diabetics, without needles, once a minute. At-home disease screening: Place a drop of saliva onto a microchip, and the system will diagnose any of 10 diseases–oral cancer, Alzheimer's, the flu–before you show symptoms. The mirror will make a doctor's appointment to confirm any findings. David Wong, director of the UCLA Dental Research Institute, developed a saliva test for oral cancer and is working on others.

Dissolvable Bandage
This bandage stanches bleeding and becomes part of the clot, circumventing the trauma of traditional bandage removal. Gary Bowlin, a biomedical engineer at Virginia Commonwealth University, created the dissolvable bandage from nanoscale fibers of the protein fibrinogen. The fibrinogen helps the body bind and assemble clotting factors such as platelets and then breaks down into the wound.

Foolproof sunscreen
Almost no one puts sunscreen on evenly, thoroughly or often enough. Solution? Sunblock in a pill, according to Rob Takeuchi of Kinesys, a company that makes silicone-based spray-on sunscreens. If you do get sunburned, you'll have a chance to undo the damage. AGI Dermatics is running clinical tests on a cream that reverses sun damage.

Robot pharmacist
The cabinet tracks prescriptions using radio-frequency ID tags on pill bottles. It alerts you if you pick up the wrong bottle or forget to take your meds. When a bottle is almost empty, the cabinet orders a refill online.

Health auditor
This device checks blood pressure and pulse and keeps detailed records for both you and your doctor. A floor scale monitors weight, body fat and muscle mass.