I was just poking around at the CNN site and found a fantastic video/news story about Jose Gomez-Marquez who is working with toys and re-engineering them to be used as affordable medical devices in developing nations. Founder of the Little Devices group at MIT, Marquez finds the advanced technologies that are being used in toys today as capable of so much more than they were originally intended. If you've been in a toy store at all lately, you'll see that there is a wide array of technologies at work in these gadgets, from voice recognition to cameras to mechanized robotics, in addition to more simple engineering innovations like motion control or audible devices.

Marquez has even traveled to some of the areas for which he is developing these medical devices and worked with healthcare professionals there to see what their needs were and to try to instruct them on how they might be able to develop their own devices from the toys sold in their stores.

Marquez is developing a toy “kit” that would enable healthcare professionals to design and build their own devices using the technologies provided. Based on a LEGO type building system, the devices can be fabricated and used for real medical procedures.

I would be very interested to hear a follow-up to this story and see how these devices are holding up in real medical environments.

Sean Fenske is the editor-in-chief of MDT.