Some pretty amazing things are happening in science and tech today. We're living in an era where advanced technology has allowed us to create even more at an exponential pace. It's ushered in a state of amplified discovery and possibility. These new innovations are shaping not only our day-to-day lives, but the standards by which we test as well.
For example, DIY vaccination may be happening. By that, I mean to say that scientists and researchers have been testing a vaccination patch for the flu that operates like a Band-Aid. It's an adhesive patch that administers the vaccine via 100 hard, cone-shaped microneedles that dissolve once inside. Before you balk at the idea of 100 needles pushing into your skin simultaneously, know that they are roughly half a millimeter tall, and according to the test group that tried it, relatively painless. They described the sensation of the patch vaccine as itchy – the coauthor who chaired the study said it feels "a little like Velcro being pressed against the skin." The needles, made of polyvinyl alcohol, sugar, and the vaccine compounds, had similar side effects when administered by patch as reported via shot.
This new method of administering vaccines could become mainstream over the course of the next few years – after continuous testing, that is. Routine testing to determine optimal storage and transport of the vaccine will be done with environmental monitoring and simulation equipment, particularly temperature and humidity chambers or temperature forcers. Shakers and vibration tables may come into use to remove any unnecessary or trapped particles that are stuck to the microneedles. Thermal imaging cameras could check for fever of the tested individuals after the vaccine has been administered, in order to monitor side effects that are commonly seen with the traditional vaccine. If the vaccine is to be sold in markets outside of the United States, it would have to adapt to a larger scope of standards. And, as we've seen in recent years, the standards may even change, too.
New technology, not to mention our increasing globalization, is what's contributing to the need to continuously update, rewrite, and create test standards and procedures. As we gain knowledge about how our world and the unseen phenomena operate, our standards grow and adapt to keep up with new information. A recent example of this is the Radio Equipment Directive 2014/53/EU, also known as RED for short. RED applies to transmitters, receivers, and transceivers used for radio communication or determination, and was taken into effect in order to reflect new technology and equipment that is being introduced to the market. Though it is a European standard, it impacts equipment being built on a global scale. EMC standards also change fairly often to adhere to new technology. Radio and Data Communications standards are subject to changing based on the continuous installment of new towers, new transmitters, and more connected communications technology. There may be new standards set in place to ensure that the patch vaccines remain sterile, do not spoil, and are as effective as traditional needle administration. The world around us is changing, and our test standards are growing with it.
Of course, nothing will change without proper warning, documentation, and guidance along the way. RED in particular was announced in April of 2016, the provisions were applied in June 2016, and all manufacturers had until June 2017 to adjust. There won't be surprise changes that manufacturers, technicians, contractors and engineers won’t have time to adapt to – you will be informed and supplied with access to documentation in plenty of time to adapt. Advanced Test Equipment Rentals will continue to report on major changes to industry test standards as they happen. You are always welcome to connect with our dedicated rental agents regarding the latest technology to test to new standards. We welcome your call at 800-404-2832.