Bill Gates backs birth control device

19th International AIDS Conference Convenes In Washington
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 23: Co-founder and co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and chairman and former chief executive of Microsoft, Bill Gates listens during a panel discussion of the 19th International AIDS Conference July 23, 2012 in Washington, DC. The International AIDS Conference, the world's largest one, is held in the U.S. for the first time sine 1990. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Photography by Alex Wong — Getty Images

Bill Gates changed the way we think about home computers in the 90s. He changed the way we think about billionaires in the decade that followed. Now he’s looking to change the way the think about birth control before the end of this decade.

Gates is backing a technology that could store 16 years worth of birth control medication on a small chip implanted under a woman’s skin. The device, which could be available as soon as 2018, is under development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. When activated, the chip puts out 30 milligrams of the hormone levonorgestrel daily. It can be turned on and off without a trip to a doctor.

The device is 20 x 20 x 7 millimeters. It operates by temporarily melting a seal using an electric current, allowing that days medication to be dispersed.

Gates challenged MIT scientists to work on this project just two years ago during visit to the university’s labs.

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