A new scientific concept would free the part of humanity that desires this from the physiological and mental burden of pregnancy. It offers a startling glimpse into what childbirth might look like tomorrow. It’s called EctoLife, the world’s first artificial womb facility, which allows infertile couples to conceive a baby and become the true biological parents of their own offspring.
Just a concept at this stage, EctoLife is the brainchild of Berlin-based producer, filmmaker, and science communicator Hashem Al-Ghaili, who has compiled the latest scientific advances related to childbearing and has shaped the gestation of the future. It’s based on over 50 years of groundbreaking scientific research conducted by researchers worldwide.
With EctoLife, premature births and C-sections will be a thing of the past. Society would finally be able to meet the needs of parents who are tired of waiting for a response from an adoption agency and those who are worried about pregnancy complications. But most importantly, Al-Ghaili says EctoLife could allow us to confront the infertility crisis head-on. He also says it’s a perfect solution for women who had their uterus surgically removed due to cancer or other complications.
The facility features 75 highly equipped labs that can accommodate up to 400 growth pods or artificial wombs. Every pod is designed to replicate the exact conditions that exist inside the mother’s uterus. A single building can incubate up to 30,000 lab-grown babies per year.
Every growth pod features sensors that can monitor your baby’s vital signs, including heartbeat, temperature, blood pressure, breathing rate, and oxygen saturation. The artificial intelligence-based system also monitors the physical features of your baby and reports any potential genetic abnormalities.
These pods are connected to two central bioreactors. The first bioreactor contains nutrients and oxygen, which are supplied to your baby through an artificial umbilical cord. This bioreactor also contains a liquid solution that serves as the amniotic fluid that surrounds babies in the mother’s uterus. The second bioreactor is designed to eliminate any waste products produced by babies. The waste product is then enzymatically converted back into a steady and sustainable supply of fresh nutrients.
EctoLife growth pods feature internal speakers that can make sure the tyke is getting the best possible brain nutrition, too. The speakers play a wide range of words and music to your baby – you can choose the playlist through a phone app. You can also directly sing to your baby and make them familiar with your voice before birth.
Thanks to 360 cameras – paired with a virtual reality headset – that’s fitted inside your baby’s growth pod, EctoLife could also enable you to experience what your baby sees and hears. These cameras would also offer you a constant video feed of the developmental progress of your baby, allowing you to monitor your child’s progress on your smartphone.
Prior to placing the fertilized embryo of your baby inside the growth pod, In Vitro Fertilization is used to create and select the most viable and genetically superior embryo, giving your baby a chance to develop without any biological hurdles. In addition, EctoLife’s Elite Package offers you the opportunity to genetically engineer the embryo before implanting it into the artificial womb. The CRISPR-Cas 9 gene editing tool allows you to edit any trait of your baby through a wide range of over 300 genes and customize your baby’s eye color, hair color, skin tone, physical strength, height, and level of intelligence.
The delivery process is smooth, convenient, and can be done with just a push of a button. After discharging the amniotic fluid from the artificial womb, you will be able to easily remove your baby from the growth pod.
The creator says EctoLife uses highly efficient, clean, renewable energy consisting of solar and wind power, so you don’t have to worry about power cuts or carbon footprint.
What’s more? Thanks to miniaturized bioreactors and long-lasting batteries, you can use EctoLife growth pods in the comfort of your home, allowing you to incubate your baby in your building without the need to visit the factory. You can explore it in more detail in the extraordinary video below.
The founder-ideologist does not deny that many people may be provoked by the concept of inhumane pregnancy. But at the same time, if the prototype of the artificial womb can be implemented, it would be a boon for those who cannot conceive or have a history of miscarriages or genetic conditions in the family. The video surely raises more questions for us to think about and opens up debates from ethicists on what is a human if manufactured in a research laboratory.