April 18, 2014
Cyborg Glasses Save Users the Need to Control Emotions
(BBC) – As Google continues to stoke excitement for its Glass smart-eyewear, a Japanese researcher has developed a radical alternative. Rather than focus on what the owner sees, Prof Hirotaka Osawa’s kit shows computer-generated eye animations in place of the wearer’s real ones. Special lenses let the user see out or take a secret nap if they prefer.
The Rapture of the Nerds
(Time) – Sure, it’s easy to dismiss people who think they can somehow cheat death with a laptop. But Terasem is a potent symbol of a modern way of life where the digital world and the emotional one have become increasingly entwined. It is also a sign, if one from the fringe, of the always evolving relationship between technology and faith. Survey after survey has shown the number of Americans calling themselves “religious” has declined despite the fact that many still identify as “spiritual.” People are searching, and no longer do they look to technology to provide mere order for their lives. They also want meaning. Maybe, it’s time to hack our souls.
Preventing AI from Developing Anti-Social and Potentially Harmful Behaviour
(Phys.org) – A study just published in the Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence reflects upon the growing need for autonomous technology, and suggests that humans should be very careful to prevent future systems from developing anti-social and potentially harmful behaviour. Modern military and economic pressures require autonomous systems that can react quickly – and without human input. These systems will be required to make rational decisions for themselves.
April 17, 2014
Artificial Eyes, Plastic Skulls: 3-D Printing the Human Body
(CNN) – The 21st century has seen the growth of 3-D printing, with well-known applications in architecture, manufacturing, engineering, and now increasingly in medicine. The birth of 3-D scanning technologies combined with organic inks and thermoplastics has enabled the “bioprinting” of a range of human body parts to accommodate a wide range of medical conditions. Let’s start form the top.
Physicists Create New Nanoparticle for Cancer Therapy
(Phys.org) – A University of Texas at Arlington physicist working to create a luminescent nanoparticle to use in security-related radiation detection may have instead happened upon an advance in photodynamic cancer therapy. Wei Chen, professor of physics and co-director of UT Arlington’s Center for Security Advances Via Applied Nanotechnology, was testing a copper-cysteamine complex created in his lab when he discovered unexplained decreases in its luminescence, or light emitting power, over a time-lapse exposure to X-rays.
April 16, 2014
Digital Mirror Reveals What Lies Under Your Skin
(New Scientist) – Maître and his collaborators built the digital mirror to explore philosophical questions about how we relate to our body. But in the future, they say they could imagine doctors using a similar system to help people explore a particular part of their body or prepare for an upcoming operation. Other researchers have already started exploring how augmented reality can help medicine.
April 15, 2014
3-D printing is revolutionizing surgery
(Crain’s) Reaching into a beat-up, red-and-white cooler lined with a white terry-cloth towel, Dr. Matthew Bramlet pulls out a replica of an infant’s heart. The size of a small pear and chalky to the touch, the model was made in a 3-D printer. Last spring, Dr. Bramlet, 38, a pediatric cardiologist at Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria, commissioned it from the hospital’s new innovation lab while planning surgery for a girl with a congenital heart defect.
Pressure Sensors to Help Prevent Pain for Amputees
(BBC) – Researchers have developed a new type of pressure sensor – dubbed a “second skin” – which they say could prevent dangerous sores. The technology is being developed initially for amputees who suffer rubbing against their artificial limbs. If the Southampton University work is successful the sensors may also be used for others at risk, such as wheelchair-users and those confined to bed.
April 10, 2014
Scientists Try 3-D Printer to Build Human Heart
(Associated Press) – It may sound far-fetched, but scientists are attempting to build a human heart with a 3-D printer. Ultimately, the goal is to create a new heart for a patient with their own cells that could be transplanted. It is an ambitious project to first, make a heart and then get it to work in a patient, and it could be years – perhaps decades – before a 3-D printed heart would ever be put in a person. The technology, though, is not all that futuristic: Researchers have already used 3-D printers to make splints, valves and even a human ear.
April 8, 2014
DNA Nanobots Deliver Drugs in Living Cockroaches
(New Scientist) – It’s a computer – inside a cockroach. Nano-sized entities made of DNA that are able to perform the same kind of logic operations as a silicon-based computer have been introduced into a living animal. The DNA computers – known as origami robots because they work by folding and unfolding strands of DNA – travel around the insect’s body and interact with each other, as well as the insect’s cells. When they uncurl, they can dispense drugs carried in their folds.
Paralysed Men Move again with Spinal Stimulation
(BBC) – Four paralysed men have been able to move their legs for the first time in years after electrical stimulation of their spinal cords, US doctors report. They were able to flex their toes, ankles and knees – but could not walk independently. A report, in the journal Brain, suggests the electricity makes the spinal cord more receptive to the few messages still arriving from the brain.
April 7, 2014
Even Small Medical Advances Can Mean Big Jumps in Bills
(New York Times) – Traditionally, insurers lost money by covering people with chronic illnesses, because they often ended up hospitalized with myriad complications as their diseases progressed. Today, the routine care costs of many chronic illnesses eclipse that of acute care because new treatments that keep patients well have become a multibillion-dollar business opportunity for device and drug makers and medical providers.
April 4, 2014
Clothes with Hidden Sensors Act as an Always-on Doctor
(New Scientist) – The next generation of wearable technology aims to embed sensors in your clothes, so you only need to get dressed to start monitoring your health.”Wearable electronics are great but the only way they are going to take off is if you stick them on something people have to wear every day,” says Simon McMaster of Footfalls and Heartbeats, a company in New Zealand that is developing smart fibres with sensors knitted straight into the fabrics.
April 3, 2014
The Next Frontier in 3-D Printing: Human Organs
(CNN) – The emerging process of 3-D printing, which uses computer-created digital models to create real-world objects, has produced everything from toys to jewelry to food. Soon, however, 3-D printers may be spitting out something far more complex, and controversial: human organs. For years now, medical researchers have been reproducing human cells in laboratories by hand to create blood vessels, urine tubes, skin tissue and other living body parts. But engineering full organs, with their complicated cell structures, is much more difficult.
April 2, 2014
Robot Exoskeleton Lets Girl Lift Her Arms, Reach for the Stars
(ABC News) – The WREX uses special elastic bands to give a child’s arm a weightless feeling. “The mechanism is similar to how a luxo lamp works to make it ‘effortless’ to move and position the head of the lamp,” says Sample. It’s a life-changing device, and one that’s benefitted hugely from 3-D printing. Producing components on site by printing them layer by layer greatly reduces the time it takes to create a WREX.
April 1, 2014
Nanotechnology ‘Smart Band-Aid’ Monitors Movement of Disorder Patients
(Nanowerk) – Medical engineers said Sunday they had created a device the size of a plaster which can monitor patients by tracking their muscle activity before administering their medication. Methods for monitoring so-called “movement disorders” such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease have traditionally included video recordings or wearable devices, but these tend to be bulky and inflexible.
March 28, 2014
Get Ready to Have Your Biometrics Tracked 24/7
(Wired.UK) – “I’ve been working in biometrics for 20 years, and it’s reaching a tipping point where it’s going to be impossible not to understand where people are and what they are doing. Everything will be monitored. It’s part of the reason why when we put together the definition of biometrics it included biological and behavioural characteristics — it can be anything.”
March 27, 2014
Zuckerberg, Musk and Kutcher Invest in Artificial Intelligence Firm
(Time) – Billionaire tech entrepreneurs Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, along with actor Ashton Kutcher, have joined forces to make a $40 million investment in the artificial intelligence firm Vicarious FPC. The firm hopes to build a system capable of replicating the functions of the neocortex of the human brain, the part that controls body movement, vision, understands language and does math, The Wall Street Journal reports. One day, the company hopes to build a “computer that thinks like a person,” Vicarious co-founder Scott Phoenix says. “except it doesn’t have to eat or sleep.”
Easing Epilepsy with Battery Power
(New York Times) – Cases of intractable epilepsy rarely have happy endings, but today Mr. Ramsey is seizure-free. A novel battery-powered device implanted in his skull, its wires threaded into his brain, tracks its electrical activity and quells impending seizures. At night, he holds a sort of wand to his head and downloads brain data from the device to a laptop for his doctors to review.
Multiplex Parenting: In vitro Gametogenesis and the Generations to Come
(BMJ Blogs) – Recent biotechnology breakthroughs suggest that functional human gametes could soon be created in vitro. While the ethical debate on the uses of in vitro generated gametes (IVG) was originally constrained by the fact that they could be derived only from embryonic stem cell lines, the advent of induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (hiPSC) creates the possibility that somatic cells may be used to generate gametes. This means that in the future it might be possible to generate human sperm and oocytes from male cells, and oocytes from female cells. (So far it has not been possible to derive sperm from female cells.)
March 26, 2014
Optical Tweezers Grab Nanometre-Sized Objects
(Nanotechnology Now) – Optical “nanotweezers” that can grasp and move objects just a few tens of nanometres in size have been created by researchers in Spain and Australia. The new tool is gentle enough to grasp tiny objects such as viruses without destroying them, and works in biologically-friendly media such as water. The nanotweezers could find a range of uses, from helping us to understand the biological mechanisms underlying diseases to assembling tiny machines.