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A low-cost sonification system to assist the blind

January 15, 2014

sonification_prototype

An improved assistive technology system for the blind that uses sonification (visualization using sounds) has been developed by Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) researchers, with the goal of replacing costly, bulky current systems.

How it works

Called Assistive Technology for Autonomous Displacement (ATAD), the system includes a stereo vision processor measures the difference of images captured by two cameras that are placed slightly apart (for… read more

A low-cost ‘super-resolution’ microscopic optical device

June 22, 2014

Microsphere-based image of a nanoscale object. The scale bar is 20 microns. (Credit: Leonid A. Krivitsky et al./Scientific Reports)

A simple, low-cost “super-resolution” optical device using a microsphere capable of imaging surfaces 75 nanometers wide has been developed by researchers at A*STAR Data Storage Institute in Singapore.

Optical-microscope resolution is limited to half the wavelength of light (due to the diffraction limit), so optical microscopes can’t normally resolve structures smaller than a few hundred nanometers.

A*STAR’s Boris Luk’yanchuk and his colleagues previously showed… read more

A low-cost water splitter that runs on an ordinary AAA battery

Could allow for true zero-emissions fuel-cell vehicles and save hydrogen producers billions of dollars in electricity costs
August 22, 2014

Stanford scientists have developed a low-cost device that uses an ordinary AAA battery to split water into oxygen and hydrogen gas. Gas bubbles are produced by electrodes made of inexpensive nickel and iron.

A cheap, emissions-free device that uses a 1.5-volt AAA battery to split water into hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis has been developed by scientists at Stanford University.

Unlike other water splitters that use precious-metal catalysts, the electrodes in the Stanford device are made of inexpensive, abundant nickel and iron.

“This is the first time anyone has used non-precious metal catalysts to split water at a voltage… read more

A low-cost, implantable electronic biosensor

June 12, 2013

Design of chip with protective coaiting. A sensing channel connects the source (S) and drain (D) with a reference electrode (RE). When a target protein binds to the receptor, it induces charges in the substrate, causing a change in the current flow between the source and drain. Inset: typical structure of a MOS capacitor used in this study (Credit: A. Ramesh et al.)

Ohio State University engineers are developing low-cost electronic devices that work in direct contact with living tissue inside the body.

The initial objective is to develop an in vivo biosensor to detect the presence of proteins that mark the first signs of organ rejection in the body. Such biosensors could also be used for detecting glucose, pH, and diseases such as cancer.

Doctors would… read more

A low-cost, low-power DIY cellular data network

August 29, 2011

Mobile Network

Professor Kurtis Heimerl of the University of California, Berkeley has created a do-it-yourself GSM (global system for mobile communications, a worldwide cell-phone standard) cellular data network for areas (such as remote villages) with limited power and network resources, reports Shareable.

The network can be deployed off-the-grid because only low power is required, using solar or wind, and no connection to a cell-phone company is required.

What if devices… read more

A Lunar Nuclear Reactor

August 18, 2009

A “safe, reliable, and efficient” nuclear fission reactor that could power a human outpost on the moon or Mars by 2020 has been tested by researchers at NASA and the Department of Energy.

A Machine That Speeds Up Evolution

March 17, 2009
(George Church)

George Church and his colleagues have developed a new technology that can make 50 changes to a bacterial genome nearly simultaneously–an advance that could be used to greatly speed the creation of bacteria that are better at producing drugs, nutrients, or biofuels.

A machine that trains you to feel affection

May 27, 2014

Distributed voxel patterns that best distinguished between tenderness/affection vs. pride within the neurofeedback group, measured across all fMRI sessions. The color range shows voxels present in at least 40% (blue) or above 66% (red-yellow) of the subjects. (Credit: Jorge Moll et al./PLOS ONE)

It’s possible to create brain patterns associated with affection or tenderness toward loved ones, using neurofeedback while being scanned in a functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) machine, researchers at D’Or Institute for Research and Education (IDOR) in Brazil have shown.

The finding, described in PLOS ONE (open access), could open up new possibilities for treatment of conditions such as antisocial personality disorder, the researchers suggest.

An empathyread more

A magazine is an iPad that does not work

October 16, 2011

broken_ipad

“For my 1 year old daughter, a magazine is an iPad that does not work. It will remain so for her whole life. Steve Jobs has coded a part of her OS.”

A magnetic memory with one bit per molecule

July 6, 2012

kit_molecule_magnetism_conductance

Researchers from Karlsruhe, Strasbourg, and Japan have developed a memristor magnetic memory with one bit per molecule.

One bit of digital information stored on a hard disk currently consists of about 3 million magnetic atoms.

Using an electric pulse, the metal-organic molecule can be switched reliably between a conductive, magnetic state and a low-conductive, non-magnetic state.

“The superparamagnetic effect prevents smaller bit… read more

A magnetless spin-memory device

Could allow for miniaturization of a memory bit down to a single nanoparticle
August 16, 2013

microscopy_device

Scientists at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Weizmann Institute of Science have developed a simple magnetization technology that eliminates the need for permanent magnets in memory devices and allows for fabricating inexpensive, silicon-compatible, high-density, universal memory-on-chip devices.

Current memory devices have significant drawbacks: dynamic RAM memory has to be refreshed periodically, static RAM data is lost when the power is off, flash memory lacks speed, and… read more

A major step toward an Alzheimer’s treatment and vaccine

January 17, 2013

PET scan of the brain of a person with AD showing a loss of function in the temporal lobe (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A way to stimulate the brain’s natural defense mechanisms in people with Alzheimer’s disease has been discovered by researchers at Université Laval, CHU de Québec and pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK): a molecule known as MPL (monophosphoryl lipid A) that stimulates the activity of the brain’s immune cells.

The breakthrough opens the door to developing a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and a vaccine to prevent the… read more

A ‘Manhattan Project’ for the Next Generation of Bionic Arms

March 21, 2008

Johns Hopkins researchers are leading a DARPA-funded nationwide effort to make a bionic arm that wires directly into the brain to let amputees regain motor control and feeling.

A material that can regenerate itself when damaged

November 29, 2013

This is a self-generating composite image.<br />
Credit: University of Pittsburgh

What if you could program  a broken or damaged object to regenerate itself — replenishing the damaged or missing components, and extending its lifetime — instead of replacing it or requiring costly repairs? Now University of Pittsburgh researchers have developed computational models of a new polymer gel that could do just that.

“This is one of the holy grails of materials science,” noted Anna C. Balazs, PhD,… read more

A Maybe Planet, Orbiting Its Maybe Sun

September 22, 2008
(Gemini Observatory)

Astronomers from the University of Toronto have published a picture of what they say might be the first image of a planet orbiting another Sunlike star, about 30 billion miles away from the star, inexplicably.

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