science + technology news

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Precision typing on a smartwatch with finger gestures

"Watchsense" would also work with smartphones, smart TVs, and virtual-reality or augmented reality devices
May 5, 2017

A smartwatch could have an embedded depth sensor on its side, aimed at the back of the hand and the space above it, allowing for easy typing and control. Or in a music program, the volume could be adjusted. (credit: Srinath Sridhar et al.)

If you wear a smartwatch, you know how limiting it is to type it on or otherwise operate it. Now European researchers have developed an input method that uses a depth camera (similar to the Kinect game controller) to track fingertip touch and location on the back of the hand or in mid-air, allowing for precision control.

The researchers have created a prototype called “WatchSense,” worn on… read more

Deep learning-based bionic hand grasps objects automatically

"Hands with eyes" offer new hope to amputees
May 5, 2017

bionic hand ft

British biomedical engineers have developed a new generation of intelligent prosthetic limbs that allows the wearer to reach for objects automatically, without thinking — just like a real hand.

The hand’s camera takes a picture of the object in front of it, assesses its shape and size, picks the most appropriate grasp, and triggers a series of movements in the hand — all within milliseconds.

The… read more

New nuclear magnetic resonance technique offers ‘molecular window’ for live disease diagnosis

Could use existing non-invasive MRI technology
May 3, 2017

A novel NMR technique developed at U of T Scarborough has the potential for noninvasive disease diagnosis using current MRI technology. (credit: University of Toronto Scarborough)

University of Toronto Scarborough researchers have developed a new “molecular window” technology based on nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) that can look inside a living system to get a high-resolution profile of which specific molecules are present, and extract a full metabolic profile.

“Getting a sense of which molecules are in a tissue sample is important if you want to know if it’s cancerous, or if… read more

An atomically thin layer of water stores more energy and delivers it faster, researchers discover

Could lead to thinner batteries, faster storage for renewable-based power grids, or faster acceleration in electric vehicles
May 3, 2017

A high-resolution transmission electron microscope image of layered, crystalline tungsten oxide dihydrate acts as a better supercapacitor than plain tungsten oxide (without the water layer). The "stripes" are individual layers of atoms separated by atomically thin water layers. (credit: James B. Mitchell et al./Chemistry of Materials)

Researchers at North Carolina State University have found that a material* that incorporates atomically thin layers of water can store more energy and deliver it much more quickly than the same material without the water.

The proof-of-concept finding could “ultimately lead to things like thinner batteries, faster storage for renewable-based power grids, or faster acceleration in electric vehicles,” according to Veronica Augustyn, an assistant professor… read more

Elon Musk’s Los Angeles tunnel-boring machine plan revealed

... and a coast-to-coast Hyperloop connection
May 1, 2017

Musk's plan for a tunnels under Los Angeles (credit: The Boring Company)

Things happen fast with Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and CEO/CTO of SpaceX. It starts December 17, 2016 when he’s stuck in Los Angeles traffic:

On February 3, Musk reveals he has already begun digging a “demo tunnel” in the SpaceX parking lot, Bloomberg reports.

Bloomberg also reports that Musk plans to build an underground network that “includes as many as 30 levels… read more

Robotic system can 3-D print basic structure of an entire building

The annual $8.5 trillion construction industry may in for a major redesign
May 1, 2017

urban building concept ft

MIT researchers have designed a “Digital Construction Platform” system that can 3-D print the basic structure of an entire building. It could enable faster, cheaper, more adaptable building construction — replacing traditional fabrication technologies that are dangerous, slow, and energy-intensive in the annual $8.5 trillion construction industry.

Described in an open-access paper in the journal Science Robotics, this free-moving system is intended to be self-sufficient and can construct… read more

New artificial photosynthesis process converts CO2 in air to fuel

April 28, 2017

Professor Fernando Uribe-Romo and his team of students created a way to trigger a chemical reaction in a synthetic material called metal-organic frameworks (MOF) that breaks down carbon dioxide into harmless organic materials. Think of it as an artificial photosynthesis process similar to the way plants convert carbon dioxide (CO2) and sunlight into food. But instead of producing food, Uribe-Romo's method produces solar fuel. (credit: UCF: Bernard Wilchusky)

A University of Central Florida (UCF) chemistry professor has invented a revolutionary way to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from air by triggering artificial photosynthesis in a synthetic material — breaking down carbon dioxide while also producing fuel for energy.

UCF Assistant Professor Fernando Uribe-Romo and his students used a synthetic material called a metal–organic framework (MOF), which converts carbon dioxide into harmless organic materials — similar… read more

In a neurotechnology future, human-rights laws will need to be revisited

April 28, 2017

New forms of brainwashing include transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to neuromodulate the brain regions responsible for social prejudice and political and religious beliefs, say researchers (credit: U.S. National Library of Medicine)

New human rights laws to prepare for rapid current advances in neurotechnology that may put “freedom of mind” at risk have been proposed in the open access journal Life Sciences, Society and Policy.

Four new human rights laws could emerge in the near future to protect against exploitation and loss of privacy, the authors of the study suggest: The right to cognitive liberty, the right to mental privacy, the right… read more

AI will upload and access our memories, predicts Siri co-inventor

"Instead of asking how smart we can make our machines, let's ask how smart our machines can make us."
April 26, 2017

"Hey Siri, who did I just talk to?" (credit: Apple Computer)

Instead of replacing humans with robots, artificial intelligence should be used more for augmenting human memory and other human weaknesses, Apple Inc. executive Tom Gruber suggested at the TED 2017 conference yesterday (April 25, 2017).

Thanks to the internet and our smartphones, much of our  personal data is already being captured, notes Gruber, who was one the inventors of voice-controlled intelligent-assistant Siri. Future AI memory enhancement could… read more

Quadriplegia patient uses brain-computer interface to move his arm by just thinking

New Braingate design replaces robot arm with muscle-stimulating system
April 26, 2017

Bill Kochevar, who was paralyzed below his shoulders in a bicycling accident, is first person with quadriplegia in the world to have arm and hand movements restored without robot help (credit: Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland FES Center)

A research team led by Case Western Reserve University has developed the first implanted brain-recording and muscle-stimulating system to restore arm and hand movements for quadriplegic patients.*

In a proof-of-concept experiment, the system included a brain-computer interface with recording electrodes implanted under his skull and a functional electrical stimulation (FES) system that activated his arm and hand — reconnecting his brain to paralyzed muscles.

The research… read more

The first 2D microprocessor — based on a layer of just 3 atoms

May one day replace traditional microprocessor chips as well as open up new applications in flexible electronics
April 24, 2017

Overview of the entire chip. AC = Accumulator, internal buffer; PC = Program Counter, points at the next instruction to be executed; IR = Instruction Register, used to buffer data- and instruction-bits received from the external memory; CU = Control Unit, orchestrates the other units according to the instruction to be executed; OR = Output Register, memory used to buffer output-data; ALU = Arithmetic Logic Unit, does the actual calculations. [3] (credit: TU Wien)

Researchers at Vienna University of Technology (known as TU Wien) in Vienna, Austria, have developed the world’s first two-dimensional microprocessor — the most complex 2D circuitry so far. Microprocessors based on atomically thin 2D materials promise to one day replace traditional microprocessors as well as open up new applications in flexible electronics.

Consisting of 115 transistors, the microprocessor can run, simple user-defined programs stored in… read more

‘Negative mass’ created at Washington State University

April 21, 2017

Experimental images of an expanding spin-orbit superfluid Bose-Einstein condensate at different expansion times (credit: M. A. Khamehchi et al./Physical Review Letters)

Washington State University (WSU) physicists have created a fluid with “negative mass,” which means that if you push it, it accelerates toward you instead of away, in apparent violation of Newton’s laws.

The phenomenon can be used to explore some of the more challenging concepts of the cosmos, said Michael Forbes, PhD, a WSU assistant professor of physics and astronomy and an affiliate assistant professor… read more

Elon Musk wants to enhance us as superhuman cyborgs to deal with superintelligent AI

April 21, 2017

(credit: Neuralink Corp.)

It’s the year 2021. A quadriplegic patient has just had one million “neural lace” microparticles injected into her brain, the world’s first human with an internet communication system using a wireless implanted brain-mind interface — and empowering her as the first superhuman cyborg. …

No, this is not a science-fiction movie plot. It’s the actual first public step — just four years from now — in Tesla CEO Elon… read more

What if you could type directly from your brain at 100 words per minute?

Former DARPA director reveals Facebook's secret research projects to create a non-invasive brain-computer interface and haptic skin hearing
April 19, 2017

(credit: Facebook)

Regina Dugan, PhD, Facebook VP of Engineering, Building8, revealed today (April 19, 2017) at Facebook F8 conference 2017 a plan to develop a non-invasive brain-computer interface that will let you type at 100 wpm — by decoding neural activity devoted to speech.

Dugan previously headed Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects Group, and before that, was Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

She explained… read more

Neuron-recording nanowires could help screen drugs for neurological diseases

Ultimate goal is a neural-lace-like device that can be implanted in the brain to bridge or repair networks
April 18, 2017

This is a colorized SEM image of a neuron (orange) interfaced with the nanowire array. (credit: Integrated Electronics and Biointerfaces Laboratory, UC San Diego)

A research team* led by engineers at the University of California San Diego has developed nanowire technology that can non-destructively record the electrical activity of neurons in fine detail.

The new technology, published April 10, 2017 in Nano Letters, could one day serve as a platform to screen drugs for neurological diseases and help researchers better understand how single cells communicate in large neuronal networks.

A brain implantread more

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