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3-D printing tough biogel structures for tissue engineering or soft robots

New stretchable, biocompatible materials with complex patterning could be used for creating a human nose or ear
June 5, 2015

3-D printing tough, biocompatible PEG–alginate–nanoclay hydrogels into ear and nose shapes (credit: Sungmin Hong et al./ Advanced Materials)

Researchers at three universities have developed a new way of making tough — but soft and wet — biocompatible hydrogel materials into complex and intricately patterned shapes. The process might lead to scaffolds for repair or replacement of load-bearing tissues, such as cartilage. It could also allow for tough but flexible actuators for future robots, the researchers say.

The new process is described in a paper in the… read more

Building and transplanting a bioengineered forelimb

Experimental technique used to create whole organs appears feasible for creation of complex tissues
June 5, 2015

A suspension of muscle progenitor cells is injected into the cell-free matrix of a decellularized rat limb, which provides shape and structure onto which regenerated tissue can grow. (credit: Bernhard Jank, MD, Ott Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Regenerative Medicine)

A team of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators has made the first steps towards developing bioartificial replacement limbs suitable for transplantation.

In a Biomaterials journal report, the researchers describe using an experimental approach previously used to build bioartificial organs to engineer rat forelimbs with functioning vascular and muscle tissue. They also provided evidence that the same approach could be applied to the limbs of primates.

“The… read more

First multi-organ transplant that includes skull and scalp

June 5, 2015

James Boyson (credit: KPRC TV)

James Boysen, a 55-year-old software developer from Austin, Texas has become the first patient to receive a scalp and skull transplant while receiving kidney and pancreas transplants.

More than 50 health care professionals from Houston Methodist Hospital and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center assisted with or supported the double surgery over a period of more than 24 hours.

“This was a… read more

Planarian regeneration model discovered by AI algorithm

Could help improve bioengineered regeneration of complex organs
June 4, 2015

Head-trunk-tail planarian regeneration results from experiments (credit: Daniel Lobo and Michael Levin/PLOS  Computational Biology)

An artificial intelligence system has for the first time reverse-engineered the regeneration mechanism of planaria — the small worms whose extraordinary power to regrow body parts has made them a research model in human regenerative medicine.

The discovery by Tufts University biologists presents the first model of regeneration discovered by a non-human intelligence and the first comprehensive model of planarian regeneration, which had eluded human scientists for more than… read more

Next-generation energy-efficient light-based computers

New algorithm automates design of optical interconnect devices
June 4, 2015

Infrared light enters this silicon structure from the left. The cut-out patterns, determined by an algorithm, route two different frequencies of this light into the pathways on the right. This is a greatly magnified image of a working device that is about the size of a speck of dust. (credit: Alexander Piggott)

Stanford University engineers have developed a new design algorithm that can automate the process of designing optical interconnects, which could lead to faster, more energy-efficient computers that use light rather than electricity for internal data transport.

Light can transmit more data while consuming far less power than electricity. According to a study by David Miller, the MIT W.M. Keck Foundation Professor of Electrical Engineering, up to 80… read more

‘Brainprints’ could replace passwords

June 3, 2015

Sarah Laszlo, an assistant professor of Psychology, is photographed at her laboratory in Science IV. (credit: Jonathan Cohen, Binghamton University)photographer

The way your brain responds to certain words could be used to replace passwords, according to a study by researchers from Binghamton University, published in academic journal Neurocomputing.

The psychologists recorded volunteers’ EEG signals from volunteers reading a list of acronyms, focusing on the part of the brain associated with reading and recognizing words.

Participants’ “event-related potential” signals reacted differently to each acronym, enough that a computer… read more

Autistic brain is hyper-functional — needs predictable, paced environments, study finds

Challenges conventional treatments for autism
June 3, 2015

Part of the "Squeeze Machine," designed by Temple Grandin (credit: Therafin Corp.)

A new open-access study shows that social and sensory overstimulation drives autistic behaviors and supports the unconventional view that the autistic brain is actually hyper-functional. The research offers new hope, with therapeutic emphasis on paced and non-surprising environments tailored to the individual’s sensitivity.

For decades, autism has been viewed as a form of mental retardation, a brain disease that destroys children’s ability to learn, feel and empathize, thus leaving… read more

Improving the experience of the audience with digital instruments

June 2, 2015

Virtual content being displayed on stage and overlapping the instruments and the performers (credit: Dr Florent Berthaut)

University of Bristol researchers have developed a new augmented-reality display that allows audiences to better appreciate digital musical performances

The research team from the University’s Bristol Interaction and Graphics (BIG) has been investigating how to improve the audiences experience during performances with digital musical instruments, which are played by manipulating buttons, mic, and various other controls.

Funded by a Marie Curie grant, the IXMI project, led by Florent Berthaut, aims to… read more

Robot servants push the boundaries in HUMANS

New TV series set to premiere June 28 on AMC
June 2, 2015

(credit: AMC)

AMC announced today HUMANS, an eight-part TV science-fiction thriller that takes place in a parallel present featuring sophisticated, life-like robot servants and caregivers called Synths (personal synthetics).

The show explores conflicts as the lines between humans and machines become increasingly blurred.

The series is set to premiere on AMC June 28 with HUMANS 101: The Hawkins family buys a Synth, Anita. But… read more

Emulating animals, these robots can recover from damage in two minutes

The kind of robot you'd want to take on a hazardous mission
June 1, 2015

This is one of the robots introduced in the paper 'Robots that can adapt like animals.' (credit: Antoine Cully)

Researchers in France and the U.S. have developed a new technology that enables robots to quickly recover from an injury in less than two minutes, similar to how injured animals adapt. Such autonomous mobile robots would be useful in remote or hostile environments such as disaster areas, space, and deep oceans.

The video above shows a six-legged robot that adapts to keep walking even if two of its legs… read more

MIT cheetah robot now jumps over obstacles autonomously

First four-legged robot to run and jump over obstacles autonomously
June 1, 2015

MIT researchers have trained their robotic cheetah to see and jump over hurdles as it runs — making this the first four-legged robot to run and jump over obstacles autonomously (credits: Haewon Park, Patrick Wensing, and Sangbae Kim)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology| MIT cheetah robot lands the running jump

The MIT researchers who built a robotic cheetah have now trained it to see and jump over hurdles as it runs — making it the first four-legged robot to run and jump over obstacles autonomously.

The robot estimates an obstacle’s height and distance, gauges the best distance from which to jump, and adjusts… read more

A 99% biodegradable computer chip

May 29, 2015

A cellulose nanofibril (CNF) computer chip rests on a leaf. (credit: Yei Hwan Jung, Wisconsin Nano Engineering Device Laboratory)

University of Wisconsin-Madison and U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) researchers have jointly developed a wood chip in an effort to alleviate the environmental burden* of electronic devices.

Well, actually, a wood-substrate-based semiconductor chip. They replaced the silicon substrate portion in a conventional chip with environment-friendly cellulose nanofibril (CNF). CNF is a flexible, biodegradable material made from wood, as the researchers note in an… read more

Psychedelic drugs should be legally reclassified, says psychiatrist

Pre-1967 research showed "beneficial change in many psychiatric disorders"
May 28, 2015

(credit: Salvador Dali)

Psychedelic drugs such as LSD are much less harmful than claimed and should be legally reclassified to allow further research on their medical use, says James Rucker, a psychiatrist and honorary lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London.

These substances “were extensively used and researched in clinical psychiatry” before their prohibition in 1967 and many trials of these drugs in the 1950s and 1960s… read more

Medical ‘millirobots’ could replace invasive surgery

Using a “Gauss gun” principle, an MRI machine drives a “millirobot” through a hypodermic needle into your spinal cord and guides it into your brain to release life-threatening fluid buildup ...
May 28, 2015

Millirobot components (credit: Aaron T. Becker et al./Proceedings of the IEEE)

University of Houston researchers have developed a concept for MRI-powered millimeter-size “millirobots” that could one day perform unprecedented minimally invasive medical treatments.

This technology could be used to treat hydrocephalus, for example. Current treatments require drilling through the skull to implant pressure-relieving shunts, said Aaron T. Becker, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Houston.

But MRI scanners alone don’t produce enough force to… read more

New tech keeps your smart phone charged for 30 percent longer

Invention captures wasted cell phone energy, feeds it back to battery
May 27, 2015

(credit: iStock)

Engineers  at The Ohio State University claim they have created a circuit that makes cell phone batteries last up to 30 percent longer on a single charge. The trick: it converts some of the radio signals emanating from a phone into direct current (DC) power, which then charges the phone’s battery, they state.

This new technology can be built into a cell phone case, adding minimal bulk and weight.… read more

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