Functional Human Hearts Generated From Skin Cells

Doctors are constantly being helped by their friends in the technology industry, from 3D printing ears to making veins in a cotton candy machine, people are now able to start replacing damaged parts of themselves with items created from their genetic make up. This technology may have gone one step further with a research group claiming to have created functional human hearts.

The new technique could see people avoiding waiting lists and the risk of their immune system rejecting the new organ. With a low risk of an immune response, the new technique could see a 100% acceptance amongst transplants.

By using skin cells from a patient, the team were able to generate the cardiac muscles found in a heart. In order to turn it into a transplantable heart it needed a structure, something that would take time to develop. Using 73 donor hearts that were considered unsuitable for transplantation, the team removed the living cells leaving only the neutral network required for the heart.

With the ability to replace body parts with artificially grown organs appearing quicker and quicker, it won’t be long before we can repair defects in body parts and ensure that people who suffer injuries to their organs can repair them as easily as a cut on their arm.

IRS Used Stingray To Track 37 Phones

Digital security is an issue that is raised weekly, with digital privacy seeming to be at odds, security or privacy. These topics come to a point when the topic of Stingray towers is brought up, mobile devices that mimic mobile phone towers. These devices can be used to intercept data such as phone calls and text messages, potentially leading the authorities to important information. The problem is that these devices act much like regular towers, in that you can’t target them, this means that you can only collect everyone’s data in range and search for the stuff you are interested in afterwards. Seems the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) has been using one of these devices since 2011 and are looking at getting another.

IRS Director John Koskinen wrote in an open letter to Oregon Senator, Ron Wyden, in the hopes of answering some questions regarding the “cell-site simulator technology”. In the letter, they state that they used the device on 11 federal grand jury cases, tracking a total of 37 cellular devices. It does continue to say though that they used the Stingray (constantly referred to as a cell-site simulator) in four non-IRS cases, one federal and three state level.

At the end of the letter, he continues to say about the Department of Justice requiring a warrant now in order to use the technology, along with probable cause and certain restrictions being met.

While it is nice to see agencies report this kind of information and take these steps to monitor information in a legal and controlled way, you have to wonder, if they were trying to monitor 37 phones, how many other phones did they intercept in total?

Public Record Request Reveals Stingray Used 303 Times Without Legal Reason

Digital privacy is a concept that is being contested with government monitoring. With section 215 of the Patriot act set for renewal in America, with reviews and discussions pushing the talks to the last possible minute, the concept of acquiring data illegally is almost considered taboo, or at least admitting to it is.

I’ve previously written an article about Stingrays, no not the creatures that swim around the ocean, but the device used by the Government to mimic a cell tower and intercept mobile communication data. The topic of Stingrays has once again been raised with a Public Record Request in San Bernardino County (East of Los Angeles County) has revealed that since acquiring a stingray in 2012, in the period between January 1st, 2014 and May 7th, 2015, the stingray has been deployed 303 times.

This would not be a problem normally, I mean they are just using a device to help fight crime and do their duty, right? With the public record request, Ars Technica was able to get an example of a template for a “pen register and trap and trace order” used to deploy the stingray.  This piece of paperwork was typically used to collect metadata in almost real-time from a telephone company about the activity on a landline, obviously before the mass adoption of mobile phones by the public. The order itself, however, does not mention in any way the Stingray device.

The public awareness of Stingrays has rocketed in recent years, given that previously a Non-Disclosure Agreement (an agreement between the creators of the Stingray and the companies that use them to prevent the spread of information regarding the devices), has caused cases to be dropped, rather than breach the NDA with both the FBI and the Harris Corporation (the creators of the Stingray Device). In April 2015, a women accused of being a getaway driver changed her guilty plea and refused to testify against her three co-defendants after a police detective was challenged during a deposition and they refused to provide further information. The case was then dropped, this is not the first time that legal action has been muddied by the use of stingrays.

In an email exchange between Sarasota Police Department and North Port Police Department, the departments hid the use of Stingrays from judges and defendants at the request of the US Marshal Service (who the devices were on loan from at the time). The advice given to the departments from the U.S. Marshalls Task Force was to state that they “received information from a confidential source regarding the location of the suspect”. This means they were advised to lie regarding how information was gathered in order to hide the use of Stingrays, possibly in accordance with the NDA surrounding the device.

The non-disclosure agreement was revealed by Erie County, New York, and has been seen as stating that the FBI would rather drop a legal case rather than disclose information regarding the Stingray devices. This is however in contrast to a statement the FBI released stating that the NDA should not stop legal action based on the fact that a Stingray was used in the case.

Stingrays have been controversial devices since their public appearance, and with the court cases dismissed due to their use and most recently the awareness that the devices are being deployed with little to no legal oversight, they will continue to be a highly contested device until either legislation is implemented to protect the public from what is essentially the same meta-data mass collection that the national security agencies are currently being sued and debating.

What are your thoughts? Should devices like these be allowed to help fight crime, do they require more legal oversight or has their development been overshadowed with too many legal gray areas and cloak and dagger deployments?

Thank you Ars Technica for the information.

Image courtesy of Infosec Institue.

Scientists Use Squids to make ‘Invisibility Patches’

A group of researchers from the University of California apparently are looking into a way to use squids, namely the proteins found in their cells, to create ‘invisibility patches’ in order to provide a way for soldiers to camouflage themselves on the battlefield.

“Soldiers wear uniforms with the familiar green and brown camouflage patterns to blend into foliage during the day, but under low light and at night, they’re still vulnerable to infrared detection,” said Alon Gorodetsky, assistant professor of chemical engineering and material sciences.”You can draw inspiration from natural systems that have been perfected over millions of years, giving us ideas we might never have been able to come up with otherwise,” he said.

The team is apparently using cells known as iridocytes that contain a unique light-reflecting protein called reflectin. They were able to engineer E. coli bacteria to synthesize reflectin and coat the protein onto a packing tape-like surface to create the material that can be used on uniforms. Also, the stickers are said to change into any colour using a chemical or mechanical stimulus.

“There is a lot of flexibility in how one can deploy this material, essentially, by taking the stickers and putting them all over yourself, you could look one way under optical visualization and another way under active infrared visualization,” Gorodetsky said.

However, there is still a long way to go before you see sci-fi camouflage on the actual battlefield. The researchers now have to work out how to sync all patches together and have them respond to various infrared wavelengths.

Thank you CNN for providing us with this information

US Marshals Spying on Phones From Planes

The Wall Street Journal has made some startling revelations regarding a new spying programme being undertaken by the US Marshals. Apparently they’ve been using special fake cell tower devices attached to aeroplanes in an attempt to track mobile phones. Those devices, called an IMSI catcher, can be used to track individual suspects, jam the signal and even access images and text stored on the phone.

The initiative, which hasn’t yet been officially revealed, is usually conducted with a court order, but as The Verge points out, it’s not yet clear whether the order specifies the elaborate and quite frankly creepy means of carrying this sort of thing out.

It’s estimated that many millions of Americans have been affected by this initiative, due to the fact following one mobile phone will almost certainly mean the IMSI catcher, or “Stingray” picks up many other mobile phones in the process.

Source: The Verge

Scientists Use Sand To Triple Smartphone And Other Devices Battery Life

The battery life of our mobile devices – and anything that contains a battery for that matter is something which ranks quite high in everyone gripe list. Although manufacturers are discovering new ways to design components the need less power to run, there is only a certain amount of power that can be crammed into the battery, thus limiting the overall life of the device. This could all be about to change though as scientists have created a new type of lithium-ion battery that offers three times the life of a standard li-on battery using nothing more than sand.

Naturally we are not talking about pouring sand like we find on the beach into a battery. Instead of using graphite to make the anode end of the cell, refined sand is used to create a pure silicone compound which gives the extended life span.

To create the compound the sand, right in quartz, is ground down to minute particles nanometres in size and then is refined and purified by heating it to remove any oxygen which is present. The pure mixture is added to a salt and magnesium mix to create the pure silicone mix.

Whilst this process may sound like it will result in a battery which costs much more to buy, the resulting product is actually cheaper due to the use of common elements which do not create any harmful waste materials after processing. How long it will take to get this new type of battery into mass production and finally into the market is unknown, but as and when it does we could finally be looking at mobile devices that last days instead of hours before they need plugging in to charge – imagine a smartphone that has the heroic battery life of the old Nokia 3310’s? I know that is something we’d all love to have.

Source: WCCF Tech

Image courtesy: Neptor.com

Scientists Work Out How To 3D Print Vascular Networks

3D Printing has come a long way, from objects to food and now even human skin and meat. One of the major problems when attempting to print human meat was printing out the vascular network, meaning all the blood vessels and ventricles. However, it appears that even the latter problem has been recently solved by scientists from the University of Sydney, Harvard, Stanford and MIT.

The scientists have apparently solved the problem by creating a skeleton of vessels, which was then used as a basis to grow human cells around it. Once the process was complete and stable, the scientists dissolved the 3D printed material, leaving only the vascular network.

“Imagine being able to walk into a hospital and have a full organ printed – or bio-printed, as we call it – with all the cells, proteins and blood vessels in the right place, simply by pushing the ‘print’ button in your computer screen,” said Dr. Luiz Bertassoni of the University of Sydney. “While recreating little parts of tissues in the lab is something that we have already been able to do, the possibility of printing three-dimensional tissues with functional blood capillaries in the blink of an eye is a game changer.”

Building vascular networks is a big thing, but using them is even greater than imagined. It appears that the vessels are then used to transport nutrients through bioprinted tissue in order to achieve better cell differentiation and growth. Summing it all up, scientists are now able to create ‘organs’ in the lab, having the scientists believe that this will eventually lead to true organ regeneration.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of 3DPrint.com

Silverstone SST-PB03 AA Emergency Battery Pack Review

Introduction


In our highly connected digital worlds, keeping on touch with everyone around us is virtually mandatory and as a result we find ourselves demanding more and more battery life from our mobile devices and smart phones. Naturally there is only so much power that can be crammed in to the shell of a smart phone and short of having a very bulky handset, the only real option for many of us is to stick near to a power source where we can give our phones a quick boost of power, although this is both inconvenient and unpractical. To keep us going, portable battery packs that allow us to charge our phones on the go have started cropping up through multiple vendors, making them a commodity for those of us that use our phones a lot whilst out on the go – myself being a prime example.

When it comes to selecting the right battery pack for your budget or needs, the number of options to choose from is huge and the vendors themselves know this. With the demand so high and the number of competing items growing at a rapid rate, every manufacturer is doing the best they can to set their products apart from the rest of the crowd, whether it be through design to suit a particular set of users, or through features and functionality by adding in additional features and accessories such as carry bags, torches, larger capacities and wireless charging capabilities. Whilst all off these products have a variety of designs and capacities, they all have internal batteries and when these come to the end of their working life, there is no option but to buy a new pack. Silverstone however believe they have to the solution to the problem of battery life, simply by removing the battery out of the equation, leaving the user the freedom to select their own batteries and thus the freedom to get a larger capacity of battery for a longer charge time,

Built into a metal casing with a plastic inside, Silverstone’s PB03 barging pack features a small LED light and also doubles up as an AA battery charger. With the cost of portable battery packs spread out across a fairly wide range of budgets, the real question to ask is whether you are better off in getting the PB03 and your own set of batteries, or should we stick to the plug and play units that require no user interaction apart from charging?

It goes without saying that we don’t expect there to be much included in the box alongside the battery and this is just the case with a short USB cable included for charging the battery pack (when rechargeable batteries are used) or connecting a mobile device that has a microUSB port.

Nokia Introduces Asha 210 Mobile Phone

Earlier this week I showed you Nokia’s teaser, showing us just a small portion of a device that appeared to be a QWERTY style keyboard and a screen. With little to no information we naturally assumed it would be a new mobile device. I was not really surprised when I read the press release from Nokia this morning.

Nokia Asha 210 is available in 5 fantastic colors Black, Cyan, Magenta, White, and Yellow! With an estimated MSRP of $72 USD.

Nokia tells us that their new Asha 210 is their “Most social Asha yet”. This might be true, considering it has the world’s first WhatsApp button. WhatsApp is an app designed for social butterflies to contact all of their friends, either individually or in a group, and send as many images, video and audio messages as your heart might desire. There are a few other apps out there that allow you to do the same for free, WhatsApp is $1 USD per year of use.

WiFi, the only way to have a phone that allows you to get on the internet, allowing you to get faster than network speeds, and not limited or slowing down your internet capabilities if you use over the designated amount.

Nokia tells us that we can take great images with the 2 megapixel camera, giving you dedicated hardkey for quick and easy use! It also has built-in voice guides so you wont need to stand in-front of the bathroom mirror to take your self-portraits! You can also edit images quickly for uploading that important photo to your social media pages. Don’t forget Nokia’s SLAM feature, using Bluetooth it will allowing you to share images, contacts, and more to other phones without the need to pair devices!

Other key features for Nokia Asha 210 include:
– Social phonebook integration with the ability to launch WhatsApp direct from contact cards in the Phonebook
– Preloaded YouTube launcher for direct video streaming
– Chat screen notifications that keep users up-to-date on new conversations
– Single-SIM and Dual-SIM models featuring Nokia’s exclusive EasySwap technology that enables consumers to change SIM cards without having to turn off the device
– WiFi On/Off control button
– Nokia’s renowned long battery life: up to 46 days with Single-SIM and up to 24 days with Dual-SIM

If you are interested in this NEW Nokia Asha 210, you will be able to find it on Nokia’s Official Website . You can also find the Full Specifications as well.

Source