Stem Cells Could Repair Cataracts

Cataracts are the most common reason for blindness in today’s world. Cataracts are when the lens in your eye becomes clouded and while often associated with the elderly, it also affects the young and even infants. While there is a surgical option to address this issue, a group in China thinks that stem cells could repair cataracts, giving people back their sight.

Currently in order to remove Cataracts, the patient needs to undergo surgery. Removing the lens that has become cloudy, and inserting either a transplanted or even artificial lens granting them back their sight. With millions undergoing the surgery, it’s not uncommon for complications and even diminished results ending with people requiring glasses to assist in their eyesight.

Typically these complications affect 24 our of 25 infants who have to undergo this surgery, but by encouraging the infant’s own stem cells, only one out of twelve infants in the trail had a complication.

While stem cells are a case for hope, with adults generating the stem cells used in this case way into their 40’s, this could become the first step in allowing people to regenerate their lenses in a semi-natural way. This could result in reducing or even removing the issue of cataracts coupled with a much smaller and less invasive technique.

Lens-Less Cameras Are Now A Thing

Cameras have evolved so much over the past few years. They began with the throwaway cameras you would take on field trips with you to capture 40 different moments, then they became digital with you buying a small block of metal and watching the screen light up as the lens zoomed out the body to focus. Now you don’t even use need to buy a camera,  they are built-in every smartphone and even pens and watches. The traditional drawback to these devices is the lenses that are used to focus on an image, but no more.

A professor of computer and electrical engineering at Rice University in Texas, Richard Baraniuk, believes that lenses are the only thing holding back cameras. To combat this, his team has developed a design based on a pinhole camera. The difficulty of pinhole cameras is they don’t allow for a lot of light, the solution to this problem appeared to be quite simple. Don’t use just one pinhole camera, use thousands.

The problem with a thousand different cameras, is a thousand different images are hard to use. So with a little modern logic, it’s not possible to produce a camera that is not only without a traditional lens but also slim and almost hidden.

Watch: Solar-Powered Ray Can Melt Metal

Kevin Moore and Grant Reynolds from the Science Channel looked at one of their favourite childhood pastimes – burning things with the rays from a magnifying glass – and wanted to magnify it. They wanted to magnify the ray so much so that it could melt metal.

So how do you get that much heat? Pretty simple really. They used an old fresnel lens from a rear-projection TV in place of the magnifying glass, thus increasing the intensity of the light.

The effect, as you can see in the video, is pretty incredible.

Source: Gizmodo

Revolutionary Chemical Iris Could Bring Smaller Cameras to Smartphones

A normal iris has physical blades which move in order to change the amount of light entering the lens. More light enters when wider and less when closing down. The same principle is applied to cameras found in some smartphones nowadays too. A new chemical iris however tends to change the way our cameras on smartphones work. It is said that the new iris drops the need for physical blades and in turn reduces the overall size of a camera module. The miniaturization of bladed cameras is really quite tricky, since the module still requires the need of a actuator to move the blades.

Researchers in Germany have apparently solved the problem of creating miniaturized cameras with the help of a new iris which uses transparent chemical rings, giving it the ability to become opaque when a voltage is applied to it. The iris is said to measure in at just 55 micrometers thick, granting smartphones the ability to house much smaller and thinner camera modules. The design is said to feature two glass substrates pressed together with an iridium tin oxide layer on each side. A thin layer of electrochromic polymer is also said to be present on both glass substrates, formed into rings that create the chemical iris.

It is said that the iris needs only 1.5V to turn opaque, an ideally low voltage for smartphones and other mobile devices. A research paper states that a 1,200 mAh battery grants enough power to maintain the iris-state for about 60,000 hours. Having the aperture a perfect circle rather than shaped by overlapping blades will also give a more pleasing effect on the shallow depth of field effect and deliver smoother bokeh.

The new iris is said to still be in its early stages, but the researchers stated to help develop it even further since the new technology could deliver more flexibility and also bring the full manual controls seen on professional camera to mobile photography.

Thank you Cnet for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Cnet

Smart Glass Has Potential To Give Smartphone DSLR Grade Photos

Smartphones are really making big waves in the world of photography these days, the quality of sensors, lens and the processors behind it all have come along a lot in recent years. However, as good as smartphones are getting, you will still struggle to get the kind of performance of a professional camera such as a DSLR, but new “Smart Glass” technology could be one innovation that closes the gap.

Smart Glass technology can mimic the shutter capabilities of a traditional camera, allowing better adjustments for light, exposure and focus, much in the same was n iris on a DSLR can open and close to make adjustments to the shot.

“There is no technology today that can realize an iris aperture for smartphone cameras,” said Tobias Deutschmann, physicist at the Technische Universitaet Kaiserslautern in Germany and lead-author of the study.

“The [smartphone] cameras would benefit from an iris, because it allows [the camera] to change the depth of focus, which is not possible right now, and would further close the gap in functionality between smartphone cameras and conventional digital cameras,” Deutschmann told Live Science. “In addition it would be an option to create larger optics for the smartphones to increase the picture quality in bad light situations, like at night, while the iris would decrease the amount of light that reaches the sensor in bright environments.”

Smart Glass is an electrochromic material, its transparency can be changed in response to light or heat, or by applying voltage to it. A technology which can allow for a micro-iris and forming an aperture style device to adjust how much light enters the camera sensor.

Thank you Mashable for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Mashable.

New Virtual Reality Gear Surfaces in Europe

For the virtual reality fans out there Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus are the most well-known VR projects considered and eagerly awaited, but there are a couple of flaws to be considered when looking into this. First is the price, where Oculus Rift development kit would cost around $350, as much as a decent graphics card on the market. And the second, as any graphics card, it will end up being obsolete at a certain point, where another version of it needs to be bought in order to keep up with games and features.

However, an alternative just surfaced in Europe, and it looks quite promising too. The VR gadget’s name is Virzzmo and it has been the idea of Future Reality Games’ CEO, Dariusz Żołna. The gadget is currently used with handsets having a screen size of 4.7-inches or larger, and compared to Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus, it will not become obsolete. By changing the handset, it automatically change the gadget’s specs as well.

The principle of this gadget works by separating the handset’s display into two distinct sections, one for the left eye and one for the right. Along with the specially designed lenses, the gadget works out the stereoscopic 3D image which you can see while looking at the screen through it. In addition to the latter, Virzzmo presents a gyroscope inside which tracks head movement, making it the best multimedia gadget for your handset of all times.

In terms of pricing, the gadget is said to be really cheap, having been said to cost no more than €50. However, development kits are said to be released somewhere in June, therefore a customer release date is not known at this point. Also, the main question to be asked here is whether or not developers will take an interest in this project.

Thank you TweakTown for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of TweakTown

Google Reportedly In Development Of Contact Lenses Which Can Read Glucose Levels

A contact lens which contains a glucose sensor, an antenna, a capacitor and a chip has been developed by Google dedicated to people suffering from diabetes. It does not restrict eyesight and performs analysis of glucose twice every second, afterwards send the information gathered to an external monitoring device with the help of radio waves.

Having 1 in 19 people on the planet dealing with diabetes, it can become like a part-time job to manage. Glucose levels change frequently throughout the day and a close eye must be kept on readings at all times through blood drop tests and other methods. The Google team tasked with the project came up with the contact lens idea, which is made out of chips and sensors that look like bits of glitter and an antenna that is thinner than a human hair. They also overcome the battery issue with the help of radio waves, which provides the necessary electrical energy necessary to power up the sensors inside the lens.

It is said that future models may even include a light source built into the lens that would let wearers know the status of their glucose levels without having to look at the external monitoring device, according to project lead Brian Otis, which can be activated via a blinking feature or the user closing his or her eyes.

Google is currently in talks with the FDA, but they say there is still some more work to be done on it until we see one of these lenses on the market.

Thank you Tech Spot for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Tech Spot