Dissolvable Electronics Designed to Monitor Health

It’s almost commonplace in science fiction for characters’ bodies to be filled with tiny computers for any number of purposes. While we may not have body-dwelling nanomachines yet, researchers have developed tiny electronic sensing devices that can be placed inside the brain which are capable of dissolving harmlessly once their job is done.

Smaller than a grain of rice, these temporary sensors are capable of measuring pressure, temperature, pH, motion, flow, and potentially specific biomolecules, and while they were originally designed for usage in the brain, they could potentially be used in any number of other organs. The advantage to the use of these tiny electronics is the potential to free patients from the cumbersome and potentially invasive equipment that is currently used to monitor them. The authors of its scientific paper believe that the sensors could help those with a wide variety of ailments, from complex brain injuries to diabetics.

Created through the efforts of Rory Murphy of Washington University School of Medicine and John Rogers’ group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the main design of the diminutive sensors comprises of biodegradable silicon-based piezoresistive materials that change resistance under stress, as well as layers of magnesium, and a dissolvable copolymer and poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA). In short, the devices are made from materials already present in our bodies that we intake regularly. Wireless data transmission from the sensors is handled by dissolvable molybdenum wires that connect the sensor to a data transmission device that can be placed outside of the body, such as on the skin.

The lifetime of the devices is controlled by the thickness of their coatings, with thicker ones taking longer to dissolve. Currently, the longest lifespan of the devices when covered in biofluids is only a few days, but Murphy is hopeful that this lifespan could be extended to weeks. Testing so far has taken place with rats, allowing the researchers to both test the collection of  temperature and pressure data as well as closely track the breakdown of the sensor, to check whether it’s degradation had any effect on the animal’s brain. Thankfully there are yet to be any clear complications as a result of using the sensors.

It is still only a proof of concept at this stage, but the results are certainly promising. In the future systems such as these could go a long way towards medical advances due to the ability to collect biometric data that would require traumatic invasive surgery with our current technology. Some may still fear the idea of computers in their brains, but at least these ones aren’t permanent.

The full paper published to the journal Nature can be found here.

Image credit to J Rogers, University of Illinois

Microduino mCookie Brings LEGO to Life @ CES 2016

CES 2016: Microduino’s booth at CES this year, instantly caught my attention due to the colourful models and intriguing concept. The company produces tiny, stackable Arduino modules which are held together by strong magnets. The circuit boards contain raised plastic studs to connect to LEGO pieces and add a whole new dimension to your existing build projects. On another note, each module adopts open source technology and colour coded to distinguish between the functionality of each unit.

It’s remarkably easy to add Bluetooth, WiFi, various sensor hubs, GPS, audio functionality, battery management and even USB. This makes it a fantastic platform for developers or modders looking to create something unique. The devices have the ability to be programmed using Arduino IDE software which greatly enhances the unit’s flexibility.

In terms of pricing, you can purchase a basic tutorial kit for $25 all the way up to a 301-piece expert kit costing $299.99. The company has also started to sell individual modules to help finish a complex project or acquire the parts to create a production line. The hardware on show here helps make people’s creativity flourish and should encourage youngsters to learn more about programming.


Bill Gates Mansion Has Some Secrets!

We all know Bill Gates has a whopping amount of money. He’s the owner of Microsoft, several hotel chains, and Corbis. Well, he also has several stunning properties. His home in Washington is worth a phenomenal $154 million. That’s approximately 1000 average British houses. However, he only paid $2 million back in the golden days of 1988. It is also said that he pays approximately $1 million in property tax per yer. Not a lot for Mr Gates though is it?

Sensors, sensors everywhere!

On arrival at the Gates household, you’ll be handed a little pin. This pin interacts with sensors built into the house, in turn, it then tracks your movement throughout the entire complex. As a result of the pin and sensors, the house then automatically adjusts temperature and lighting to ensure comfort throughout. He also has hidden speakers in all the rooms so music can follow you wherever you go.

Oooh, nice pictures Bill

Many of the paintings in the house are digital, he has roughly $80,000 dollars of displays that then connect back to a $150,000 server farm. The server farm then has a nearly unlimited supply of artwork for you to switch to.

Bounce Bill bounce, the trampoline room

The house has its own exercise facilities. The main room has a trampoline in and a 20ft high roof space for you to bounce around in. The facilities are 2500 square feet and contain a sauna, steam room, and separate men/women’s locker rooms.

Hosting a party? The reception hall

If the family wants to hold a party, Bill has a 2300 feet square reception hall. It can seat 150 people at a dinner party or 200 at a cocktail party. One wall has a 6 feet wide fireplace whilst the other is home to a whopping 22 feet wide video screen. Perfect for chilling and looking at cat pictures!

Fancy a read? The library is massive

Bill Gates paid $30.8-million for the 16th Century Codex Leicester manuscript, so it does not come as a surprise that he also has a 2,100-square-foot library, complete with a dome roof and two secret bookcases. On the ceiling, he has a quote from “The Great Gatsby”. “He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it.” I wonder if the blue reminds him of the windows XP taskbar, we will never know.

More of a film fan? Bill has it covered

In his 20 person movie theater. It has an Art-Deco theme, humongous chairs and much more. The screen itself is huge, however, we’re not allowed to know the true size. There is even a snack bar just for the theater.

The Car garage

Across the residence, there are several garages that amount to having room for 23 vehicles. One of which is designed to look like the Batcave. Rather cool I say – not bad for a 60-year-old!

Thank you to Wikipedia, techeblog and buisnessinsider.com for providing us with these images.

Artificial Skin with a Sense Of Touch Being Developed

The technology behind prosthetic limbs has dramatically evolved over time for the benefit of assisting individuals who have had the misfortune of losing a limb. The next step forward to that is a coined Bionic limb that gives the user something akin to natural human skin. This realization looks to be making significant progress after “funding from the U.S. Department of Defence has allowed several researchers to make progress toward  more humanlike prosthetic hands that offer users a sense of control and touch”.  

It’s a strange one that funding is being allocated from the department of defense with the aim of benefiting humanity instead of the standard artillery. Anyway, scientists from Stanford have outlined a new type of pressure sensor in the form of a flat yet flexible material that could in theory serve as a type of artificial skin layer, which would then fit onto prosthetics. This is very much in the vein of human skin that is fitted over the bone and muscle within a human body, this technique would then in theory allow the wearer to both manipulate and also feel objects, though it’s not the evolution form of natural touch, but rather an artificial replication of the sensation.

Lead researcher Zhenan Bao has outlined that “The sensors send pulses that the brain interprets in order to determine a certain sense of touch. “It’s directly mimicking the biological system”

The “skin” itself is constructed from plastic which is then printed with a waffle pattern to make it compressible. Embedded inside are “carbon nanotubes”, these are tiny rods of pure carbon that conduct electricity which in turn squeezes the material and bring the rods closer together, creating more rapid pulses as the pressure increases.

In essence, this is a fascinating step forward that could hopefully benefit and also assist a person’s life. The ability to feel is an essential part of the human condition, any loss of that is worrying when you think of the potential ramifications. But that is not the end, eventually the scientific community hopes to be able to “channel information from artificial sensors into the peripheral nerves that were once connected to the lost hand”.

Human exploration and understanding of science has achieved a great deal and this is another compelling chapter. Hopefully, this work will achieve more answers and enable further development.

Thank you technologyreview for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of gizmodo

BMW Car Can’t Crash at Low Speeds

BMW has been showing off its latest and greatest tech at CES, including this – a car that cannot crash at low speeds. Now you might think that at low speeds what’s the point of a car not being able to crash – surely it’s more important at higher speeds? Well this is more about parking and preventing annoying dings and dents.

The car utilises a number of sensors to prevent any collisions around the entire circumference of the vehicle, stopping it just inches away from any obstacle. That thing about inches is good too, since you don’t exactly want to be stopping every 5 seconds when you’re trying to park.

But really it’s not just about dings and dents; this will prove very valuable in the safety of young children, who could be hard to spot when walking behind a moving a vehicle. The car can also park itself – something becoming increasingly common these days, but this one can do it via a smartwatch!

The Verge has produced this really great video showing some of the car’s features.

Source: The Verge

Intel Reveals Worlds Smallest Modem for the Internet of Things

Intel has revealed what it calls “the world’s smallest standalone wireless modem for connecting the Internet of things”. This could be any everyday thing that is connected to the web, like coffee machines or bread-makers that you can turn on with a mobile app. The Intel XMM 6255 3G modem is a chip that connects a device to a cellular network, which in turn can link billions of interconnected smart devices such as wearables, sensors, and industrial equipment and it is only a little larger than a penny.

It is expected that the number of Internet-connected devices is going to rise to number between 26 billion and 50 billion by the year 2020. Right now it is estimated that there are 80 things connecting to the Internet for the first time every second and that will rise to 250 every second in 2020 according to predictions. All those devices needs a lot of modems, so it isn’t hard to see how big this little thing is.

The entire XMM 6255 board is only 300 mm² and that includes the modem and a SMARTi UE2p transceiver component which operates on a tiny amount of electrical power. The smaller the chip and its components, the less electrical power is needed to run them. It is built to deal with low signal strength in a network, so it can work fine in places like a parking garage or home basement. Previous smart watches or sensors didn’t have enough space for proper 3G antennas. I’m sure it won’t be long until these new 3G modems will be in more things then we know about, from dairy farms to cell phones and everything in between.

We could even see t-shirts like the above image, for real and with multi player option against your friends. Why play on a device when you can be the device.

Thank you venturebeat for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Intel.

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