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Category Archives: Science

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Researchers Create ‘Skin’ For Robots That Will Allow Them To Feel

Tyler Lee October 18, 2017

Image credit – UCLA Engineering

If there is one advantage that robots might have over humans is that they can’t “feel” what they are touching, meaning that picking up hot or cold objects that are too cold for our bare hands will not prove to be an issue with robots. However this can also be a disadvantage as it means that in terms of operations, robots can be less nuanced than humans.

However that could soon change thanks to the efforts of engineers from the University of Washington and UCLA who have developed a flexible “skin” for robots, which is essentially a flexible sensor that can be stretched over any part of a robot’s body or a prosthetic that can help convey information when it comes to grasping objects, like shear forces, vibration, and so on.

The sensor is said to be capable of mimicking the way a human finger experiences tension and compression, similar to how your hand feels when you are grabbing or holding onto a object. By allowing a robot to feel these nuances, the engineers believe it will help to improve the ability for robots to perform tasks that require a subtle touch, like dismantling a bomb, for example.

According to Jonathan Posner, a UW professor of mechanical engineering and of chemical engineering, “If a robot is going to dismantle an improvised explosive device, it needs to know whether its hand is sliding along a wire or pulling on it. To hold on to a medical instrument, it needs to know if the object is slipping. This all requires the ability to sense shear force, which no other sensor skin has been able to do well.”

Researchers Create ‘Skin’ For Robots That Will Allow Them To Feel , original content from Ubergizmo. Read our Copyrights and terms of use.

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Researchers Create Eco-Friendly Concrete That Can Withstand Earthquakes

Tyler Lee October 12, 2017

There are many parts of the world that do get hit occasionally by earthquakes, which is why in those countries, buildings are typically reinforced so that they can withstand earthquakes up to certain magnitudes. One of the typical ways to reinforce these buildings is by using steel, but unfortunately when it comes to high-rise buildings, going steel all the way gets expensive.

This is why concrete is usually used, although it isn’t necessarily the best material to stand up to earthquakes. However it seems that researchers from the University of British Columbia have created concrete that behaves like steel in certain ways, which also means that it can be used to reinforce buildings for earthquakes. To top it off, the concrete is eco-friendly too.

According to a report from ArchDaily, “Called EDCC (eco-friendly ductile cementitious composite), the material is engineered at the molecular level to react similarly to steel – with high strength, ductility and malleability. When sprayed onto the surface of traditionally poured interior concrete walls, it reinforces against seismic intensities as high as the magnitude 9.0-9.1 earthquake that hit Tohoku, Japan in 2011.”

The good news is that the new concrete material developed by the researchers is commercially available and has been designated as an official retrofit option for use in British Columbia, Canada. Contractors are expected to use it in an elementary school in Vancouver, and will also be used in an area in northern India which is prone to seismic activity.

Researchers Create Eco-Friendly Concrete That Can Withstand Earthquakes , original content from Ubergizmo. Read our Copyrights and terms of use.

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Researchers Develop Smart Tattoo That Can Track Your Health

Tyler Lee October 2, 2017

Devices like smartwatches, fitness trackers, and heart rate chest straps are designed to collect biometric data on the user, like their heart rate, distance traveled, calories burnt, and so on. However the problem with current wearables is that they need to be worn 24/7 if you want to monitor your vitals all the time, and given that battery life isn’t infinite, it isn’t ideal just yet.

However that might be a problem that researchers at Harvard could have solved as they have developed a smart tattoo that stays on the wearer’s body and can also offer up similar tracking features. This is done through the use of ink that can react to the composition of your interstitial fluid, so for example if the person is dehydrated or if their glucose levels go up, the ink will change color or grow in intensity.

This will come in handy for people like athletes who need to keep track of their body’s vitals, or diabetics who need to know if they might have consumed too much sugar. The researchers have also suggested that the ink could be invisible for those who don’t want everyone to know what’s going on in their bodies, and can only be read under certain types of light.

According to Ali Yetisen, one of the researchers involved, one potential use for these sensors could be for astronauts who will need constant health monitoring. Another researcher Nan Jiang adds, “The purpose of the work is to light the imagination of biotechnologists and stimulate public support for such efforts. These questions of how technology impacts our lives must be considered as carefully as the design of the molecular sensors patients may someday carry embedded in their skin.”

Researchers Develop Smart Tattoo That Can Track Your Health , original content from Ubergizmo. Read our Copyrights and terms of use.

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Researchers Create Super-Thin Sensors That Are Also Edible

Tyler Lee October 1, 2017

One of the problems with transporting food to various parts of the world is that in some cases, certain types of food need to be kept at certain temperatures to maintain its freshness and to prevent it from going bad during transportation, such as fish, and researchers in Switzerland might have figured out a way to better manage such feats.

This is thanks to their work which has resulted in the creation of super-thin sensors that can help monitor food temperature, and the best part is that these sensors are edible by human beings, meaning that ingesting them won’t be harmful to the human body. These sensors measure 16 micrometers thin which is considerably thinner than a strand of human hair, and are made from a polymer created with corn and potato starch, magnesium, and water-soluble silicone dioxide and nitride.

According to the research team’s lead Giovanni Salvatore, “In preparation for transport to Europe, fish from Japan could be fitted with tiny temperature sensors, allowing them to be continuously monitored to ensure they are kept at a cool enough temperature.” So far based on their work, these sensors still require wired power where it is connected to a micro-battery, microprocessor, and a transmitter via cables.

However the researchers are looking into ways of powering the sensor and transmitting data wirelessly. Unfortunately as it stands, we won’t be seeing these sensors used publicly anytime soon as Salvatore notes that the creation of such sensors is time-intensive and expensive, but in the future who knows?

Researchers Create Super-Thin Sensors That Are Also Edible , original content from Ubergizmo. Read our Copyrights and terms of use.

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This Maze-Like Chip Can Spot Aggressive Cancer Cells

Tyler Lee September 24, 2017

Image Credit – Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering Communications & Marketing

There are several ways that doctors can spot cancer cells, but given that there are billions, if not trillions of cells, this could take a while, and could slow down the treatment process, or in some instances doctors might miss it entirely. However thanks to efforts by researchers at the University of Michigan (via Engadget), that could change thanks to this chip.

As you can see in the photo above, researchers have developed a chip with a maze-like pattern. This is a microfluidic chip that can apparently help to separate cancer cells from the rest of your bloodstream. This is thanks to the use of physics  where the curves will help to push the larger cancer cells forwards, while the smaller, regular cells will cling to the walls.

According to the researchers, “The labyrinth riffs on the spiral, sorting the blood’s contents according to the sizes of the cells, with smaller white and red blood cells accumulating in different parts of the fluid channel. A number of forces are at play: on the inside of a curve, eddies push particles away from the wall. The larger cancer cells are pushed a bit harder than the smaller white blood cells. At the outside of the curve, smaller particles feel more drawn to the wall.”

This method is also said to be faster than conventional methods and can take minutes to pinpoint the cancerous cells. This method can even be refined further simply by adding another chip. At the moment this chip is being used in clinical trials to help isolate cancer cells from patients with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

This Maze-Like Chip Can Spot Aggressive Cancer Cells , original content from Ubergizmo. Read our Copyrights and terms of use.

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This Patch Can Monitor Glucose Levels During Exercise

Tyler Lee September 19, 2017

Image credit – State University of New York

When it comes to monitoring solutions for diabetics, it usually involves invasive measures which some users might not necessarily appreciate, although right now for the most part it is the only way. However researchers at the State University of New York could have come up with something non-invasive.

This comes in the form of a paper-based patch that can be worn on the skin like you would a Band-Aid, as you can see in the photo above. What this does is that it monitors the glucose levels of the wearer by wicking away sweat into a reservoir which is then converted into electrical energy and used to power a biosensor. This biosensor can then monitor the wearer’s glucose levels without the need for an external power supply, meaning that it can be worn discreetly when working out.

This is actually not the first time that sweat-based measuring systems have been attempted, but in the past previous solutions have run into problems like difficulty of collecting enough sweat or sweat evaporation due to the long time required to collect samples, and this latest development supposedly solves some of those shortcomings.

It could still be a while before we see this patch become mainstream and offered commercially, but its development does hold promise as an effective and potentially inexpensive way of managing diabetes.

This Patch Can Monitor Glucose Levels During Exercise , original content from Ubergizmo. Read our Copyrights and terms of use.

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Researchers Develop An Injection That Can Deliver Multiple Vaccines

Tyler Lee September 18, 2017

Image credit – Langer Lab

It is safe to say that no one really relishes the idea of getting injections, even as adults, so it is understandable why children typically kick up a huge fuss when it’s time for their vaccinations. This usually involves several trips to the doctors over a period of time, which means multiple struggles for parents and basically everyone involved.

However it seems that researchers at MIT have come up with a way to include multiple vaccinations within a single injection. This means that in the future, kids will only have to endure a single injection but at the same time ultimately reap the benefit of multiple vaccines. How is this possible? Essentially each dose of the vaccine will be released at a specific time, and this is achieved through the use of PLGA which is a biocompatible polymer that is found in implants and prosthetics.

The PLGA will be used to create microparticles that resemble tiny coffee cups and have also  been designed to degrade at specific times, meaning that while the vaccines will be delivered into the body at the same time, some might only be released at a later date, like when the child is slightly older.

According to Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT, “We are very excited about this work because, for the first time, we can create a library of tiny, encased vaccine particles, each programmed to release at a precise, predictable time, so that people could potentially receive a single injection that, in effect, would have multiple boosters already built into it. This could have a significant impact on patients everywhere, especially in the developing world where patient compliance is particularly poor.”

Researchers Develop An Injection That Can Deliver Multiple Vaccines , original content from Ubergizmo. Read our Copyrights and terms of use.

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Researchers Develop AI That Can Detect Alzheimer’s Early

Tyler Lee September 17, 2017

While a full on cure for Alzheimer’s has yet to be discovered, researchers are making progress when it comes to early detection. This will allow patients to seek out treatment that can help slow down the effects of the disease, or at least give them more time to get their affairs in order and prepare for the inevitable.

Recently it seems that researchers at the University of Bari in Italy have made some pretty impressive progress when it comes to early detection, and with the use of AI, it seems that they have managed to develop an algorithm that is capable of detect Alzheimer’s as early as a decade before symptoms can appear.

What the researchers have done is that they have given their AI 67 MRI scans from 38 Alzheimer’s patients, and an additional 29 from those without it. The scans were then further divided into small regions and the AI was then used to analyze the neural connectivity between them. They then put the AI to the test by scanning the brains of 148 subjects, 48 of whom had Alzheimer’s, while another 48 had mild cognitive impairments that later led to Alzheimer’s.

The AI was successful in its diagnosis 86% of the time when it came to Alzheimer’s, and 84% of the time when it came to mild cognitive impairments. The system is far from ready to be used for mainstream purposes due to the limited number of scans it was tested on, but so far it seems that it shows quite a bit of promise.

Researchers Develop AI That Can Detect Alzheimer’s Early , original content from Ubergizmo. Read our Copyrights and terms of use.

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This ‘Pen’ Can Be Used To Test Tissue For Cancer

Tyler Lee September 8, 2017

When removing a cancerous tumor from a patient’s body, it makes sense that doctors would want to ensure that they’ve taken everything out, right? After all it doesn’t make sense to leave some behind, or subject the patient to more surgery if it can be helped. However thanks to the work of researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, that could be a problem of the past.

In a report from the Science Translational Medicine, it seems that the researchers have created a “pen” called the MasSpec Pen. This is a small pen-like device that can, in real-time, determine whether or not a tissue is cancerous in as little as 10 seconds. This means that surgeons can test tissues on the spot in the operating theater to decide whether or not more tissue needs to be removed, as opposed to sewing the patient up and then having to reopen them again later.

The pen works by delivering a drop of water onto the surface of the tissue in question, and the drop of water can actually pull in molecules from the tissue and is then analyzed by a mass spectrometer (hence the name of the pen). It will be able to report whether the tissue is cancerous or not.

So far the researchers have tested the pen on 253 human tissue samples and have come back with an impressive accuracy rating of over 96%. The team is now working on pens that can analyze smaller sections of tissue.

This ‘Pen’ Can Be Used To Test Tissue For Cancer , original content from Ubergizmo. Read our Copyrights and terms of use.

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Researchers Create Water-Based Electrolytes For Safer Batteries

Tyler Lee September 7, 2017

Image credit – iFixit

While smartphones exploding isn’t exactly a new phenomenon, last year’s Samsung Galaxy Note 7 explosions did bring quite a bit of attention to the dangers of using lithium-ion batteries. Granted at the moment lithium-ion seems to be the standard, it still does not reduce the potential dangers of using it to power our electronics.

However the good news is that scientists have recently managed to create a water-based electrolyte that could potentially lead to safer batteries. This was achieved by using a high concentration of salt that will help produce a protective layer on electrodes that you would expect from a conventional electrolyte, thus preserving the electrodes and allowing for it to hold more energy.

Now before you get too excited about the possibility of safer batteries, this is clearly still quite early in development as one of the main problems with these batteries is that the electrolytes don’t last very long. What this means is that the number of charges the battery holds isn’t very much at around 70 cycles worth, meaning that if you were to charge your device from 0 to full on a daily basis, it’ll last you a little more than 2 months. This is versus lithium-ion batteries which can last for hundreds of cycles.

This is also not the first time that researchers are looking into the idea of creating batteries that are longer-lasting and are also safer, but for the most part it seems that lithium-ion batteries will continue to be commonly used for the foreseeable future.

Researchers Create Water-Based Electrolytes For Safer Batteries , original content from Ubergizmo. Read our Copyrights and terms of use.

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