A look at an innovative 3D printed braille smartphone.
While smartphones can do incredible things these days, they’re still too expensive or complicated for some consumers, such as the elderly, disabled or technophobic. We wrote about OwnFone back in 2012 when it began offering cheap and small customizable phones that only receive and make calls to pre-selected numbers. Now the company is back with the Braille Phone, a credit-card sized device that can be easily used by those without full vision. READ MORE…
Art + science: all the entries in this annual photography competition were taken by engineers from the University of Cambridge as they worked. see the full gallery here»
A very innovative solar powered smart bench.
The solar powered smart bench
A new initiative in Boston is bringing Soofas, solar powered benches that can not only charge your gadgets, but also monitor air quality and sound levels, to several city parks in a pilot program
The Soofas, called “smart urban furniture”, were developed by Changing Environments, a spinoff of MIT Media Lab, and are capable of charging mobile gadgets via two USB ports, thanks to a solar panels and the free energy of the sun. And while they’re charging phones and powering Facebook updates, they’re also gathering environmental data about air quality and noise levels nearby, and uploading them to a public map online.
Physical exercise has many beneficial effects on human health, including the protection from stress-induced depression. However, until now the mechanisms that mediate this protective effect have been unknown. In a new study in mice, researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden show that exercise training induces changes in skeletal muscle that can purge the blood of a substance that accumulates during stress, and is harmful to the brain. The study is being published in the prestigious journal Cell.
“In neurobiological terms, we actually still don’t know what depression is. Our study represents another piece in the puzzle, since we provide an explanation for the protective biochemical changes induced by physical exercise that prevent the brain from being damaged during stress,” says Mia Lindskog, researcher at the Department of Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet.
It was known that the protein PGC-1a1 (pronounced PGC-1alpha1) increases in skeletal muscle with exercise, and mediates the beneficial muscle conditioning in connection with physical activity. In this study researchers used a genetically modified mouse with high levels of PGC-1a1 in skeletal muscle that shows many characteristics of well-trained muscles (even without exercising).
These mice, and normal control mice, were exposed to a stressful environment, such as loud noises, flashing lights and reversed circadian rhythm at irregular intervals. After five weeks of mild stress, normal mice had developed depressive behaviour, whereas the genetically modified mice (with well-trained muscle characteristics) had no depressive symptoms.
“Our initial research hypothesis was that trained muscle would produce a substance with beneficial effects on the brain. We actually found the opposite: well-trained muscle produces an enzyme that purges the body of harmful substances. So in this context the muscle’s function is reminiscent of that of the kidney or the liver,” says Jorge Ruas, principal investigator at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet.
The researchers discovered that mice with higher levels of PGC-1a1 in muscle also had higher levels of enzymes called KAT. KATs convert a substance formed during stress (kynurenine) into kynurenic acid, a substance that is not able to pass from the blood to the brain. The exact function of kynurenine is not known, but high levels of kynurenine can be measured in patients with mental illness. In this study, the researchers demonstrated that when normal mice were given kynurenine, they displayed depressive behaviour, while mice with increased levels of PGC-1a1 in muscle were not affected. In fact, these animals never show elevated kynurenine levels in their blood since the KAT enzymes in their well-trained muscles quickly convert it to kynurenic acid, resulting in a protective mechanism.
“It’s possible that this work opens up a new pharmacological principle in the treatment of depression, where attempts could be made to influence skeletal muscle function instead of targeting the brain directly. Skeletal muscle appears to have a detoxification effect that, when activated, can protect the brain from insults and related mental illness,” says Jorge Ruas.
Depression is a common psychiatric disorder worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 350 million people are affected.
LG to make these flexible OLED TVs by 2017.
Not content with making the world’s biggest bendy OLED telly, LG has thrown a different curve entirely with its roll-up OLED display. The 18-inch flexible panel has a 1280 x 810 resolution and uses a film of high-performance plastic called polyimide to give it its flexibility. (via The Register)
Yeah, this is already pretty cool, but wait — there’s actually a whole theory of developing driverless vehicles and traffic light-free intersections in computer science. And of course, such systems are based on deeply mathematical algorithms.
Entitled “Rush Hour,” this one-minute piece was created by Argentina filmmaker Fernando Livschitz, who cloned pedestrians and motorists in a busy intersection by using some cool little trick photography. The result appears to be beautifully orchestrated palm-sweatingly cool video that appears to feature the luckiest people alive.
But in all seriousness this is what driver-less freeways could look like (minus the pedestrians):
In the visualization model of the future intersection marked with white robotic vehicles, and yellow – with real cars and drivers of vehicles that have already passed through the intersection and did not need the services manager (Note that they change color). We see that the robots pass the intersection without stopping at all, only slightly slowing down or accelerating to match the rest of his maneuver. People have to wait, but waiting on the order of magnitude smaller than the usual traffic lights.
This keyring to rescue a bee is rather innovative.
This is adorable. A designer in Italy has invented the Bee Saver - a tiny first-aid kit on a keychain that contains enough nectar to revitalise an exhausted bee, should you come across one on your travels.
Read more: http://bit.ly/1yfLwQa via Fast Company
It is absolutely crazy how tiny we can make things today.
What we’re seeing here is a standard microchip, older though in principle the same as modern cell phone chip.
At the micro level we’re dealing with this comparison:
"A micron is 1 millionth of a meter, 10-6 or 10-3 of a millimeter. Very tiny. It is abbreviated with the greek letter for M, or the mu."
It takes 100,000 Microns to equal about 4 inches and toward the end of the set we’re in the 1 micron range.