Tag: Bionics


Beetle Egg

Our peculiar image of the week presents us the lustrous uncannyness of a Beetle car in its embryonic stage. Rest assure: this is fiction, however, metaphorically the sculpture by artist Olav Mooij represents a profound truth we are only gradually getting attuned to: how mankind is co-evolving with its technology and thereby enabling non-genetic evolution.

The beetle egg is currently on display at the Natuur Apps expo at the Gouverneurstuin in Assen (NL), where it will remain until September 1th. The expo is closed with a Next Nature lecture, so if you happen to be in the neighborhood..


What Robots dream of…

You may think it’s a cliché, but deep down inside robots want to be birds and fly high in the sky. Hooray for the good people of Festo, that demonstrate at TED how they turn the dream into a reality.


First Lab-Grown Organ Transplanted

Another step in the fusion of the made & the born: Surgeons in Sweden have successfully transplanted a fully synthetic, tissue-engineered organ – a trachea– into a man with late-stage tracheal cancer.

The synthetic trachea was grown in a bioreactor, using a scaffold built out of a porous polymer, and tissue grown from the patient’s own stem cells. The surgery was performed last month by Paolo Macchiarini at Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge, Stockholm. The patient has now made a full recovery and has been discharged from the hospital.

The transplant of the lab grown organ is a significant moment for regenerative medicine, although a trachea is much simpler than a lung, kidney or a heart, which are still far more challenging for the scientists.

Lab grown organs are expected to be superior to ordinary donor organs in several ways. They can be made to order more quickly than a donor organ can often be found; being grown from a patient’s own cells, they also do not require dangerous immunosuppressant drugs to prevent rejection.

Source: Technologyreview.

Back to the Tribe

Bare necessities

According to a research by JWT AnxietyIndex the changing mediascape is upon us. Do to the recession people are forced to validate their luxuries and it turned out that teens and twentysomethings are willing to cut back on a lot of things, except on the internet connection and mobile phone.  Within their mediascape these are more important then traditional entertainment. Connectivity is entertainment.

Via: We Are Organized Chaos.


Humane Technology #5: Empower People

Principle number five: Humane technology doesn’t outsource people, but instead empowers them.

How healthy or humane is it to have an escalator to the gym?  Humane technology should not aim to replace the human mind and body.  Rather, it should be used as a tool to augment existing capabilities.  The Cheetah Flex-Foot, a prosthetic foot and lower leg, integrates with a user’s existing knee and upper leg to enable comfortable walking and running.  Users are at least as fast as those with flesh-and-blood feet, and may even be faster thanks to the mechanical efficiencies of springy metal.  The initial design was closely modeled on the human foot, but evolved into a sleeker blade-like shape that’s more cheetah than person.  The Flex-Foot is therefore not an exact replacement for the human form, but a way to radically re-imagine it.

Bald is beautiful

New steps to meld mind and machine

Until now we’ve seen the types of brain-computer interface where the human has to put on some sort of bulky hat full of wires to control a machine. It won’t be like that for long: the future of organic electronics may already be here.  In 2009, a team of Swedish scientists created the first artificial nerve cell that communicates with nerves in their own language of neurotransmitter chemicals, rather than with electrical impulses.  More recently, another team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison scratched the surface of a new kind of brain-machine interface by wiring computer chips with living nerve cells.

These technologies are radically shifting conventional brain-computer interfaces.  Not only can they help people with diseases such as schizophrenia or Parkinson’s, but they also present exciting possibilities for neurotypical humans.  For example, such devices could allow you to control the machines around you, and to communicate with them as well.  Yes, creepy if it gets hacked. Or here’s another idea: what if you could communicate your thoughts to another person just by thinking? Then it wouldn’t be brain-machine interfaces anymore, but brain-machine-brain interfaces.

Photo: link

life support lamb

Living Life Support

Designer Revital Cohen imagines a future where life-support machines are replaced with life-support animals. In this scenario, a transgenic lamb is allowed to frolic in the fields by day.  By night, the lamb is hooked up to a renal patient to filter his blood. The artist presents a mutually beneficial relationship: the human lives as a parasite, and the lamb lives to be a medical device, not Easter dinner. While it’s an alien vision, it may be more humane than killing animals, engineered or not, for their spare parts. Read more


Think Breast is Best? Try Udder

Scientists in China have created transgenic cows that produce ‘human’ milk.  The researchers boosted the fat content of the milk and added three types of proteins, unique to humans, that help to bolster the immune systems of infants.  Due to hit shelves in ten year’s time, the genetically modified milk would help infants whose mothers cannot or chose not to nurse – and would perhaps put predatory formula companies out of business.  As for the taste?  According to the lead researcher, it’s “stronger than normal milk.”


Vertical Farming

Columbia professor Dickson Despommier imagines filling New Yorks skyscrapers with farms. As over 50% of the world population now lives in urban areas, this scenario could solve distribution problems and reconnect people with their food. Unsure if the pig skyscraper is also incorporated in the plan.


Tree Temple

So we may think ‘guided growth‘ is a typically 21th century design methodology, yet apparently it was also in vogue in the 19th century.

According the original description in the Picture magazine 1893, this century old Maple tree “has been turned into a kind of temple of two stories, each of its compartments being lighted by eight windows, and capable of containing twenty people wit ease. The floors are constructed of boughs skillfully woven together, of which the leaves make a sort of natural carpet. The walls are formed of thick leafage, in which innumerable birds build their nests”

We are unsure if this tree ever existed or that is a 19th century design fiction.