Prosthetic limbs controlled by the power of thought already exist. But what if they could also sense the environment and send information to the amputee’s nervous system?
We talked about the Electric Skin and the Nano Skin, that are able to pick up on tactile information. But the new artificial skin designed by scientists in South Korea may be the smartest one. It’s stretchy, like real skin, and it can sense pressure, temperature, and humidity. It even has a built-in heater so it feels like living tissue.
People have complex relationships with their own (and other’s) bodies. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is believed that your feet are a map of your body and can provide valuable information about your physical condition – when you are able to read them, of course.
Some people experience ghost limbs that have long been amputated, or have out-of-body experiences, whereas prosthesis can feel completely natural. On the other hand, many people experience a sense of detachment, or alienation, by the technology that surrounds them. Will we ever experience technology not only as extensions of our body, but as part of our body? Peculiar image by Lieke de Blank.
A team or Harvard researchers developed a self assembling swarm of 1000 robots that can form any shape. Inspired by flock behavior in old nature – think birds, fish or ants – the scientists created an algorithm that allows a flock of simple robots to assemble in any given shape.
The researchers expect that in the future such swarms of robots could help cleaning oil spills, provide immediate emergency help at a disaster site, or guide millions of self driving cars.
The fully automated robotic kangaroo, has the ability to efficiently recover the energy when jumping, store it and use it for the next jump, just like the real animal. In fact, its energy-efficient jump kinematics is based on the natural model.
In the field of transhumanism there are a lot of pioneers that want to improve their own bodies with electronic hardware to extend the human capacities – the so called grinders. We already reported about Tim Cannon, who self-implanted a small computer inside his arm and the invisible headphone implants by Rich Lee. There is also the online community Biohack.me, that discuss body-hack purposes.
Now there comes a daring group of 4 bio-hackers from various backgrounds, with a crowdfunded project: they developed a protocol to augment human sight to see into the near infrared range through human formation of porphyropsin. It is the same protein complex that grants infrared vision to freshwater fish and it can be extracted from their livers.
A group of chemical engineers and biochemists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology released a new study presenting a way to improve the efficiency of plants light harvesting during the photosynthesis.
Embedding carbon nanotubes – microscopic tubes thinner than a human hair able to absorb sunlight and convert it to electron flow – inside the leaves, they were able to augment the amount of light energy captured by the plant.
“Plants have, for a long time, provided us with valuable products like food, biofuels, construction materials and the oxygen we breathe”, explains plant biologist and chemical engineer Juan Pablo Giraldo. “We envisioned them as new hybrid biomaterials for solar energy harnessing, self-repairing materials and chemical detectors of pollutants, pesticides, and fungal and bacterial infections.”
Rebuilding plants into bionic superpowered energy photosynthesizers.
Read more on: Scientific American