Tag: Physical-computing

rhesus monkey brain implant

Brain Implant Restores Memory to Cocaine-Addled Monkeys

A team of researchers from three universities have succeeded in creating the first device that boosts the brain power of primates. In the study, five rhesus macaques were trained to complete an image-matching task. Each was shown one photo, and then asked to select the same photo from a larger pool of images. Using a tiny probe inserted into the monkey’s cerebral cortex, a computer recorded and analyzed the neural signals being sent when the primate was studying the first photo and when it made the “right” decision in the game. Over the course of two years, the monkeys acquired a 75% proficiency in this task.

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mycoplasm genitalium computer simulation

Complete Computer Simulation of a Bacterium Holds Hope for Medicine

Researchers at Stanford and the J. Craig Venter Institute recently created the first complete computer model of an organism. The simulation models the genome and life processes of Mycoplasma genitalium, an aptly-named bacteria that makes its home in human genitals. The team’s leader, Markus W. Covert, hopes that similar simulations may eventually allow for more medical experiments than is currently possible, and at faster rates. One day we may be able to bypass lab rats entirely and plug new drugs directly into a model of a cancer cell.

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New Volvo Recognizes Shapes of Animals like Deer & Elk to Reduce Crash Impact.

Volvo cars is testing a new safety system that automatically hits the brakes once an animal is detected in the vehicles vicinity. The Animal Detection System expands the range and capability of Volvo’s current Pedestrian Detection System. Its goal is to reduce the speed at which the animal is hit, which should reduce the severity of injuries. According to Volvo, about 200 people a year are killed in the U.S. due to accidents with wild animals. Since larger animals pose the biggest risk, the system is trained to recognize the shape of animals like deer and elk.

We welcome such sensible four-wheel species and wholeheartedly anticipate to be all watched over by machines of loving grace. Thanks @SteveSilberman.


IKEA Lamp Catches Elephantiasis Virus

Have you heard of Elephantiasis? It is a disease caused by microscopic parasitic worms that cause a thickening of the skin and underlying tissues. The disease typically occurs in tropical regions, however, as it seems it recently transferred to consumer products.

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3D Printing a New Face

Earlier this year, Belgian surgeons successfully performed the country’s first full-face transplant using 3D printing. The operation was conducted by a medical team of Ghent University Hospital, led by Phillip Blondeel, assisted by Belgian 3D-printing company Materialise. Prior to the procedure the defects in the patient’s face were digitally scanned, after which anatomical models of healthy bones were 3D printed and used as a reference during surgery.

“We also printed a surgical aid to fit the lower jaw of a potential donor,” says Bellinckx. “This guide sits on the donor’s face during surgery and describes exactly where the surgeon needs to cut.”

Six days after the surgery, ahead of anybody’s expectations, the patient was able to speak. “He defied all odds,” says Bellinckx. Story via Wired.

Veronica Ranner_ colour+shape 4
Boomeranged Metaphors

Vector Stones

These stones were dug up by future archaeologists, some centuries after the integration of the digital and the material world was completed. No seriously, our peculiar image of the week was created by Veronica Ranner.

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hard drive close-up

Bacteria Inspire New Magnetic Hard Drive

Certain types of bacteria can navigate using magnetic nanoparticles as tiny compasses. Researchers at the University of Leeds have extracted the protein that controls this process and applied it to computing. Typical hard drives use use “granular computing”, while this new method relies on bit-pattern media, where each miniscule magnetic square on a surface can store one bit.

The team is close to recreating the data density of modern hard drives, and hope eventually to be able to store one terabyte of date per square inch – more advanced than any existing hard drive. According to Sarah Stanilan, who lead the research, “We’re using and abusing nature because it’s had billions of years to do all of its experiments through evolution, so there is almost no point in us starting from scratch.”

Photo via Downhilldom. Story via New Scientist.

lean-in gesture

A Computer that Nods and Waves When You Do

Ever wish you could express yourself better over Skype? Tired of being a disconnected head-in-a-box? A team at Stanford University has rigged a Mac computer screen to shake its screen when you shake your head, to nod, and to track other people’s movements around the room. An added robotic arm can make gestures more emphatic, or knock on the table for attention. These fairly simple hacks had a noticeable effect on participants – they rated the remote interactions to be “more friendly, less dominant, and more involved.” Someday, full-body physical avatars could facilitate teleconferencing, and help keep you out of morning traffic.

Via New Scientist.