It's finals week at UC Davis, and the campus is gearing up to help students who may find themselves in crisis mode with today's launch of a mobile-friendly Web site that directs them to the most appropriate resources on campus and beyond. The service could be life-saving, given suicide is reportedly the second-leading cause of death among college students.… Read more
Got a fungal infection? IBM wants to help cure it with the plastic in your recyclable water bottle.
Today, the company announced that IBM Research has discovered a way to convert common plastic, such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), into an antifungal material that could someday help people suffering from a variety of maladies.
In a release, IBM Research said more than a billion people suffer from some sort of fungal infection every year -- things ranging from athlete's foot to much more serious blood infections. But the company said existing drugs are becoming less and less effective as infections … Read more
Most of us take for granted the ability to handle chores like loading a washing machine and turning it on. For some people with disabilities, though, it's not so simple. Commercial laundry solutions company JTM Service in the UK hacked a washing machine in partnership with manufacturer Miele to create the Woof to Wash machine. The washer is designed to be used by assistance dogs.
Duffy, a 2-year-old golden Labrador, is the test pilot for the machine. The pooch is trained by Support Dogs, a charity organization that provides assistance dogs for people with physical disabilities. Duffy opens the washing machine door, loads it from a laundry basket, closes the door, and then barks to activate a voice sensor to turn the machine on.… Read more
Wondering what's next in wearable electronics? Fitness trackers like the Fitbit Force and the Nike+ FuelBand SE may be fine for the earthbound, but for the astronauts among us, NASA's working on a different kind of fashionable circuitry.
At Kansas State University, researchers are just over two years into a three-year, $750,000 NASA grant to turn current spacesuits into even better readers of astronauts' vital signs -- and on top of that, make use of the inner workings of the suits themselves to power radios and other embedded electronics.… Read more
Microsoft researchers aren't just thinking about operating systems. They're thinking about undergarments with a purpose, specifically a smart bra that monitors the wearer's mood with the aim of preventing stress-related overeating.
Mary Czerwinski, a research manager with Microsoft's Visualization and Interaction Research Group, is studying how technology can help detect stress and give people tools for dealing with it. One of her recent projects involved the creation of a bra with embedded electrocardiogram and electrodermal activity sensors (PDF), as well as a gyroscope and accelerometer.… Read more
UK-based Fripp Design has been working on 3D-printed prosthetic eyes, whose production time and cost are greatly reduced when compared with traditional manufacturing methods.
In collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University, Fripp Design has developed batch production that turns out up to 150 artificial eyes per hour, making them far cheaper than handmade versions. … Read more
For kids, getting parents to understand what they're thinking or feeling can be a challenge all on its own. But having additional speech impairments or developmental delays can make basic communication a serious hurdle.
Developed for three years at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Australia, the app is designed to enable children to express themselves more freely. But the app is not free -- it'll will set you back… Read more
Inspired by bicycles, scooters, and skateboards that make their users feel happy, and designed by former Sony, Toyota, and Olympus engineers, startup Whill has taken its first wheelchair, the Type-A, from an idea to production. The company says the chair is now available for preorder and will start shipping within the US in early 2014.
What if people who are paralyzed could use their brainwaves to get up out of wheelchairs and walk away? That's exactly what researchers from the University of Houston are hoping to accomplish with the latest evolution of robotic exoskeletons. They're turning to mind control to move these high-tech mobility machines to the next level -- and take patients with them.
The idea for for a mind-controlled robotic exoskeleton came to engineering professor Jose Contreras-Vidal, the project's lead, after Duke University's Miguel Nicolelis demonstrated that electrode arrays implanted in monkey brains could pick up on the neuron-firing patterns that occur when the monkey thinks about walking.
"Contreras-Vidal's group found out they could get the same effects using EEG (electroencephalography) to control an exoskeleton. EEG doesn't have the spatial resolution of an implanted electrode array, but it is noninvasive and has the added benefit of being able to measure electrical activity across the entire brain," Popular Mechanics reported. … Read more
Honda's latest foray into the world beyond cars and bikes may sound like a bit of a leap, but it's the next logical step in the company's line of personal mobility devices.
The Walking Assist Device, which we took a look at back in 2008 but ultimately dates back to 1999, has evolved from an interesting concept that might make walking a bit easier to the subject of a new clinical trial that might help stroke patients improve their mobility.
Honda announced last week that it is currently testing its battery-powered device at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. As with its humanoid bot ASIMO, Honda says its Walking Assist Device uses cooperative control tech the company developed over the course of studying the human gait. Using readings from hip angle sensors of the patient's natural gait, a control computer activates motors to improve the symmetry of the timing of each leg lift and to promote a longer stride. The simple design includes adjustable belts to fit over differently-sized people and clothing.… Read more