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Ben Coxworth

Scientists at Stanford University have created heart cells that contract when exposed to l...

Working their way towards energy-efficient pacemakers that use light pulses to control the beating of the heart, scientists at New York's Stony Brook University recently developed optogenetic heart tissue – it contracts when exposed to light. More specifically, they took donor cells that had been modified to respond to light, and coupled them to conventional heart cells. A team from California’s Stanford University, however, has now created actual optogenetic heart cells.  Read More

The prototype 'intelligent T-shirt' is capable of remotely monitoring patients' vital sign...

More and more we're hearing about clothing made from smart fabrics being used in the field of medicine, to monitor patients wearing such garments. One of the latest examples is the "intelligent T-shirt," designed by scientists at Spain's Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M). It can remotely monitor a person's temperature, heart rate, activity level, position and location.  Read More

Digital artist Arturo Castro has put together and demonstrated a video application that ma...

Some day in the not-too-distant future, you may be on a service like Chatroulette, and suddenly find yourself matched up with a person who looks exactly like Angelina Jolie. Well, chances are it won’t really be her. Instead, it will likely be someone using the descendant of a system put together by Arturo Castro. Using a combination of existing software, the Barcelona digital artist has demonstrated how a variety of famous faces can be mapped onto his own, moving with it in real time. While Castro’s system isn’t likely to fool anyone – in its present version – it’s an unsettling indication of what could be possible with just a little more finessing.  Read More

Players of the online game Foldit have helped determine the structure of an enzyme, which ...

It was a puzzle that had thwarted scientists for almost a decade, but a collection of gamers was able to solve it in just three weeks. What the scientists wanted to know was the structure of retroviral proteases, a class of enzymes that play a key part in the maturation and proliferation of the AIDS virus. The mystery was crowd-sourced to the gaming community within an existing online game known as Foldit, by researchers from the University of Washington. The game challenges players to collaborate and compete in predicting the structure of protein molecules.  Read More

The insurethebox system uses telematics to monitor teens' driving habits, and rewards good...

It’s no secret that teen drivers have to pay higher automobile insurance rates than most people – after all, they’re less experienced, and some of them can be pretty reckless. If you’re a good teen driver or one that doesn’t drive much, however, it might seem rather unfair that you have to pay rates that are based on the worst driving habits of your peers. Well, Gibraltar-based insurethebox has what it claims is a better alternative – teens’ cars are fitted with a telematics box that records the way and amount that they drive, and they end up paying less for their insurance if they drive well.  Read More

Electrical engineer Neal Patwari testing his wireless respiration-monitoring system

Two years ago, University of Utah assistant professor of electrical engineering Neal Patwari demonstrated how radio signals could be used to “see” people through solid walls. Now, he is leading a team that is using that same technology to wirelessly monitor peoples’ breathing as they sleep. The system could be particularly useful for observing patients who are recovering from surgery, people with sleep apnea, and babies who are at risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). While respiration-monitoring systems do already exist, Patwari’s doesn’t require anything to be physically attached to the subject’s body, plus he claims that it should be cheaper.  Read More

A new system that utilizes laser light to detect the presence of explosive compounds could...

Approximately sixty percent of coalition soldier deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs), placed along the roads. Because these bombs are often planted in public areas, it is important to detect them in a way that doesn’t harm the surrounding infrastructure, or unnecessarily require civilians to evacuate nearby buildings. Researchers from Michigan State University believe that a laser-based system that they developed could fit the bill.  Read More

Google Wallet, an app that allows users to pay for items simply by tapping their smartphon...

Smartphones are in the process of replacing cameras, phonebooks, land lines and maps ... and wallets are next. First announced in May but just launched today, the Google Wallet free app allows its users to store electronic versions of their credit cards on their smartphone, and pay for items simply by tapping their phone on a near field communication (NFC) reader at a store’s front counter.  Read More

A new study suggests that exposure to titanium oxide nanoparticles causes rainbow trout to...

In just the past few years, nanotechnology has brought technological advances in almost every field imaginable – patches that regenerate heart tissue, water-powered batteries and better biofuels are just a few examples. As with just about any new technology, however, concerns have been raised regarding its safety. We’ve never experienced anything quite like it before, so how far should we trust it? According to a recent study conducted at the University of Plymouth, the answer to that question might be “Not very far.” In tests on rainbow trout, titanium oxide nanoparticles were found to cause damage to the brain and other parts of the central nervous system.  Read More

The HeadsUp wireless gear alert system is designed to keep this sort of thing from happeni...

If you've just completed a three-hour bike ride and an hour's drive home, it's entirely possible that once you're finally pulling up into your driveway, the fact that your bike is mounted on the roof of your car might not be the first thing on your mind. If you don't have a garage, that's no big deal, but if you do ... well, you could just proceed to drive into it out of habit, and end up smashing your bike against the bottom of its raised door. That's what cyclist Tom Reiber did on one memorable occasion, and it prompted him to invent the HeadsUp wireless gear alert system.  Read More

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