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Karen Sprey

A robot guided by 3-D ultrasound and artificial intelligence has demonstrated it can locate lesions in simulated breast and prostate tissue and take biopsies without human assistance. A team of bioengineers at Duke University, North Carolina, 'souped up' an existing robot arm with a purpose-built ultrasound system which acts as the robot's 'eyes' by collecting data from its scan and locating its target. An artificial intelligence program processes the real-time 3D information from the ultrasound and gives the robot specific commands to perform using a mechanical 'hand' that can manipulate the same biopsy plunger device used by doctors. Read More
You've had a party and your garbage bin is overflowing but the regular collection is still several days away. Imagine being able to make a call and have your rubbish collected at a time that suits you. For 100 households in Peccioli, Italy it's a reality. They are part of a two month trial of DustCart, a robot that provides an on-demand garbage collection service - just make a call and DustCart will soon arrive at your door to take away the trash. Read More
Imagine waking up on a cold winter’s morning to light streaming in through your bedroom window and the smell of fresh coffee. The concrete floor is warm and your favorite music starts to play as you eat your breakfast. As you drive away the house automatically locks, the thermostat reduces and the insulation panels close as the house goes into hibernation until you return. Welcome to LUMENHAUS, the completely solar powered, open plan house that uses computer technology, flexible architectural design and energy efficiency to adapt to its owner’s changing needs as well as environmental conditions... and it recently won the 2010 Solar Decathlon Europe. Read More
How would you like your body to be disposed of when you shuffle off this mortal coil? Burial or cremation have long been the only legal options in many parts of the Western world, however neither is particularly environmentally friendly. But greener alternatives that let you make a final environmental statement are on the rise. Two examples are ecological burial (or corpse composting) which uses a form of cryogenics and freeze drying, and resomation, which uses alkaline hydrolysis to break down the body. The end result of both processes is a fine powder, similar to cremation, and each claims to lessen the impact on the environment. However, they may make some traditionalists turn in their graves... Read More
The words "You need root canal treatment" are not what you want to hear when you visit the dentist, even though millions of teeth are saved every year by the procedure. While the root canal procedure has a high success rate, it still leaves a dead tooth in the mouth. That could be about to change, however, with scientists reporting development of a nano-sized dental film that may bring diseased teeth back to life. Read More
It's a long time since The Six Million Dollar Man graced our TV screens; indeed, many Gizmag readers may be too young to have heard of Steve Austin, the Bionic Man. Bionics and robotics have come a long way in the past few years, and while we're not yet creating bionic men and women, we can at least claim to make people "better, stronger, and faster." A robotic hand and bionic leg undergoing clinical trials at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center are two promising neurorehabilitation devices that are helping stroke survivors regain movement in affected limbs by rewiring neural pathways. Read More
Radiation is a frontline treatment for many cancers. However, its therapeutic value can come at the cost of damage to the bone marrow which produces all of the body's normal blood cells, so finding ways to protect bone marrow is a research priority. A study by the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center has shown that the drug PQ can successfully protect mice from lethal doses of radiation, even when given after exposure. Read More
Traditional electroencephalography (EEG) is time-consuming to set up, must be administered by qualified technologists and relies on reusable electrodes which can leave patients vulnerable to infection. Massachusetts-based HydroDot is aiming to solve these issues and significantly improve the clinical process with StatNet – a flexible, single-use EEG headpiece that offers a simpler, safer, faster and more accurate way to measure electrical activity in the human brain. Read More
By the time you finish reading this, two people in the U.S. will have suffered a stroke, or brain attack. Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States and claimed over 130,000 lives last year. Of those who survive, hundreds are left debilitated every day. Ischemic strokes, a blood clot or break in blood vessels in the brain, are responsible for 80% of all strokes. Fast treatment is critical; more than a million brain cells die each minute after onset of a symptoms, and the risk of brain damage increases rapidly if the clot is not removed within three hours. A new device, SHELTER, offers hope of extending the time a patient can get help. It filters and removes clots and can be custom-fit for the specific length and diameter of a patient's clot. Read More
Who would have thought television could be good for you? Researchers at the University of York in the U.K. have transformed a chemical compound found in LCD television sets into an anti-microbial substance that destroys infections such as Escherichia coli and some strains of Staphylococcus aureus. The treated polyvinyl-alcohol (PVA) could potentially also be used in tissue scaffolds to help parts of the body regenerate, pills and dressings that deliver drugs, and hospital cleaning products to prevent infection. Read More
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