Computational creativity and the future of AI

Health and Wellbeing

The TASER C2 Personal Protector

January 10, 2007 TASER is well known for its advanced personal protection devices (AKA stun guns or non-lethal weapons) which have now been on the market for five years and are widely used by law enforcement personnel. Now the company aims to give the general consumer an effective way of defending themselves, with the unveiling its new consumer-model US$300 TASER C2 Personal Protector at the Consumer Electronics Show. The TASER C2 is powered by lithium batteries, has a 15-foot range, a 10 year shelf life, and can shock up to 50 people without replacing the battery. There's also a single use cartridge you can clip on to shoot electrodes. The TASER C2 also incorporates a public safety background check technology called SureCheck. TASER C2 units are shipped in an inactivated state and cannot be used until the end user successfully completes a background check using a secure web site. If approved after the check, the user is issued an activation code unique to their serial number. If you were figuring this non-lethal gizmo would be ideal and humane way to rob banks, think again, because each time the C2 is used, it disperses 20-30 bits of serialized confetti, which identifies the owner of the TASER system. First shipments are scheduled for April, 2007. That's TASER co-founder and chairman Tom Smith with the new C2 - and inside are lots of images of playboy girls because TASER and Playboy co-sponsor a racing car which was used on the stand at CES.  Read More

January 3, 2007 Nature magazine is reporting a fascinating new discovery by researchers at Harvard Medical School which could help boost human sporting abilities, slow muscle wasting and almost certainly create even more headaches at the World Anti-doping Agency. Led by Bruce Spiegelman, the team of Harvard Medical School scientists hit upon a genetic switch that converts almost all mouse muscle fibres into type IIX. Human muscles are made of four main types of fibre, including two 'slow-twitch' varieties and one 'fast-twitch' muscle type that are suited to endurance and sprint activities respectively. Little has been known about the fourth type, called IIX fibre, because it is scattered throughout different muscles. Spiegelman's team found a specific gene can convert muscles that are a mix of fibre types into mainly slow-twitch fibres and when tested in mice, found the mice were able to run on a treadmill for 25% longer before reaching exhaustion. Sadly, the natural attributes of Joan Benoit Samuelson, Grete Waitz, Derek Clayton, James Peters, Paula Radcliffe, Khalid Khannouchi and Abebe Bikila might be overshadowed by some remarkable performances when this research filters into practical technology for athletes to abuse.  Read More

FDA issues draft documents on the safety of cloning animals for food

December 31, 2006 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued three documents on the safety of animal cloning -- a draft risk assessment; a proposed risk management plan; and a draft guidance for industry. The draft risk assessment finds that meat and milk from clones of adult cattle, pigs and goats, and their offspring, are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals.  Read More

Non-invasive 'liposuction' while you wait!

December 31, 2006 We’re a funny bunch us human beings, and there’s no greater testimony to this than the number of liposuction procedures performed each year in the United States, which shows numbers growing from a mere 50,000 15 years ago, to an annual number approaching half a million. It’s the most popular plastic surgery procedure, mirroring US$35 billion a year sales of weight loss products and US$63 billion a year sales of low carb, fat, sugar, and calorie products. Liposuction is used to remove localized areas of fat so the body can be sculpted. The procedure is performed by vacuuming excess fat from the body using a cannula which is inserted through small incisions in the natural creases of the body. It’s a routine and safe procedure these days, but recovery takes at least a few days off your normal activities and you could still be wearing compression bandages up to a month later. Now a new procedure similarly reduces fat from localised body regions, (e.g. stomach or thigh or in industry parlance, your Banana fold, Buffalo hump, Cankles, Chubb, Doughnut or Wings), without requiring an incision or a lengthy recovery time. The procedure focuses high-intensity ultrasound through the skin into precise locations within subcutaneous adipose tissue, permanently disrupting the adipocytes without damaging the epidermis, dermis, or underlying tissues and organs. Treated tissue is resorbed via normal inflammatory mechanisms. LipoSonix has the potential to be offer non-invasive body sculpting to the masses with low cost and even lower time and recovery overheads. One to watch in 2007.  Read More

Rapid prototyping to be used for human implant development

December 31, 2006 Colorado-based Medical Modeling is set to begin using an EBM (Electron Beam Melting) Metal Rapid Manufacturing and Prototyping System to design and build titanium implants for insertion into the body. The company is also planning to provide surgeons and medical device manufacturers with titanium models for improved surgical planning and implant development. Using data acquired from CT or MRI (Computed Tomography or Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans, Medical Modeling creates highly accurate, three dimensional anatomical models of bone structures – such as the skull, pelvis and spine – and soft tissue – such as the brain and organs. Using its Arcam EBM system with titanium material, Medical Modeling can create fully dense, fully functional models of surgical instruments, guides and potentially implantable devices. The rapid manufacturing and prototyping system is a Stratasys Arcam EBM S-400, which manufacture real parts or prototypes from metal.  Read More

The autonomous wheelchair raises the promise of assistive mobile robots

December 17, 2006 There are few areas in which technology can make such a great difference as in mobility assistance for the disabled and aged market. We’ve already written about Kanagawa Institute of Technology’s Power Assist Suit, Independence Technology’s iBot, and a mind-controlled wheelchair, but the announcement this week that researchers in Sweden have developed a wheelchair that can be driven manually, by remote controlled or fully autonomously suggests that devices enabling the most severely handicapped people to achieve independent mobility are inevitable .  Read More

Discovery opens door for drugs for alcohol addiction

December 14, 2006 The connection between nicotine and alcohol has been known for some time, though the fact that alcoholism is ten times stronger among smokers than among non-smokers is not as widely known ... and it’s not just because many people smoke at parties. When sober alcoholics are tempted to fall off the wagon, the same receptor in their brain is stimulated as is activated by nicotine. This has been demonstrated in a doctoral dissertation at the Sahgrenska Academy at Göteborg University in Sweden. The discovery may lead to new treatment for alcohol abuse.  Read More

The Molecular Condom - vaginal gel releases Anti-HIV drug when exposed to semen

December 13, 2006 Once likened to “taking a shower with a raincoat on”, the condom may be the safest method of protection during sex, but it significantly detracts from the experience. Last week we featured the spray-on condom designed to offer a better fit but we’re betting that new work being done by University of Utah scientists will get a lot of attention due to its likelihood of overcoming the many shortcomings of the condom. It is in fact a "molecular condom" for use by women. The liquid is vaginally inserted daily and prevents AIDS by turning into a gel-like coating and when exposed to semen, returning to liquid form and releasing an antiviral drug. The ultimate hope for this technology is to protect women and their unborn or nursing children from the AIDS virus, but the molecular condom is five years away from tests in humans and roughly 10 years until it might be in widespread use.  Read More

Sexperience – the world's strongest sex pill?

December 11, 2006 What does a rhinoceros horn, a Tiger’s penis, a bar of chocolate, Turtle Eggs, the elements Arginine and Zinc, oysters, and the drug Bremelanotide all have in common. They are all aphrodisiacs, as are a host of other naturally available nutrients such as Ginkgo Biloba, Kava Kava, Asian Ginseng (Panax), Yohimbine (the alkaloid derived from yohimbe bark) and Avena-Sativa/Oat extract. There are many aphrodisiacs found in nature. Some may have rare nutritional compounds that enhance sexuality in unknown ways, while others may fill nutritional gaps. For example, zinc is needed for libido, and a low zinc status is balanced by eating zinc-rich oysters returning zinc levels and sexual prowess to normal. Since time began, herbalists, hucksters, scientists and alchemists have sought the ultimate product, the sure fire aphrodisiac. Now a new non-prescription, all-natural sexual enhancement pill is taking to market claiming it is the world's strongest sex pill. It might make a novel Christmas present for a friend whose love life is flagging.  Read More

US retailer to trial 3D foot footwear measurement system

December 7, 2006 Stride Rite, the leading US children's footwear retailer and manufacturer, has begun a trial to evaluate a 3D foot gauge, a system designed to produce highly accurate foot measurements. Foot gauges were installed in three Stride Rite stores in the Boston area earlier this month following the signing of an evaluation contract with UK company QinetiQ. Stride Rite has been making shoes in the US for over 85 years and operates a nationwide chain of nearly 450 stores. Last year we previewed Intellifit, an ingenious measurment system for clothing that could revolutionise the global clothing market. The 3D foot gauge could have similar long-term effects on the footwear market.  Read More

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