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Harvard


— Robotics

New sensor designed to give robots a gentler touch – on a budget

By - April 18, 2013 1 Picture
A lot of time and energy is currently going into developing technologies that give robots a sense of touch. In particular, scientists are developing things like artificial skin that lets robots know how much pressure they’re exerting on an object – this allows them to firmly grip rugged objects, while being more delicate with fragile items. Although most such technologies are fairly complex and expensive, researchers have now developed a cheap tactile sensor that could bring touch sensitivity to consumer and hobbyist applications. Read More
— Science

Tear-inspired material can be tuned to repel or attract water

By - April 12, 2013 2 Pictures
Last year, a group of Harvard University scientists led by Dr. Joanna Aizenberg announced the development of a highly-hydrophobic (water-repellant) material known as SLIPS, or Slippery Liquid Porous Surfaces. The material is remarkable, in that it repels virtually any liquid. Now, Aizenberg and colleagues have created a new material inspired by human tears, the repellency of which can be fine-tuned for different applications. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Spleen-on-a-chip could treat bloodstream infections

By - April 9, 2013 1 Picture
The spleen’s job is to filter our blood. When people are critically ill or have received traumatic injuries, however, the spleen alone is sometimes not able to remove enough of the pathogens on its own – potentially-fatal sepsis is the result. In order to help avert such an outcome in those situations, scientists from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University are developing a device known as the spleen-on-a-chip. Read More
— Robotics

Soft-bodied robot leaps 30 times its height

By - February 9, 2013 3 Pictures
Most robots are built out of rigid materials, but a DARPA initiative to build soft-bodied robots that can squeeze into hard-to-reach places has led to the development of new types of the mechanical marvels. Harvard's Whitesides Research Group is working on a soft-bodied solution and has produced a squishy three-legged bot that can jump 30 times its height using the power of internal explosions. Read More
— Science

Fruit-inspired fibers change color when stretched

By - February 5, 2013 6 Pictures
Materials scientists at Harvard University and the University of Exeter have invented a new class of polymer fibers that change color when stretched. As is often seen in nature, the color is not the result of pigments, but rather comes from the interference of light within the multilayered fiber. Inspired by Margaritaria nobilis – also known as the Bastard Hogberry – the new fibers may lead to new forms of sensors, and possibly to smart fabrics whose color changes as the fabric is stretched, squeezed, or heated. Read More
— Robotics

One hundred Harvard Kilobots swarm together

By - January 21, 2013 7 Pictures
Robots by the dozen are prohibitively expensive, so actually testing how large swarms would work together is often limited to computer simulations. That's where Harvard's Kilobots are beginning to bear fruit – at a cost of US$14 each in batches of a thousand, they're a tenth the cost of their cheapest competitor. At such bargain-basement prices, Michael Rubenstein, Christian Ahler, and Radhika Nagpal at the Self-Organizing Systems Research Group have begun to build their own little robot army. Read More
— Science

Pill-sized device uses spinning laser to image the esophagus

By - January 15, 2013 2 Pictures
Barrett’s esophagus is a precancerous condition typically caused by chronic exposure to stomach acid, and is usually diagnosed by inserting an endoscope down the patient’s throat. A tool has been developed, however, that should allow for a quicker, easier way of getting a good look at such peoples’ esophagus – it’s a swallowable capsule that contains a spinning laser. Read More
— Medical

Researchers restore hearing in mammals by regenerating auditory hair cells

By - January 10, 2013 1 Picture
There is new hope for those of us who have overindulged in loud bands and dread the prospect of old age spent with an ear trumpet clamped to the sides of our heads. Researchers from Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Harvard Medical School have been able to stimulate resident auditory hair cells to become new ones, resulting in partial hearing recovery in mice whose hearing has been damaged by noise trauma. Read More
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