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A new sensor that detects the presence of GHB and ketamine could help reduce the incidence...

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, around 200,000 women were raped in the U.S. in 2007 with the aid of a “date rape” drug – and because so many cases go unreported, the actual figure is believed to be 80 to 100 percent higher. GHB is one of the most commonly used drugs because it is odorless, tasteless and invisible when dissolved in water. Now researchers at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences have developed an easy-to-use sensor that, when dipped into a cocktail, can instantly detect GHB and another commonly used date rape drug, ketamine.  Read More

A working prototype of the virtual trumpet

Bridging the gap between computer generated music and real-world instruments, the "Imaginary Marching Band" is a fledgling, open-source project that allows music to be created by imitating the actions of playing the real thing on a sensor-equipped glove. The work of Scott Peterman, a Masters student at Parsons New School Of Design in New York City, the prototype system uses MIDI data output from the gloves via USB to reproduce the full range of notes from instruments such as the trumpet and trombone.  Read More

The simplehuman sensor can is a 'touchless' garbage can that reacts to human activity

Of all the things we expected to see on display at CES in Las Vegas, a garbage can was not one of them. Nonetheless, amongst the tablet computers, 3D camcorders and iPhone apps, there sat the simplehuman sensor can. Like some other “touchless” garbage cans, its built-in sensor detects when someone is nearby, causing the can to obligingly open its lid. What makes it special – perhaps – is the company’s claim that the can’s “multi-sense” technology can adapt to what the user is doing.  Read More

Sensium-based devices continuously measured the physical effects of minus 40 degree temper...

Wearable health monitors have been available for some time, providing feedback on functions such as heart rate and blood pressure. They represent the tip of a potentially huge health and fitness market, from athletes and emergency services personnel to patients both in and recently discharged from hospital, who could benefit from real-time, intelligent wireless body monitoring of vital signs. Telemetry technology provider Toumaz has developed an ultra-low power system to wirelessly monitor heart rate, ECG, temperature and physical activity. The Sensium Life Platform has just been used to monitor the health of team members during a record-breaking 4,000 kilometer transantarctic expedition that not only made the fastest vehicle crossing of the Antarctic, but was also the first expedition to use biofuels extensively in Antarctica, and featured the first bio-fuelled vehicle ever to reach the South Pole.  Read More

Tel Aviv University's explosive-detecting sensor (Image: AFTAU)

The recent Yemeni bomb threat has only highlighted the need for quick, accurate ways of detecting explosives. With their excellent sense of smell and the ability to discern individual scents, even when they’re combined or masked by other odors, this task is usually given to man’s best friend. But training these animals can be expensive and good sniffer dogs can be hard to find. Scientists have now developed an electronic sensor they say is more sensitive and more reliable at detecting explosives than any sniffer dog.  Read More

A new system monitors underground soil acoustics to predict landslides

People living in landslide-prone areas will be glad to know that a new technology has been developed which monitors soil acoustics to determine when a landslide is imminent. The system consists of a network of sensors, buried across a hillside considered a risk. As soil moves within the hillside, it creates noise – the more the amount of movement, the louder the noise. When that noise reaches a threshold level, the system sends a text message warning to local authorities, that a landslide is about to occur.  Read More

Fraunhofer's self-monitoring polymer-metal composite

When engineers want to know how much stress mechanical components such as wind turbine blades or machine parts are subjected to, they usually do so via a series of sensors. These sensors are typically either built into components, or are glued onto them. A new polymer-metal composite material developed at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Applied Material Research (IFAM), however, may be about to change that – components made from the material are reportedly able to act as their own sensors.  Read More

One of the NIST mini-sensors, capable of magnetically detecting a human heartbeat

Six years ago, America’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) developed miniature sensors that each utilized about 100 billion rubidium atoms in gas form, a low-power infrared laser and optics to detect tiny magnetic fields. Until recently the sensors had been used almost exclusively for physics research, but now NIST has teamed up with the National Metrology Institute of Germany to successfully use one of the mini-sensors to track a human heartbeat – an accomplishment which could have medical applications down the road.  Read More

A conventional gyroscope

Earlier this year the iPhone 4 became the first smartphone to boast a built-in gyroscope in addition to an accelerometer, proximity sensor and ambient light sensor. Combining a gyroscope with an accelerometer allows the device to sense motion on six axes – left, right, up, down, forward and backward, as well as roll, pitch and yaw rotations – allowing for more accurate motion sensing abilities comparable to a game controller such as the Wii-mote. The iPhone 4 uses a MEMs (micro-electro-mechanical-systems) gyroscope but a newly developed optical gyroscope, small enough to fit on the head of a pin, could allow the integration of more accurate motion sensing technology in not only smartphones, but also in medical devices inside the human body.  Read More

A conventional white cane (Photo: Ryxhd123)

For the past several years, various research institutions and organizations have been experimenting with electronic “white canes” for the blind. One of these was the ultrasound-enabled UltraCane, which we profiled five years ago. Now, however, an associate professor of applied science at the University of Arkansas is working on something more advanced – a white cane that utilizes laser technology to give users the lay of the land.  Read More

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