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Washington State University

— Medical

Electronic Band-Aid shapes as alternative to antibiotics

Bandages are important for stopping germs from entering a wound and making things worse, but could they play a more active role in making things better? New research has brought the idea of wound-healing dressings closer to reality by establishing a method of electrical stimulation that kills off the majority of multi-drug resistant bacterium commonly found in difficult-to-treat infections.

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— Automotive

Steering wheel system could detect driver fatigue on the cheap

Driver drowsiness is a major cause of accidents, so it's not surprising that a variety of technologies have been developed for its detection. Most of these systems require the use of prominent hardware such as eye-tracking cameras, reactive testing devices, or even Google Glass. A team from Washington State University Spokane, however, has developed a system that detects drowsy drivers through inexpensive electronics that monitor movement of the steering wheel. Read More
— Computers

Who needs humans? Computers used to teach other computers

While it may be getting easier for humans to teach robots how to perform new tasks, there's still one potential problem – when a new robot is introduced to a work environment, its user may have to teach it the task over again, from scratch. That might soon no longer be the case, however. Researchers at Washington State University have devised a method by which computers can teach each other, freeing humans from having to do so. Read More
— Science

Lithium batteries could soon be safer, thanks to a material inspired by gum

Although high-capacity lithium batteries make many of today's mobile electronics possible, they do have one flaw – they occasionally catch fire. This can happen when they overheat, and their liquid acid electrolyte ignites and leaks out. Now, however, scientists at Washington State University have created a gummy electrolyte material that could make such fires a thing of the past. Read More
— Electronics

"Tin whiskers" could triple the capacity of lithium-ion batteries

For over 60 years, electrical engineers have been trying to minimize the problem of tin whiskers. Growing on tin-plated electronics, the needle-like structures get up to ten millimeters long, and can cause short circuits. Instead of trying to eliminate them, however, Washington State University’s Prof. Grant Norton has been looking into ways of growing them – albeit in a controlled manner. His research has led to the creation of a tin battery anode, which he claims could triple the capacity of lithium-ion batteries. Read More
— Good Thinking

"Computerized penetrometer" measures the crispness of apples

Here’s a job title that you probably didn’t know existed: Apple Biter. Oh sure, the official term is probably something like “Fruit Evaluation Specialist,” but if you spend your days chomping into apples to assess their taste and crispness, you’re really an Apple Biter. While using panels of such people is a common method of evaluating the quality of apple crops, it can be compromised when those people start to get fatigued. There’s also the not-insignificant fact that panel members could differ in what they consider to be the optimal level of crispness. That’s why Washington State University is looking into using a computerized penetrometer to handle part of the Apple Biters’ duties. Read More