“Smart Tooth”: A New Solution for the Health Conscious?

People struggling to monitor their eating habits and other aspects of their health may have an answer in the new “Smart Tooth”, which is currently being developed at the Taiwan National University. Made to cap a tooth like a crown, this small device tracks the movement of the mouth and identifies different activities such as speaking, chewing and smoking. Researchers believe it can track data that may help people who over-eat or smoke. The information can also be collected for analysis and research on a broader scale.

Learn more with Reuters:


Hyperloop Transport Plans Released

Elon Musk claims that his new plan for a transportation system will be exceedingly time-efficient while dramatically cutting costs. According to him, the ‘Hyperloop’ transportation system can get people from L.A. to San Francisco within half an hour. A trip on the Hyperloop will cost less than an airline or train ticket.
The plans for solar-powered transport project were released this week.

Reuters reports:

Orangutan’s Eyes May Hold the Key to Improved Quality of Life

Dr. Neil Mennie, a neuroscientist in Malaysia, believes the eye movements of an orangutan at the country’s National Zoo may hold the key to improved quality of life in captivity, as well as in the wild.

In order to learn more about the orangutan’s feelings and interests behind bars, scientists fitted Tsunami with two cameras- one that records what she sees, and the other the movement of her right eye. The purpose of the exercise is to “bring about improvement in the lives of captive apes,” according to Reuters.

Dr. Mennie believes the eye movements will reveal Tsunami’s level of engagement with different activities, and enable zoos to enhance apes’ lifestyles and living conditions.

“I think this is going to give me a lot of important data on their special memory, for example, their visual attention, and how they basically just coordinate actions with four different limbs,” Mennie explained.

Muhammad Daniel Felix, Deputy Director of the Malaysia National Zoo, said the experiment’s findings may have a significant impact on the zoo’s practices.

“There is a very strong movement on the welfare, taking care of the welfare and ethics of animals in captivity,” he explained. “By having this experiment, or the results, it will help… We will be able to identify what actually stimulates the animal in captivity. So we can use the results to improve our exhibit design, how we take care of the animals, what to put inside the exhibit…”

Mennie believes the findings will also unlock new information regarding orangutan’s behavior in the wild as well, such as foraging strategies, locations, and the value of different rewards.

Porcupine Quills To Aid Medical Equipment Design

New research has implied that porcupine quills may hold the key to less painful hypodermic needles. The natural shape of the porcupine spines allows easy, smooth penetration. It also makes them difficult to remove.

Porcupines use their quills as protection; they can shed them before escaping a predator, often burying them in their assailants’ skin before running. These sharp barbs then lodge themselves tightly in the flesh.

A recent study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It discusses the unique build of the quills, revealing why they are such an effective weapon. The reasons are twofold; the quills have sharp, piercing cone-shaped tips as well as microscopic barbs that face the opposite direction. These barbs gather the force of the stab at the tip, providing cleaner, faster penetration as well as anchor the quill in the flesh. In other words, less pressure is needed in order to penetrate the resisting tissue.

Dr. Jeffrey Karp of Bringham and Women’s Hospital in Boston explained:

“We were most surprised to find that the barbs on quills serve a dual function. Namely, the barbs reduce the penetration force for easy insertion into tissue and maximize the holding force to make the quills incredibly difficult to remove.”

The findings should improve the design of needles and other medical equipment, according to the researchers.

Karp said:

“Towards medical applications we developed plastic replicas that remarkably mimicked the reduced penetration force and increased pullout. This should be useful to develop next generation medical adhesives and potentially design needles with reduced pain.”

Inventors Creates Vineyard Robot

Inventor Christoff Miller has created a potential helper for wine makers: Wall Ye, a modified robot that can browse through vineyards checking soil quality and pruning vines.

“When I designed the robot, I took measurements myself; of the width of my shoulders and the length of my arms, to reproduce the same movements we make,” Miller explained. “The difference is that it’s on wheels, whereas a human being has to bend in order to prune vines, or sometimes move on a trolley.”

Wine maker Claire Gazeau Montrasi has expressed interest in the invention, stating that it has a lot of potential. She claimed she would welcome a robot employee, as would many others in the field.

“It will be able to remember each wine stock, count the number of missing stocks, and eventually help analyze the maturity of the vines before the harvest. It may help observe the strength of the vines depending on soil changes the previous year. It helps in a whole range of tasks that we winemakers don’t have time for,” she explained.

Smartphone App Reaches Out for the Chronically Ill

Chronic medical conditions such as pain, depression or diabetes, often leave people feeling helpless, eventually leading them to withdraw from society. Doctors or specialists may not see or treat them at all until they show up in an emergency room.

Technology has many uses these days; some of which may save lives. A new app that tracks activity and movement may help patients when they begin to draw inward by alerting the appropriate doctor or caregiver. According to the New York Times, the app tracks how often calls and texts are made, as well as movement and activities.

The United States military, insurance companies and several medical chains have begun backing these digital flares. Hospitals and medical centers throughout the country have already begun testing this technology.

Michael Seid, a professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, explained:

“It’s a potential human early-warning system, the body’s check-engine light.

“When your pain increases, you’re less likely to be at the park or the mall. It could be early indicators of a flare-up or worsening of the disease,” he added, explaining that the technology “measures social behavior at a scale and depth you just didn’t have before.”