Drone Catcher can pursue and catch intrusive drones

A group of engineers from Michigan Technological University have developed a drone-catcher. This nifty device can pursue and capture intrusive drones. Useful for immensely private spaces prone to intrusion, such as military grounds, the White House, and even sports events.

Basically, the drone catcher follows the rogue drone, shoots a big net towards the intrusive drone and ferries it towards a safe location. The system can be autonomous, controlled by a ground-based human pilot, or a combination of the two.

The creators of the drone-catches proposed other potential applications to their invention, which includes: foiling spy drones, smugglers, and terrorists, and supporting the recent FAA announcement requiring drones to be registered.

What could the innovation of this tech mean for businesses everywhere? Does this mark a new era of security? Could we utilize this to create something that not only benefits our businesses, but also the common good?

'Smart Glasses' offer help to near-blind people

Researchers from Oxford University say they've made a breakthrough in developing smart glasses for people with severe sight loss.

The spectacles (smart glasses), developed by Stephen Hicks and his research team at Oxford University use 3D cameras to augment vision and help visually impaired see. Read more

The augmented reality glasses use three-dimensional cameras that detect the structure and position of nearby objects. Software then uses that information to block out the background and highlight only what is nearest to the user.

“Smart-glasses are a piece of work we’ve been doing for the past three years at Oxford looking at ways to enhance the remaining sight that people have. When you go blind, you generally have some sight remaining, and using a combination of cameras and a see-through display, we’re able to enhance nearby objects to make them easier to see for obstacle avoidance and also facial recognition,” says Dr. Stephen Hicks of the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences at Oxford University, who is leading the research.

The supermarket of the future

Coop Italia collaborated with Accenture to showcase the ground-breaking Supermarket of the Future using advanced technologies at Expo Milano 2015. The store recreates the atmosphere of local open-air markets but provides innovative digital solutions that share information, facilitate store navigation and improve staff communication. 

The Supermarket of the Future transforms the customer experience with digital tools that make shopping more convenient, relevant and personalized. In the supermarket of the future, consumers would be able read detailed descriptions of the origins and health aspects of the foods they're buying, according to Carlo Ratti Associati, the firm that designed the supermarket.

There are also no shelves in the supermarket of the future.  Buying food will be more about a moment of exchange and interactions, not the hasty choir it represents for most people. The supermarket of the future will be all about human interactions; interactions between people and products and between people and people.”

Neuroprosthetics, brain-computer interfaces and optogenetics

Our experience of reality is constrained by our biology. Our brain cells in combination with our sensory organs (i.e., eyes, ears), create systems that shape how we perceive the world. This system has a very limited range. We only see 'less than a 10-trillionth' of the world and of what’s happening around us at all times.

According to neuroscientist David Eagleman this doesn't have to be the case anymore. Eagleman recently pointed out at a TED talk that it is truly possible to add new senses using sensory substitution.

Sensory substitution is a non-invasive technique for circumventing the loss of one sense by feeding sensory data through other unusual sensory channels.  Eagleman noted that the brain can learn to extract the meaning of such information streams. "We are leveraging this technique to develop a non-invasive, low-cost vibratory vest to allow those with deafness or severe hearing impairments to perceive auditory information through small vibrations on their torso."

We could develop wireless, brain-to-brain communication, something called synthetic telepathy, and send messages to each other by thinking them.  

A low-cost light revolution

Have you heard of the award-winning WakaWaka Light?

WakaWaka is a sturdy, highly efficient, sustainable, self-powered LED lamp that is affordable for those living on $2 per day or less.  It is a Netherlands-based invention which contains a microchip that, when placed inside a photovoltaic panel, "lures every sunray" into producing electricity.  This chip ensures that no other solar lamp in the world can match the efficiency of WakaWaka.

In low light conditions, the efficiency can be up to 200% of that of an ‘ordinary solar lamp’. In practice it means, that no matter where you are in the world, WakaWaka will work. Independent researchers show that the solar version of the WakaWaka is twice as efficient as any other solar lamp on the market. For more information see the website.

This is a wonderful example of No More Business As Usual.

The WakaWaka's business vision is ' to brighten up the lives of underpriviledged people in developing countries'. The company has a cross-subsidy model that enables the business to meet the affordability objectives. In essence, rich folk agree to pay more so that poorer consumers can pay less. Sold online, the WakaWaka lamps retail at around €29.50 in Europe and $39 in the United States. In developing world countries, the price is closer to $10. 

3D-printed Ocean Plastic shoe

Adidas and Parley for the Oceans unveiled this new concept as an example of how the shoe industry can use technology to reduce ocean plastic pollution and explore new footwear solutions. The Ocean Plastic shoe has an ocean plastic upper and a 3D printed midsole made of gill net and recycled polyster. More

Image credit: adidas

Image credit: adidas

Image credit: adidas

Image credit: adidas

Image credit: adidas

These shoes represent part of Adidas' effort to infuse exponential technology and sustainability into their core products. Adidas has pledged to boost its green credentials through a number of initiatives, such as ending the use of plastic bags in its retail stores, ending the use of plastic microbeads across all its body care products and ceasing to use plastic bottles for meetings at its headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany.

 

 

Mealworms can safely biodegrade various types of plastic

Stanford and Beihang University researchers have discovered that the common mealworm can biodegrade Styrofoam and other types of polystyrene, thanks to microorganisms in its guts that break down the plastic. This research opened a new door to solve the global plastic pollution problem. 

Image credit: Yu Yang......... Mealworms (larvae of the darkling beetle) munch on Styrofoam, a hopeful sign that solutions to plastics pollution exist. 

Image credit: Yu Yang......... Mealworms (larvae of the darkling beetle) munch on Styrofoam, a hopeful sign that solutions to plastics pollution exist. 

The key is the microorganisms in the worms’ digestive system. These “bugs-within-the-bugs” produce an enzyme that breaks down the foam into organic compounds. What the mealworms don’t digest, they expel as biodegradable substances that return to nature.

Not only can the mealworms biodegrade plastic that we previously thought was non-biodegradable, but the Styrofoam-munching mealworms were as healthy as those that ate a normal diet, and their waste is even safe enough to use as crop soil.

Why it's important: 
33 million tons of plastic are being discarded every year in the U.S. alone, and sadly less than 10 percent gets recycled. Mealworms could take care of a significant chunk of that non-recycled plastic. The researchers will next focus on whether the mealworms can digest other waste like polypropylene, microbeads and bioplastics. 

The papers, published in 'Environmental Science and Technology', are the first to provide detailed evidence of bacterial degradation of plastic in an animal's gut. Understanding how bacteria within mealworms carry out this feat could potentially enable new options for safe management of plastic waste. The researchers now plan to study the foam-degrading gut bacteria more closely and find out whether it’ll eat other environmental menaces. Read More

A Futuristic Floating City on the Ocean

The French architect Jacques Rougerie has designed a floating, manta-ray-shaped vessel for marine researchers, scientists and students. It’s also environmentally friendly and completely sustainable, running off marine renewable energy and wind power. 

The 3,000 foot long "university city" would house 7,000 individuals and will be used to conduct ocean research. The city will be equipped with classrooms and laboratories for students as well as living spaces and room for leisure activities, including sports.

3D printed Fashion

3D scanners and printers could revolutionise the way we order our clothes in the future. Not only would this revolutionise fashion for the consumer but also for the designers and the manufacturers. Imagine what it would be like if we could have our own body scan and just order clothes that fit us perfectly?

3D printing fashion could possibly fill up the gap between Haute Couture, which is costume made and perfectly tailored for one single person, and the mass produced and limited sizing within Ready-to-Wear. 

The first printable material that is flexible, durable enough to be worn – and to be put in the washing machine. 

Things you can make with 3D Printing

Have you ever considered how 3D printing could apply to your life? What if it is truly possible for 3D printing to  fuel your creativity and break down barriers to becoming an entrepreneur. What if you can make money and set up your own business by utilising 3D printing? 

3-D printers are capable of creating incredibly useful and clever household objects you may not have even considered possible.

App that turns a coloured drawing into a 3D character

Disney has created an amazing app that turns a coloured drawing into a 3D character on a tablet screen.

Disney Research has developed an app that transforms your colored-in pages into 3D animations, using an iPad with a camera. The augmented reality project has a "virtual spring system" that guesses what an incomplete 2D drawing would look like in 3D.

The app does that by copying pixels from your piece and adapting them for use on the object’s other regions. It also transforms your drawing into a 3D object in real time, so you can actually watch it getting colored on screen.

New possibility for reducing greenhouse gas in the environment

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego have designed enzyme-functionalized micromotors the size of red blood cells that would be powered by the environment itself,

The micromotors can rapidly zoom around in water,  using enzymes to move around the sea, converting carbon dioxide into a usable solid form as they swim. The micromotors rapidly decarbonated water solutions that were saturated with carbon dioxide. Within five minutes, the micromotors removed 90 percent of the carbon dioxide from a solution of deionized water.

(credit: Laboratory for Nanobioelectronics, UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering)..... In the future, we could potentially use these micromotors as part of a water treatment system, like a water decarbonation plant.

(credit: Laboratory for Nanobioelectronics, UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering)..... In the future, we could potentially use these micromotors as part of a water treatment system, like a water decarbonation plant.

Ultrasound waves cleaning power

Can you imaging what it would be like if you could wash your hands thoroughly and effectively with nothing more than cold water? What it would be like if you could clean countertops, floors, or even medical tools without using any harsh chemicals?  

A new device called StarStream creates a whole new kind of cleaning solution by infusing H2O with ultrasonic bubbles. The device brings micro-scrubbing power to regular tap water or increasing the cleaning power of detergents.

StarStream gives tap water incredible cleaning power. This innovative technology has won The Royal Society’s prestigious Brian Mercer Award for Innovation 2011

As ultrasonic waves activate the stream of water from a single StarStream nozzle - the regular water is imbued with cleaning power.  The oscillation of the sound waves turns every bubble into a tiny micro-scrubber that can clean all kinds of complex surfaces (cracks, crevices, and practically any tough-to-reach spot) without bleach and chemical detergents. 

StarStream has also been used for cleaning surgical instruments and removing biological contaminants from medical appliances and surgical steel. It can also be used to remove dental bacteria that lead to common mouth, tongue, and tooth diseases, and the separation of soft tissue from bone, which is a crucial step to successful surgical transplants. In hospitals, StarStream could play a crucial role in maintaining a sterile environment without contributing to humanity’s ever decreasing antibiotic and anti-microbial resistance levels.

 

In the near future with further funding, the team will be able to shrink down the current design to a more readily-installable system. “If you can clean effectively, as we’re doing here, then you can stop the bugs ever entering the body. And if the bugs never enter the body the person doesn’t get an infection and you don’t have to use these antibiotics, anti-microbial agents. And you’ve got a whole different pathway for tackling this anti-microbial resistance catastrophe,” said Professor Leighton. In the future,  modifiable StarStreams could be attached to hand-washing stations in hospitals, or even regular sinks in public bathrooms everywhere.

The world's smallest cardiac pacemaker

Researchers have developed the world's smallest, minimally invasive pacemaker. New cardiac devices are small enough to be delivered through blood vessels into the heart, via an incision in the thigh. It's delivered via a catheter through the femoral vein and then positioned inside the right ventricle of the heart.

The findings also showed that the Micra TPS—about the size of a large vitamin—met safety and effectiveness endpoints with wide margins. In a recent international clinical trial, it was successfully implanted in 99.2 percent of the 725 patients, and 96 percent of patients experienced zero complications -- 51 percent less than normal procedures. Read More>

Artificial Intelligence (AI) & medical diagnoses

Can Artificial Intelligence (AI) help make better medical diagnoses?

Enlitic is building a computer system to help doctors make faster, more accurate diagnoses. Enlitic is using what’s known as “deep learning,”a system to help doctors diagnose problems with “every affliction in every part of the body". The AI can help detect and prevent cancer, pushing medicine firmly into the 21st century. Their deep-learning algorithms can be better at diagnosing tumors than doctors.

How does it work? Enlitic's technology uses a version of artificial intelligence. It takes medical information from one patient -- whether it's a CT scan, an X-ray or details about, say, a tumor -- and then converts it into a mathematical representation. It's then added to a large pool of data and compared to other patients who have experienced similar issues.

Spray On Solar Cells On Flexible Surfaces

A revolutionary innovation in solar technology was recently announced by researchers at the University of Toronto, that could lead to reducing the manufacturing costs of solar power.

Illan Kramer and a team of researchers at the university are working on portable solar generators that can be transported in a spray can and then sprayed anywhere where power is needed. "My dream is that one day you’ll have two technicians with Ghostbusters backpacks come to your house and spray your roof,” says Kramer. The team has invented a new small light-sensitive material called colloidal quantum dots (CQDs). Until now, CQDs could only be put on surfaces through a chemical coating batch process which is a slow, expensive assembly-line approach. They needed a new delivery system for the CQDs.

See a video demonstration of the SprayLD system below.

Kramer's research has been published across a series of journal articles, initially in Applied Physics Letters, then in Advanced Materials and most recently in ACS Nano.

According to Dr. Kramer, being able to spray on solar cells onto flexible surface means you can put an energy source on just about any object or shape. Imagine what it would be like if you could coat your outdoor furniture, bicycle helmets, your mobile phone or the wing of an airplane with solar cells. 

Smart Sensing Technologie D-Shirt

D-shirt of Smart Sensing Technologie by Cityzen Sciences. Through the shirt's sensor-laced fabric connected to a bluetooth transmitter, your activity can be tracked while you move, and it's sent to your smartphone. The material can be washed and ironed (though the transmitter must be removed first) and it is no heavier than a regular t-shirt. 

For the launch of the brand, Smart Sensing will showcase their potential with mass-market sports products: a t-shirt and cycling bib tights sensing directly the wearer’s heart rate, GPS location, speed, etc. These clothes, equipped with an artificial intelligence adaptable to each sportsperson, will be commercialised with personalised real-time coaching and monitoring applications.

The company hasn't released a prototype yet, but they did talk about the exciting product at CES 2014.