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Archive for the ‘wearables’ category

Nov 14, 2018

Stretchable thermoelectric coils for energy harvesting in miniature flexible wearable devices

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, engineering, internet, wearables

Miniaturized semiconductor devices with energy harvesting features have paved the way to wearable technologies and sensors. Although thermoelectric systems have attractive features in this context, the ability to maintain large temperature differences across device terminals remains increasingly difficult to achieve with accelerated trends in device miniaturization. As a result, a group of scientists in applied sciences and engineering has developed and demonstrated a proposal on an architectural solution to the problem in which engineered thin-film active materials are integrated into flexible three-dimensional (3D) forms.

The approach enabled efficient thermal impedance matching, and multiplied heat flow through the harvester to increase efficient power conversion. In the study conducted by Kewang Nan and colleagues, interconnected arrays of 3D thermoelectric coils were built with microscale ribbons of the active material monocrystalline silicon to demonstrate the proposed concepts. Quantitative measurements and simulations were conducted thereafter to establish the basic operating principles and key design features of the strategy. The results, now published on Science Advances, suggested a scalable strategy to deploy hard thermoelectric thin-films within energy harvesters that can efficiently integrate with soft material systems including human tissue to develop wearable sensors in the future.

Thermoelectric devices provide a platform to incorporate ubiquitous thermal gradients that generate electrical power. To operate wearable sensors or the “Internet of Things” devices, the temperature gradient between the surrounding environment and the human body/inanimate objects should provide small-scale power supplies. Continued advances in the field focus on aggressive downscaling of power requirements for miniaturized systems to enhance their potential in thermoelectric and energy harvesting applications. Integrated processors and radio transmitters for example can operate with power in the range of subnanowatts, some recent examples are driven via ambient light-based energy harvesting and endocochlear potential. Such platforms can be paired with sensors with similar power to enable distributed, continuous and remote environmental/biochemical monitoring.

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Nov 10, 2018

Material scientists create fabric alternative to batteries for wearable devices

Posted by in categories: energy, health, wearables

A major factor holding back development of wearable biosensors for health monitoring is the lack of a lightweight, long-lasting power supply. Now scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst led by materials chemist Trisha L. Andrew report that they have developed a method for making a charge-storing system that is easily integrated into clothing for “embroidering a charge-storing pattern onto any garment.”

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Nov 9, 2018

New flexible, transparent, wearable biopatch, improves cellular observation, drug delivery

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, engineering, wearables

Purdue University researchers have developed a new flexible and translucent base for silicon nanoneedle patches to deliver exact doses of biomolecules directly into cells and expand observational opportunities.

“This means that eight or nine nanoneedles can be injected into a single cell without significantly damaging a cell. So we can use these nanoneedles to deliver biomolecules into cells or even tissues with minimal invasiveness,” said Chi Hwan Lee, an assistant professor in Purdue University’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and School of Mechanical Engineering.

A surgeon performs surgery on the back of a hand of a patient who has melanoma. Purdue researchers are developing a new flexible and translucent base for silicon patches to deliver exact doses of biomolecules directly into cells and expand observational opportunities. The researchers say skin cancer could be one of the applications for the patches.

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Oct 15, 2018

To be – or not to be – an enhanced human

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, cyborgs, law, wearables

Should there be any ethical or legal boundaries to technologies that enhance humans? I pondered this last week as I read an online article about the recent trials of upper-body “exoskeletons” by production line staff at Volkswagen and at Chrysler-Fiat. These lightweight wearable frames greatly reduce the physical strain of repetitive overhead assembly work, and will be an important industrial enhancement as workforces age.

We tend to think of medical advancement in terms of better cures for diseases and recovery from injury. Enhancement however goes beyond therapy, and extends us in ways that some may argue are unnatural. Some human enhancements are of course also pre-emptive therapeutic interventions. Vaccination is both an enhancement of our immune system, and a therapeutic intervention. However, in cases where there is little preventative justification, what degree of enhancement is acceptable?

We drink coffee expecting our work performance to improve. We accept non-elective operations, breast implants, orthodontic improvements and other interventions which improve our perception of ourselves. We generally accept such enhancements with little question. However devices and drugs that improve athletic performance can lead us to question their legitimacy.

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Sep 26, 2018

This Robotic Skin Makes Inanimate Objects Move

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, wearables

When designing a robot, key components are the robot’s sensors, which allow it to perceive its environment, and its actuators, the electrical or pneumatic motors that allow the robot to move and interact with its environment.

Consider your hand, which has temperature and pressure sensors, but also muscles as actuators. The omni-skins, as the Science Robotics paper dubs them, combine sensors and actuators, embedding them into an elastic sheet. The robotic skins are moved by pneumatic actuators or memory alloy that can bounce back into shape. If this is then wrapped around a soft, deformable object, moving the skin with the actuators can allow the object to crawl along a surface.

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Sep 19, 2018

Soft wearable exosuit automatically tunes its assistance levels on the fly

Posted by in categories: cyborgs, robotics/AI, wearables

A team of scientists at Harvard’s Wyss Institute has just presented its latest creation in the field of robotic exoskeletons, a fully wearable soft exosuit that automatically tweaks its level of assistance on the fly.

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Sep 13, 2018

Soon your doctor will be able to wirelessly track your health—even through walls

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health, wearables

MIT professor Dina Katabi is building a gadget that can sit in one spot and track everything from breathing to walking, no wearables required.

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Aug 16, 2018

Hologram Computers

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, augmented reality, biotech/medical, entertainment, holograms, quantum physics, robotics/AI, science, security, space travel, virtual reality, wearables

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Aug 10, 2018

Beyond the Wrist: Rethinking Wearable Technology for Mental Health

Posted by in categories: augmented reality, health, neuroscience, wearables

Clothing, skin patches and augmented reality glasses – welcome to the new age of data collection for mental health care.

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Aug 4, 2018

Lighter, leaner, lifesaving: AF tests wearable medical tech

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, military, wearables

Wearable medical technology is designed to be small and lightweight to minimize additional burden on medical Airmen and the warfighter, whether they are on a remote battlefield or aboard an aircraft.

“Wearables provide greater accessibility,” said Dr. David Burch, a research biomedical engineer and the medical technology solutions team lead for the En Route Care Medical Technology Solutions Research Group, 711th HPW. “An aircraft has a very tight space and weight limit to maintain performance, and battlefield medics need to carry everything they use. Wearables provide accessibility to the human in a way that is better form, fit, and function.”

One wearable device that achieves that accessibility is a tissue oxygenation sensor, developed jointly with a private company. This small, soft, injectable sensor lets medics determine if a patient is able to be medically evacuated by assessing how well their blood transports oxygen to tissue.

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