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Aug 4, 2020

Implantable transmitter provides wireless option for biomedical devices

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, computing, mobile phones, wearables

Purdue University innovators are working on inventions to use micro-chip technology in implantable devices and other wearable products such as smart watches to improve biomedical devices, including those used to monitor people with glaucoma and heart disease.

The Purdue team developed a fully implantable radio-frequency transmitter chip for wireless sensor nodes and . The research is published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems II. The transmitter chip consumes lowest amount of energy per digital bit published to date.

The transmitter works in a similar fashion to in mobile phones and , but the Purdue transmitter has an unprecedented level of miniaturization and low-energy consumption that it can be implanted into an eye to monitor pressure for a glaucoma patient or into another part of the body to measure data related to heart functions.

Aug 4, 2020

Scientists inspired by ‘Star Wars’ create artificial skin able to feel

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, cyborgs

Singapore researchers have developed “electronic skin” capable of recreating a sense of touch, an innovation they hope will allow people with prosthetic limbs to detect objects, as well as feel texture, or even temperature and pain.

The device, dubbed ACES, or Asynchronous Coded Electronic Skin, is made up of 100 small sensors and is about 1 square centimeter (0.16 square inch) in size.

The researchers at the National University of Singapore say it can process information faster than the human nervous system, is able to recognise 20 to 30 different textures and can read Braille letters with more than 90% accuracy.

Aug 4, 2020

Computers on verge of designing their own programs

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

Computer programmers may soon design the ultimate program: A program that designs programs.

Last week, a team led by Justin Gottschlich, director of the machine programming research group at Intel, announced the creation of a new machine learning system that designs its own . They call the system MISIM, Machine Inferred Code Similarity.

Gottschlich explained, “Intel’s ultimate goal for machine programming is to democratize the creation of software. When fully realized, machine programming will enable everyone to create software by expressing their intention in whatever fashion that’s best for them, whether that’s code, or something else. That’s an audacious goal, and while there’s much more work to be done, MISIM is a solid step toward it.”

Aug 4, 2020

Miniature Telescope Demonstration Focuses on Sharpening View of Distant Objects in Space

Posted by in categories: energy, satellites

A recently deployed DARPA CubeSat seeks to demonstrate technology that could improve imaging of distant objects in space and allow powerful space telescopes to fit into small satellites. DARPA’s Deformable Mirror (DeMi) CubeSat deployed from the International Space Station July 13, beginning the technology demonstration of a miniature space telescope with a small deformable mirror called a microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) mirror.

DeMi made first contact about a week following launch, demonstrating the expected power from its solar arrays, as well as correct spacecraft pointing and stable temperatures. The team will focus on payload checkout over the coming days.

Deformable mirrors can adjust the shape of their reflective surfaces to correct for the effects of temperature and mechanical changes on a space telescope, improving image quality. The experiment will measure how well a MEMS deformable mirror performs in space, from the rocket launch through its time in orbit experiencing the thermal and radiation environment.

Aug 4, 2020

Subterranean Challenge Pivots to All-Virtual Competition for Cave Circuit

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, innovation

DARPA’s Subterranean (SubT) Challenge focuses on discovering innovative approaches to map, navigate, and search complex underground environments across three diverse subdomains: human-made tunnels, urban underground, and natural cave systems. Two previous scored events – Tunnel and Urban Circuits – featured both Virtual and Systems Competitions. DARPA has made the difficult decision to proceed only with the Virtual Competition for the Cave Circuit, due to safety considerations surrounding COVID-19. The date for the Cave Circuit Virtual Competition webcast/public event will be announced in the coming weeks.

Teams must qualify by a September 15 deadline to participate in the Cave Circuit Virtual Competition, which includes team registration and registration on the SubT Challenge Virtual Portal. Additional details are available in the SubT Qualification Guide available on the program’s Resources Page. Interested teams also are encouraged to join the SubT Community Forum, where they can engage with other participants and ask any questions.

“We recognize and share the teams’ passion to compete and showcase the hard work they have completed since the Urban Circuit, and we also are committed to the safety of the global community and extended SubT Challenge family,” said Dr. Timothy Chung, program manager for the SubT Challenge in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. “Additionally, I know a significant aspect of the SubT Challenge is the opportunity to invite the public to experience the camaraderie and competition unique to DARPA challenges. We look forward to providing greater insight into the Virtual Competition Cave Circuit via an enhanced webcast and online experience, and offering additional opportunities to experience the SubT Challenge during the Final Event.”

Aug 4, 2020

DARPA Awards Contracts for New X-Plane Program Based on Active Flow Control

Posted by in category: transportation

DARPA has selected three performers to work on the Control of Revolutionary Aircraft with Novel Effectors (CRANE) program, which aims to demonstrate an aircraft design based on active flow control (AFC), an area not fully explored compared to traditional flight controls. The goal is to demonstrate significant efficiency benefits of AFC, as well as improvements in aircraft cost, weight, performance, and reliability.

“The performers are looking at using active flow control very early in the design scope. That’s the differentiating piece that hasn’t been done before,” said Alexander Walan, the program manager for CRANE in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. “AFC has been explored at a component level, but not as an integral piece of aircraft design. By altering the design approach, CRANE seeks to maximize the chance of a successful X-plane development while also integrating AFC into the aircraft’s stability and control.”

The program is kicking off Phase 0, a long conceptual design phase to give performers time to evaluate flow control options before solidifying their demonstration approaches. The performers selected for Phase 0 are:

Aug 4, 2020

Parts Come Together This Year for DARPA’s Robotic In-Space Mechanic

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, satellites

Eyeing a launch in 2023, DARPA’s Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program will focus the remainder of this year on completing the elements of the robotic payload. The objective of RSGS is to create an operational dexterous robotic capability to repair satellites in geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO), extending satellite life spans, enhancing resilience, and improving reliability for the current U.S. space infrastructure.

Earlier this year, DARPA partnered with Space Logistics LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Northrop Grumman, to provide the spacecraft bus, launch, and operations of the integrated spacecraft. DARPA will provide the payload that flies on the bus, including the robotic arms, through an agreement with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL).

In 2021, NRL will integrate the robotic arms onto the payload structure, and then is expected to begin environmental tests by the end of same year. After launch in 2023, it will take approximately nine months to reach GEO, and the program anticipates servicing satellites in mid-2024.

Aug 4, 2020

DARPA Selects Teams for Work on Tunable Gamma Ray Inspection Technology

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, security

Two California companies were selected for DARPA’s Gamma Ray Inspection Technology (GRIT) program and have begun work to develop a transportable, tunable source of gamma rays for a host of national security, industrial, and medical applications.

Lumitron Technologies and RadiaBeam Technologies started work on the GRIT program in April and are exploring novel approaches to achieve high-intensity, tunable, and narrow-bandwidth sources of gamma ray radiation in a compact, transportable form factor.

GRIT aims to provide a source of tunable, pure x-rays and gamma rays from tens of keV (kilo-electron volts) up through three MeV (mega-electron volts). Currently, tunable and narrow bandwidth gamma ray sources only exist at highly specialized user facilities best suited for basic research and are not able to support broad practical applications. Shrinking these photon sources to a transportable system is the major goal and challenge of the GRIT program.

Aug 4, 2020

The Panopticon Is Already Here

Posted by in categories: government, robotics/AI, surveillance

Despite China’s considerable strides, industry analysts expect America to retain its current AI lead for another decade at least. But this is cold comfort: China is already developing powerful new surveillance tools, and exporting them to dozens of the world’s actual and would-be autocracies. Over the next few years, those technologies will be refined and integrated into all-encompassing surveillance systems that dictators can plug and play.


Xi Jinping is using artificial intelligence to enhance his government’s totalitarian control—and he’s exporting this technology to regimes around the globe.

Aug 4, 2020

Neanderthal DNA contributes to genetic diversity, bringing more understanding to human evolution

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, evolution, genetics, internet

The advent of DNA sequencing has given scientists a clearer insight into the interconnectedness of evolution and the web-like path that different organisms take, splitting apart and coming back together. Tony Capra, associate professor of biological sciences, has come to new conclusions about the influence of Neanderthal DNA on some genetic traits of modern humans.

The article “Neanderthal introgression reintroduced functional ancestral alleles lost in Eurasian populations” was published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution on July 27.

The ancestors of all modern humans lived across the African continent, until approximately 100,000 years ago when a subset of humans decided to venture further afield. Neanderthals, an extinct relative of modern humans, had been longtime residents of Europe and central and south Asia; their ancestors had already migrated there 700,000 years previously. The humans who moved into central Asia and the Middle East encountered and reproduced with Neanderthals. Neanderthal DNA is present in some modern humans, and now research shows that can sometimes be a good thing.