Bioprinting is one of the most fascinating developing areas in modern day science. The genesis point of bioprinting was in the 1980s, where Charles Hull invented stereolithography – technology which enabled 3D models to be constructed from digital data. Over nearly three decades, Hull’s idea has now been developed to the point of which we can actually grow human tissue; this is known as Bioprinter technology. There is huge potential of which we can use bioprinting technology to and currently we can construct small-scale tissues for drug discovery and toxicity testing – with promise in the future to construct parts of, or even full, organs.
This infograph is an informative look into the technology of bioprinting; how it works, and how we can use it to our advantage. On examining the displayed data, you realise that perhaps the idea of reconstructive tissue technology used in episodes of Star Trek isn’t too far away anymore. Read More
Surgeons were recently left both amazed and overjoyed as one of the first patients for a bionic eye transplant told them that, having been sightless for 25 years, he had dreamt in colour.
Clinical trials of the bionic eye began in 2009 and since then results have “exceeded expectations”. Updated systems are continually being developed with aims of helping the estimated 20,000 people in Britain alone who suffer from retinitis pigmentosa; a currently incurable condition which results in blindness.
There are four key stages involved in making this marvel of science work. Firstly, the patient undergoes a whopping 10 hour operation to insert a minutely tiny 3 millimetre chip into the back of the eye. The chip might be microscopically small, but it packs a powerful visual punch containing 1500 light sensors which act to imitate the retina.
Next, a magnetic coil is attached beneath the skin around the ear, which is then attached to the eye at one end and an external battery pack held in place with magnets at the other. Read More
Several weeks ago, Aldebaran Robotics released the NAO Next Gen, the most advanced humanoid robot in mainstream use. The NAO isn’t a toy you’ll find gracing the underskirts of Christmas trees. It was designed with a purpose much greater than entertainment: learning.
As the term ‘humanoid robot’ suggests, there is a learning aspect to NAO’s processing makeup. It’s not like you’re programming the software that determines the actions of the robot, it’s more intuitive than that. Its process is to experience then adapt, not to set by programing. Facial, object and vocal recognition software enable NAO to be programmed through interaction, the same way people learn. The idea is that NAO will be useful in a number of settings like classrooms and labs, as well as a beneficial interactive tool for people with autism. Read More
It may be hard to believe, but robots are a part of everyday life these days. You know those little Lindt Chocolates that you enjoy eating so much? A robotic arm is used to collect the trays of moulded chocolate and dispense them onto a conveyor belt, where they’re wrapped. Robots are also used to cut steel, assemble cars, and even pack pills for the pharmaceutical industry. Most of those robots are big, mechanical looking things that serve just one purpose, but there’s a new breed of robots on the way, ones that cross the “uncanny valley”, and look almost lifelike.
The Uncanny Valley
The “uncanny valley” is a concept that was first put forward by robotics professor Masahiro Mori. The hypothesis stated that as the appearance of a robot became more human like, a human observer’s response to the robot would become more empathic, until a point was reached where the robot was almost, but not quite human. At that point, the positive empathic response would become revulsion. Humans would not respond positively again until the robot’s behaviour became almost indistinguishable to that of a humans.
The idea behind this hypotheseis was that an “almost human” robot would not look cute, it would look strange. A nearly perfect copy of a human, such as the robots produced by Kokoro Company, which have human faces, and can copy many human facial expressions, manages to cross the uncanny valley, and create something that we can feel human attachment to. Read More
With improved technology we benefit from the ability to download files upon files of data within seconds, drive smarter vehicles that can tell us when to stop backing up, and carry on a face-to-face conversations through video conferencing programs with friends, family and colleagues across the world. If these developments aren’t impressive enough for you to be convinced that one-by-one new technologies are dramatically changing the world we live in, consider the magnitude of change technology has affected on the medical world with seven of the coolest medical gadgets.
1.) Prolific Prosthetics
The Virtu-limb from i-Limb Pulse debuted at the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association National Assembly showcasing the capability to virtually tap into electrical signals via electrodes sent out by arm muscles. Most impressively, The Virtu-limb transmits those signals wirelessly to a prosthetic hand using Bluetooth technology. This data can then be used to model the artificial hand in the digital world directly on a PC. Read More
Not more than a few decades ago, science fiction concepts featuring intelligent humanoid “robots” (Battlestar Galactica and Terminator to name a few) seemed simply to be speculative fiction with little grounding in reality. After all, our technology was miles away from anything the authors and scriptwriters thought up at the time.
In the past few decades we have advanced our computer and robotics technology incredibly quickly. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak stated this past June that we are making ourselves increasingly redundant as computers are becoming increasingly intelligent and aware. Not only that but we have made our lives completely dependent on technology. In the future, Wozniak believes we will be little more than pets to robots. The likelihood is that our technology will surpass us in intelligence and function and likely in the near future.
Despite what you may think about the many sci-fi theories and stories which tell of autonomous robots taking over humankind, the facts are piling up to show that in fact autonomous highly intelligent robots are likely to rival humans soon. This will very likely happen. The result of our computers and robots becoming self aware is still to be seen, but it is happening. There’s no point in denying it anymore. Read More
Everyone wants to be independent. Though we can and should ask others for help when we need it, autonomy is important to a person’s identity. So it goes for the differently abled, including those who use wheelchairs and wheelchair accessible vans in their daily lives. In a world where accessibility options can sometimes seem half-measured, advances in robot technology are making it easier for folks to get around.
Scientific progress has probably only begun to introduce us to all the things that robots can do for us, from assisting in surgery to exploring outer space. One of these advances in robot technology comes from a group of researchers at Lehigh University and Freedom Sciences, folks who have developed a wheelchair that can be controlled by remote control. Though not fully automated yet, updates will surely see the chair driven entirely by robot power in the near future. Currently, a wheelchair accessible van allows the driver access to the vehicle via side door. Once the chair’s owner is safely seated, the wheelchair can be driven to a lift at the back of the van where it is guided by laser beam onto a lift and placed safely inside. Gone is the need to hoist a chair across yourself as you get in and out of a car. No dangerous maneuvering of a chair with the threat of traffic zooming by. No extended exposure to the elements. Safety and comfort, all thanks to a robot and remote. Read More