Technology (48)

17 Oct 2017

Pedro Lopes from MIT has been doing some fantastic work on combining image sensing and providing feedback to the human. Typical VR (Virtual Reality) setup's are problematic because though user can see things they cannot feel it. Pedro is using electrical stimulation to provide feedback as this video shows:

But take that a step further. If you can trigger a muscle then you can certainly make it do your bidding. Now that plotter  is something...since it could make an artist out of us. Or we have a good excuse to say why we did something outside our control.

And if you can "see" the object then you can make it send feedback back to the user. Whether through the pen in the first video or through a 3D location.

Observe how people doing this say "It does not want to be touched" or "it wants me to..." We make things abstract and ascribe behavior to inanimate objects.



09 Oct 2017


Hospital corridors are boring

Why are hospital corridors boring? The patients could do with a little knowledge while they wait or even some entertainment. Right now, they are just bored – they look at the walls or they would most probably look at the phone. Is that the best thing that they should be doing?

How would someone change the corridors – this is probably not a technology solution as much as it’s an  user-needs collection problem. There is probably not one solution for all corridors – a painting may not be the best thing but then would inspirational words help?

There is an old quote by Emile Coue “Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better” and maybe motivational quotes painted like that would cheer up patients – but in the language of medicine and science – reading such a quote has not been shown to make an improvement either.

Or maybe it is boring because the hospital does not want you to stay too long!

06 Oct 2017

The Prize4Life foundation is hosting a hackathon and to help people prepare it has written out specifications very clearly.

1. Emergency communication:

  1. Refining the Microsoft GazeSpeak application
  2. Creating a faster way for communicating a few words in emergency situations
  3. Improving the alarm system activating in case of Bipap failure

2. Speech devices:

  1. Building a dual screen speech devices (one for input, one for content)
  2. Creating a method for long-form writing (blogs, documents)

3. Assistive devices:

  1.  Bluetooth enabling operating ADA doors and elevators
  2.  Continuous wearable pulse oximeter
  3.  Accelerometer based switch


This is about as clear as it gets. Great specifications.

04 Oct 2017


Technologists often think that the solution to most problems can be solved with technology and when you ask people what can help them – they often also answer technology. For example on the Facebook page of Prize for life the patients with ALS were asked what can help them and here are the 12 things that they decided were important:


  1. I’m completely paralyzed but I still can feel itching. Help me scratch!
    I need a suit that can move my limbs to preserve flexibility and mobility of the joints
    3. I could benefit from pillow for my wheelchair that can change pressure area
    4. While I’m in shower I could use a wheelchair with multi-axis head support adjustment
    5. I want to be able to control of wheelchair movement via eye tracking
    6. I need an alarm button that is able to:
    i. work at night when I’m not connected to the eye control system
    ii. ring when I’m using the headset and the speakers are on mute
    iii. flow on my computer screen regardless the software I’m currently using
    7. When I’m outdoor the eye control system cannot operate
    8. I need a device that will help me to properly position the eye control system
    9. It would be highly beneficial to have an interface between my ventilation machine and computer so that respiratory measures will be displayed on the screen
    10. I wish I could be able to play cards
    11. I would like to be able to draw pictures again
    12. I want to control a Quadcopter

What do you think?


05 Aug 2014


Key by usinlife on Sketchfab

This article is more to do with confidentiality than warheads. There is a proof in cryptography called zero knowledge proof which states that it is possible to confirm a statement from one party by another party without doing a measurement.

A recent paper in Nature has created a zero knowledge protocol to verify warheads without the other party getting any additional information. The example they cite in the paper is with marbles but the method has been illustrated several times. In the marble case in the paper, assume there are 2 boxes of marbles(A1, A2) accompanied by another 2 box of marbles (B1, B2). By giving a verifier-person the ability to randomly combine B1,B2 with A1,A2 to yield equal results increases the chances that A and B are indeed what they are supposed to be…see the paper to get the full description.

These confidentiality measures can probably be used in other areas in healthcare too. In healthcare, it is important to hide the person or information associated with the person so that they person cannot be identified with their medical data. By using the zero knowledge protocol we can verify the confidential information without revealing the information for verification.

21 Jul 2014


When we were acquiring the 3D printer, we evaluated several other printing technologies. The most convenient and colorful appeared to be simple technique that was the most novel. Mcor techonologies has created a printer that prints design on sheets of paper using conventional ink jet printer in color. These individual colored sheets are then glued together to form a thick layer which is then cut to shape. This is such a unique technology that we were tempted very much since this gives beautiful 3D colored objects as the output. Obviously, this takes a lot of paper but in the end, sometimes paper is cheaper than the plastic and is completely biodegradable.

The designs come out looking so beautiful and colorful. However, in our case, the 3D printed material was going to be used to build some prototypes and so plastic or PLA was our choice of material.

08 Jul 2014

When innovation is being discussed, it is often associated with some new technology and a revolution that changes the process. There are workshops that link creativity with innovation and also make it seem like that it requires some unique and expensive technology to implement. Whatever the case might be, one thing is clear that innovation brings great improvement to the process, quality of life and does revolutionize the standard way of doing things.

One great example is Eli Terry's innovation in clock design. Clock design and making used to be a very difficult art. First you had to cut your gears very precisely - remember, no matter how accurate your cutting machine is to make gears out of wood/metal, there are some tolerances. These tolerances can add up when you finally assemble everything into a design. So the design has to have some slack. However, if you have slack then your clock keeps time with some slack and then customers do not buy your product because it has so much inaccuracy in keeping time.

The way most manufacturers responded was to make the things with greater and greater accuracy so that they could eliminate most of the errors. BUT, and this is a big but, accuracy at these tolerances require expensive machines, rejection of inaccurate parts and attention to detail - all of which comes at a huge cost. This made the clocks very expensive.

The critical element in clock making was the depthing: a process of holding all the gears in place and then placing them gently on the main clock plate, very carefully and painstakingly. A critical piece is the escapement mechanism (that can be seen on the video below).

Eli's innovation was to move the escapement wheel outside the whole mechanism so that it can be easily changed/adjusted and also make a pin that would allow this escapement wheel to be adjusted.

This changed clock making.

Now, your tolerances could be much easier, the clock could be adjusted as it got old and made the manufacturing easier. Thus increasing the "slop" made the clock making a less precise operation but one which could be adjusted.

Thus, innovation can also be defined as small changes that have big impacts irrespective of the process, technology or money required for implementation.

06 Sep 2013

Interesting paper in Nature that talks about how playing video games decreases the cognitive decline and enhances the multi-processing. This shows that specifically designed games, the article used a paper called Neuroracer that enhanced the brain capability.

This is especially true in the aging brain and points to the need for development of cognitive enhancement tools to maintain brain function.

27 Aug 2013

Many displays serve as just just reflections of what the computer projects. However, it would be cool to have a display that see’s what you are looking at and then augments the display. Such Virtual Reality (VR)displays are just being created and though all the attention has been given to Google glass, there are several companies and groups that have been working on such displays. One memorable one has been the work that is being created through a startup called “Meta” which is building a computerized display that has a camera mounted in its display so works very well for augmented reality applications. See the link below for more information.

14 Aug 2013

Cellular automata are more of a computer based concept wherein a “cell” that is created in virtual screen dependent on the neighbors. Its creation or destruction is dependent on the type of neighbors. This leads to interesting displays, dynamic scenario’s, that are always dynamic since the neighbor’s affect their other neighbors and the effect continues infinitely, sometimes leading to complete destruction or to complete growth.

A group of researchers have tried to use that effect with antibodies and DNA strands. In the biologists’ example, the antibodies are coupled to specific DNA strands. These antibodies upon binding to specific receptors on the cell surface have an effect on the binding of another antibody to the same cell or also the neighboring cell. These effects can cascade and thus the effect of binding of one antibody may encourage or discourage the antibody binding to another cell.

This effect will cascade throughout the tissue and can have impact on therapies especially cancer therapy wherein having an ability to target related cells and not affect normal cells could be very useful for targeted therapy. Obviously, there will be much work that needs to be done: target for each tumor will need to be designed, DNA as a interacting molecule may need revisiting and also much of the design of the antibodies will need to be catered to with specific molecules.

However, this was an interesting article in Nature Biotechnology and worth a look.

Page 1 of 4
© 2017. Usin'Life LLC. All Rights Reserved.