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MIT creates glucose fuel cell to power implanted brain-computer interfaces

MIT creates glucose fuel cell to power implanted brain-computer interfaces
Neuroengineers at MIT have created a implantable fuel cell that generates electricity from the glucose present in the cerebrospinal fluid that flows around your brain and spinal cord. In theory, this fuel cell could eventually drive low-power sensors and computers that decode your brain activity to interface with prosthetic limbs. The glucose-powered fuel cell is crafted out of silicon and platinum, using standard semiconductor fabrication processes. The platinum acts as a catalyst, stripping electrons from glucose molecules, similar to how aerobic animal cells (such as our own) strip electrons from glucose with enzymes and oxygen. The glucose fuel cell products hundreds of microwatts (i.e. tenths of a milliwatt), which is a surprisingly large amount — it’s comparable to the solar cell on a calculator, for example. This should be more than enough power to drive complex computers — or perhaps more interestingly, trigger clusters of neurons in the brain.

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The first flexible, fiber-optic solar cell that can be woven into clothes An international team of engineers, physicists, and chemists have created the first fiber-optic solar cell. These fibers are thinner than human hair, flexible, and yet they produce electricity, just like a normal solar cell. The US military is already interested in weaving these threads into clothing, to provide a wearable power source for soldiers. In essence, the research team started with optical fibers made from glass — and then, using high-pressure chemical vapor deposition, injected n-, i-, and p-type silicon into the fiber, turning it into a solar cell. Functionally, these silicon-doped fiber-optic threads are identical to conventional solar cells, generating electricity from the photovoltaic effect.

Smartwatches shouldn't look like watches - Jul. 3, 2013 Sony's Smartwatch 2 has a fatal flaw: It still looks like a watch. NEW YORK (CNNMoney) This year's iteration boasts a waterproof housing, a few extra pixels in a slightly larger display, and NFC (near-field communication) functionality, but the basic concept is unchanged from the last generation. Sony (SNE) expects us to interact with its smartwatches as though they were dumbed-down smartphones. It's an idea that will immediately resonate with the masses. It triggers those childhood sci-fi fantasies.

A bionic prosthetic eye that speaks the language of your brain On the grand scale of things, we know so very little about the brain. Our thick-headedness isn’t quite cosmological in scale — we really do know almost nothing about the universe beyond Earth — but, when it comes down to it, the brain is virtually a black box. We know that stimuli goes in, usually through one of our senses, and motor neurons come out, but that’s about it. One thing you can do with a black box, however, is derive some semblance of a working model through brute force testing. Take prosthetic arms, for example: We don’t have a clue about the calculations that occur in the brain to trigger arm muscle motor neurons, but that doesn’t stop us from slapping some electrodes onto a subject’s bicep muscles and measuring the electric pulses that occur when you tell him to “think about moving your arm.” Nirenberg did this until she produced mathematical equations that, with startling accuracy, encode images into neuron pulses that can be understood by an animal brain.

Super-fine sound beam could one day be an invisible scalpel ANN ARBOR—A carbon-nanotube-coated lens that converts light to sound can focus high-pressure sound waves to finer points than ever before. The University of Michigan engineering researchers who developed the new therapeutic ultrasound approach say it could lead to an invisible knife for noninvasive surgery. Today's ultrasound technology enables far more than glimpses into the womb. Doctors routinely use focused sound waves to blast apart kidney stones and prostate tumors, for example. The tools work primarily by focusing sound waves tightly enough to generate heat, says Jay Guo, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science, mechanical engineering, and macromolecular science and engineering. Guo is a co-author of a paper on the new technique published in the current issue of Nature's journal Scientific Reports.

The company that powers Google Hangouts wants to radically disrupt all business videoconferencing Video is the new audio. With more emotion, more nuance, and more effective real-time communication, videoconferencing is growing at a 20 percent annual rate in business. But that’s not fast enough for Vidyo, the company that Google tapped for the technology behind Google+ Hangouts. Hackers backdoor the human brain, successfully extract sensitive data With a chilling hint of the not-so-distant future, researchers at the Usenix Security conference have demonstrated a zero-day vulnerability in your brain. Using a commercial off-the-shelf brain-computer interface, the researchers have shown that it’s possible to hack your brain, forcing you to reveal information that you’d rather keep secret. As we’ve covered in the past, a brain-computer interface is a two-part device: There’s the hardware — which is usually a headset (an EEG; an electroencephalograph) with sensors that rest on your scalp — and software, which processes your brain activity and tries to work out what you’re trying to do (turn left, double click, open box, etc.)

First Bionic Eye Sees Light of Day in U.S. After years of research, the first bionic eye has seen the light of day in the United States, giving hope to the blind around the world. Developed by Second Sight Medical Products, the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System has helped more than 60 people recover partial sight, with some experiencing better results than others. Consisting of 60 electrodes implanted in the retina and glasses fitted with a special mini camera, Argus II has already won the approval of European regulators. The US Food and Drug Administration is soon expected to follow suit, making this bionic eye the world's first to become widely available. PHOTOS: Mechanimals: Animals Fitted With Prosthetics

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Apple Patents Rotary iPhone Follow Techdirt Techdirt's Daily Email Newsletter A word from our sponsors... Essential Reading Techdirt Reading List DNA Stores MLK's Speech, Shakespeare's Sonnets Next, they sent the genetic instruction to the biological lab Agilent Technologies in California. Agilent constructed pieced together DNA strands made of the bases, according to Goldman and Birney's instructions. Then, the lab shipped the scientists a tiny vial. The vial contained a long string of DNA encoded with the sonnets, the speech, the photo and the research paper. 3D headset space getting crowded Capitalizing on the excitement generated by the Oculus Rift, several other companies, both big and small, are jumping into the virtual reality headset market. There’s a product that projects 3D images onto a special screen in front of you, one that projects 3D virtual reality right into your eyeballs, and one that allows you to slide a smartphone you already own into a head mount creating a kind of Oculus-on-the-cheap. With cheap and fast motion sensors, high-resolution displays, and fast processors, we may finally have reached the beginning of the virtual reality revolution. Here are the big players in this space. Oculus Rift This is the grand-daddy of them all, which launched a movement — and millions of YouTube video views.

Rollerphone – Concept Braclet Phone by Alexey Chugunnikov Super Sexy Roll Say hello to the Rollerphone concept! At first glance it’s merely a wrist band that projects time, much like the Alessi Concept we saw earlier, but then you realize it’s actually a phone with a retractable transparent screen at the base. How high-tech! How to turn living cells into computers Ref. 1 Synthetic DNA can perform logic operations such as “NAND” and give out the answer by lighting up the cell with green fluorescent protein, or GFP. Synthetic biologists have developed DNA modules that perform logic operations in living cells. These ‘genetic circuits’ could be used to track key moments in a cell’s life or, at the flick of a chemical switch, change a cell’s fate, the researchers say. I tried the Rift, and I liked it Oculus Rift inventor Palmer Luckey was in Cambridge Saturday, at the Microsoft NERD Center, for a recruitment event and mini virtual reality conference. If you couldn’t make it, you missed three different tracks of presentations, running from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., plus demos of several Oculus Rift games. Most of the focus of the event was on gaming, and probably the majority of those in attendance were in the gaming industry, or studying a related field. But there was also some discussion of the use of virtual reality for training, education, business, and other serious applications. And, of course, for virtual social worlds like Second Life and OpenSim.