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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. Size-wise, the MIT engineers have created glucose-powered fuel cells that are as large as 64x64mm (2.5in), or as small as just a few millimeters. This discovery is exciting for two main reasons: a) The fuel cell is completely synthetic, and b) they can be produced using low-tech, decades-old chip fabrication processes. Ultimately, this fuel cell will hopefully be used to power implanted, ultra-low-power devices that sit inside your skull or spinal cord. Read more at MIT or download the paper at PLoS ONE (non-paywalled!) Related:  Future Of...evolving interfaces

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.

Cover Charge: New Spray-On Battery Could Convert Any Object into an Electricity Storage Device Perhaps someday you'll need to go to the store because you ran out of cathode paint. A team of researchers has just announced a new paint-on battery design. The technique could change the way batteries are produced and eliminate restrictions on the surfaces used for energy storage. The paint-on battery, like all lithium ion batteries, consists of five layers: a positive current collector, a cathode that attracts positively charged ions, an ion-conducting separator, an anode to attract negative ions, and a negative current collector. Neelam Singh, a member of the team of materials scientists and chemists from Rice University in Houston and Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium and lead author of the paper, says, "It was really exciting to find out. Singh says her team's work is filling a need in the socially critical field of energy storage for new battery designs. But for now paint-on batteries are not quite ready to hit the shelves at your local hardware store.

Paralyzed woman controls robotic arm, sips coffee Performing even a simple movement is a rather complicated process. First, the brain has to signal its intent to perform an action, which then gets translated into the specific motions that are required to achieve that intention. Those motions require a series of muscle contractions; the signals for these need to be sent out of the brain, through the spinal cord, and to the appropriate destination. For most people who suffer from paralysis, it's really these later steps that are affected—most of the setup can still go on in the brain, but damage keeps the signals from making their way to the muscles. This may sound like science fiction, but significant progress has been made in the area. Now, we've taken the next big step. The two individuals involved were implanted with the same device (termed "BrainGate") that had been used in the earlier experiments in which some individuals controlled a cursor. The success rates weren't enormous, but these experiments were really pretty limited.

Damn Interesting • A collection of legitimately fascinating information culled from the past, present, and anticipated future. This Gizmo Lets You Draw A UI On Paper, Then Turns It Into A Touch Screen You know those huge multichannel mixers--the massive boards that audio engineers manage during concerts to control everything from sound to lights? It’s the sort of highly specialized hardware that the average person would never come into contact with, because why would they? But what if you could just draw it? That’s the idea behind the SketchSynth, by Carnegie Mellon student Billy Keyes. It allows you to draw your own specialized piece of sound hardware--in this case, a MIDI board--on any random piece of paper. “Ever since I was little, I’ve been fascinated by control panels,” Keyes explains on his blog. His approach is a compromise between boundless childhood imagination and human factors of practicality: He designed three distinct controls that anyone could draw. A simple webcam picks up the shapes and sends them to a computer, then, a projector actually lays extra data on top of the drawing, like virtual nubs to control the sliders. [Hat tip: Creative Applications]

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.) BCIs are generally used in a medical setting with very expensive equipment, but in the last few years cheaper, commercial offerings have emerged. For $200-300, you can buy an Emotiv (pictured above) or Neurosky BCI, go through a short training process, and begin mind controlling your computer.

Why wood pulp is world's new wonder material - tech - 23 August 2012 THE hottest new material in town is light, strong and conducts electricity. What's more, it's been around a long, long time. Nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC), which is produced by processing wood pulp, is being hailed as the latest wonder material. To ramp up production, the US opened its first NCC factory in Madison, Wisconsin, on 26 July, marking the rise of what the US National Science Foundation predicts will become a $600 billion industry by 2020. So why all the fuss? "It is the natural, renewable version of a carbon nanotube at a fraction of the price," says Jeff Youngblood of Purdue University's NanoForestry Institute in West Lafayette, Indiana. The $1.7 million factory, which is owned by the US Forest Service, will produce two types of NCC: crystals and fibrils. Production of NCC starts with "purified" wood, which has had compounds such as lignin and hemicellulose removed. "The beauty of this material is that it is so abundant we don't have to make it," says Youngblood.

CAVE a high-tech research, education tool published in 2002 Advanced microscope technology allows you to cells and molecules in 3-D by pressing your eye to a lens or looking at the view on a computer screen. CAVE technology allows you to create a room-size projection and walk around inside of a cell. Virginia Tech’s University Visualization and Animation Group helps researchers use the CAVE — which stands for Computer Augmented Virtual Environment. VT-CAVE is a multidisciplinary computer graphic visualization research and educational facility that is part of the new ACITC. When objects become extremely large and complex, a virtual reality CAVE can be used to literally walk inside of these structures. Many departments on campus are using the CAVE for both education and research projects. — the Virtual Jamestown project — the USDA project, “Putting Bugs in a CAVE Room,” entomology — the “Virtual Dandelion” project, plant pathology Remote site CAVE labs have been created in architecture, interior design, and materials science. Crumbs?

14 Stories That Prove Animals Have Souls Doors Unlock With Smartphone Vibrations It gives the term skeleton key a whole new meaning: a prototype system from AT&T Labs that beams a unique vibration through a user’s bones to be picked up by a receiver in a door handle, automatically unlocking the door at the touch of the handle. Using piezoelectric transducers, the system could someday be embedded in smartphones or wristwatches to create doors that automatically unlock when the right person touches them and stay firmly dead-bolted when anyone else tries to gain entry. In the future, in other words, you are your own set of keys. According to InnovationNewsDaily, the system works via frequencies that humans can’t feel but could hear in a very quiet room. These acoustic signals travel from one piezoelectric transducer through human bones much the way sound waves vibrate through the skull and inner ear to enable our sense of hearing. The vibration travels straight through the body including through the hand, which can impart the signal to anything it touches.

Focused ultrasound modulates region-specific brai... [Neuroimage. 2011 LG produces the first flexible cable-type lithium-ion battery LG Chem, a member of the LG conglomerate/chaebol and one of the largest chemical companies in the world, has devised a cable-type lithium-ion battery that’s just a few millimeters in diameter, and is flexible enough to be tied in knots, worn as a bracelet, or woven into textiles. The underlying chemistry of the cable-type battery is the same as the lithium-ion battery in your smartphone or laptop — there’s an anode, a lithium cobalt oxide (LCO) cathode, an electrolyte — but instead of being laminated together in layers, they’re twisted into a hollow, flexible, spring-like helix. LG Chem’s battery starts with thin strands of copper wire, which are coated with a nickel-tin (Ni-Sn) alloy to create the anode. These strands are twisted into a yarn, and then wrapped tightly around a 1.5mm-diameter rod. The rod is removed, leaving a strong spring. If you removed batteries from the equation, new form factors would explode onto the market.

Play World of Warcraft... With Your Mind! World of Warcraft may be slowly losing players, but it's gaining new ways to play the game -- specifically, thanks to G.Tec Medical Engineering in Austria, you will soon be able to play WoW with your mind: Video explains in detail how the process works, but if you're impatient, the Warcraft action starts at around 1:50. According to G.Tec's Armin Schnürer, this system, called intendiX®SOCI (for Screen Overlay Control Interface), will be commercially available later this year. And while this video demo only shows user movement in Warcraft (forward/backward/left/right), Armin tells me it's feasible to add other commands. From a smartass perspective, this could be a way for lazy gamers to play WoW without even having to move. From an utterly serious angle, however, this could be a great way for the disabled to play with their friends and loved ones, even when they have no physical ability to do so. Tweet

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