News

Embedded Optical Sensors Make Robotic Hands More Dexterous

Researchers have developed a three-fingered soft robotic hand with embedded, stretchable fiber optic strain sensors. By using fiber optics, the researchers were able to embed 14 strain sensors into each of the fingers in the hand, giving it the ability to determine where its fingertips are in contact, and to detect forces of less than a tenth of a newton.

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Wearable Electronic Health Patches Continuously Monitor the Body

A team of researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin has invented a method for producing inexpensive and high-performing wearable patches that can continuously monitor the body’s vital signs for human health and performance tracking.

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Sensors Detect Corrosion Risk in Concrete Structures in Real Time

Researchers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) have developed a new sensor system that detects quickly and nondestructively the risk of corrosion in the concrete structure of the buildings. The information provided allows engineers to anticipate well in advance any action deemed necessary, while reducing the costs of repair and maintenance.

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Solar-Powered Water Purification System Supports Remote Village

For nearly two years, residents of the remote Mexican village of La Mancalona, most of whom are subsistence farmers, have operated and maintained a solar-powered water purification system engineered by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

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Are video games good for the brain?

This week’s Question: A new study published from the Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences found action video games—which require players to navigate complex 3D settings, account for quick-moving targets, and switch between focused and distributed attention—are most beneficial to cognitive abilities. Another early 2015 study, however, published by the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, showed that while video game players exhibit more efficient visual attention abilities, they are also much more likely to use navigation strategies that rely on the brain's reward system (the caudate nucleus) and not the brain's spatial memory system (the hippocampus). What do you think? Are video games good for the brain? 

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Will telemedicine improve health care delivery?

This week's Question: Telemedicine Services like American Well, a Boston, MA-based service, allow smartphone or Web users to have a video consultation with a physician. According to a July report by investment bank RBC Capital markets, telemedicine technology has the potential to save more than $40 billion annually by cutting nearly two-thirds of unnecessary emergency room visits, and save nearly $20 billion a year by replacing one-third of physician visits. The move toward telemedicine options, like apps and video conferencing, however reduce face-to-face care. What do you think? Will telemedicine improve health care delivery?  

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NASA Tests New Green Propellants for Satellites

To stay in the proper orbit, many satellites have thrusters – small rocket engines – that fire to change altitude or orientation in space. On Earth, where gravity dominates, five pounds of thrust, equivalent to 22 Newtons of force, may seem small, but in space, it doesn’t take much thrust to move a large spacecraft.

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