Health, Medicine, & Biotechnology

Predicting Heart Age Using Electrocardiography

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Knowledge of a patient’s cardiac age, or “heart age,” could prove useful to both patients and physicians for encouraging lifestyle changes that are potentially beneficial for cardiovascular health. This may be particularly true for patients who exhibit symptoms, but who test negative for cardiac pathology.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Data Acquisition


Prediction of Visual Acuity from Wavefront Aberrations

This automated vision test is accurate, simple, and fast. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Visual acuity (clearness of vision) usually is measured by an eye doctor using an eye chart. It measures the smallest letters that can be reliably identified by the patient at a specified distance. The traditional test requires the patient to look and report which letters they see.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP


Mobility Augmentation System Using Switchable Spring Mechanisms

This system could be used by disabled persons and individuals in rehabilitation who require prosthetics. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The disclosed device provides key elements to enabling compact exercise machines that overcome many of the disadvantages of the current spacesuit, as well as medical prosthetics and exoskeletons. The mechanism is based on switchable, curved, leaf, and torsion spring mechanisms that support the user joints and at the contact with the ground to enable high-speed, low-loss locomotion. The springs are primed with an actuator to counteract losses and recycle the user’s elastic energy in the locomotion. The mechanism is designed to be switchable and to allow for removing the springs from the structure for fine control. Adjustable hard-stops are embedded into each joint to prevent overextension and optimize the performance at each gait. The spring mechanisms are made from carbon fiber composites to reduce the weight of the system. The components of this mechanism can be structurally connected to each other via a mechanical clutch to form a symmetric lower-extremity system with a passive spring mechanism to reduce the requirement of the joints to dampen the impact forces and recycle some of the energy of walking and running.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP


Pulley Mechanism Improves Hand Function After Surgery

Engineers at Oregon State University have developed and successfully demonstrated a simple pulley mechanism to improve hand function after surgery. The device is one of the first instruments ever created that could improve the transmission of mechanical forces and movement while implanted inside the body.

Posted in: News, Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy


Imaging System Obtains More Color Information than Human Eye

Researchers at the University of Granada have designed a new imaging system capable of obtaining up to twelve times more color information than the human eye and conventional cameras, which implies a total of 36 color channels. The important scientific development will facilitate the easy capture of multispectral images in real time.The technology could be used in the not-too-distant future to create new assisted vehicle driving systems, to identify counterfeit bills and documents, or to obtain more accurate medical images than those provided by current options.The scientists, from the Color Imaging Lab group at the Optics Department, University of Granada, have designed the new system using a new generation of sensors, in combination with a matrix of multispectral filters to improve their performance.Transverse Field Detectors (TFDs) extract the full color information from each pixel in the image without the need for a layer of color filter on them.In order to do so, the TFDs take advantage of a physical phenomenon by virtue of which each photon penetrates at a different depth depending on its wavelength, i.e., its color. In this way, by collecting these photons at different depths on the silice surface of the sensor, the different channels of color can be separated.SourceAlso: Learn about Imaging Space System Architectures.

Posted in: News, Cameras, Detectors, Sensors


New Material Steals and Stores Oxygen from Air

Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark have synthesized crystalline materials that can bind and store oxygen in high concentrations.The stored oxygen can be released again when and where it is needed.Depending on the atmospheric oxygen content, temperature, or pressure, it takes seconds, minutes, hours, or days for the substance to absorb oxygen from its surroundings. Different versions of the substance can bind oxygen at different speeds. With this complexity, it becomes possible to produce devices that release and/or absorb oxygen under different circumstances — for example, a mask containing layers of these materials in the correct sequence might actively supply a person with oxygen directly from the air without the help of pumps or high pressure equipment."This could be valuable for lung patients who today must carry heavy oxygen tanks with them. But also divers may one day be able to leave the oxygen tanks at home and instead get oxygen from this material as it 'filters' and concentrates oxygen from surrounding air or water," said Christine McKenzie, professor at the University of Southern Denmark. "A few grains contain enough oxygen for one breath, and as the material can absorb oxygen from the water around the diver and supply the diver with it, the diver will not need to bring more than these few grains."SourceAlso: Read other Materials tech briefs.

Posted in: News


3D Printer That Could Build a Home in 24 Hours Wins Global Design Competition

New York, NY – Contour Crafting, a computerized construction method that rapidly 3D prints large-scale structures directly from architectural CAD models, has been awarded the grand prize of $20,000 in the 2014 "Create the Future" Design Contest. Contour Crafting automates the construction of whole structures and radically reduces the time and cost of construction. The large-scale 3D printing technology is revolutionary to the construction industry and could lead to affordable building of high-quality, low-income housing; the rapid construction of emergency shelters; and on-demand housing in response to disasters. NASA is looking at the technology for building moon and Mars bases. Behrokh Khoshnevis, a professor at University of Southern California, who invented Contour Crafting, views this invention as a proven concept. “Bringing 3D printing to construction is bringing a concept to a proven application. For many years, building has been done in layers – concrete foundation blocks, brick laying, structural framing, etc.” “I am very happy to receive this award and find it to be very timely as I am in the process of fund raising and I think this recognition will help me greatly in furthering the project,” said Khoshnevis. Contour Crafting was among the 1,074 new product ideas submitted in the 12th annual design contest, which was established in 2002 to recognize and reward engineering innovations that benefit humanity, the environment, and the economy. This year’s design contest was co-sponsored by COMSOL ( and Mouser Electronics ( Analog Devices and Intel were supporting sponsors. In addition to the grand prize of $20,000, first-place winners (of Hewlett-Packard workstations) were named in seven categories: *Aerospace & Defense: The Polariton Interferometer - a Novel Inertial Navigation System Frederick Moxley A stealth navigation system that provides precise course-plotting while operating independently from GPS. *Automotive/Transportation: Continuously Variable Displacement Engine Steve Arnold A continuously variable stroke engine that operates at 30% better fuel efficiency than conventional thick stroke engine designs. *Consumer Products: NanoFab a Box! Jonathan Moritz (Team Leader) An educational kit that brings nanomanufacturing out of the cleanroom and into the classroom. *Electronics: A Paradigm Shift for SMT Electronics Jim Hester (Team Leader) Micro-coil springs that provide flexible electrical interconnections for integrated circuit packages, preventing connection breaks due to heat and vibration. *Machinery/Automation/Robotics  – sponsored by Maplesoft: Automatic Eye Finder & Tracking System Rikki Razdan (Team Leader) Real-time point-of-gaze eye tracking system that allows users to control computer input through "Look and Click" applications.  *Medical: HemeChip for Early Diagnosis of Sickle Cell Disease Yunus Alapan (Team Leader) A biochip that can rapidly, easily, and conclusively identify the hemoglobin type in blood to diagnose Sickle Cell Disease in newborns. *Sustainable Technologies: Ecovent Systems - Making Every Room the Right Temperature Dipul Patel (Team Leader) A system of wireless vents and sensors that makes any forced air heating and cooling system smarter by directing conditioned air where it’s needed most. Finalists were selected by senior editors at Tech Briefs Media Group and judged by an independent panel of design engineers. Visitors to the contest Web site could vote on entries, with the 10 most popular designs awarded a Sphero mobile game system by Orbotix. For more information, visit          

Posted in: News, Electronic Components, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling, Diagnostics, Machinery & Automation, Computer-Aided Design (CAD)


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