Technology Tuesday: April 25

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Welcome to Technology Tuesday! Every week The Job Shop Blog will bring you our 5 top science and technology news stories from around the web.

This week: NASA and the ESA announce a joint plan to explore Europa, your smartphone could be reading your mind in just 5 years, new “smart bandages” that use 5G to monitor your health, plastic eating worms, and Apple gets approval to test its autonomous cars on open roads.


NASA and ESA Going to Europa Together to Look for Life

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Recent discoveries in space have made the search for life beyond Earth easier and more difficult at the same time. As more exoplanets and moons with the potential to support extraterrestrial life turn up, the probability of finding one that actually does increases. However, sending missions to explore all these potentially inhabited worlds has also become more difficult.

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have come up with a rather practical solution: The two space agencies will pool their resources for one of these exploration missions. The target is Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, and it is considered one of the best candidates for alien life.

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A Mind Reading App

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A new system developed by a team of researchers from Japan’s Toyohashi University of Technology can read people’s minds using brainwaves.

To test the technology, participants in a study of the system were asked to say numbers out loud and used a robot to guess what they said in real time, based on its readings of an electroencephalogram (EEG) brain scan. The device was able to achieve a 90 percent accuracy rate in recognizing numbers from zero to nine and a 61 percent accuracy rate for deciphering single syllables in Japanese.

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Futuristic “Smart Bandages” Track Your Health

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Injury-prone people, rejoice! A new technology could make it so you never need to redo your bandages again. The tech will use real-time 5G technology that can monitor treatment and track patient activity levels.

The work comes from Swansea University’s Institute of Life Science. The university has made a £1.3 billion-dollar deal to create a 5G test hub for digital innovation. The new bandages will allow for customized treatment due to their nano-technology sensors. 5G wireless data will be used to instantly transmit information about your health to your doctor, thereby allowing physicians to provide customized health care recommendations.

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Plastic Eating Caterpillars Could End Plastic Pollution

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Scientists have discovered that wax worms can eat and biodegrade polyethylene, the rugged, common plastic used to make the shopping bags that are currently glutting landfill sites. The discovery was serendipitous. In an attempt to remove the pesky parasites from her honeycombs, an amateur beekeeper placed the worms into shopping bags, only to find that they’d begun to eat their way out.

Fortunately, that amateur beekeeper is a professional scientist: Federica Bertocchini of the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria (IBBTEC) in Spain.

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Apple Is Approved For Street Testing Autonomous Cars

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Though known mostly for their sleek and efficient phones and computers, Apple has decided to get into the autonomous vehicle game. In fact, just this past Friday, the company was granted an official test permit by the California Department of Motor Vehicles that allows them to test autonomous driving tech in three 2015 Lexus RX 450h hybrid vehicles on California roads.
Apple’s autonomous vehicle project, Project Titan, has remained somewhat of a mystery. In fact, the company hasn’t even publicly recognized its existence yet. While the project is rumored to have started last year, the company really has no choice but to kick it up a notch in 2017 — with Tesla (of course), Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti, and BMW all working on autonomous driving systems, the competition is steep.

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Know any interesting stories we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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