Technology Tuesday: January 2nd

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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: A fully solar-powered car may hit the road by 2019, a new swallowable pill could help us understand our guts better, Nissan wants your car to be able to read your mind, the first portable prosthetic with a sense of touch is here, and it turns out that AI is better at diagnosing heart disease than cardiologists.


A FULLY SOLAR POWERED CAR MAY HIT THE ROAD BY 2019

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Lightyear One, a car whose ability to use solar power has been thought of as an impossible feat, just won a Climate Change Innovator Award. Designed by the Dutch startup Lightyear, the “car that charges itself” can supposedly drive for months without charging and has a 400 – 800 km range. But is a solar-powered car feasible?

For years, the concept of “solar-powered cars” has loomed over the electric car industry as a hopeful, possible future. But there are many who argue that this concept is not only impractical, it is basically impossible. For instance, a solar roof that was designed to power the Toyota Prius was found to only be useful in combination with a traditional battery charging system and it only added an additional 4 miles to the range — not that impressive. One engineer even calculated the power capacity of a car with a solar roof under the optimal amount of solar radiation, and the results are underwhelming. Engineers measure the rate at which an engine’s work is done in “horsepower” (hp): the car equipped with a solar roof had a horsepower rate of 6.4. For comparison, engineer Tom Lombardo said, “my riding lawnmower has an 18 hp engine.”

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SWALLOWABLE SENSOR COULD TRANSFORM OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE HUMAN GUT

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From anxiety to autism, recent research has unveiled the far-reaching influence that our gut and its inner workings have on our holistic health. The truth seems to be that there is far more complexity to our digestive tract than we usually recognize. Now, a new swallowable sensor could illuminate dynamic systems of the gut that have previously been hidden.

Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, have revealed findings from the first human trials of a pill-sized capsule designed to help doctors detect and diagnose disorders and diseases of the gut. The sensor can withstand the harsh conditions of stomach acid and intestinal enzymes while it captures real-time measurements of gut gases, including hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and oxygen, all while sending the data to a device like a smart phone.

 

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NISSAN’S BRAIN-TO-VEHICLE INTERFACE COULD MAKE DRIVING SAFER BY SCANNING YOUR BRAIN

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Self-driving cars are already driving on our streets, offering a clear sign of the changes coming to the traditional driving experience. But some veteran drivers may be reluctant to give up control of their vehicles to artificial intelligence (AI). To offer a middle ground between traditional driving and self-driving vehicles, automakers have implemented driver-assist features that can enhance a person’s driving experience, like braking when the driver isn’t paying attention, or assisting with parking.

Nissan, however, is proposing something different in that middle ground. The automaker announced at beginning of January 2018 that it is developing a Brain-to-Vehicle (B2V) interface that, if implemented, would increase a driver’s reaction times to make driving safer

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SCIENTISTS UNVEIL THE FIRST PORTABLE PROSTHETIC HAND WITH A SENSE OF TOUCH

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A woman who lost her arm over 20 years ago has received the first portable bionic hand, which through a series of tiny electrodes and sophisticated sensors, has restored her sense of touch.

The technology unites the portable bionic hand with a computer that translates the information coming from the artificial fingers into a language the brain can understand, which it then sends back to the body through the electrodes.

 

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AI CAN DIAGNOSE HEART DISEASE AND LUNG CANCER MORE ACCURATELY THAN DOCTORS

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Artificial intelligence (AI) has already proven useful in the healthcare industry, and now, two newly developed AI diagnostics systems could change how doctors diagnose heart disease and lung cancer.

Cardiologists are very good at their jobs, but they’re not infallible. To determine whether or not something’s wrong with a patient’s heart, a cardiologist will assess the timing of their heartbeat in scans. According to a report by BBC News, 80 percent of the time, their diagnosis of various heart problems is correct, but it’s the remaining 20 percent that shows the process has room for improvement.

 

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