3D Printing? That’s So Last Month!

This technology is inFORM, a new project that can reproduce digital content physically in 3D and which allows a user to interact with an object without being in its presence.

The latest invention, built by students from the Tangible Media Group in the MIT Media Lab, is a computer-operated device that manipulates actuators and linkages to move a set of pins, allowing it to change shape 3-dimensionally, as if it were moving on its own. The system is a “Dynamic Shape Display” that can render 3D content physically, so users can interact with digital information in a tangible way.

Created by Daniel Leithinger and Sean Follmer with the guidance of engineers, software developers, and Professor Hiroshi Ishii, inFORM users can highlight portions of the pin-board and raise them up without actually touching them.

In simpler terms, inFORM can easily connect with the physical world around it, moving objects on a table’s surface with the swipe of a hand, and even mimic the hand’s shape. The concept uses an overhead depth camera to track a users movements, or other 3D objects placed underneath it, which then triggers the pins on the board to move independently in real-time.

Of course there’s a video…!

Researchers said the system has the capability of allowing someone on the other end of a video conference call to have a “strong sense of presence and the ability to interact physically at a distance,” almost as if they were physically there.

“InFORM would allow 3D modellers and designers to prototype their 3D designs physically without 3D printing,” the inventors explain. “The traditional sort of interaction design and device design sort of assumes for a very static way of interacting and this [inFORM] device can change its physical form very quickly and that means that we need to come up with new ways that we interact with technology,” Follmer said.

inFORM contains 900 small motors which control each pin on it. Every pin works to render objects in 3D, and each motor costs anywhere from £15-20.

Sources – Boston Magazine / Memolition


It’s Got You, Under Your Skin…

There is a lot more to this “tattoo” than meets the eye.

Affixed to a patient’s skin, it allows vital data and healthcare information to be monitored remotely, transmitting it directly to the doctor responsible. It is packed with sensors and could prove a flexible, practical and non-invasive solution for post-operation monitoring.

The tattoos were developed by Nanshu Lu, a 2009 Ph.D. graduate of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), who has been recognized for her work in wiring up the human body with electronic tattoos. Electronic tattoos will act as devices that can monitor vital signs like pulse, temperature, vocal vibrations, and brain signals. The tattoos are extremely thin and flexible silicone materials that adhere to the skin. They are so thin that they imitate the texture and elasticity of skin.

Simply, stuck to someone’s neck, it could analyze the vibrations of their vocal cords and transmit simple orders (left, right, start, stop, etc.) to an object or a video console.

Imagine getting hacked…!

FILM NETEXPLO 2011 – VF by netxplorateur

Lu is now an assistant professor in Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Texas, Austin, where her current research involves developing a more advanced balloon catheter, with new types of integrated sensors; perfecting the electronic tattoos; designing unconventional, flexible strain gauges; and exploring new ways to integrate stiff and brittle materials like ceramics into stretchable substrates.

Technology Review – Innovators under 35

Source – EDF pulse

Gel-ly Bones

A “biopen” that allows surgeons to draw layers of healing cells on damaged bones and cartilage is closer to entering clinical trials after its creators handed it over to scientists under Prof. Peter Choong at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, for further refinement.

Developed by researchers from the Australian Research Council Center of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES) at the University of Wollongong in Australia, the pen extrudes cells mixed with a biologically friendly material like seaweed extracts. The mixture is encased in a gel, which can then be painted on in layers. Each layer is cured with an ultraviolet light. The cells are painted onto damaged bone and cartilage sites during surgery and then multiply and grow into nerves, muscles or bone, healing the damaged section. Surgeons already have ways to encourage new growth, but the pen allows them to precisely place cells on the fly.

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“This type of treatment may be suitable for repairing acutely damaged bone and cartilage, for example from sporting or motor vehicle injuries. [The work of the] research team brings together the science of stem cells and polymer chemistry to help surgeons design and personalize solutions for reconstructing bone and joint defects in real time,” said Professor Choong.

The biopen will help build on recent work by ACES researchers where they were able to grow new knee cartilage from stem cells on 3D-printed scaffolds to treat cancers, osteoarthritis and traumatic injury. The device can also be seeded with growth factors or other drugs to assist regrowth and recovery from sporting or motor vehicle injuries.

I hope it’s not just rich football players and idiots doing a ton on the M6 who benefit…

All components in the implantable material are non-toxic and tuned to biodegrade as the cells begin to populate the injured bone area. The design of the device allows it to be easily transported and the surgeon can operate with ease and precision in the operating theatre.

Sources: YouTube / Designboom / AsianScientist

Flat Screen Shopping

The world’s first Virtual Shopping Store has opened in Korea. All the shelves are in fact LCD screens. Users choose their desired items by touching the screen, and checkout at the counter in the end to have all their ordered stuff packed in bags.


Source: intestingengineering

Not for me: am more of a touchy-feely-squeezy-squeezy shopper.
At least I don’t have to have a part-time job at a grocery store every time I shop, checking out and packing my own stuff, as it appears someone will do that for me, yay.

“I’m a Hot Pink Slug, You’re a Dull Brown Slug” *

[It’s] big. [It’s] slimy. And [it’s] … neon pink?! Meet Triboniophorus aff. graeffei, a new species of 8-inch-long (20-centimeter-long) slug that’s found only on one Australian mountain.

Scientists already knew that a bright-pink slug lived on Mount Kaputar, thinking it was a variety of the red triangle slug, a species common along the east coast of Australia. But new research shows that the colorful critter is actually its own species, said Australia’s National Parks and Wildlife Service ranger Michael Murphy.

The pink slug is large for slugs, reaching about eight inches in length
Photograph © Michael Murphy / NPWS

“Recent morphological and genetics work by a researcher working on this slug family—the Athorcophoridae—has indicated the Kaputar slugs are a unique species endemic to Mount Kaputar and the only representative of this family in inland Australia,” said Murphy, who’s been stationed on Mount Kaputar for 20 years.

The pink slug had gone unstudied for so long because Australian slug and snail researchers—known as malacologists—are far outnumbered by their koala-investigating brethren, Murphy said. Their research on the new slug will likely be submitted for publication soon, he added. Meanwhile, though, the Australian government has moved to protect this rosy rarity and other unique species by designating their mountain home in New South Wales as an ”endangered ecological area.”

Tens of millions of years ago, Australia was part of a larger southern continent known as Gondwana, which included Australia, Papua New Guinea, India, and parts of Africa and South America. It was covered in rain forests similar to those of modern-day Papua New Guinea.

Photograph © Michael Murphy / NPWS

A volcanic eruption 17 million years ago on Mount Kaputar kept a small, four-square-mile (ten-square-kilometer) area lush and wet even as much of the rest of Australia turned to desert. This changing environment marooned the plants and animals living on Mount Kaputar from their nearest neighbors for millions of years, making the area a unique haven for species such as the pink slug.

Because the pink slugs live in beds of red eucalyptus leaves, Murphy suspects their color could potentially serve as camouflage, helping the animals blend in to their leafy habitat. “However, [the slugs] also spend a lot of their time high on tree trunks nowhere near fallen leaves, so it is possible that the color is just a quirk of evolution. I think if you are isolated on a remote mountaintop, you can pretty much be whatever color you like,” Murphy noted, adding that the slugs play important roles in their ecosystems—for example, by recycling plant matter.

“I’m a big believer in invertebrates. People tend to focus on the cute and cuddly bird and mammal species like koalas. But these little behind-the-scenes invertebrates really drive whole ecosystems,” Murphy told the Australian Broadcasting Service. Besides the pink slug, researchers have also identified several other invertebrate species that are unique to Mount Kaputar, such as the Kaputar hairy snail and the Kaputar cannibal snail.

These finds, combined with Mount Kaputar’s uniqueness and the growing threat from global warming—temperatures just a degree or two warmer would destroy Kaputar’s flora and fauna—prompted the Australian government’s proposal to preserve Kaputar. “They are a unique and colorful part of our natural heritage, and we should do everything we can to avoid causing their extinction,” Murphy said.

Source: Nat Geo
* Showing my age


A group of students at the Royal College of Art in London have created two masks that can give you superhuman sight and hearing.

The first prototype covers the wearer’s ears, mouth and nose and uses a directional microphone to give him the ability to hear an isolated sound in a noisy environment. For example, you could target a person in a crowd and clearly hear his words without the surrounding noise.

The other prototype is worn over one’s eyes. A camera captures video and sends it to a computer, which can apply a set of effects to it in real-time and send it back to the wearer. One can, for example, use it to see movement patterns, similar to the effects of long-exposure photography.

The team behind project Eidos — Tim Bouckley, Millie Clive-Smith, Mi Eun Kim and Yuta Sugawara — see many possible applications of this technology. For example, one could use the visual mask it to analyse movement and technique in sports. In another example, concert-goers could use the hearing mask to focus on a certain performer at a concert.

“We are used to controlling the world around us to find the settings that suit us best. But while technology advances to aid this, our physical bodies remain the same. What if we had the same control over our senses? If we could adjust them in real time, what experiences would this make possible?’ they ask.