Airwriting the screen shows the tracking of Christoph Amma's hand gestures, captured by the wristband image

Airwriting: the screen shows the tracking of Christoph Amma’s hand gestures, captured by the wristband. Photo: Markus Breig, KIT

The days of reaching for a notepad, phone or tablet in the middle of the night to scrawl down a note to yourself might soon be over thanks to a system that translates what you write in the air into editable text.

Called Airwriting, it was developed at Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and puts sensors that ‘read’ handwriting gestures into a wearable wristband.

“We envision it being a perfect complement for speech and gesture recognition in future wearable computer systems,” said lead developer Christoph Amma, of KIT’s Cognitive Systems Lab.

It works using similar technology already in smartphones such as acceleration sensors and gyroscopes. They plot an accurate and changing picture of where your hand is in space and report back to a database that contains a vocabulary.

Previous approaches to arrive at editable text used single gesture recognition, but Airwriting stores a statistical model of the characteristic signal pattern for every letter of the alphabet. The system promises a person-independent word error rate of 11 per cent and a person-dependent rate (where it learns your particular writing style) of only 3 per cent.

Originally encased in a glove, Airwriting was the recipient of a Google Faculty Research Award worth US$81,000 in early 2013. The technology has since been reduced in size and now fits into a single wristband, positioning it comfortably into the burgeoning wearables sector.

Currently the system processes movements at approximately .83 seconds per character, but faster processing and smaller devices promise performance gains, the researchers said.

It’s conceivable Airwriting could be packed into a smart watch or ring, the vocabulary greatly expanded by accessing machine learning technologies that access and process language remotely, in the cloud.

If successful, Airwriting could be jumping on what’s shaping up to be a very lucrative gravy train in which global names have invested heavily.

Samsung took an early lead with its Gear line of smart watches which connect to an Android smartphone, while Google has had some success in working with developers to come up with applications for its wearable specs, Google Glass.

Apple is widely expected to be launching the so-called ‘iWatch’ – a wearable device many think will be the company’s first challenge to Gear, Google Glass and fitness bands like Jawbone and Fit.

Deloitte predicts 10 million wearable devices will be sold this year, while Juniper Research predicts the industry will be worth $19 billion by 2018.

A system to write in the air was suggested back in 2013, when a paper presented to an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers conference by the South China University of Technology proposed a system based on Microsoft’s gesture control camera system Kinect.

But Airwriting needs no external sensor, and Amma says the system also circumvents the problems that can affect speech input.

“It’s unaffected by environment noise and bystanders aren’t distracted – nor can they eavesdrop on what was said.”

Airwriting gained interest at CeBIT Germany 2014 and Amma said his team was talking with several companies from different sectors about further research and applications.

Henry Sapiecha

Living tissue emerges from 3D printer image

This was reposted from The Txchnologist.

Harvard bioengineers say they have taken a big step toward using 3-D printers to make living tissue. They’ve made a machine with multiple printer heads that each extrudes a different biological building block to make complex tissue and blood vessels.

Their work represents a significant advance toward producing living medical models upon which drugs could be tested for safety and effectiveness.

It also advances the ball in the direction of an even bigger goal. Such a machine and the techniques being refined by researchers offer a glimpse of the early steps in a sci-fi healthcare scenario: One day surgeons might feed detailed CT scans of human body parts into a 3-D printer, manipulate them with design software, and produce healthy replacements for diseased or injured tissues or organs.

embedding 3D vascular networks.image

The Wyss team designed a printer that can precisely print multiple materials in 3D to create intricate patterns. Then they addressed a challenge in tissue engineering: embedding 3D vascular networks.

“This is the foundational step toward creating 3-D living tissue,” said Jennifer Lewis, senior author of the study published Feb. 18 in the journal Advanced Materials, in a university release.

The work, performed at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, allows engineers to embed vascular networks into 3-D printed cellular agglomerations. These tiny vessels are critical to increasing the size of synthesized tissues because they provide a path for nutrients in and wastes out of cells laid down deep inside the printed products. Such networks mimic those found in natural tissues.

To make the tissue construct, Lewis’s team produced three “bio-inks” that are laid down by separate printer heads. One ink contains extracellular matrix, a complex mixture of water, proteins and carbohydrates that connects individual cells together to form tissues. Another contains extracellular matrix and living cells. A third used to make the vessels unusually melts as it cools so that researchers could chill the sample and suck out the ink to leave behind hollow tubes.

Lewis and her team can then seed the hollow tubes with endothelial cells, which grow into blood-vessel lining.

“fugitive” ink that can easily be printed image

The team developed a “fugitive” ink that can easily be printed, then suctioned off to create open microchannels that can then be populated with blood-vessel-lining cells to allow blood to flow.

“Tissue engineers have been waiting for a method like this,” said the Wyss Institute’s Dr. Don Ingber. “The ability to form functional vascular networks in 3D tissues before they are implanted not only enables thicker tissues to be formed, it also raises the possibility of surgically connecting these networks to the natural vasculature to promote immediate perfusion of the implanted tissue, which should greatly increase their engraftment and survival.”

5_Figure 4_WEAVE Structure_5

Using their custom-built printer, the fugitive ink for the vasculature, and other biological inks containing extracellular matrix and human cells, the researchers printed a 3-D tissue construct.

All Images: Gifs made from Vimeo movies of the Wyss Institute printing process. Courtesy Wyss Institute/Harvard.

Henry Sapiecha


An international research team led by Professor Takao Someya of the University of Tokyo has manufactured extremely thin (2 μm) and light (3 g/m2) soft organic transistor integrated circuits (ICs) on ultra-thin polymeric films. The research team developed a novel technique to form a high-quality 19-nm-thick insulating layer on the rough surface of the 1.2-μm-thick polymeric film. The electrical properties and mechanical performance of the flexible ICs were practically unchanged (no degradation was seen) even when squeezed to a bending radius of 5 μm, dipped in physiological saline, or stretched to up to twice their original size. A major application of this flexible IC and touch sensor system is medical monitoring. “This can be attached to all sorts of surfaces and does not limit the movement of the person wearing it,” says Someya.

Watch video here >>


Henry Sapiecha



Scientists in Australia are using diamonds to develop one of the world’s most advanced bionic eyes.

Nine News reports that Australian scientists are using artificial diamonds to coat a high acuity 256-electrode prototype in order to better enhance its performance.
TNS Diamonds and Watches Inc.

The bionic eye is encased in a diamond box which prevents moisture from infiltrating the device as well as harmful materials from contaminating the user’s body.

Dr Hamish Meffin of research center NICTA says that diamond is the ideal encapsulation material for the bionic device because of its durability and lack of chemical reactivity, which make it unlikely to trigger an adverse reaction in patients.

The 256-electrode device is the prototype for a far more sophisticated 1024-electrode version which will enable users to see via the connection of the electrodes to a minute three-by-three millimeter electronic chip inserted into the device.

Auzform - Thoroughbred Ratings For Both Australian & New Zealand Races

The prototype is being developed by Bionic Vision Australia and will undergo safety tests over the next year.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


At the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Dr. Anthony Atala’s lab is the largest in the world “manufacturing” body parts. We’re not talking about prosthetics here, and not robotics – this is growing new, living organs – and they are yours – made up of identical tissue found in the rest of your body. Growing a finger from the ground up: layering cartilage, bone, then muscle. A beating, engineered heart valve that’s learning how to pump blood before it’s implanted. It’s regenerative medicine and the goal is to help the tens of thousands of people worldwide waiting for organ transplants. In Pittsburgh, Dr. Steven Badylak has discovered a compound that tricks the body into repairing itself, much like the body knows how to do when it’s in the womb. The U.S. military has invested $250 million in regenerative research aimed at helping soldiers with severe battle injuries, regrowing muscle and skin for burn injuries, as well as transplant technology for lost limbs.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Personal sensors creating “civilian scientists”

The way it is presently, most scientific data must be gathered by scientists, who have to go out in the field and set up sensors or other data recording devices. Within five years, however, a lot of that data could be gathered and transmitted by sensors in our phones, cars, wallets, computers, or just about anything else that is subjected to the real world. Such sensors could be used to create massive data groups used for everything from fighting global warming to tracking invasive species. IBM also sees custom scientific smartphone apps playing a part in “citizen science,” and has already launched an application called Creek Watch, that allows us citizens to update the local water authority on creek conditions.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Brain scans could steer career choices

IRVINE, Calif. (UPI) — Your talents and abilities could someday be revealed through a brain scan, possibly guiding your career choices, U.S. scientists say.

Neuroscientists at the University of California, Irvine, scanned 6,000 volunteers in an effort to build a brain “map” that could match particular areas to particular skills and knowledge, The Daily Telegraph reported Thursday.

While being scanned, volunteers performed cognitive tests to see if there was a connection between brain and aptitude, the newspaper said.

Researchers said the amount of gray matter, areas of the brain used for computations, and white matter, used for communication, and where they were positioned seemed to suggest how good someone would be at a number of tasks including arithmetic, learning and remembering facts and figures.

The results, though preliminary, suggest brain scans could eventually be used to help a person consider a career path, psychologist Professor Richard Haier said.

“A person’s pattern of cognitive strengths and weaknesses is related to their brain structure, so there is a possibility that brain scans could provide unique information that would be helpful for vocational choice,” he said.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Video on mind controlled prosthethic arm

Dark Chocolate Lowers Blood

Pressure, Research Finds

Science (June 28, 2010) — For people with hypertension, eating dark chocolate can significantly reduce blood pressure. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Medicine combined the results of 15 studies into the effects of flavanols, the compounds in chocolate which cause dilation of blood vessels, on blood pressure.

Dr Karin Ried worked with a team of researchers from the University of Adelaide, Australia, to conduct the analysis. She said, “Flavanols have been shown to increase the formation of endothelial nitric oxide, which promotes vasodilation and consequently may lower blood pressure. There have, however, been conflicting results as to the real-life effects of eating chocolate. We’ve found that consumption can significantly, albeit modestly, reduce blood pressure for people with high blood pressure but not for people with normal blood pressure.”

The pressure reduction seen in the combined results for people with hypertension, 5mm Hg systolic, may be clinically relevant — it is comparable to the known effects of 30 daily minutes of physical activity (4-9mm Hg) and could theoretically reduce the risk of a cardiovascular event by about 20% over five years.

The researchers are cautious, however, “The practicability of chocolate or cocoa drinks as long-term treatment is questionable,” said Dr Ried.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha

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‘Computer Viruses gone to your head?’

Science (May 26, 2010) — A scientist at the University of Reading has become the first person in the world to be infected by a computer virus.

Dr Mark Gasson, from the School of Systems Engineering, contaminated a computer chip which had been inserted into his hand as part of research into human enhancement and the potential risks of implantable devices.

These results could have huge implications for implantable computing technologies used medically to improve health, such as heart pacemakers and cochlear implants, and as new applications are found to enhance healthy humans.

Dr Gasson says that as the technology behind these implants develops, they become more vulnerable to computer viruses.

“Our research shows that implantable technology has developed to the point where implants are capable of communicating, storing and manipulating data,” he said. “They are essentially mini computers. This means that, like mainstream computers, they can be infected by viruses and the technology will need to keep pace with this so that implants, including medical devices, can be safely used in the future.”

Dr Gasson will present his results next month at the IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society in Australia, which he is also chairing.

A high-end Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip was implanted into Dr Gasson’s left hand last year. Less sophisticated RFID technology is used in shop security tags to prevent theft and to identify missing pets.

The chip has allowed him secure access to his University building and his mobile phone. It has also enabled him to be tracked and profiled. Once infected, the chip corrupted the main system used to communicate with it. Should other devices have been connected to the system, the virus would have been passed on.

Dr Gasson said: “By infecting my own implant with a computer virus we have demonstrated how advanced these technologies are becoming and also had a glimpse at the problems of tomorrow.

“Much like people with medical implants, after a year of having the implant, I very much feel that it is part of my body. While it is exciting to be the first person to become infected by a computer virus in this way, I found it a surprisingly violating experience because the implant is so intimately connected to me but the situation is potentially out of my control.

“I believe it is necessary to acknowledge that our next evolutionary step may well mean that we all become part machine as we look to enhance ourselves. Indeed we may find that there are significant social pressures to have implantable technologies, either because it becomes as much of a social norm as say mobile phones, or because we’ll be disadvantaged if we do not. However we must be mindful of the new threats this step brings.”

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 28th May 2010