Touch interface: A new kind of nerve interface gives the wearer, Igor Spetic, a sense of touch at 20 spots on his prosthetic hand.
Researchers at Toshiba’s Akimu Robotic Research Institute were thrilled ten months ago when they successfully programmed Kenji, a third generation humanoid robot, to convincingly emulate certain human emotions. At the time, they even claimed that Kenji was capable of the robot equivalent of love.
The trouble all started when a young female intern began to spend several hours each day with Kenji, testing his systems and loading new software routines. When it came time to leave one evening, however, Kenji refused to let her out of his lab enclosure and used his bulky mechanical body to block her exit and hug her repeatedly. The intern was only able to escape after she had frantically phoned two senior staff members to come and temporarily de-activate Kenji.
“Despite our initial enthusiasm, it has become clear that Kenji’s impulses and behavior are not entirely rational or genuine,” conceded Dr. Takahashi.
Inspired by a parasitic worm, an adhesive patch of swellable microneedles like this may one day help heal external and internal wounds more effectively. It could also help better affix skin grafts in burn patients.
Bioengineer Jeffrey Karp and his group stumbled upon a paper that mentioned the spiny-headed worm (Pomphorhynchus laevis), which lives inside the guts of fish. An electron micrograph in the paper showed the worm’s unusual method of attaching itself: the tip of its proboscis swells once inside its host’s flesh, anchoring the worm to the gut.
Karp’s team developed an adhesive device that consists of a sheet of microneedles whose tips swell upon contact with water, which could be used to adhere skin grafts to wounds, deliver drugs to target tissues, and for many other potential applications.
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Once you have a magnet in your finger, you can sense things that would otherwise be completely invisible to you.
For example, it would be easy to feel large electric fields — like things your microwave or stovetop does. When your hands get near these devices, you can feel the vibrations of the 60 Hz electricity that’s powering through it.
You’d also be able to tell whether an object is ferrous or not — whether it’s made from iron or steel, or from aluminum or some other material.
It’s also useful for people who work with electronics. You’d be able to feel the live wires versus the dead wires. The magnet would also enable you to feel the security gates you pass through when entering some stores. They can also be used to detect large electric motors when they start up and shut down — for example, motors in the fridge, or in streetcars.
You could also perform neat tricks, like pick up bottle caps and paper clips.
it’s been a long day