Brain To Text

Neuroscientists at the University of California San Francisco have come up with an artificial intelligence program that can turn thoughts into text. The scientists conducted human trials with four participants. Each of the participants with epilepsy had electrodes implanted into their brains. Then each participant read 50 sentences aloud multiple times, including lines like “there is chaos in the kitchen.”

As each person spoke, the researchers monitored each participants brain activity and input the data into a machine learning algorithm. The algorithm converted the brain wave activity into a string of numbers that encoded the sentences. In another part of the system, the numbers were converted back into a sequence of words.

In the beginning, the system produced some strange results. Over time the system was able to improve, at one point it got 97 percent of the sentences correct.

Currently, this technology is limited to verbal speech, it has the potential to help those who have speech disabilities in the future.

AI Creates Powerful New Antibiotic

MIT researchers using a machine-learning algorithm, have identified a powerful new antibiotic compound. In the lab test, this new compound was able to kill many of the worlds disease-causing bacteria including many drug-resistant strains.

The algorithm used can sort through more than 100 million chemical compounds in a matter of days and out of the results can pick out potential antibiotics.

The researcher’s future plans for there computer model is to train the model to add features that would make an antibiotic target a specific bacteria, preventing it from killing good bacteria such as those found in a person’s digestive tract.

Recharging Batteries Through Skin

A collaborative study between the groups of materials scientist Husam Alshareef at KAUST and medical imaging expert Abdulkader A. Alkenawi at King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences have come up with a way to charge a battery through a permanent implant by using sound waves. The team accomplished this by combining polyvinyl alcohol with nanosheets of MXene, a transition-metal carbide, to create a hydrogel that reacts to ultrasound waves.

The hydrogel generates a current when the pressure of the ultrasound waves forces the flow of electrical ions in the water, filling the hydrogel.

This technology has great future potential for implant devices such as pacemakers, patients won’t need invasive surgery to change batteries. They can simply recharge them wirelessly.

A Kickstarter Campaign Turns Any Smartphone Into A Microscope

SmartMicroOptics have turned to Kickstarter to fund Diple, a portable kit that transforms any smartphone into a microscope. The kit contains a light source, the stage for samples, slides and a metal plate with an optical system. DIPLE offers three levels of magnification (35x, 75x, and 150x), which can be increased using the phone’s zoom. According to SmartMicroOptics, users will be able to achieve up to 1,000x magnification before getting any pixelation.

The kit comes in three versions. Diple Red has a resolution of about 3 microns. One can see cells or the invisible microorganisms around us. Diple Grey’s resolution is around 1 micron. You can see cells and bacteria. Diple Black is the most powerful lens. Resolution is below 1 micron. Setup is very easy, it involves just placing the camera on the optical system and use the Diple app to control how you scan across the magnified image.


Prices on Kickstarter are between $40-$489 depending on the version you buy. Arrival dates  are between May and June 2020.


Tactile Display Allows Visually Impaired Users To Feel 3D Objects

A team at Stanford University is working on a way to display 3D information, using a “2.5D” display made up of pins that can be raised or lowered as sort of tactile pixels. The device is a 12×24 array of thin columns with rounded tops that can be individually told to rise anywhere from a fraction of an inch to several inches above the plane.

This system opens up the possibility of visually impaired people being able to get an intuitive understanding of a 3D object — something that’s difficult to express in non-visual ways.

A Breakthrough Method For Creating 3D Printed Organs

Harvard researchers have created a new method of 3D printing human tissue. This new method called SWIFT (sacrificial writing into functional tissue), may one day be the key to 3D printed artificial human organs.

SWIFT overcomes one major hurdle of 3D printing organs by printing vascular channels into living matrices composed of stem cell-derived organ building blocks (OBBs).  Read the full article to learn more.

First Long-Distance Heart Surgery

The first long-distance heart surgery has been successfully performed in India on a patient that was 20 miles away. Dr. Tejas Patel of the Apex Heart Institute in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, operated using the CorPath GRX robot — developed by Corindus to insert a stent to open blood vessels in the heart. In an interview with ZDNet Patel said, “I am honored to have been a part of this medical milestone.”

This shows the potential of telemedicine, it can bring specialized care that may not otherwise be possible.

A Wearable Sensor That Can Analyze Your Sweat

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley are currently developing wearable skin sensors that can detect what’s in your sweat. The sensors are designed to monitor sweat rate, electrolytes, and metabolites in the sweat. These sensors contain a spiraling microscopic tube that wicks sweat from the skin and can measure the sweat rate based on how fast it moves through this microscopic tube. Inside the microscopic tube, there are chemical sensors that can detect concentrations of potassium, lactate, sodium, and glucose.

These sensors are manufactured using roll-to-roll processing technique similar to screen printing. This process allows high volume production at a low cost.

For now, athletes will have the greatest benefits from these new sensors since they can indicate overall liquid loss during there workout. This will help the athletes know if they are pushing themselves too hard. There had been high hopes that the sensors could replace blood-based measurements for diagnosing and monitoring diabetes. Unfortunately, the scientists found that there isn’t a simple, universal correlation between sweat and blood glucose levels.

A Contact Lens That Gives A Person The Ability To Zoom In

Researchers from the University of California San Diego have designed contact lenses that use naturally produced electrooculographic signals from our eyes to perform tasks like zooming in and out. The contacts use electrodes spread across the lens to act as muscles and are designed to expand when they receive an electrical signal from the eye.

When expanded the result is zoomed vision. This zoomed vision gives a person approximately 32 percent increased focal length. To de-activate the zoom all the person has to do is double blink.

The researchers are hopeful they can further expand this technology to one day create a fully functioning prosthetic eye.

A New Material Uses Sunlight to Purify Water

A new photocatalyst material, a ultra thin sheet of graphitic carbon nitride is able to purify enough drinking water for a family of four in one hour. Materials scientist Guoxiu Wang of the University of Technology Sydney and colleagues created this new photocatalyst material by taking sheets of graphitic carbon nitride and adding acids and ketones which help to attract electrons to the sheets. The electrons then jump onto oxygen atoms in water to form microbe-dissolving chemicals. In testing, this material was able to kill 99.9999 percent of bacteria and was able to do it faster than conventional photocatalyst materials.

When compared to today’s most effective photocatalyst, this new material has a couple of advantages. One is that it doesn’t leech metals that can become toxic pollutants into the water. The other is that this new material is far more efficient, reducing the time it takes to purify the water by over 50%. According to Wang, the motive was to create an efficient and inexpensive way to purify water for undeveloped or remote regions. The next step for the researchers is to work with engineers to make it available for commercial use.