Apr 25, 2017

NFL players strike a deal to sell their biometric data

posted by Larra Morris

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Quietly flying under the radar in the fitness wearables market is Whoop, a manufacturer of high-end wrist-worn straps that measure data 100 times per second. In what could turn out to be one of the more bizarre licensing agreements ever, the startup struck a deal with the NFL Players Association today that will make it possible for players to sell their health data.

At its most basic level, the agreement paves the way for Whoop to sell licensed player-designed wristbands for its $500 Whoop Strap 2.o but that’s the least interesting part. The players who decide to participate in the program will own all of the health data that Whoop collects and the NFLPA sees this as another monetizable part of the game. “Every day, NFL players produce data that can translate into physiological and financial opportunities. We see partnering with WHOOP as the first step in harnessing this exciting technology,” Ahmad Nassar, President of NFL Players Inc. said in a statement.
via Gizmodo

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Apr 25, 2017

A 3D-printed patch could help you recover from a heart attack

posted by Larra Morris

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Scientists have dreamed of easily patching up heart tissue in the wake of heart attacks, but there are always gotchas: for example, it's no mean feat to replicate the complex structures of real tissue. However, there may be a solution in sight. Researchers have produced a 3D-printed cell patch that can heal scarred heart tissue. The team used laser-based bioprinting to fit stem cells (based on adult human heart cells) to a matrix developed around a 3D scan of heart tissue's native proteins. When those cells grew, the matrix not only replicated the structures of regular heart tissue (down to 1 micron) but started beating in sync. And the early results are very promising.
via Engadget

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Image: Patrick O'Leary, University of Minnesota

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Apr 24, 2017

Controlling robot swarms with augmented reality

posted by Larra Morris

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At New York University, Jared Alan Frank has turned to augmented reality (AR) to develop a robot control interface that runs on a conventional smartphone or tablet. The system uses the device’s camera to capture details from a scene and overlay virtual objects, as other AR applications do. But in this case, you can simply tap and swipe on the screen to make the robots move or pick up objects.

“You no longer need some of the expensive laboratory-grade equipment that roboticists normally use to do their projects, such as motion capture systems,” says Frank, a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering.
via IEEE Spectrum

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Apr 21, 2017

Rat birth control could curb New York's pest problem

posted by Larra Morris

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The battle between humans and rats has been raging for thousands of years, and while we might have strength, size and smarts on our side, rats have their own secret weapon: the ability to breed like crazy. Now, the City of New York – a notorious rat hotspot – is working with biotech company SenesTech to disarm that tactic, with a birth control substance called ContraPest that renders both males and females infertile. The method is said to be humane, environmentally friendly and pose no risk to humans, pets and other animals.
via New Atlas

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Image: gdolgikh/Depositphotos

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Apr 19, 2017

Console repairmen explain why cockroaches love PS4s

posted by Laura Domela

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First, there were snakes on a plane. Then, we had sharks in tornadoes. Now, there is a darker and more prevalent combination of pests and unlikely places they exist: cockroaches in your PS4.

I heard about the PS4’s roach problem at an independent console repair shop on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. XCubicle is a clean and well-kept business where locals drop off their broken consoles to get diagnosed and repaired. Its co-founder, Patrick Che, was listing the types of repair issues he encounters on a day-to-day basis: coins inside disc drives, 3DS mods gone wrong. That’s when he pointed to the “roach bags,” black garbage bags heaped up in the corner of the room.

“You see those bags?” he asked. “Those are bags full of roaches. Those are all dead by now.” Che added that roach-infested PS4s are so common that XCubicle now charges a $25 “roach fee.” They get at least one each week. Other console repairmen interviewed say that at least half of the PS4s they receive are loaded with roaches.
via Kotaku

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Apr 19, 2017

Algorithm aims to predict bickering among couples

posted by Larra Morris

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Smartphone apps could eventually predict arguments among couples and help nip them in the bud before they blow up. For the first time outside the lab, artificial intelligence has helped researchers begin looking for patterns in couples’ language and physiological signs that could help predict conflicts in relationships.

Most of conflict-monitoring experiments with real-life couples have previously taken place in the controlled settings of psychology labs. Researchers with the Couple Mobile Sensing Project at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles, took a different approach by studying couples in their normal living conditions using wearable devices and smartphones to collect data. 
via IEEE Spectrum

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Apr 17, 2017

Robot ray swims using high-voltage artificial muscles

posted by Larra Morris

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This robotic ray, developed at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, is propelled by soft flapping wings made of dielectric elastomers, which bend when electricity is applied to them. Dielectric elastomers respond very quickly with relatively large motions, but they require very high voltages (on the order of 10 kilovolts) to get them to work. Traditionally, dielectric elastomers are covered in insulation, but for this aquatic application the researchers instead just submerged everything insulation free, relying on the water to act as both electrode and electric ground.
via IEEE Spectrum

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