A Monthly Snapshot of Life-Changing Technology
1. Chamber of Youth
Scientists in Tel Aviv have reversed two crucial indicators of aging.
Image from Shamir Medical Center
Reading this never gets old.
Using a novel form of oxygen therapy, researchers from the University of Tel Aviv and the Shamir Medical Center have increased the length of participants telomeres by 20% and reduced their senescent cells by over 35%. All aged over 63 years old, the subjects were given pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber for three hours, five days a week for three months to induce a state of hyperoxia––high levels of oxygen in the blood, which affected the amazing cell regeneration.
Age Old Question
Telomeres are the protective caps found at the end of our chromosomes, and these caps' shortening is considered a prime factor in biological aging. The scientists approached the process of aging differently; they treated it more like searching for an antidote to a disease. They credit their ideas about telomere elongation to this refined thought process.
You *Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks...
Diet, exercise, and overall well-being (up until now) have been considered the most predominant variables to act on aging. But interestingly enough, in this study none of these factors were adjusted for the subjects. The oxygen therapy alone was able to significantly outmatch results from those previous studies.
2. A Sound Mind
Deemed "sound beaming," a new technology can play music directly inside your head...no headphones required.
If you thought Bruno Mars got stuck in your head before...
The technology was developed by Israeli company Noveto Systems. It uses a 3D sensing module to locate and track the ear position, sending audio through ultrasonic waves, affecting "sound pockets" around the user's ears. The device can toggle between a stereo mode and a spatial 3D mode to give its listener a private 360 degree sound. It can also follow the listener around physically because it's not streaming to one specific spot.
Sound beaming is not an altogether new concept, but Noveto will be the first to launch the technology as a branded consumer product. Noveto provided the Associated Press with a demo of the desktop prototype, who reported that the listening experience was like something "straight out of a sci-fi movie." A smaller, sleeker version of the device will be available for purchase Christmas 2021.
3. No Paint, No Gain
Engineers at Purdue University have created a super-white paint that might just help cool down the world.
Image from Purdue University
Though it can be distressing to learn about the harmful effects of CO2 emissions on the environment, it's also astounding to see the outside-the-box creative problem solving coming from all around the world to help make change.
This new paint distinguishes itself from pre-existing white paints because it reflects 95.5% to their 80-90%, and can efficiently radiate infrared heat. This allows the paint to keep surfaces up to 18℉ cooler than their surroundings.
The technology would purportedly help the planet cool if it were widely applied to roads, rooftops, and other surfaces all over the world––sending heat off of earth's surface and even away into deep space.
Another benefit is that the paint would be relatively affordable to produce. The engineers behind it argue that in competition with air-conditioning, it packs a bigger punch. It saves near a dollar per day that would have been spent on AC for a one thousand square foot house, which calculates to big time savings as the numbers scale.
4. *Cough Cough* Coronavirus
Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed AI to detect whether someone has Covid-19 from the sound of their cough alone.
Variations in coughs may seem very subtle, but they can still hint at the difference between someone who isn't infected and someone who is, even if that person is generally asymptomatic. The AI in this tool was developed to detect the changes in a person's cough that are largely indiscernible to the human ear by using many thousands of recorded audio of coughs and spoken words.
Hmm. So they got "tens of thousands" of people to record themselves coughing? *Cough* tapped *cough* data?
Cover your Math
Respiratory and lung performance, vocal cord strength, and even cues to emotional state are all evaluated by this tech's neural networks. Then, the combination of these models were overlaid with an algorithm to detect muscular degradation.
So far, testing of the technology has been astonishingly accurate. It recognizes 98.5% of coughs from people with confirmed cases of the virus, and 100% of coughs from asymptomatic individuals. But like most tools, it shouldn't be credited with perfect reliability. Its creators still recommend that people don't use the AI as a replacement for official Covid-19 tests, and remind that the tool wasn't built to give formal diagnoses.
5. In Vein
Technologists have found a way to plug a human brain into a computer through veins.
I think the real headline should be that two living humans agreed to be test subjects for this.
The team mounted electrodes onto a 'stent'––an expandable spring-like tube that could be threaded through a blood vessel connecting to the brain. In two separate tests, the researchers ran the stent-tipped wire through veins in the throat, and then up into a vessel near the brain's primary motor cortex. Electrodes placed in the vessel wall were able to sense precursor signals to movement––signals that were then transmitted wirelessly to a computer (by an equally complicated process). The subjects, two victims of paralysis, were then reportedly able to send texts and browse the internet using only "brain control."
The two individuals had to undergo unique training after their release, as the AI algorithms needed to learn how to interpret the signals picked up by the stent. But the study reported that after a few weeks, both patients were able to move a cursor with an eye-tracker, and click with a thought: small actions, yet measurably transformative in the patients' lives. Now they can shop online, send messages, and perform other digital actions that were previously impossible. Pretty awesome.
MaCall Manor is an editor and writer based in San Francisco. She has always been a storyteller by trade, seeking to inspire with the work and content she creates. Brilliantly imaginative in filling out the details of the innovation processes and design thinking, she's passionate about all things creative, dancing, nature, and books/movies.