The Wonder, July 27 - A Lending Hand, Cheaper Sensors for Self-Driving Cars, and A Blood Test for Skin Cancer

INblog, technology, the wonder|BYsf appworks

A Weekly Snapshot of Life-Changing Technology

Happy Friday!

A recent study found that most of us are putting on sunscreen incorrectly. If you’re planning to hit the beach this weekend, double your dose.

You know what else you could double? Time spent reading this week’s edition of The Wonder.

A Lending Hand

Engineers from Japan demonstrated how people can be taught to control a third robotic arm with their brains.

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Andrew’s Take: We’ve been so focused on how to use signals from the brain to control a replacement prosthesis, we didn’t stop to think about how they could be used to augment our existing capabilities. Take a few moments to imagine a world where people have additional arms and legs to help with, well, anything. 

Darius’s Take: The secondary effect here is that it could help to develop the brain more by harnessing leakage from the brain’s electrical activity. If it’s true we only use 10% of our brain, there is quite a lot to be harnessed.

Cheaper Sensors for Self-Driving Cars

An Australian startup may have figured out a dramatically cheaper and more reliable way to implement lidar, the technology in self-driving cars that uses lasers to map out an area visually.

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Andrew’s Take: We all know self-driving cars are coming. Making them cheaper means they’ll come even faster. Bringing down the expense could also lead to many more types of ‘self-driving’ things – things like robots, drones, or even toys.

Darius’s Take: As self-driving technology gets cheaper, it becomes accessible to more developers. That leads to more ideas, and more innovation.

A Blood Test for Skin Cancer

Scientists in Australia have developed the first blood test to detect skin cancer before it spreads to the body.

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Andrew’s Take: Australians are on a roll this week! Early detection is a powerful weapon in the fight against cancer. If you catch a melanoma before it spreads, the survival rate goes from 50% to more than 90%.

Darius’s Take: Biopsies are expensive and invasive, but most people already get blood drawn during physical exams. The more diseases these tests can identify, the better.

A heck of a roadtrip...

On the eve of her 80th birthday. Julia Albu set out on an adventure to drive from her home in South Africa to London to have tea with the Queen.

“I feel like I’m 36 from the shoulders up and 146 from the shoulders down” she said. “I wanted the younger me to win for once.”

Thanks for reading! We’ll see you next week.

-Andrew and Darius