This week: Mirrors that monitor your health, Michigan takes the lead on autonomous cars, cataloging and preserving Earth’s genetic diversity, text messages for the blind, and turning our cells into tiny organic lasers.
“Magic” Mirror Diagnoses Disease
Mirror mirror on the wall, am I at risk of heart disease? One day soon your mirror might actually be able to give you the answer. Wize Mirror looks like a mirror, but incorporates 3D scanners, multispectral cameras and gas sensors to assess the health of someone looking into it. It does this by examining the person’s face, looking at fatty tissue, facial expressions and how flushed or pale they are.
A New Driverless Utopia
Sorry, Detroit, but there’s a new “Motor City” in Michigan. On Monday, the University of Michigan announced the founding of Mcity, a 32-acre stretch of land on the Ann Arbor campus that no person will ever call home. Instead, driverless cars milling about Mcity’s urban and suburban environs will represent the “city’s” population. Mcity serves as the first urban environment specifically designed to test and perfect autonomous vehicle technologies before they are mass-marketed.
Major genome Initiative
A major international effort is in progress to collect and preserve half the genomic diversity of life on Earth. And the time is running out. Earth is in the midst its sixth mass extinction. The last such event — 66 million years ago — killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. Among the estimated 11 million species alive today, only 2 million are described by science. Many may disappear before they even have a name. Scientists are taking advantage of new genomic technology, however, to speed up the classification process. They are hoping to collect samples from all major branches of the family tree. Every known species of plant and animal is grouped with related species into a larger genus level, and related genera is organized into still larger families.
This Smart Watch Allows the Blind to Text
Touchscreens are not conducive to the blind as they cannot see the shifting pixels on the smooth device. That has not only slowed down the technological literacy for the blind, but has also impaired their reading literacy, cutting them off from most information that isn’t published in print. Some tech companies have found workarounds, like having Siri read texts or creating braille e-readers, but they are often clunky and expensive.
A South Korean startup company may have finally found a solution. They created Dot, the first braille smartwatch, complete with shifting cells of dots. This inexpensive gadget could help the blind catch up to the age of smartwatches, the sales of which have increased 475 percent in the last year thanks to the Apple Watch. But it could also be used as an educational tool.
Tiny Organic Lasers
Know any interesting stories we missed?Let us know in the comments!