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Technology Tuesday: March 1

Welcome to Technology Tuesday! Every week The Job Shop Blog will bring you our 5 top science and technology news stories from around the web.

This week: Scientists create artificial sperm cells and then fertilize an egg with it, using light to rewrite memories, the most realistic robotic hand ever made, Google applies their DeepMind AI Program to healthcare, and the ability to step into virtual reality.


Artificial Sperm Cells That Work For Reproduction

Scientists have used embryonic stem cells to grow the most effective ‘test-tube’ sperm cells ever, demonstrating how they can be used to fertilise mouse eggs, and produce healthy, fertile offspring.

The cells are the first in the world to meet a set of criteria known as the ‘gold standard’ for artificial sperm, set by three fertility researchers in 2014. “The achievements of this paper are very remarkable,” John Schimenti of Cornell University, one of the researchers who defined the gold standard, told New Scientist. “I’m not aware of another group having progressed this far.”



Scientists Successfully Rewrite The Memories of Mice

Scientists Use Light to Alter Memories of Cokehead Mice

Researchers from the University of Oxford have rewritten positive memories associated with cocaine in mice. The achievement could expand our understanding of memory, while demonstrating that it’s possible to neurologically reverse ingrained bad behavior, such as drug addiction.



New Robotic Hand Closely Simulates The Real Deal

Though most modern prosthetic hands try to look like the real things, their underlying mechanics are typically based in the world of man made machines rather than evolutionary biology. Two researchers at the University of Washington’s Department of Computer Science & Engineering have now created what they believe is the most biomimetic artificial hand ever made.

The new device was developed by initially studying the human hand from an engineering perspective, as though it’s just another mechanical gizmo. Scans were taken and copies of bone were 3D printed to make things as realistic as possible. The researchers identified many characteristics that give the human hand its unique abilities, and utilized traditional mechanical components to replicate those qualities. They used pulley mechanisms, artificial joint capsules, crocheted ligaments and tendons, and other devices for this task.



DeepMind Health

Google’s DeepMind artificial intelligence (AI) group today unveiled a new industry-specific program called DeepMind Health. A new website for the division reveals that Google has been working with multiple health care organizations, including National Health Service and the Royal Free Hospital London in the United Kingdom.

In collaboration with the latter group, Google DeepMind built a mobile app called Streams that doctors and nurses can use to diagnose acute kidney injury. The group is also working with a clinical task-management app called Hark that was developed by two people affiliated with Imperial College London.



Pressure Sensing Floor Mats for Virtual Reality

While companies like Oculus and HTC are focused on what you’ll do with your head and your hands in virtual reality, a small startup is paying attention to how you’ll use your feet.

Tactonic Technologies, based in New York, is making pressure-sensing floor mats that can measure, among other things, just how you wiggle your toes or shift your weight, detecting up to four touches per square inch on its surface. Initially, the company hopes the mats will be used with virtual-reality headsets like Samsung’s Gear VR or Oculus’s forthcoming Rift to play games and engage with other applications, giving you a more natural sense of motion and, perhaps, better enabling you to control a full-body avatar.


Know any interesting stories we missed? Let us know in the comments!

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