Robot guided by MRI performs brain surgery

Surgeons and robotics experts at the University of Calgary have developed neuroArm, a robot which is capable of performing brain surgery within the powerful magnet of an MRI.

Being able to work within such a powerful magnetic field is a first for robots. Most brain surgeries are performed with their assistance, but so far no robot has been able to go within an MRI. Not only can it go inside, but this robot is also guided by the detailed images the MRI creates.

The neuroArm is a huge advance for medical technology and robotics. Innovations like this will translate into more lives saved and much better surgery results seeing as robots are much less prone to mistakes than their human counterparts.

Nulfield Hospital UK has a fonar mri operating room the only one in the world I bet they would love to try that mri robet click my name for upright mri updates.

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Nokia Morph concept – this futuristic gadget is all you’ll need

Nokia has recently announced their Morph concept, a gadget which should (in about 100 years) replace everything you carry in your pocket today.

Featured in The Museum of Modern Art “Design and The Elastic Mind” exhibition, the Morph aims to be the only gadget you’ll ever need due to its adaptable nature. Made of flexible and transparent materials, Nokia imagines this gadget taking on just about any shape and size.

For example, it can start in the shape of a cell phone, but then unfold into a screen to view movies and other media on. This larger screen would incorporate input devices such as keyboards and touch pads as well to allow for communication. It could then be folded up into a bracelet that you wear on your wrist. As Nokia says, the Morph would “allow us to communicate and interact in unprecedented ways.”

Nokia is also imagining built-in solar absorption to charge the device, which coupled with smaller and longer-lasting batteries would mean the end of power plugs. Integrated sensors could gather information about the surrounding environment, providing even more data to the user.

The Morph could even have a self-cleaning surface – just another way of putting nanotechnology to use. It would reduce corrosion, wear, and improve longevity. “Nanoflowers” could be used to do this as they naturally repel water, dirt, and even fingerprints.

Think iPhone, but with a much cooler interface, much thinner, and able to change into any shape and size including a huge screen for watching movies, playing games, and browsing the web. Oh, and no more smudge marks on the screen. Show me the dotted line and I’ll sign – I want one of these now. Check out some images and a video of the concept in use below.

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New energy-efficient chips can be powered by body heat

Texas Instruments has designed a proof-of-concept chip that uses a tenth of the power of modern-day chips. This is a huge innovation that could lead to far better battery life for anything that uses a chip and is powered by batteries including phones, medical devices, and sensors.

The jump in efficiency was attained by reducing the amount of energy flowing round the chip from 1.0 volts to 0.3. There is also a built-in DC-to-DC converter to greatly reduce power consumption without needing an external unit. Enough of the tech jabber and back to real life.

The chip uses so little energy that it can be completely powered by ambient heat sources, such as the body heat of a human. How awesome is that? We would love to see more advancements in this direction so we can ditch our chargers and power all of our gadgetry with body heat.

But don’t shuffle your feet while walking on a carpet… capacitive coupling to the ‘worn’ chips could ESD them when you discharge yourself, as you inevitably (and accidentally) will. Too many sources of ESD are able to create a few dozen volts of charge over your body; I’ve already reset wristwatches that are based on 3.3 volt technology.

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DORmino mouse powers itself from your laptop’s heat

Designers from Singapore have come up with a concept mouse that can use the heat generated by a laptop to power itself.

The DORmino mouse works by placing an oversize mousepad under a laptop which then collects the extra heat and turns it into electricity using silicon nanowires. The electricity is then sent to the mouse, resting on a different part of the pad, via an induction coil. This mousepad can be rolled up when not in use for easy transportation.

The mouse itself is an ordinary wireless mouse with the exception that it doesn’t ever need to be recharged. One of the more interesting features is a “touch screen scroller” which lets you scroll by moving your finger up and down a sensor on the mouse where an ordinary scroll wheel might be.

DORmino is pretty far-fetched, but is certainly feasible with today’s technology. However, it would probably be a bit expensive as all of this technology isn’t cheap. Either way, we love to see new eco-friendly innovations such as this. Diagram of how the DORmino works after the jump.

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LucidTouch touchscreen lets you control from both sides

Microsoft recently showed off their LucidTouch concept technology that lets you control a mobile device via touchscreens on the front and back.

Although currently just a concept (the proof-of-concept device shown has a clunky camera sticking out from the back to monitor the user’s fingers), Microsoft hopes to eventually implement the technology in a small portable gadget.

LucidTouch allows the user to control a gadget via a touchscreen without obscuring the screen at all. When positioned behind the device, the user’s fingers are projected onto the screen, giving it a semi-transparent effect. It’s almost as if you can see through the screen, but the only thing you see is your fingers. A touch-sensitive surface on the back acts much like a regular touchscreen, allowing a person to “click” from the other side of the device.

We can imagine quite a bit of applications for LucidTouch (for example, scrolling around a map as shown in the picture), but it will probably be a while before this technology will become affordable to the consumer.

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Dutch robot fills car gas tank – human not required

Dutch inventors have unveiled a 75,000 Euro (about $111,100) robot able to fill up your gas tank without you needing to get out the car. The robot works by looking up your car model in a database and finding what fuel type (in addition to your fuel cap design) to use. It then extends its robotic arm, unscrews your gas cap, and puts the gas nozzle in as any human would.

The inventor hopes to have it in a handful of Dutch gas stations by the end of the year.

We hope he starts trying to sell these robots to US stations, as it would be good for people to not have to deal so closely with gasoline ever again. However, we are wondering about how much longer this device will be useful with all the alternative fuel source discussion and research taking place. Very cool, nonetheless.

Eh, this might be better than the shell one, we have the tech to do it properly this time around. As for alternative fuel, anything in the feasible life time of this is going to be hybrid and bio-fuel for the majority of the US.

This robot isn’t limited to gasoline/diesel fuel. It could be used for any fuel-based system.

Hydrogen is a much more likely candidate as an alternative fuel source than heavy, expensive batteries.

Hydrogen can power internal combustion vehicles or fuel-cell vehicles. Instead of “hybrid vehicles”, we could be using a hybrid fuel.

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VirtuSphere takes virtual reality to the next level

The name says it all – the VirtuSphere is a giant… well… sphere that lets the user move around freely in a virtual reality world.

Visuals are projected via a motion-tracking headset worn by the player. He can then run, jump, roll, or crawl around the virtual world in any direction.

VirtuSphere works sort of like a hamster exercise ball. Well, exactly like a hamster exercise ball. The player gets in a large, hollow sphere that sits on rollers and can turn it 360 degrees in all directions to move around.

The manufacturer makes the system to client specifications. VirtuSpheres have already been sold to military and law enforcement organizations as well as entertainment companies.

Don’t get to excited to buy one of these, though. The VirtuSphere costs over $30,000, and that’s a lot of cash to shell out on gaming.

We do wonder how ridiculous a person might look while playing a game inside this thing.

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New laptop fan cools with no moving parts

The nice folks over at Thorn Micro Technologies have developed an awesome new laptop fan – the RSD5. It is a solid state fan (no moving parts!) that uses an electrical current to generate airflow. More airflow, in fact, than standard mechanical fans.

While typical mechanical fans generate a breeze of 0.7 – 1.7 meters per second, the RSD5 can output a cooler 2.7 meters per second. What’s more impressive is that it stays completely silent while cranking out this kind of airflow.

One of the best things about this fan is that it’s the size of a microchip. The researchers who developed it are hoping to one day build these solid state fans directly into other chips, creating self-cooling processors and other chips that stay cool on their own. The new fan is very cool (no pun intended), but it would be interesting to see what kind of effect this would have on laptop battery life.

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Researchers develop mind-reading machine that knows what you are looking at

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a way to extract visual stimuli from brain signals. A new computational model was created that uses functional MRI (fMRI) data to see what’s going on in an individual’s visual cortex – the part of their brain that processes visual stimuli.

So far, fMRI studies have only been able to decode basic information from the brain, using simple images in distinct categories such as faces or houses.

Now, the scientists claim they can identify exactly what image a person is looking at. The team showed over a thousand photographs to a group of people, using fMRI to measure their visual cortex activity and “train” their decoder. Then, the subjects were shown random images from a set of 100 previously unseen photos. The researchers were able to accurately predict which photograph the subjects were looking at.

“Our results suggest that it may soon be possible to reconstruct a picture of a person’s visual experience from measurements of brain activity alone,” said the study’s co-author Kendrick Kay.

The team’s findings could lead to a multitude of applications. An accurate way to tell what people were looking at in a certain moment in time could be the ultimate truth detector. Scientists could also possibly look into people’s dreams, seeing exactly what they see. It will be interesting to see what this new fMRI technology holds in the future.

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New infrared solar panels work even at night

Researchers at Idaho National Laboratory have developed a flexible solar panel able to collect infrared energy instead of the usual photonic energy.

The panel uses an array of nano-sized antennas that are able to harvest 80% of the available energy (most modern solar panels can only harvest close to 20%). The possibilities are endless with energy-collecting materials like this, and may at one point be used to coat roofs, charge batteries, and even be integrated into polyester fabric.

There is a catch though. The panels cannot currently convert this infrared energy into power that’s useful for electronics. It’s excellent technology for capturing energy, but converting it to 50-60Hz power is the part that isn’t quite working just yet. Hopefully they can iron out the kinks soon so we can take advantage of these panels.

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