Paralyzed ALS Patient Operates Speech Computer With Her Mind

UMC Utrecht, 11/13/2016

A patient suffering from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) at UMC Utrecht, a hospital in the Netherlands, recently received a brain implant that allows them to remotely operate a speech computer with their mind. The patient can use this computer to communicate with their friends and family at home. If initial trials prove successful, the implants could see larger, international trials which lead to the development of even more advanced implants.

Soft Robots That Mimic Human Muscles

EFPL News (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), 10/18/2016

An EFPL team is developing light robots called Soft Muscle, aiming to improve robot design. The EPFL team’s ultimate goal in developing Soft Muscle is to provide inexpensive exoskeleton designs that will assist in creating lighter, more flexible robots for any application.

How Virtual Reality is Being Used to Deliver Mental Health Care

Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 10/11/2016

Through the use of VR (Virtual Reality), scientists seek to lower the cost and increase the availability of mental health care. They use VR technologies to help patients overcome their fears in a safe environment, by creating simulated situations that reproduce their fears. The availability of this treatment is increasing due to the lower costs of VR devices. The success of the VR experiments might potentially lead to higher quality and more accessible mental health care.

Google Translate Gets a Deep-Learning Upgrade

IEEE Spectrum, 10/3/2016

Engineers at Google are upgrading their Google Translate service to use deep learning, which is an artificial intelligence technique. This is the first time this translation method has been used in a large production environment. The update greatly improves the accuracy of translations, increasing Google Translate’s ability to facilitate communication between speakers of different languages.

Brain To Robot: Move, Please

ETH News/Globe Magazine, 9/17/2016

A new exoskeleton design seeks to lower the recovery time for stroke victims in rehabilitation. Researchers are investigating the exoskeleton design to observe whether patients can use their mind to perform basic actions with their numb limbs. The exoskeleton design provides a more natural path towards recovery through reintegrating the use of paralyzed limbs.

Was New York’s Mass-Text Manhunt Really Unprecedented?

The Verge, 9/20/2016

New York City police used the Wireless Emergency Alert system recently to send out a “Wanted” text message about a bombing suspect, and they plan to use the system for similar purposes in future. However, they have received heavy criticism, mainly saying that the short, pictureless message may have encouraged mass racial profiling, and that overuse of the system might lead to people ignoring it.

How Big Data and Algorithms Are Slashing the Cost of Fixing Flint’s Water Crisis

The Conversation, 09/08/2016

Beyond tech companies such as Amazon and Google, big data has a significant effect on science, engineering, and even plumbing. As the government in Flint, Michigan has worked to correct the dangerous levels of lead contamination reported earlier this year, researchers at the University of Michigan have aggregated and analyzed data for homes in the area. Their analysis is providing new insights into how the government can best direct their efforts, to reduce costs and increase impact.