SciTech Briefs

New technology allows the disabled to use computers

PCEye, an eye-tracking technology, allows users to control their computer with their eye movements. PCEye will allow users to type, browse the Internet, and use other software by the tracking of their eyes instead of the use of a mouse. The eye-tracking technology works with 95 percent of the population regardless of eye-color or lighting condition. It also works with users who wear glasses or contacts.

Source: PC Magazine

New sensor to determine food safety

Research at the Fraunhofer Institution in Munich have made a polymer film that can react with meat to change colors from bright blue to bright yellow when it is in contact with meat that has gone bad. The polymer film works by reacting with biogenic amines that are secreted from rotten meat, resulting in a color change. The researchers want to incorporate it into supermarket packaging to increase food safety without increasing the value of packaging.

Source: FastCompany

Study has found adverse effects of nitrogen fertilizer

At a conference in Edinburgh, researchers have determined that there are traces of nitrogen in half of the examined meat portions. They estimated the annual cost of damage caused by nitrogen pollution across Europe is between 70 to 320 billion euros. Nitrogen is currently used as fertilizer to grow crops, but poses a human threat when nitrogen-based toxins are released into the atmosphere.

Source: Reuters

Nanotechnology allows faster charging batteries

Researchers have a found a new way to decrease the amount of time to charge rechargeable batteries by using nanomaterials. They have made a highly porous metal foam coated with a large amount of active battery material that provides high electrical conductivity, and so the structure holds enough active material to store the energy.

Source: Technology Review

Alzheimer’s shrinks brains 10 years before diagnosis

Brain scans of healthy people showed signs that the brain was shrinking in Alzheimer’s affected areas nearly a decade before the disease was diagnosed. In the study, 50 participants appeared cognitively normal, while 15 patients developed Alzheimer’s disease. People with the high amount of shrinkage in specific areas of the cerebral cortex were three times more likely to develop the disease.

Source: Journal of the American Academy of Neurology

Nature produces its own barcodes in zebras

Animal researchers like to track their subjects to learn more about their migration pattern. Recently, they have found that each zebra carries its own unique “barcode” — their stripes, or their “StripeCode.” The researchers have created an open source software called StripeSpotter that is a database of stripe patterns and matches stripes to a specific zebra.

Source: New Scientist