SciTech Briefs

Google[x] unveils contact lenses to track blood sugar

Research teams at Google[x] and Novartis AG have joined forces to deliver to the world a smart way to correct vision as well as monitor blood sugar levels. Smart contact lenses, the latest in a series of technology products designed to correct bodily function, relay data on glucose contained in tears via a tiny sensor and an equally tiny antenna.

In a news release earlier this month, Google described the technology in the lenses as being “so small they look like bits of glitter” and the antenna as being “thinner than human hair.”

The executive teams at both Google and Novartis believe these lenses will support a broader trend to involve patients in managing their own health, and to lower costs for management of chronic diseases.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Microsoft HoloLens merges technology and reality

Microsoft, on Jan. 21, released a video announcing its newest product: the HoloLens. Taking after the technology of Google Glass and the Oculus Rift, the HoloLens will blend the virtual and the real by superimposing an operating system onto the real world, enabling us to envision the world as we imagine and want it to be.

That, according to the executive team at Microsoft, is only the beginning. The technology behind it is simple: The goggles will track your movements, watch your gaze and transform what you see by blasting light at your eyes. The HoloLens has applications involving virtual interaction. Because the device tracks where you are, you can use hand gestures, which right now include only a midair click, by raising and lowering your finger to interact with the 3-D images.

Source: The New York Times

New medical robot allows for better surgical methods

On Jan. 29, a surgical robot, fitted with a total of nine arms of varying sizes, carried out its debut operation on a cancer patient, at the Royal Marsden Hospital in England.

The Da Vinci XI, a robot considered to be a technological breakthrough, has opened up the doors to various possible treatments. It is hand operated by surgeons, enabling them to make tiny and precise incisions. The robot mimics, but minimizes the movements of the surgeon who controls it, enabling them to carry out complex surgeries with minimal invasion.

The recovery time of patients has been cut down by several months, with far less invasive keyhole surgery. In addition to reducing the recovery time, robotic surgery also reduces the pain experienced and the blood lost by patients.

Source: The Telegraph

New leads on a way to fight aging and disease

Scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine could have finally made progress toward reversing the process of aging. The scientists are gearing up to announce to the world the new method of quickly and efficiently increasing the length of human telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes that are mostly linked to aging and the advent of various diseases. The procedure involves the use of a modified type of RNA that allows researchers to generate large numbers of cells, which can then be used for study or drug development. In the recent studies conducted, skin cells with lengthened DNA were able to divide up to 40 more times compared to untreated cells, giving the scientists a lead as to treating diseases linked to shortened telomeres, and also in slowing down aging.

Source: Science Daily

SpaceX explains the benefits of reusable rockets

Late last week, SpaceX released an animation that demonstrates what it would look like if the giant Falcon Heavy Rocket (one of the most powerful operation rockets in the world by a factor of two) returned home safely, after carrying its payload beyond earth’s atmosphere.
This strategy is part of SpaceX’s effort to make space exploration cheaper with reusable rockets. SpaceX’s CEO Elon Musk believes that reusing parts from used rockets could potentially bring down the cost of production by a factor of one hundred, if only rockets were programmed to return to the earth after having completed their mission. Though SpaceX’s launch trial earlier in January failed, the team has big hopes for the Falcon Heavy Rocket, the launch of which is scheduled later this year.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Google’s self-driving car begins street testing

In May 2014, Google promised the public a self-driving car with no steering wheels or pedals, and they announced earlier this year that the car prototype is now “fully functional” and ready for testing on roads starting this February. The car will be tested first on a closed track and then on public roads, with “temporary manual controls” in case of a malfunction.

The advent of self-driving cars, long dreamed of by auto giants such as Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and General Motors, has the potential of revolutionizing the “regular journey” by eradicating the need of forward facing seating, mirrors, and foot-operated controls.
Despite this ability, the prototype still resembles a normal vehicle, and is about the size of a smart car.

Source: Autopia