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Topic Summary

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: December 10, 2015, 07:08:38 pm »

Ten thousand axons and ten thousand signals that are all different.
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: November 21, 2015, 03:07:18 am »

Promise seen for wireless pacemakers placed without surgery  ;D
November 9, 2015 by By Marilynn Marchione

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: August 03, 2015, 08:26:17 pm »

Advanced Soft Robotics Walking Suit
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: May 22, 2014, 07:32:52 pm »

FDA Approves Prosthetic Arm

The agency OKs the first prosthetic arm controlled by neural signals from the user’s muscles.

By Jef Akst | May 14, 2014

Luke Skywalker's  Hollywood Imaginary Prosthetic  ;D

The DEKA arm

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week (May 9) green-lighted the sale of the DEKA Research and Development Corporation’s prosthetic arm—called “the Luke arm” by its creators—making it the first FDA-approved prosthetic arm with movements controlled by electrical signals sent from the user’s body—either from electrode attached to the muscles in the remaining part of the amputated limb or in the user’s feet. The New Hampshire-based company now seeks a manufacturer to be able to put the DARPA-funded product on the market.

“In comparison to commercially available prosthetics, the new arm offers powered shoulder movements and a wider range of wrist movements,” noted MIT Technology Review, referring to a study published last year. And data examined by the FDA as part of its products fast-track review process demonstrated that “approximately 90 percent of study participants were able to perform activities with the DEKA Arm System that they were not able to perform with their current prosthesis, such as using keys and locks, preparing food, feeding oneself, using zippers, and brushing and combing hair,” according to an agency press release.

“Think about our military personnel, who can be great beneficiaries of these devices: before DARPA made an investment in this area the best we could give back to them was metal hooks,” Justin Sanchez, a program manager in DARPA’s new Biological Technologies office, told Bloomberg. “This is a landmark moment for DARPA as an agency.”


Posted by: AGelbert
« on: May 22, 2014, 07:15:32 pm »

Wireless Charger Could Power Implants

A new technology allows for charging up tiny electronics from a distance, perhaps powering devices deeply embedded within tissue.

By Kerry Grens | May 21, 2014

Itty-bitty medical devices can be implanted in the human body to do any number of tasks, such as stimulate nerves or regulate heartbeats. The challenge to getting them way deep down into tissue has been getting power to them, but engineers reported this week (May 19) in PNAS that they’ve come up with a solution, so-called “mid-field wireless transfer.”

“With this method, we can safely transmit power to tiny implants in organs like the heart or brain, well beyond the range of current near-field systems,” John Ho, a graduate student at Stanford University and the lead author of the study, said in a press release.

The new technology transmits energy wirelessly through the body, rather than relying on batteries. It works by using near-field electromagnetic waves—those that don’t typically travel very far through tissue—but adapted them to propagate within the body instead of petering out. The technology appears safe so far, but it’s only been used in animals.

To demonstrate how it works, the team designed a pacemaker, about the size of a grain of rice, that can be charged by holding a card-size power source near the recipient, but outside the body. To date it’s been tested in a rabbit, but Ada Poon, the lead investigator on the project said in the press release that she is now working on preparing it for testing in humans.

“I think that amongst the solutions that are proposed to power an implant, this is going to be the most reliable,” Patrick Mercier, an engineer at the University of California, San Diego, told New Scientist.
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 19, 2014, 02:11:56 am »

Small things can go a surprising distance.
They certainly can. I am blind in one eye so this is great news for me!
Posted by: monsta666
« on: April 18, 2014, 07:41:26 pm »

Very nifty. I know in my workplace the bank offers audio PINSentry devices that enable customers to enter their PIN on various terminals in the bank. We also have cheque holders so they can write cheques in the right places without seeing. Small things can go a surprising distance.
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 18, 2014, 01:17:23 pm »

This assisted reading device could one day eliminate the need for braille    ;D

By Shawn Knight on April 17, 2014, 2:15 PM

A handful of researchers at MIT’s Media Labs are working on a device capable of helping visually impaired and blind individuals read without the need for Braille. The FingerReader is equipped with a small camera that scans printed text and reads it out loud using a synthesized voice.

The current prototype is worn on the finger and is said to weigh no more than a regular ring. It uses heavily modified open source software and can read 12-point and larger printed text as well as on-screen text from, say, a Kindle.

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 07, 2014, 01:39:30 pm »

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: December 15, 2013, 08:24:39 pm »

New Algorithm Helps Cochlear Implants Detect Music

Advancement allows patients to hear differences in pitch and timbre.
Originally published:  Oct 21 2013 - 3:00pm  .
By:  Joel N. Shurkin, ISNS Contributor  .
(ISNS) -- People who have cochlear implants placed in their heads had often never heard a sound in their lives before their implant. Once the device is placed, they can experience hearing, and often can even understand human speech.

Hearing music, however, has remained out of reach.

But now, researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle have developed an algorithm that vastly improves the sound quality of existing implants to the point where music sounds like something other than a random clamor.

People with the current versions of cochlear implants can hear rhythm, said Les Atlas, a professor of electrical engineering. Atlas himself has a partial loss of hearing. Subjects whose implants have been given a "major tweak" with the new algorithm can tell the difference between instruments.

"If they are hearing a single guitar, they can hear one note," said Atlas of current wearers. "If a person is playing fast, they can hear that. If a person is playing slow they can hear that."

However, the new algorithm does not allow their hearers to discern melody; that's the next project.

The work is published in the IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering. Atlas' coauthor is Jay Rubinstein, an engineer who went to medical school and became a surgeon. 

Cochlear implants relay sound from a microphone placed outside the ear to a device connected to the auditory nerves inside the ear. The sound a cochlear implant conveys is just a fraction of the sound a person with normal hearing can detect. But, for people with damaged sensory cells, they are the only hope of hearing much of anything.

The Washington study deliberately set out to modify existing devices so that people would not have to buy new implants to hear music.

The new algorithm was tested on eight cochlear-implant patients, and the researchers used anecdotal reports and computer simulations to recreate what the subjects heard.

Atlas said what implant patients hear now is the equivalent of someone playing a piano with their forearms. All the sound is "mushed together," and it is impossible to pick out a tune. Or, they can hear someone singing but cannot tell the difference between a man or a woman, a baritone or a soprano.

Music is characterized by attributes such as pitch and timbre. Pitch defines the melody notes of a song and the intonation of speech. Timbre is the difference in sound between instruments. For example, an A natural played on an oboe sounds different from a trumpet playing exactly the same note.

It is the pitch and timbre Atlas and Rubinstein were trying to improve. With the new algorithm, they could expand what most -- not all -- of the subjects heard from one octave to three. A low note could have a frequency of 80 cycles a second, or Hertz, something users of conventional implants can hear. With the new algorithm, some could hear up to 320 Hertz, closest in pitch to the E above middle C on a piano.

There is still a vast amount of aural information the new algorithm misses. Subjects can hear individual instruments, but a symphony orchestra is a cacophony. :(

The work is important because music is the hardest thing to hear, explained Charles Limb, a professor of otolaryngology, head and neck surgery at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, a faculty member of the Peabody School of Music and science advisor to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He said the Atlas-Rubinstein work is well-known in the cochlear-implant community.

Speech is relatively easy, Limb said, because the purpose of speech is to communicate a thought, which does not depend on high-quality sound. For example, the voice of Siri on Apple's iPhone communicates information effectively despite the artificial nature of the sound itself.

Music, however, depends on the quality of sound, he said.

Cochlear implants are getting better, he said, but getting better at speech. Little research has gone into music.

"Music is the hardest thing you can hear," he said. "If you can hear music, you can hear anything. If you design the perfect cochlear implant that could hear something like music very well then you can hear anything there is in the world."

Joel Shurkin is a freelance writer based in Baltimore. He is the author of nine books on science and the history of science, and has taught science journalism at Stanford University, UC Santa Cruz and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He tweets at @shurkin.

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: November 21, 2013, 11:09:51 pm »

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