Hospitals may start packing heat in the near future, but patients–especially burn victims–will be rejoicing. The “skin gun” fires stem cells instead of bullets, and it can heal second-degree burns faster than we’ve ever done it before.
Usually, skin grafting is an arduous process: It takes weeks to grow a fragile patch of skin over a wound. But with the skin gun, the grafting process takes 90 minutes and patients heal up within four days. And in the world of skin grafting, that speedy timeline is precious because it means that infections have less of a chance of setting in and killing patients.
A team at Georgia Tech is looking to replace your sponge bath nurse with this sexy beast to the right. No, not the girl. The sponge bath robot next to her, named Cody. He’s the one that wants to wipe you down with his delicate towel hands.
The robot was developed by researcher Charles Kemp’s team at the Healthcare Robotics Lab, and was described in a presentation and accompanying paper (pdf) at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems.
The robot uses cameras and lasers to evaluate the human’s body, identifying dirty spots, then gently wipes with its towel hands, making sure not to apply too much or too little pressure. It has flexible arm joints with low levels of stiffness to make sure that it doesn’t push too hard.
Study coauthor Chih-Hung (Aaron) King put himself in the tester’s spot for the robot’s first rubs. He relived the experience for Hizook:
“As the sole subject in this initial experiment, I’d like to share my impressions of the interaction. In the beginning I felt a bit tense, but never scared. As the experiment progressed, my trust in the robot grew and my tension waned. Throughout the experiment, I suffered little-to-no discomfort.”
Hit the jump for a video of the bot rubbing on King:
Benjamin Franklin would be proud. The tinkerer who loved playing with electricity and allegedly invented the bifocals might have been glad to know that one company has now brought the two things together: PixelOptics has designed a pair of powered specs that can track users’ eyes and automatically adjust the glasses’ focal length, depending on if the wearer needs to see close-up or far-away.
The glasses use liquid crystals, which can change how much they bend light when an electrical current runs through them. A video demonstration of what a wearer might see is available on PixelOptics’ website, and the company hopes that the glasses will be available in the United States before the end of 2010.
Peter Zieman, director of European sales for PixelOptics, said the device uses motion tracking software similar to the iPhone, and told The Telegraph:
With a global pandemic afoot, the last thing many people want to do is put their hands in water that many other people have already touched, even if it happens to be holy water. But in Italy, where about 30 people have already died from swine flu, many Catholics will soon be able to get untainted holy water as part of church sacrament.
Catholic churches around Italy are scrapping their traditional water fonts in favor of new automatic, motion-activated holy water dispensers invented by Luciano Marabese.
The design of the dispenser is similar to a traditional water font, but with an infra-red light that reads the presence of a hand and squirts holy water onto the person’s fingers.
Mr Marabese says he is receiving hundreds of emails from all over the world requesting information about the product.
“Some people had stopped dipping their hand into the holy water font as they were afraid of infections,” he told Reuters.
“Some people even pretended to touch the water but they just touched the marble edge of the font.”
Afghanistan isn’t taking any chances with swine flu, either. In response to concerned zoo visitors, the predominantly Muslim country has been keeping its only pig under quarantine. The pig should be glad: It’s more likely it would catch “swine flu” from humans than the other way around.
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Image: flickr / DominusVobiscum
As medicine becomes super advanced, and super expensive, the super rich may evolve into a completely different species from everyone else, according to American futurologist Paul Saffo. He thinks medical technology such as replacement organs, specially tailored drugs, and genetic research tools to alert the moneybags of any possible hereditary health dangers, could all lead to a new class of rich, elite, and longer-living humans.
Here are Saffo’s thoughts on the advantages this would give the rich, as reported in the Guardian:
“I sometimes wonder if the very rich can live, on average, 20 years longer than the poor. That’s 20 more years of earning and saving. Think about wealth and power and the advantages that you pass on to your children.”
At the very least, they’ll be able to afford health care—and keep opposing it for the rest of is.
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A new device for people who have trouble swallowing pills looks like it might become more of a health hazard than a medical savior. The Remote Intelligent Drug Delivery System (RIDDS), the latest in pill technology, relies on electronic implants to dispense medication automatically or via a wireless medical network. Ultimately, RIDDS will have built-in sensors to monitor the biomarkers of a patient’s symptoms—such as pulse rate or blood oxygen level—and health care workers will use wireless control to monitor the patient and adjust the device or medication accordingly.
Researchers, however, warn that serious security risks are involved. Because current wireless communication technology is inherently vulnerable to hacking, the new device can be tampered with.