'Smart Glasses' offer help to near-blind people

Researchers from Oxford University say they've made a breakthrough in developing smart glasses for people with severe sight loss.

The spectacles (smart glasses), developed by Stephen Hicks and his research team at Oxford University use 3D cameras to augment vision and help visually impaired see. Read more

The augmented reality glasses use three-dimensional cameras that detect the structure and position of nearby objects. Software then uses that information to block out the background and highlight only what is nearest to the user.

“Smart-glasses are a piece of work we’ve been doing for the past three years at Oxford looking at ways to enhance the remaining sight that people have. When you go blind, you generally have some sight remaining, and using a combination of cameras and a see-through display, we’re able to enhance nearby objects to make them easier to see for obstacle avoidance and also facial recognition,” says Dr. Stephen Hicks of the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences at Oxford University, who is leading the research.

Neuroprosthetics, brain-computer interfaces and optogenetics

Our experience of reality is constrained by our biology. Our brain cells in combination with our sensory organs (i.e., eyes, ears), create systems that shape how we perceive the world. This system has a very limited range. We only see 'less than a 10-trillionth' of the world and of what’s happening around us at all times.

According to neuroscientist David Eagleman this doesn't have to be the case anymore. Eagleman recently pointed out at a TED talk that it is truly possible to add new senses using sensory substitution.

Sensory substitution is a non-invasive technique for circumventing the loss of one sense by feeding sensory data through other unusual sensory channels.  Eagleman noted that the brain can learn to extract the meaning of such information streams. "We are leveraging this technique to develop a non-invasive, low-cost vibratory vest to allow those with deafness or severe hearing impairments to perceive auditory information through small vibrations on their torso."

We could develop wireless, brain-to-brain communication, something called synthetic telepathy, and send messages to each other by thinking them.  

The world's smallest cardiac pacemaker

Researchers have developed the world's smallest, minimally invasive pacemaker. New cardiac devices are small enough to be delivered through blood vessels into the heart, via an incision in the thigh. It's delivered via a catheter through the femoral vein and then positioned inside the right ventricle of the heart.

The findings also showed that the Micra TPS—about the size of a large vitamin—met safety and effectiveness endpoints with wide margins. In a recent international clinical trial, it was successfully implanted in 99.2 percent of the 725 patients, and 96 percent of patients experienced zero complications -- 51 percent less than normal procedures. Read More>

High-tech mouthguard that can detect concussions

Detecting a concussion is difficult, and unknowingly allowing athletes to play with one can cause a lifetime of brain damage.

Mamori which is Japanese for "protect", is a mouthguard with built-in sensors that can  send alerts to coaches that  when a collision is intense enough to cause a concussion and also tell someone on the sidelines when a player has received a serious – yet invisible – injury. If the force absorbed by a player is large enough, that information can be received with the corresponding Mamori app on a computer instantaneously. This will allow for coaches and trainers to provide treatment quicker to the injured player, because they were able to recognize the concussion at an earlier period of time. Because concussions are so easily undetectable, sometimes players can just shake it off as a headache and not think anything about it; if they get hit again though, the consequences can be much more dire. Mamori will help prevent players from playing with undetected concussion - Read more

Mark Dillon, an Irish inventor, was inspired to make Manori because of the concussion problem with Gaelic football in Ireland, along with the increasing problem of players playing with concussions and getting hit again. Mamori is a finalist for the James Dyson Award, in which hundreds of university-level design and engineering students compete for cash and recognition. 

Wearable robotic suits that allow people with lower-body paralysis to walk upright again

Wearable robotic suits that allow people with lower-body paralysis to walk upright again

Could you ever imagine that soon wheelchairs might become irrelevant? Well, you don't have to imagine it, since the revolutionary "bionic exoskeleton" is now making this a reality. Robotic or mechanical exoskeletons provide the possibility of offering disabled people the kind of protection, support and strength they afford in nature. 

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