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Make Music A Full Body Experience With A “Vibro-Tactile” Suit

27 Září, 2018 - 16:09
SYNESTHETES

Tired: Listening to music.
Wired: Feeling the music.

A mind-bending new suit straps onto your torso, ankles and wrists, then uses actuators to translate audio into vivid vibration. The result: a new way for everyone to experience music, according to its creators. That’s especially exciting for people who have trouble hearing.

THE FEELIES

The Music: Not Impossible suit was created by design firm Not Impossible Labs and electronics manufacturing company Avnet. The suit can create sensations to go with pre-recorded music, or a “Vibrotactile DJ” can adjust the sensations in real time during a live music event.”

Billboard writer Andy Hermann tried the suit out, and it sounds like a trip.

“Sure enough, a pulse timed to a kickdrum throbs into my ankles and up through my legs,” he wrote. “Gradually, [the DJ] brings in other elements: the tap of a woodblock in my wrists, a bass line massaging my lower back, a harp tickling a melody across my chest.”

MORE ACCESSIBLE

To show the suit off, Not Impossible and Avnet organized a performance this past weekend by the band Greta Van Fleet at the Life is Beautiful Festival in Las Vegas. The company allowed attendees to don the suits. Mandy Harvey, a deaf musician who stole the show on America’s Got Talent last year, talked about what the performance meant to her in a video Avnet posted to Facebook.

“It was an unbelievable experience to have an entire audience group who are all experiencing the same thing at the same time,” she said. “For being a deaf person, showing up at a concert, that never happens. You’re always excluded.”

READ MORE: Not Impossible Labs, Zappos Hope to Make Concerts More Accessible for the Deaf — and Cooler for Everyone [Billboard]

More on accessible design: New Tech Allows Deaf People To Sense Sounds

The post Make Music A Full Body Experience With A “Vibro-Tactile” Suit appeared first on Futurism.

Kategorie: Transhumanismus

“Synthetic Skin” Could Give Prosthesis Users a Superhuman Sense of Touch

20 Září, 2018 - 20:37
IN THE FEELS

Today’s prosthetics can give people with missing limbs the ability to do almost anything — run marathons, climb mountains, you name it. But when it comes to letting those people feel what they could with a natural limb, the devices, however mechanically sophisticated, invariably fall short.

Now researchers have created a “synthetic skin” with a sense of touch that not only matches the sensitivity of natural skin, but in some cases even exceeds it. Now the only challenge is getting that information back into the wearer’s nervous system.

UNDER PRESSURE

When something presses against your skin, your nerves receive and transmit that pressure to the brain in the form of electrical signals.

To mimic that biological process, the researchers suspended a flexible polymer, dusted with magnetic particles, over a magnetic sensor. The effect is like a drum: Applying even the tiniest amount of pressure to the membrane causes the magnetic particles to move closer to the sensors, and they transmit this movement electronically.

The research, which could open the door to super-sensitive prosthetics, was published Wednesday in the journal Science Robotics.

SPIDEY SENSE TINGLING

Tests shows that the skin can sense extremely subtle pressure, such as a blowing breeze, dripping water, or crawling ants. In some cases, the synthetic skin responded to pressures so gentle that natural human skin wouldn’t be able to detect them.

While the sensing ability of this synthetic skin is remarkable, the team’s research doesn’t address how to transmit the signals to the human brain. Other scientists are working on that, though, so eventually this synthetic skin could give prosthetic wearers the ability to feel forces even their biological-limbed friends can’t detect.

READ MORE: A Skin-Inspired Tactile Sensor for Smart Prosthetics [Science Robotics]

More on synthetic skin: Electronic Skin Lets Amputees Feel Pain Through Their Prosthetics

The post “Synthetic Skin” Could Give Prosthesis Users a Superhuman Sense of Touch appeared first on Futurism.

Kategorie: Transhumanismus

People Are Zapping Their Brains to Boost Creativity. Experts Have Concerns.

19 Září, 2018 - 20:56
BRAIN BOOST

There’s a gadget that some say can help alleviate depression and enhance creativity. All you have to do is place a pair of electrodes on your scalp and the device will deliver electrical current to your brain. It’s readily available on Amazon or you can even make your own.

But in a new paper published this week in the Creativity Research Journal, psychologists at Georgetown University warned that the practice is spreading before we have a good understanding of its health effects, especially since consumers are already buying and building unregulated devices to shock them. They also cautioned that the technique, which scientists call transcranial electrical stimulation (tES), could have adverse effects on the brains of young people.

“There are multiple potential concerns with DIY-ers self-administering electric current to their brains, but this use of tES may be inevitable,” said co-author Adam Green in a press release. “And, certainly, anytime there is risk of harm with a technology, the scariest risks are those associated with kids and the developing brain”

SHOCK JOCK

Yes, there’s evidence that tES can help patients with depression, anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, and other serious conditions, the Georgetown researchers acknowledge.

But that’s only when it’s administered by a trained health care provider. When administering tES at home, people might ignore safety directions, they wrote, or their home-brewed devices could deliver unsafe amounts of current. And because it’s not yet clear what effects of tES might be on the still-developing brains of young people, the psychologists advise teachers and parents to resist the temptation to use the devices to encourage creativity among children.

The takeaway: tES is likely here to stay, and it may provide real benefits. But for everyone’s sake, consumer-oriented tES devices should be regulated to protect users.

READ MORE: Use of electrical brain stimulation to foster creativity has sweeping implications [Eurekalert]

More on transcranial electrical stimulation: DARPA’s New Brain Device Increases Learning Speed by 40%

The post People Are Zapping Their Brains to Boost Creativity. Experts Have Concerns. appeared first on Futurism.

Kategorie: Transhumanismus

Military Pilots Can Control Three Jets at Once via a Neural Implant

19 Září, 2018 - 15:25
MIND CONTROL

The military is making it easier than ever for soldiers to distance themselves from the consequences of war. When drone warfare emerged, pilots could, for the first time, sit in an office in the U.S. and drop bombs in the Middle East.

Now, one pilot can do it all, just using their mind — no hands required.

Earlier this month, DARPA, the military’s research division, unveiled a project that it had been working on since 2015: technology that grants one person the ability to pilot multiple planes and drones with their mind.

“As of today, signals from the brain can be used to command and control … not just one aircraft but three simultaneous types of aircraft,” Justin Sanchez, director of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office, said, according to Defense One.

THE SINGULARITY

Sanchez may have unveiled this research effort at a “Trajectory of Neurotechnology” session at DARPA’s 60th anniversary event, but his team has been making steady progress for years. Back in 2016, a volunteer equipped with a brain-computer interface (BCI) was able to pilot an aircraft in a flight simulator while keeping two other planes in formation — all using just his thoughts, a spokesperson from DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office told Futurism.

In 2017, Copeland was able to steer a plane through another simulation, this time receiving haptic feedback — if the plane needed to be steered in a certain direction, Copeland’s neural implant would create a tingling sensation in his hands.

NOT QUITE MAGNETO

There’s a catch. The DARPA spokesperson told Futurism that because this BCI makes use of electrodes implanted in and on the brain’s sensory and motor cortices, experimentation has been limited to volunteers with varying degrees of paralysis. That is: the people steering these simulated planes already had brain electrodes, or at least already had reason to undergo surgery.

To try and figure out how to make this technology more accessible and not require surgical placement of a metal probe into people’s brains, DARPA recently launched the NExt-Generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology (N3) program. The plan is to make a device with similar capabilities, but it’ll look more like an EEG cap that the pilot can take off once a mission is done.

“The envisioned N3 system would be a tool that the user could wield for the duration of a task or mission, then put aside,” said Al Emondi, head of N3, according to the spokesperson. “I don’t like comparisons to a joystick or keyboard because they don’t reflect the full potential of N3 technology, but they’re useful for conveying the basic notion of an interface with computers.”

READ MORE: It’s Now Possible To Telepathically Communicate with a Drone Swarm [Defense One]

More on DARPA research: DARPA Is Funding Research Into AI That Can Explain What It’s “Thinking”

The post Military Pilots Can Control Three Jets at Once via a Neural Implant appeared first on Futurism.

Kategorie: Transhumanismus

Lab-Grown Bladders Can Save People From a Lifetime of Dialysis

12 Září, 2018 - 21:54
ONE IN A MILLION TEN

Today, about 10 people on Earth have bladders they weren’t born with. No, they didn’t receive bladder transplants — doctors grew these folks new bladders using the recipients’ own cells.

On Tuesday, the BBC published a report on the still-nascent procedure of transplanting lab-grown bladders. In it, the publication talks to Luke Massella, who underwent the procedure more than a decade ago. Massella was born with spina bifida, which carries with it a risk of damage to the bladder and urinary tract. Now, he lives a normal life, he told the BBC.

“I was kind of facing the possibility I might have to do dialysis [blood purification via machine] for the rest of my life,” he said. “I wouldn’t be able to play sports, and have the normal kid life with my brother.”

All that changed after Anthony Atala, a surgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital, decided he was going to grow a new bladder for Massella.

ONE NEW BLADDER, COMING UP!

To do that, Atala first removed a small piece of Massella’s own bladder. He then removed cells from this portion of bladder and multiplied them in a petri dish. Once he had enough cells, he coated a scaffold with the cells and placed the whole thing in a temperature controlled, high oxygen environment. After a few weeks, the lab-created bladder was ready for transplantation into Massella.

“So it was pretty much like getting a bladder transplant, but from my own cells, so you don’t have to deal with rejection,” said Massella.

The number of people with lab-grown bladders might still be low enough to count on your fingers, but researchers are making huge advances in growing everything from organs to skin in the lab. Eventually, we might reach a point when we can replace any body part we need to with a perfect biological match that we built ourselves.

READ MORE: “A New Bladder Made From My Cells Gave Me My Life Back” [BBC]

More on growing organs: The FDA Wants to Expedite Approval of Regenerative Organ Therapies

The post Lab-Grown Bladders Can Save People From a Lifetime of Dialysis appeared first on Futurism.

Kategorie: Transhumanismus