Tech Universe: Friday 15 June

By Miraz Jordan

The Multiprotector can be inflated, meaning protection for a broken bone while waiting for a cast. Photo / Thinkstock
The Multiprotector can be inflated, meaning protection for a broken bone while waiting for a cast. Photo / Thinkstock

RIDE THE DRAGON: The Jetovator is like a water-powered backpack except you ride the end of the hose like a motorbike instead of strapping it on your back. The hose is tethered to a nearby craft such as a jetski that jets water through it. The Jetovator can reach heights of 10 metres, dive to 3 or 4 metres below the surface and travel at up to 40kmph. All the thrills and spills, and water to boot.

CAST ON: The Multiprotector can be carried flat and easily inflated by puffing into a short tube. It's a new temporary cast that can be used to stabilise broken bones, sprains and other injuries while waiting for an ambulance. Wrap the plastic sleeve around the injured limb and then blow through the tube to inflate it. Every first aid kit could have one. DigInfo News.

SHORT LIGHT: Synchrotrons produce light at short wavelengths, but the huge machines are extremely expensive and scientists who need to use them for their research must often wait a long time for access. A new machine that fits on a tabletop can now do much the same job and costs only around $1 million. The new device was invented by a team in the USA. An infrared laser passes through pressurised helium gas and produces light at wavelengths almost as short as those delivered by synchrotrons. Speeding up wait times in research must be a good thing.

SWIM TEAM: The Swumanoid from Tokyo Institute of Technology is a swimming humanoid, a robot that can swim underwater. That allows researchers to analyse a swimmer's whole-body motion while measuring water resistance. The Swumanoid can repeat motions exactly, or with small and known variations, or even wear a swimsuit for testing. The robot is based on a 3D body scan of a real person, though printed at half size using a 3D printer. The robot doesn't actually move through the water, but is instead held in place by supports. So at the end of the day do they feel they've actually made progress?

BRIGHTER AND FASTER: Researchers at MIT developed algorithms to pull hidden data from video by revealing and amplifying variations in colour or motion. For example, as blood flows around our body there are subtle variations in skin colour and in skin movement at pulse points although we don't notice them with the naked eye. The video recognises and magnifies these variations, making them very obvious.
This technique can pull useful information from a relatively poor quality video — for example, detecting a baby's heartbeat from a video of it sleeping in a cot. This should show up on CSI before too long.

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