Tech Universe: Tuesday 15 May

By Miraz Jordan

Can't hear what the other person is saying? Don't worry. Kyocera have created a way to funnel the sound directly into your ear by means of a ceramic transducer. Photo / Thinkstock
Can't hear what the other person is saying? Don't worry. Kyocera have created a way to funnel the sound directly into your ear by means of a ceramic transducer. Photo / Thinkstock

IN THE CLEAR: You can hear sounds either by vibrations in the air that cause your eardrum to vibrate, or by vibrations that travel through the tissue in your head to vibrate the eardrum. Phones usually use the first method, but a new model from Kyocera takes advantage of the second. Instead of a speaker, the phone contains a ceramic transducer. Touch the phone directly to your ear and you'll hear clear sound from the call without annoying ambient sounds interfering. The transducer also vibrates the face of the phone which vibrates the air so you can hear it ringing. Unfortunately it still won't solve signal problems that degrade the sound. GigaOm elaborates.

DIE BUG DIE: A coating devised at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore attracts bacteria and kills them without antibiotics. The coating is already being used by one contact lens manufacturer.

The coating is a sponge-like polymer holds a positive charge. It works like a magnet to draw in bacteria which have a negative charge on their cell walls. On contact the coating ruptures the bacteria and kills them. Gruesome but effective. Nanyang Technological University explains.

FEEL THE MUSIC: Vibroacoustic therapy transmits low sound frequencies to the body and mind through special transducers. Testing at the University of Toronto has shown that this can help people with Parkinsons to walk better and with reduced tremor. The sound therapy works like a really deep massage, providing deep physical cellular stimulation to skin, muscles and joints. That seems like an easy treatment regime — lie back and feel the music. University of Toronto has more.

GOOD BREATH: Various diseases and conditions leave biomarkers in our breath — for example, ammonia or acetone. A new device, in clinical testing, has you exhale a long breath into a machine that can return an initial diagnosis within moments. The breathalyser from Stony Brook University in the US contains a sensor chip coated with nanowires able to detect a few molecules of chemical compounds in the breath. The researchers suggest low-cost consumer devices could become available. Hypochondriacs rejoice. Check out The National Science Foundation. Find the video here.

SOUND CONTROL: SoundWave is sonar gesture control for your computer. It sends out an inaudible tone, between 18 and 22 Kilohertz. As the sound reflects off moving objects such as a hand it shifts frequency. The computer's microphone receives the reflected sound and determines the gestures the user made. Tests showed the system could be used to scroll, control music, play games and even lock the screen when the user walked away. I like the sound of that. Microsoft Research has more info.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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