Tech Universe: Tuesday 12 June

By Miraz Jordan

The Large Hadron Collider  is very sensitive and can be affected by Lake Geneva. Photo / Thinkstock
The Large Hadron Collider is very sensitive and can be affected by Lake Geneva. Photo / Thinkstock

JUNGLE DRUMS: How do you find an ancient city that's been reclaimed by jungle? Well, LIDAR can help. Light Detection and Ranging bounces a radar signal off the ground from an aircraft and records exactly how long the signal takes to return. Computer analysis of the results can determine an area's topography down to several centimetres resolution, showing up structures built by humans even under a thick coating of jungle. Then people can go into the area on the ground and see what's really there. That sounds like an ideal job for a drone aircraft.

LARGE BUT SENSITIVE: The Large Hadron Collider is very sensitive. So sensitive in fact that it has to be specially calibrated to take account of the full moon. With a 27km diameter circuit for the proton beam the moon exerts a slightly different gravitational force on each side of the tunnel, skewing the beam slightly.

The beam's also affected by a nearby electric train line and the level of water in Lake Geneva. Now that's a sensitive instrument.

SKIN TEST: If melanoma is found early it can be easily treated. The MelaFind device objectively and accurately analyses suspicious moles for early signs of melanoma. A handheld scanner emits 10 unique wavelengths of light, records and analyses the images and compares them to a database of 10,000 known images. Within moments it returns a diagnosis with 98% accuracy. It sounds like the kind of device that saves lives.

HEAR THIS SIGN: Students from the University of Houston developed the proof-of-concept MyVoice, a device that reads sign language and translates its motions into audible words. The device includes a microphone, speaker, soundboard, video camera and monitor. The signer's movements are captured by camera, processed and translated into voice. The prototype can handle only one phrase so far, but the students hope it can be developed into a functioning device. There might be a bit of a gap between translating a single phrase and being truly useful.

WAKEY WAKEY: Depressed? Perhaps a 30 minute blast of magnetism to the brain will help. The Brainsway transcranial magnetic stimulation device passes high currents through an electromagnetic coil placed on the patient's scalp. The pulses induce an electric field in the underlying brain tissue, which can activate neurons and relieve depression. The company's trials show this can be an effective way totreat depression. Kind of like a deep massage really.

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