Tech Universe: Tuesday 16 October

By Miraz Jordan

According to the International Telecommunication Union, there are 6 billion mobile phone subscriptions. Photo / Thinkstock
According to the International Telecommunication Union, there are 6 billion mobile phone subscriptions. Photo / Thinkstock

PHONES OR PEOPLE?: The International Telecommunication Union says there are around 6 billion mobile phone subscriptions in the world. Not bad for a total population on the planet of around 7 billion. The figures don't include a count of SIM cards used for tablets or laptops. China alone accounts for around 1 billion subscriptions. I wonder how many subscriptions are for people who have two or more devices, perhaps for personal use and for work? A count of how many people have mobile phones might be more useful. BBC elaborates.

FOOT FLEXOR: The X1 robotic exoskeleton from NASA weighs around 26 Kg and has 10 degrees of freedom. It can help or hinder movement in leg joints. Used by astronauts in space it can provide resistance for exercises, but here on the ground it could help people walk. It has 4 motorised joints at the hips and the knees, and 6 passive joints that let the wearer sidestep, turn and point, and flex a foot. Now let's see models on the catwalk wearing them.

Just imagine! Network World details. Check out the video.

TRAVEL BUG: An infected female mosquito can give a person malaria. But if that infected person is then bitten by an uninfected mosquito they may in turn infect the mosquito and enable the spread of the parasite. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University gathered location data from the cellphones of nearly 15 million Kenyans as they travelled around the country. By mashing up the data with with maps of population distribution and malaria prevalence they were able to track how people carried the disease to areas of previously low infection. That means that rather than simply controlling mosquitoes, health authorities need to also control transmission, perhaps by screening travellers. I suspect wiping out mosquitos is an infinitely easier proposition. New Scientist explains.

BRAINY SOLUTION: Sometimes medical personnel or researchers need to monitor a person's brainwaves, perhaps to diagnose epilepsy or other problems. Usually EEG systems take at least an hour to apply in a hospital by a trained technician. Then the subject of the study has to stay tethered to the monitor. Imec, Holst Centre and Panasonic have created a mobile EEG headset. The portable headset is put on in a moment like a hat. It allows the subject to move around normally and in a variety of real-life locations while transmitting readings directly to a wireless receiver up to 10 metres away. That should make for more accurate and more realistic readings too. MedGadget has further info. Video here.

DEEP BREATHING: If a submarine is disabled and sinks its crew are in big trouble. The Submarine Rescue Diving Recompression System is a remotely operated vehicle that can dive to 600 metres and ferry up to 155 crew members to the surface. As it ascends it can maintain a pressure of up to 5 atmospheres. At the surface the sailors can be transferred directly to decompression chambers. The system can be deployed anywhere in the world within 72 hours from its home port of San Diego in the USA. Is there 72 hours of air in a disabled submarine? Gizmodo has further details.

Miraz Jordan,

- NZ Herald

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