Tech Universe: Wednesday 17 October

By Miraz Jordan

Chronic migraine sufferers may find relief from an implanted neurostimulation system. Photo / Thinkstock
Chronic migraine sufferers may find relief from an implanted neurostimulation system. Photo / Thinkstock

HEAD SHOCK: People with chronic migraine may suffer from headaches most days of any month, but an implanted neurostimulation device could provide some relief. The Genesis neurostimulation system delivers mild electrical pulses to the occipital nerves at the back of the head. Tests have shown the device to reduce the average number of migraines per month from 22 to 16. The one thing is that the researchers don't really know why it works, just that it does. Don't try this at home folks. New Scientist explains. Check out the video.

CLIMBING CHAIR: People who use wheelchairs aren't too keen on steps. A new prototype robotic electric wheelchair from the Chiba Institute of Technology in Japan uses 4 wheel drive and 5 axes to climb over obstacles.

It uses its wheels as legs to climb a step when the user drives it with a joystick. If it's on uneven ground the wheelchair also makes sure the seat remains level. Sensors allow the wheelchair to assess steps and other obstacles. The user can also extend stabilisers and line up the wheels to turn in a circle. The designers now need to test the wheelchair with a variety of users. Not requiring curb cuts would be a good thing in itself. DigInfo TV details. Video here.

PASSING OUT: With massively breached and leaked passwords creating a growing problem the security firm RSA has taken to storing elements of passwords and associated security questions on different servers. That means if one server is breached it doesn't give attackers enough information to be useful. People supplying passwords won't see any difference, as the action happens behind the scenes. Researchers suggest though that such massive breaches aren't as big a problem as individuals giving away passwords in phishing attacks. There just has to be a better solution to security problems than passwords. BBC has further info.

ON THE MAP: Hestia is a system from scientists at Arizona State University that measures carbon emissions from individual buildings and locations. The system mashes up data from public databases with traffic simulations and energy consumption models to pinpoint sources of CO2. Once authorities can see exactly where the biggest carbon emissions are they can work to reduce them. The system can also verify whether promised cuts have taken place. Scientists using the system observed that electricity production swamps other sources, and that traffic jams are an important source of carbon emissions. Identifying the actual problem is the first step to solving it. BBC elaborates.

DARK DNA: Analysing DNA to find clues to sickness is slow and costly. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen found a way to couple genetic material to a luminous molecule that goes dark only in the presence of a specific target. It's quicker than traditional methods of checking DNA — an analysis takes only six hours rather than 48. Apart from anything else that should help reduce anxiety amongst those being tested, and even that is a good outcome. KurzweilAI has further details.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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