Tech Universe: Thursday 25 October

By Miraz Jordan

Scientists have developed material that repels chemical and biological agents. Photo / Thinkstock
Scientists have developed material that repels chemical and biological agents. Photo / Thinkstock

BRAIN TRAIN: The Muse headset from InteraXon is a 4-sensor headband that measures your state of mind. It has 2 sensors on the forehead and 2 behind the ears. It can help you maintain concentration and focus by alerting you to when your mind is drifting off-topic or by helping you to relax or sharpen your mind. The headband comes with a brain-training app and an SDK for others to create their own applications. The headset connects via wireless or Bluetooth to various common smartphones and computers and includes a rechargeable battery. Imagine schoolkids with access to these headbands. See video here.

WALK THIS WAY: A team at Glasgow Caledonian University are using 3D printers to quickly make orthotic devices that are more supportive than traditionally made devices. In the past a foot mould was created in plaster then plastic was added around it by hand.

The whole process took several weeks. In the new process motion sensor cameras measure the exact proportions of the leg or foot then a 3D printer builds up layers of plastic to create the insole or splint. And it would be easy to produce spares, or orthotics in various colours.

SHAKE IT OFF: Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are using carbon nanotubes to create material that repels chemical and biological agents. The fabric is intended for military uniforms. To stop soldiers from becoming overheated the fabric in their uniforms needs to be able to breathe. But that openness makes them vulnerable to attack by chemical or biological agents. The new fabric will block biologic agents with a small pore size on the nanotubes, though chemicals could still slip through. An agent on the fabric will respond to chemical threats by closing the pores and also by shedding a layer of the fabric. Like a dog, a good shake and they could be safely on their way.

HARBOUR RUN: When it comes to driving warships new recruits aren't let loose on the real thing. At the Britannia Royal Naval College in the UK trainees are immersed in real-world harbour scenarios through almost a gigabyte of actual photographs displayed on 180 degrees of wrap-around screens. A graphics specialist spent 5 days and nights photographing every aspect of Portsmouth Harbour in various conditions to create a scene that's so realistic trainees forget they're on a training bridge rather than the real thing. 10 high-spec computers drive the simulation which can also recreate a lookout's view through binoculars. Which makes you wonder how they were trained in the days before computers.

BAGS OF RUN: The Urban Crew backpack from iSafe aims to protect you from assailants. Pull a cord and it sets off two 125-decibel sirens and a set of flashing strobes. The sirens are loud enough to cause hearing damage, and painful enough to make an assailant flee. Two batteries power the siren for 2 hours and the strobes for up to 60 hours. Perhaps it should include emergency earplugs for the owner. See video here.

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