Tech Universe: Thursday 20 June

By Miraz Jordan

Researchers have developed a better way to constantly monitor blood pressure. Photo / Thinkstock
Researchers have developed a better way to constantly monitor blood pressure. Photo / Thinkstock

WATCH THE BLOOD PRESSURE: What say you need to constantly monitor someone's blood pressure? Perhaps a catheter is inserted into the artery or medical staff have to use a pump-up cuff around the arm every 15 minutes. It's tedious and time-consuming. A new device from Switzerland is worn on the wrist and continuously records blood pressure. Several sensors simultaneously measure the contact pressure, pulse and blood flow on the surface of the skin near the wrist. As the device may move around though a sensor made from piezo-resistive fibres in the wristband measures the contact pressure of the device on the skin and corrections can be calculated. Clinical trials are already underway. Now it needs the smartphone app for data collection, monitoring and the inevitable sharing.

BAGS ON BIKES: Bicycles are great for swooping around town or having a fun ride, but add in kids and a load of shopping and you'll probably head straight back to the bus or car.

The elMundo BionX bike from Yuba Bikes is designed to carry kids and cargo. It adds a 48 volt battery pack to drive a 21 speed drive train and the 455 Watt brushless motor. An integrated luggage rack that carries up to 200 Kg and sideloaders give a lot of space for whatever you need to carry and attachment points let you add extras like child seats. Now, what about the family dog?

OUT FOR THE DUCK: If you're out in the forest hunting animals you need a steady hand to pull the trigger. One US hunting enthusiast lost the use of his arms in an accident though, so he created the Equalizer Shooting System that lets him aim his rifle by toggling a joystick with his chin, and fire with a puffer switch. But then who collects the kill?

STEEL GO FAR: Lifts get to go up and down thanks to steel cables that hold them firmly. But the problem with steel is that it's heavy, so the sheer weight of the cable means lifts can't really go past 500 metres. With the extra tall new buildings going up around the world such as the over 800 metre tall Burj Khalifa in Dubai, lifts now need to go higher. That's why Finnish engineers have developed a super-light and super-strong lift-hoisting cable that can lift things up to a kilometre. Their UltraRope has 4 carbon-fibre tapes sealed in transparent plastic about 4 centimetres wide and 4 millimetres thick. It's stronger than steel but weighs only one seventh as much. That could also reduce the electricity needed to haul lifts up and down by around 10%. It's easy to imagine other uses too, such as ships hawsers and cranes on construction sites.

MIX AND MATCH: Demolition and construction sites produce huge amounts of waste that could be recycled — if it's correctly sorted. But sorting metal, wood and stone is laborious and dangerous work. Finnish company ZenRobotics now have a robot on the job. The ZenRobotics Recycler uses weight measurement, 3-D scanning, tactile assessment and spectrometer analysis to assess each item and then move it into an appropriate bin. That's an ideal job for a robot.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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