Tech Universe: Monday 05 August

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

ON YOUR BIKE: Ambulances save lives, unless they're stuck in city traffic unable to get through. But that's where the Ambucycle plays its part. In Israel the United Hatzalah and its thousands of local volunteer emergency medical technicians can deploy instantly on their motorcycles to help stabilise patients until the ambulance can arrive. The bikes are equipped with an on-board trauma kit, oxygen canister, defibrillator, and other supplies. The medics themselves have a smartphone equipped with GPS so they receive notifications of emergencies and can respond quickly. Their average response time is 3 minutes. That's an all round smart response.

CAR ALARM: US police officers need to be alert even if they're sitting in a parked car. A new Surveillance Mode in their cars may help them relax. When the car's parked it automatically sounds a chime, locks the doors and puts up the windows if it detects someone approaching the car from behind.

The rearview mirror displays an image from the backup camera, so the officers don't even need to turn around to see who's approaching. The system can be turned off though if the car's parked in an area with a lot of pedestrians. Behind you!

MAGNETIC HEALING: Certain types of stem cells could be useful for treating conditions such as cardiovascular disease or autoimmune disorders. One problem though is how to get them to where they're needed. The answer could be to make them magnetic. First the cells are treated with tiny particles of magnetised iron oxide. Then the cells can be injected and guided into position with magnets. A coating of polyethylene glycol protects the cells themselves from damage. Tests so far suggest this could be a useful way to make the stem cells congregate where they can be of most use, rather than just in the lungs or liver. And people scoff at using magnets for healing.

THE BIG SQUEEZE: Sometimes what we know to be true isn't. One example is that when you squeeze something it becomes smaller. Not a new material called zinc dicyanoaurate though. When you compress that it grows in one dimension — a feature that could make it useful for pressure sensors or artificial muscles. Negative linear compression causes this material to rearrange its atoms in space without collapsing, thanks to a spring-like helical chain of gold atoms embedded in a honeycomb-like framework made of gold, cyanide, and zinc. When the chain is compressed, the honeycomb flexes outward by as much as 10%, just like a fold-up wine rack that grows in one direction when collapsed in the other.

WORK SUIT: What are robots made of? Well, that depends. The latest robot from Kawasaki Heavy Industries is made from stainless steel, which makes it possible to sterilise it with Hydrogen Peroxide gas, for work in environments such as manufacturing pharmaceuticals. The robot enjoys 7 degrees of freedom, allowing it the wide range of movements to easily work with bottles of dangerous chemicals. Repetitive dangerous work and being sprayed with poisonous gas doesn't sound too much like freedom.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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