Tech Universe: Thursday 22 August

By Miraz Jordan

A spoon has been created that will compensate for tremors. Photo / Thinkstock
A spoon has been created that will compensate for tremors. Photo / Thinkstock

STEADY NOW: People whose hands shake, perhaps because of Parkinson's, may have trouble keeping food on a spoon. The Liftware Spoon uses active cancellation smarts to stabilise things. Sensors embedded in the spoon detect motion and distinguish between unintended tremors and intentional movements such as lifting the spoon to the mouth. Motors in the handle move the spoon and cancel tremor both horizontally and vertically. No more cornflakes on the floor.

HISTORICAL BITS: 4,000 years of British history is quite a lot to cover. James Pegrum has done it with Lego, starting with Stonehenge and including notables such as the codebreakers on the Colossus computer, the Great Fire of London, Charles Darwin landing on Galapagos and Brunel's iron steam ship. Brick by brick we build our history.

JUNIOR TABLETS: When the littlest kids in the house want to play with your laptop you may not be thrilled at how they'll handle your expensive device. Perhaps instead you could get them their own low cost Lexibook Laptab. It's a lime green Android based touchscreen display and keyboard, designed for kids, that can be used as a tablet or a notebook. It features a 7" display at 800 x 480 pixels, 4 GB hard drive, WiFi, ethernet and a microSD card slot, and weighs less than a kilo. There, bash that.

LIFESAVING SEATS: Thousands of children drown each year in rural Bangladesh, even while swimming with other kids around. The low cost JalaPira is designed to help kids rescue one another. It's a hollow recycled PET plastic seat with 6.5 litres of air inside that easily keeps a child afloat in the water. 3 large handles make it easy to pick up, carry, and throw up to a couple of metres. Inside are a retrieval line in a housing, and a whistle. In tests even 4 year olds could easily and safely use the device. The idea is for NGOs to buy and distribute the JalaPiras. So easy a four year old can use it: that's the story.

IMPEDING MALARIA: Cells infected with malaria have slightly different electrical properties from their healthy counterparts. Researchers at MIT are using that difference to detect malaria sooner than can usually be done — at least in the lab. Their prototype microfluidic device takes a drop of blood and streams it across an electrode, measuring the magnitude and phase of the electrical impedance of individual cells. Then some maths allows them to detect cells with early signs of malaria. Eventually the device may be developed into a low cost portable version that could diagnose malaria in its earliest stages. That's another in the trend of medical devices and techniques becoming smaller, cheaper and more portable.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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