PAWS may just save your life one day. It stands for Portable, All-Terrain, Wireless System — a lightweight night and day camera that straps on to a search and rescue dog and sends a wireless signal back to a human controller nearby. A trained dog can search through rubble or a collapsed building, while a rescue commander can watch what it sees. An infrared view can cut through dark spaces, Once the dog locates someone who's trapped the rescue team can go in. The UK makers had to source a camera that weighed even less than a standard helmet cam so a dog could wear it. Does the dog get a helmet too? Details at
JUST BREATHE: European scientists are developing biosensors that can detect the presence of tumour markers of lung cancer in exhaled breath. Our breath contains all kinds of organic compounds, and cancer doesn't have a single marker. Instead several compounds together can betray it. Tecnalia developed novel materials sensitive enough to detect the compounds medical teams are interested in. Being able to detect tumours early improves the chances of being cured. Sensitive materials, eh. Like a dog's nose? Tecnalia has more.
WALKABOUT: Ekso Bionics hope their new exoskeleton can help people with paraplegia to walk on their own. It's intended for medical facilities where people can be supervised while they train to use it. A physiotherapist helps control the device with a remote, while the human inside it needs to learn to balance their upper body. In case you think this sounds familiar, Ekso were previously called Berkeley Bionics. If you can walk unassisted now, don't take it for granted. More information here.
SHIFTING SANDS: Teaching robots to walk on a hard surface is tricky enough. On sand it's enormously more difficult because sand shifts, and the feet sink in. Engineers from Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan, have been studying how a small model robot foot walks in sand. They plan to use this data for full-size robots. Eventually they hope to help robots walk on any kind of sand or loose soil. ANd maybe it could be applied to exoskeletons too. New Scientist has more.
EVERYONE KNOWS WHERE YOU ARE: The US Government runs the current Global Positioning System, and that introduces problems of a political nature. Now China has its own version of GPS in operation. Beidou make available location, timing and navigation data in China and surrounding areas. 10 satellites are currently in orbit for Beidou, while another half dozen should launch soon. Then the network will be doubled over the next few years. Beidou should be correct to within 10 metres for civilians, but the Chinese military can access more accurate data. What's good for everyone is that the system is compatible and interoperable with the world's other navigation systems. Meanwhile the European system called Galileo should be up and running in a few years. Location, location, location. BBC has more.
- Miraz Jordan knowit.co.nz