Diabetics need to keep careful track of their blood sugar. A tiny new biosensor from the Fraunhofer Institute measures glucose from body fluids such as sweat or tears, without the standard needle prick. The sensor uses an electrochemical reaction activated with the help of an enzyme. The chip is only 0.5 mm by 2 mm and uses less than 100 microamperes of power, meaning it could be worn for weeks or months. A monitor converts sensor readings to digital form and sends the data wirelessly to a small receiver. Eventually the biochip could perhaps control an implanted pump to administer the right dose of insulin. But you do need to keep crying or sweating.


GOING DOWN: 2119 metres below the sea floor off Japan a drill has just collected samples of rock. This is a world record for depth, but the plan is to go even deeper, to 2.2 Km. The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology is studying a deeply buried coal formation to tackle fundamental scientific questions related to the co-evolution of Earth and life. The Chikyu research vessel that has drilled this far is capable of drilling as much as 10 Km below sea level, reaching the mantle, the plate boundary seisomogenic zones and the deep biosphere. How do they know they can drill that deep if they haven't done it before? Integrated Ocean Drilling Program has more.


CRASH BUTTON: ICEdot is US service that allows medical and other services to find information about a person in case of emergency. Their new product is a tiny button that attaches to a bike helmet. The button contains an accelerometer to detect the sudden motion and impact that suggest a crash. If the sensor registers a suspected crash it uses Bluetooth to signal your phone and start a countdown. If you're OK you cancel the countdown, but if you don't cancel then the phone sends GPS and other data to nominated emergency contacts. It's very clever to automate the whole procedure like that. Gear Junkie elaborates.

SHADOW MOVES: The Ghost is an armband that could help you play sports better. The Arduino-based device can be programmed with movements from another sports person — perhaps a tennis player or golfer. Then vibrating pads and sensors in the hand and armband help the wearer replicate the movements. The sensors detect the twisting and flexing of the wearer's joints. LEDs give visual feedback on stroke accuracy, while the vibrating units help guide the path of the arm. That could probably be a valuable tool in physiotherapy and work such as stroke rehab too. Phys.org details. Check out the video.

MAGNETIC MUSCLES: A researcher at Edith Cowan University in Australia tested a device to help athletes and others recover from muscle strain, and it looks like it works. The e-cell device uses pulsed electromagnetic field therapy which is already known to help the healing of bone fractures and osteoarthritis. The results showed a rapid return of strength and range of motion, significantly reducing swelling and tenderness. This could be useful not only for athletes but in post-op care for joint replacements. Edith Cowan University has further info.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz