Posts tagged " Smart Living "

How A New Sensor Could Turn Your Smartphone Into A Molecular Scanner

January 31st, 2017 Posted by News No Comment yet

A Japanese city has introduced a novel way to keep track of senior citizens with dementia who are prone to getting lost – tagging their fingers and toes with scan-able barcodes. A company in Iruma, north of Tokyo, developed tiny nail stickers, each of which carries a unique identity number to help concerned families find missing loved ones, according to the city’s social welfare office.

In 2017, an estimated 222.9 million people in the US will have smartphones, worldwide that number is expected to surpass two billion. Through apps and wearables, we’re using those smartphones to help us track our health, fitness, sleep patterns, ovulation, heart rate, water intake, etc.

But, what if we could use our mobile devices to scan and then instantly analyse the molecular make-up of the food we eat or the health of soil for crops or an on-the-spot analysis of a tissue sample by a doctor or nurse regardless of where they are?

NeoSpectra Sensor

The NeoSpectra Sensor

Si-Ware Systems has developed a small, near infrared spectral sensor that can analyse materials in real-time without sending samples to a lab. It’s small enough to be built into a smartphone for an on-the-spot analysis of anything you can scan with a mobile device. The company says it has applications for both the consumer and industrial markets. The sensor could be used in food safety and analysis, evaluating the health of soils, oil and gas composition as well as determine the purity of pharmaceutical drugs.

Currently, the device is being tested in the agriculture, petrochemical and healthcare markets. Because of its small size, smaller than a finger joint, it can be incorporated into consumer electronics products. Spectroscopy and material analysis has been missing from consumer applications because of size, cost and form restraints.

In the same way that inertial sensors, accelerometers and gyros became small enough and low-cost enough for consumer electronic products, enabling a host of applications for motion sensing, NeoSpectra Micro can give performance material analysis to the consumer electronics world,” said Scott Smyser, executive vice president, Si-Ware Systems.

Last December 2016, a collaborative team of researchers from Stockholm and Uppsala University in Sweden and UCLA in California, turned a smartphone into a microscope. In a paper published in Nature Communications, the team created a mobile-phone-based bio-molecular analysis and diagnostics prototype that could analyse the mutations in a cell’s DNA. This type of analysis at the point-of-care opens up new opportunities for digital molecular analysis and telemedicine.

Thanks to Jennifer Hicks at Forbes for the article content.

Exciting news from CES 2017!

January 10th, 2017 Posted by News No Comment yet

The world’s biggest tech conference CES has just finished in Las Vegas – unfortunately, we’ve only been able to watch the news from afar! Just in case (like us) you didn’t get to attend in person, here are some highlights:

Super Thin TVs CES new Tech

LG W7 ‘wallpaper’ OLED TV. The all-new W7 OLED is like no TV you’ve ever seen. It can’t stand by itself on legs or a pedestal. Instead, it requires a wall. And when attached to that wall, it protrudes no further than a couple of coins stacked together: just 3.85 mm. That’s 0.15 inch, so thin you’d never notice it from the side.

The 65-inch model weighs just 18 pounds and the 77-incher weighs 27. That’s less than many 32-inch LCDs, light enough to attach just about anywhere, without worrying about in-wall studs or weight limits. LG includes a special flush-mounting plate, the top of which screws into the wall as usual, while the bottom sticks to the wall with magnets. It’s even flexible enough to peel slightly away, if for no other reason than to blow your visitors’ minds.

LG will begin shipping the 65-inch size “soon” for roughly £6,580. No one ever said cool is cheap!

Hybrid Laptops

The new two-in-one hybrids blur the line between laptop and tablet. These flipping, folding, transforming touchscreen devices were everywhere at the show. Dell had some great new offerings:

CES Tech

XPS 13 2-in-1

The XPS 13 2-in-1 is a hybrid offshoot of the popular XPS 13 laptop. It features a 360-degree hinged convertible with a slim bezel display. That means you can fold the 13-inch display back into a table tent or kiosk position, or fold it all the way back into a slightly chunky tablet. It also works well as an ordinary clamshell laptop too.

CES Tech

Latitude 5285

Another new addition to the Dell portfolio is the Latitude 5285 hybrid. It starts off as a standalone tablet, but adds a clip-on keyboard for typing and touch-padding.


Tanvas – Haptic Screens

Touchscreen technology has redefined the way we interact with electronic devices, but while controls have become more precise over the years, touchscreens themselves haven’t been able to truly replicate the human sense of touch. Tanvas aims to add the ability to feel texture on a touchscreen with a new haptic feedback technology showcased at CES.

CES Tech

In the demo are a few sample applications. One lets you drag your finger through a virtual pool with pebble floors. The haptic feedback makes it feel like water ripples are following your fingertips, and the pebbles underneath create a slight “bump” between every other stone.

Another interesting application is with one of Tanvas’ partners Bonobos, the apparel company. The app showed two pairs of pants — one cotton and one corduroy — and you can rub the screen to feel each fabric texture. While the screen doesn’t magically feel exactly like textile, it does give you a good sense of how smooth the fabric might be.

It will be interesting to see how this sense-based tech develops in coming years. Smell-a-vision anyone?

Smart Beds

CES Tech

Sleep Number unveiled its new 360 bed. This bed does a lot: it automatically adjusts to your sleep position to make you comfortable; it detects snoring and elevates your head to stop your snoring; it figures out how well you slept based off your heart rate, breathing, and your tossing and turning; and it’s also got foot warmers.

The 360 has three layers that are integral to making it work. There’s the actual mechanics at the bottom of the bed that physically move you up and down, but there’s also the air chamber, which adjusts to your position to make you comfortable. On top of all that, there’s the cushion layer that makes the bed something you’d actually want to lay on.

This score is called a Sleep IQ. Clever, eh?


The Internet of Things and why it matters to you

November 15th, 2016 Posted by Case Study, Subjects, Tech Talk No Comment yet

The Internet of Things (IoT) is considered to be the next evolution of the Internet. Predictions expect IoT to have five to 10 times the impact on society as the Internet, with over 50 billion devices set to join the IoT landscape by 2020.

What exactly is the IoT? At it’s core is a really simple explanation – it’s about connecting devices over the internet, letting them talk to us, applications, and each other. The most common every-day application in the UK at the moment is within home heating and energy use – think Smart Meters. They have clever functions that let you turn on heating remotely, set it to turn down the temperature if it’s a sunny day, or even turn off when there’s no-one home. Some can tell the latter with motion-sensing cameras, or simply by seeing that your smartphone (and therefore you) has left the premises. If you use a FitBit or similar device you are already interacting with IoT technology.

Here is a great infographic which explains things clearly.

Do you need to think about it for your business?

The short answer is yes. You may not be thinking about smart devices, but you could be thinking about sensors. These tiny devices can monitor areas of your business various ways, think:

Communication – Almost every company has a class of assets it could track. GPS-enabled assets can communicate their current location and movement. Location is important for items that move, such as trucks, but it’s also applicable for locating items and people within an organization. You may have employees that go to meetings, this way you can monitor efficiencies.

Control and Automation – In many cases, a business or consumer will be able to remotely control a device. For example, a business can remotely turn on or shut down a specific piece of equipment or adjust the temperature in a climate-controlled environment. Meanwhile, a consumer can use IoT to unlock their car or start the washing machine. Once a performance baseline has been established, a process can send alerts for anomalies and possibly deliver an automated response. For example, if the brake pads on a truck are about to fail, it can prompt the company to take the vehicle out of service and automatically schedule maintenance.

Cost Savings – many companies will adopt IoT to save money. Measurement provides actual performance data, instead of estimates. Businesses lose money when equipment fails. With new sensor information, IoT can help a company save money by minimizing equipment failure and allowing the business to perform planned maintenance. Sensors can also measure items, such as driving behavior and speed, to reduce fuel expense and wear and tear on consumables.


Are you IoT ready?

Talk to Microcomms about littleBits –  a platform of easy-to-use electronic building blocks that empower you to invent anything, from your own remote controlled car, to a smart home device. The Bits snap together with magnets, no soldering, no wiring, no programming needed. Originally aimed at Schools, the technology is now being adopted by designers, leading institutions and business. Using the simple technology to illustrate concepts and new design ideas. Let us see how it could help you.