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Wearable sensors

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Popular Science

Researchers from MIT and the Rhode Island School of Design have developed a wearable fabric microphone that can detect and transmit soundwaves and convert them into electrical signals, reports Shi En Kim for Popular Science. “Computers are going to really become fabrics," says Prof. Yoel Fink. "We’re getting very close.”

The Daily Beast

MIT researchers have created a flexible fiber that can generate electrical impulses that are conveyed to the brain as sound, reports Miriam Fauzia for The Daily Beast. “The researchers see endless possibilities for their smart fabric,” writes Fauzia. “The obvious application is in improving hearing aids, which Fink said have trouble discerning the direction of sound, particularly in noisy environments. But the fabric could also help engineers design wearable fabrics that can measure vital signs, monitor space dust in new kinds of spacecraft, and listen for signs of deterioration in buildings like emerging cracks and strains.”

The Wall Street Journal

In an article for The Wall Street Journal about next generation technologies that can create and quantify personal health data, Laura Cooper spotlights Prof. Dina Katabi’s work developing a noninvasive device that sits in a person’s home and can help track breathing, heart rate, movement, gait, time in bed and the length and quality of sleep. The device “could be used in the homes of seniors and others to help detect early signs of serious medical conditions, and as an alternative to wearables,” writes Cooper.

NPR

NPR’s Ted Radio Hour spotlights the work of Alicia Chong Rodriguez SM ’17, SM ’18, who is trying to address the gaps that exist in women’s health data through a smart bra that can be used to acquire physiological data. Chong’s startup BloomerTech has “built medical-grade textile sensors that can adapt to multiple bra styles and sizes for continuous, reliable and repeatable data all around her torso and her heart.”

The Boston Globe

Alicia Chong Rodriguez SM ’17, SM ’18 speaks with Boston Globe reporter Pranshu Verma about the inspiration for her startup BloomerTech, which is focused on addressing heart disease in women, and the underrepresentation of women in clinical trials. As part of this effort, BloomerTech is developing a “sensor-enabled bra that feeds real-time heart data to doctors running clinical trials on women’s cardiovascular disease.”

Mashable

Mashable reporter Emmett Smith spotlights how MIT researchers have created a new toolkit for designing wearable devices that can be 3D printed. “The researchers used the kit to create sample devices, like a personal muscle monitor that uses augmented reality,” explains Smith, “plus a device for recognizing hand gestures and a bracelet for identifying distracted driving.”

Forbes

Alumna Loewen Cavill speaks with Forbes contributor Mary Juetten about her startup AuraBlue, which is creating wearable technology aimed at improving sleep for menopausal women by automatically adjusting room and mattress temperatures. “After hearing again and again how sleep loss from nighttime hot flashes has completely flipped so many women's lives upside down, I had to do something,” says Cavill. “Enabling women to stay on their career path and perform their best at the final part of their career climb is the single most important thing I can do to promote women in leadership.”

Fast Company

Professor Xuanhe Zhao and his colleagues have developed a new soft robotic prosthetic hand that offers the wearer more tactile control. “You can use it to grab something as thin and fragile as a potato chip, or grasp another hand in a firm-but-safe handshake,” writes Mark Wilson for Fast Company. “By design, this rubbery, air-filled hand is naturally compliant.”

Dezeen

Dezeen reporter Rima Sabina Aouf writes that MIT researchers have created an inflatable prosthetic hand that can be produced for a fraction of the cost of similar prosthetics. “The innovation could one day help some of the 5 million people in the world who have had an upper-limb amputation but can't afford expensive prostheses.”

Mashable

Engineers at MIT have developed a soft, inflatable, neuroprosthetic hand that allows users to carry out a variety of tasks with ease, reports Emmett Smith for Mashable. “People who tested out the hand were able to carry out quite complex tasks, such as zipping up a suitcase and pouring a carton of juice.”

Inside Science

MIT researchers are developing an electronic skin that can withstand sweating, reports Karen Kwon for Inside Science. The researchers “punched holes on the e-skin to match the size of sweat pores and the distance between them. Then, inspired by kirigami, the team cut away even more material between two holes in an alternating pattern,” writes Kwon. The resulting pattern “could tolerate bending and stretching more than the conventional e-skin with simple holes.”

Fast Company

Fast Company reporter Katharine Schwab spotlights MIT startup Embr Labs, which has developed a wearable device that can help keep users cool. “Cooling individuals could be a lot cheaper and less wasteful than cooling entire buildings,” writes Schwab.

TechCrunch

CSAIL’s RoboRaise robot can successfully execute the Bottle Cap Challenge, removing a bottle cap with a well-placed kick, reports Darrell Etherington for TechCrunch. Etherington explains that the robot, “can mirror the actions of a human just by watching their bicep. This has a number of practical applications, including potentially assisting a person to lift large or awkward objects.”

Mashable

In this video, Mashable highlights how CSAIL researchers have developed a new system that can help lift heavy objects by mirroring human activity. The system uses sensors that monitor muscle activity and detect changes in the user’s arm.

Popular Science

Popular Science reporter Rob Verger writes that MIT researchers have developed a new mechanical system that can help humans lift heavy objects. “Overall the system aims to make it easier for people and robots to work together as a team on physical tasks,” explains graduate student Joseph DelPreto.