US researchers develop wearable for smart stomach health

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A research team from University California Berkeley and the University of California San Diego has developed a wearable system for monitoring electrical activity in the stomach.

It is as accurate at diagnosing some medical conditions as current invasive methods, without traditional treatments’ restriction to clinical settings.

Gastrointestinal (GI) problems are the second leading cause for missing work or school in the US, and are responsible for 10 percent of patient visits to a doctor. But, according to a UCSD and UC Berkeley paper published in Nature, their prevalence is “at odds with bottlenecks in their diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up.”

Trying to figure out the source of problems in the GI tract can be a major challenge for doctors. In search of answers, patients are sometimes asked to undergo unpleasant or invasive procedures – such manometry, which requires a catheter to be inserted through the nose to measure pressure at different points inside the stomach.

Read more: Health IoT: Scientists develop diet wearable – for your teeth

“A new kind of medicine”

The problem is especially complicated with young children, who usually need sedation for invasive procedures. The wearable system developed by the UCSD and UC Berkeley team offers an alternative without sacrificing the accuracy of the results.

It consists of a custom circuitboard, a battery and off-the-shelf electrodes, and connects to a smartphone application. But the researchers’ real achievement has been to design algorithms capable of recognising and analysing the stomach’s varying electrical signals.

Read more: Health IoT: KardiaBand sensor could replace invasive blood tests

“We think our system will spark a new kind of medicine, where a gastroenterologist can quickly see where and when a part of the GI tract is showing abnormal rhythms and, as a result, make more accurate, faster, and personalised diagnoses,” said Armen Gharibans, one of the paper’s co-authors and a bioengineering postdoctoral researcher at the University of California San Diego.

Co-author Todd Coleman, a UC San Diego professor of bioengineering, points out that being able to monitor patients without an invasive procedure over longer periods of time could lead to better outcomes.

“This work opens the door to accurately monitoring the dynamic activity of the GI system,” he said. “Until now, it was quite challenging to accurately measure the electrical patterns of stomach activity in a continuous manner, outside of a clinical setting. From now on, we will be able to observe patterns and analyse them, in both healthy and unwell people as they go about their daily lives.”

Read more: Flexible wearables: a game-changer for connected healthcare

Widening the scope

It is expected that as well as spotting health problems, UCSD and UC Berkeley’s wearable technology could also help with their management. It could even inform the diets of healthy people, from competitive athletes to pregnant women.

“Changes to digestion and gastric health are hallmarks of two understudied processes: ageing and pregnancy,” said Benjamin Smarr, another of the paper’s co-authors and a chronobiologist at UC Berkeley.

“One of our hopes is that this technology will allow us to quantify the changes that happen during these critical periods in life. They affect the vast majority of humanity, and it will now be possible to study what’s going on, and build predictive, personal medical applications based on getting ahead of bad changes.”

Internet of Business says

2018 has certainly been the year of healthtech wearables, which have proven to be especially adept at monitoring changes in electrical activity within the body, which may indicate a variety of different medical conditions. Combined with AI and smart algorithms, doctors have been able to make accurate diagnoses that are comparable to traditional investigations, but far more swiftly and sensitively. Speeding up diagnoses, while offering non-invasive alternatives to longstanding procedures, will not only save lives, but perhaps encourage more people to seek treatment early.

Some more of our recent reports:

Read more: Consumer wearables can detect major heart problem

Read more: Perfect storm blows healthtech towards IoT cures

Read more: Health IoT: App helps sports stars predict and manage injuries

Read more: Flexible wearables: a game-changer for connected healthcare


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Apple Working With TSMC to Develop MicroLED Panels for Future Apple Watch and Augmented Reality Wearable Device

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Apple has plans in place to develop MicroLED panels for both small-size and large-size devices, with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) providing support for producing smaller form factor applications, which could include future Apple Watch models and AR wearables, according to DigiTimes senior analyst Luke Lin.

Apple is working with TSMC to develop micro LED panels on silicon-based backplanes for use in the Apple Watch and an augmented reality (AR) wearable device, Lin noted.

MicroLED panels use different light-emitting compounds than the current OLED displays and should help to make future devices slimmer, brighter, and less power-hungry. Citing sources in the upstream supply chain, Lin claims Apple is preparing two sizes of MicroLED panel for small devices. They are said to include a 1.3 to 1.4-inch panel for future Apple Watch iterations and a 0.7 to 0.8-inch panel for an AR wearable device, potentially AR glasses.

Lin also believes Apple is working on developing large-size MicroLED panels on TFT-based backplates for use in products much larger than those in its current MacBook lineup, although he offered no specifics on what they might be.

Based on Lin’s sources, the MicroLED panel destined for a future Apple Watch may enter mass production in the second half on 2018 or in 2019, which would suggest its use in Series 4 or 5 models. The large-size panel could see production in 2019 or later, while the panel for the AR device is yet to have a production schedule, according to the analyst.

The cost of the new MicroLED panels are said to be 400-600 percent higher than OLED panels used in the current Apple Watch. As such, Lin believes Apple will initially only use the MicroLED panel in future “top-of-the-line” versions of Apple Watch, although whether that refers specifically to iterations of the Apple Watch Edition remains unclear.

Apple is understood to own a manufacturing facility in Santa Clara, California, where it is designing and producing test samples of its own MicroLED displays, with a view to eventually replacing largely Samsung-made OLED displays currently used across its product range.

Apple’s interest in the technology was revealed in its acquisition of MicroLED firm LuxVue back in 2014 and previous reports have also claimed Apple will introduce MicroLED technology in the Apple Watch first, with some rumors pointing to that happening as soon as this year.

However, Bloomberg believes that it will likely be a few years before Apple’s MicroLED displays will appear in shipping products – perhaps two years for the Apple Watch and three to five years for the iPhone.

Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

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Health IoT: Scientists develop diet wearable – for your teeth

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tooth wearable tracks your diet

Scientists at the Tufts University School of Engineering have developed a wearable sensor that can stick to a single tooth to track a user’s diet, based on chemical changes in the mouth.

The sensor, which is mounted onto a tooth and communicates wirelessly with a mobile device, transmits information on the intake of glucose, salt, and alcohol. The subtle device has a 2mm x 2mm footprint and transmits information in response to an incoming radio signal.

The Tufts University research will soon be published in the journal Advanced Materials.

The technology has obvious preventative potential. Giving medical professionals insight into dietary habits could support the treatment of allergies, food intolerances, and eating disorders. It could also help dentists detect problems before they grow to be more serious.

Read more: Health IoT: KardiaBand sensor could replace invasive blood tests

A mouthful of personal data

The team at the Tufts University School of Engineering has say that, in future, sensors such as this could be able to detect and record of a wide range of nutrients, chemicals, and physiological states, well beyond the tracking of glucose, salt, and alcohol intakes.

“In theory, we can modify the bio-responsive layer in these sensors to target other chemicals – we are really limited only by our creativity,” said Fiorenzo Omenetto, corresponding author of the study and Professor of Engineering at Tufts.

“We have extended common RFID technology to a sensor package that can dynamically read and transmit information on its environment, whether it is affixed to a tooth, to skin, or to any other surface.”

Read more: L’Oreal helps customers tackle skin cancer risk with wearable sensor

The assumption is that miniature sensors such as this will work alongside mobile applications and be monitored by healthcare professionals. In the current climate, this may raise concerns among some citizens about data security and privacy.

There are obvious health benefits to round-the-clock dietary monitoring. But convincing the public that in-mouth wearables should be a mass market product may be the biggest challenge facing the technology.

Read more: Robot swans to measure water quality in Singapore

Plus… Danish scientists develop sensor to detect dangerous drinking water

Danish researchers at Aarhus University have developed a sensor capable of detecting specific bacteria in drinking water, such as E. coli.

The sensor uses DNA-magnetic particle technology to seek out and isolate the bacteria using nano-sized magnets. The sensor can connect directly to a smartphone to provide a reading that detects a single cell of E. coli in less than one hour. Traditional detection methods require lab tests and can take several days.

The research team is aiming to have a commercial product ready for market within three years.

Read more: Health IoT: App helps sports stars predict and manage injuries

Internet of Business says

The innovative application of sensors, wearables, and AI has been a strong theme already this year. Read our in-depth report on the issues facing health services as care providers get to grips with a fast-changing world.

Read more: AI in the NHS: the great health and citizen enabler? | In-depth report

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Huawei in talks with Sirin Labs to develop ‘blockchain-ready’ phone

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‘Blockchain’ is the technology that powers cryptocurrencies, but on a technical level, it’s just a growing list of records that are linked and secured. While you can mine Bitcoin on just about every PC and phone on the market, there is no shortage of dedicated hardware options, like physical wallets. According to Bloomberg, Huawei is currently in talks with Sirin Labs to develop a ‘blockchain-ready’ phone.

Sirin Labs is a tech startup in Switzerland, focused on building products utilizing blockchain tech.

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Researchers develop device that extracts water from desert air

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Researchers at MIT and UC Berkeley have developed and now tested a device that can extract water out of the air even in the driest of climates. The team proposed the device in a Science article last year and now they've improved the design and tried…
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Apple using secret US facility to develop MicroLED screens for Apple Watch

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Apple Watch

Apple is using a secret facility in California to design and manufacture prototype MicroLED screens, according to a report from Bloomberg. Engineers are said to have produced fully functional Apple Watch-sized MicroLED screens at the facility, with a view to using the technology commercially for the first time in the watch. The Apple Watch currently uses OLED screens from LG Display.

MicroLED is a complex new emissive display technology where, like OLED, each pixel gives off its own light instead of relying on backlighting for the entire panel. This can give MicroLED excellent contrast, power efficiency, and viewing angles without OLED’s compromises on brightness or longevity. Samsung is also working on MicroLED and showed off a 146-inch…

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Peter Thiel’s data company Palantir will develop a new intelligence platform for the US Army

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Peter Thiel’s data mining company Palantir Technologies has won a US Army contract to develop an intelligence platform that will replace an aging system that the Army currently used to collect and disseminate information, according to Bloomberg Technology.

The Army will pay Palantir and defense contractor Raytheon $ 876 million over the next decade to develop a replacement for the Distributed Common Ground System, says Bloomberg. That system is used by the various branches of the US military to interpret intelligence from a variety of platforms “spanning all echelons from space to mud,” according to the US Army.

Battlefields are complicated areas, and since the 1991 Gulf War in Iraq, the military has grappled with the need to take all…

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Wyss Institute and Harvard develop AI-powered exosuit

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AI exosuit

Researchers from the Wyss Institute and Harvard University have developed an algorithm than allows wearable robots to adapt to an individual’s movements in as little as 20 minutes – greatly increasing walking efficiency.

This points to an exciting future of assisted movement across a variety of new applications.

We all move differently, and when we walk, we’re constantly adjusting how we move to save energy – or more accurately, to reduce the metabolic cost. The efficiency of human walking comes from using our muscles to inject impulses at the right moments to preserve the pendulum-like motion of our legs and maintain our momentum.

For training athletes, fitness fanatics, patients who needs movement assistance, or anyone who may be recuperating from injury or illness, soft, assistive devices, like the exoskeleton being developed by Harvard Biodesign Lab can aid these movements by sensitively augmenting the wearer’s physiology, providing the right level of assistance, at the right time.

However, they need to be tailored to the wearer to suit their individual movements. For all the advanced material and robotics engineering that goes into such devices, personalising them is time-consuming and inefficient.

Gait keepers

Joint research by the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied and Sciences (SEAS) has created a machine learning algorithm that can quickly understand an individual’s characteristic movements and tailor the control strategies of soft, wearable exosuits to match.

In a Wyss Institute report, Ye Ding, a Postdoctoral Fellow at SEAS and co-lead author of the research, said:

This new method is an effective and fast way to optimise control parameter settings for assistive wearable devices. Using this method, we achieved a huge improvement in metabolic performance for the wearers of a hip extension assistive device.

The solution is known as a human-in-the-loop Bayesian optimisation method. It helps reduce the metabolic cost of the wearer when compared to walking without the device, or an un-optimised version, by providing personalised hip-assistance. Watch the video, below, for more details.

The algorithm quickly identifies the best control parameters for an individual – to minimise the energy required for walking – by measuring physiological signals, such as breathing rate, to identify the metabolic cost. As the video demonstrates, the system fine-tuned these parameters and adapted the exosuit to the wearer’s needs.

The benefits of an AI-powered exosuit

“Before, if you had three different users walking with assistive devices, you would need three different assistance strategies,” said Myunghee Kim, Ph.D., postdoctoral research fellow at SEAS and co-lead author of the paper.

As well as the time-saving advantages, the combination of algorithm and exosuit reduced metabolic cost by over 17 percent, an improvement of more than 60 percent over the team’s previous work.

Scott Kuindersma, Ph.D., assistant professor of Engineering and Computer Science at SEAS said:

Optimisation and learning algorithms will have a big impact on future wearable robotic devices designed to assist a range of behaviours. These results show that optimising even very simple controllers can provide a significant, individualised benefit to users while walking. Extending these ideas to consider more expressive control strategies and people with diverse needs and abilities will be an exciting next step.

wearable robotics
(Credit: Wyss Institute) Might we all have buns of steel in the future?

Internet of Business says

This pioneering research shows the far-reaching value that AI has, even in wearable robotics in which the wearer is essentially in control. The next step will be extending the AI’s capabilities to a more complex exoskeleton, assisting multiple joints at the same time.

Exosuits have huge potential across multiple fields. In healthcare, they could assist the elderly and disabled with their movements. In supply chain, manufacturing, construction and agriculture, they could assist with heavy lifting. Similarly, first responders in emergencies and military personnel could benefit from robotic aids.

While existing solutions are far from Iron Man levels of advancement, there is also some way to go in making exosuits more practical for prolonged wear. However, there’s no doubt that, at the current rate of progress, we’ll soon be seeing wearable robots outside the research lab.

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JDA Software partners with MIT to develop predictive supply chains

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Supply chain specialist JDA Software has announced a joint research agreement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to create innovative new supply chain capabilities.

The multi-year agreement is designed to explore intelligent edge technologies, such as machine learning, AI, the IoT, and advanced analytics, to help organisations predict supply chain demand. The result will be a “unique, prescriptive supply chain”, according to a joint announcement from the companies.

JDA’s product development and Lab teams will work closely with MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS), led by supply chain specialist Dr David Simchi-Levi, MIT professor of engineering systems.

“I’m very pleased JDA has entered in to a multi-year research collaboration with IDSS to develop sophisticated machine learning algorithms that may accelerate research in this area, as well as JDA’s digital solutions,” said Dr Simchi-Levi.

“The collaboration will make use of multiple data sources and emphasise the combination of machine learning, optimisation, and consumer behaviour modelling.”

Predicting behaviours

Under the agreement, new use cases will explore algorithms for both predictive behaviour and “prescriptive cognitive optimisation”. These will go further than current supply chain processes by not only taking into account past behaviours, but also by determining future behaviours based on a variety of demand signals.  

“It is more critical than ever to infuse innovation into every aspect of the supply chain, as edge technologies such as the IoT and AI are essential for their digital transformation,” said Desikan Madhavanur, JDA’s executive VP and chief development officer. 

“This collaboration allows us to tap into the extraordinary mindshare at MIT to accelerate research into more intelligent and cognitive capabilities moving forward. We are excited to be working on the future of supply chains with MIT, and to double-down on researching enhanced, innovative, and value-driven supply chain solutions.” 

No more monoliths

In an interview with Internet of Business, JDA CEO Girish Rishi said: “One monolithic supply chain is not going to work anymore. Monolithic supply chains are dead.

“So you have to adapt to your market, to your customer segmentation. And the monolithic way of approaching it belongs to yesterday. It slows down the velocity of how you can respond.”

Rishi added that JDA has increased its R&D expenditure by 20 percent, and that 40 percent of its research expenditure overall is now targeted at AI, machine learning, and the IoT.

• JDA Software also announced today that it plans to open a new London office within the next two months, and will be employing 100 new data science professionals in the US, and 100 more worldwide.

Internet of Business says

For many organisations, a whole range of business processes have long been a drag on innovation: warehousing, supply chain management, and distribution among them. For too long these have been reactive, monolithic, slow, and static. The promise of the IoT is to make these processes smarter, more agile, more responsive, and – as this agreement suggests – more predictive. That can only be a good thing, both for business efficiency and the environment.

Read more: Interview with JDA CEO Girish Rishi

Read more: Five predictions on the future of smart warehousing 

Read more: PAL value chains: how IoT transforms manufacturing and supply

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Quick Takes: Apple Watch Apps Called ‘Frustrating’ to Develop, iOS 11 Jailbreak With Cydia, and More

In addition to our standalone articles covering the latest Apple news and rumors at MacRumors, this Quick Takes column provides a bite-sized recap of other headlines about Apple and its competitors on weekdays.

Wednesday, February 28

iOS 11 jailbreak released with Cydia, which turns 10 today: Cydia was released by Jay Freeman, better known as saurik, on February 28, 2008. The unofficial App Store is the gateway to installing apps, tweaks, themes, and other files on jailbroken iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices, outside of Apple’s control.

Just yesterday, a new jailbreak called Electra was released for iOS 11 through iOS 11.1.2. It is the first iOS 11 jailbreak to include Cydia, although it is a modified version that may cause issues, so proceed at your own risk.

Commentary: While jailbreaking has faded in popularity over the years, Cydia remains a centerpiece of the community after a decade. Freeman is still in the process of updating Cydia and its frameworks to be fully compatible with iOS 11, so it might be a good idea to hold off on using the Electra jailbreak to avoid problems.

Waymo’s self-driving cars have now covered five million miles on public roads: Waymo says the first million miles took six years to complete, while the fifth million took just under three months, as its testing rapidly speeds up.

To celebrate the milestone, Waymo shared a 360-degree video today that reveals how its self-driving vehicles view their surroundings, recognize objects like cars and pedestrians, and predict what those things will do. The video combines footage and real-time data from a trip around Phoenix, Arizona.

Commentary: A recent report claimed Apple is accelerating development of its own self-driving software to compete with the likes of Waymo, but it sounds like the iPhone maker may have significant ground to make up still.

Flutter enters beta, Sketch 49 released with iOS 11 design templates: Bohemian Coding’s popular app design tool Sketch has been updated with Apple’s official iOS 11 design templates, including tab bars, status bars, buttons, and other user interface elements for developers to incorporate into their apps.

In related news, Google’s new mobile UI framework Flutter entered beta yesterday. Flutter aims to help developers more quickly craft high-quality native interfaces for both iOS and Android, with support for both iOS 11 and the iPhone X on the Apple side. Beginners can read Flutter’s Getting Started guide.

Commentary: Sketch and Flutter can help developers to more quickly design iPhone and iPad apps that are consistent with iOS 11’s design language.

Marco Arment says developing Apple Watch apps is “extremely frustrating and limited”: Apple doesn’t give developers access to the same watchOS frameworks that it uses for its own Apple Watch apps. Instead, it offers WatchKit, which Arment argues can only be used to create “baby” apps.

Image Credit: MacStories

Commentary: There has certainly been a trend of some developers discontinuing their Apple Watch apps in recent months, including notable brands like Amazon, eBay, Google Maps, and Slack. Apple providing developers with expanded watchOS resources could encourage those companies to reconsider.

For more Apple news and rumors coverage, visit our Front Page, Mac Blog, and iOS Blog. Also visit our forums to join in the discussion.

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