When implanted, a new robot is able to promote tissue growth by pulling and tugging at organs. It may sound alarming, but this new device could revolutionize the way doctors treat esophageal atresia, a congenital defect in which part of the esophagus is missing at birth. With future developments, the robotic implant could also promote growth in other organs.
Developed by scientists at Boston Children’s Hospital, this robot has so far only been tested in pigs, but the researchers hope to one day use this in regular medical practice.
In the study, which was published in the journal Science Robotics, the robot was implanted in live pigs and then slowly and gradually stretched tubular organs like the esophagus while the animals remained active. The pigs showed no discomfort and were even able to continue eating as the robot lengthened the esophagus by around 77 percent.
Additionally, cell multiplication was shown as a result of this technique. “This shows we didn’t simply stretch the esophagus — it lengthened through cell growth,” Pierre Dupont, the study’s senior investigator, said in a press release.
The use of this robot would be in place of existing treatment methods which require the patient to be put into a medically-induced coma for four weeks during which the esophagus has to be surgically and manually manipulated.
But it will take some time for the current treatment to become obsolete. There is still much research to be done before this robot is used as a medical tool with humans. Additionally, it has only been studied with the esophagus. However, the team has started to test this robot in a large animal model of short bowel syndrome, a condition in which a piece of the bowel is missing.
If this robot proves effective in more organs, its potential as a medical device will continue to rise. Hopefully, the implant will be shown to be safe for regular use in medical practices, allowing it to replace previous surgical methods that are costly, extremely painful, and — most detrimentally — fraught with risk. If this is the case, then this little robot is well positioned to improve and extend lives.
Most wheelchairs, even the most advanced ones, have conventional seats. They're basically furniture on wheels. And that creates problems. It can be hard to sit in the chair if you're getting out of bed, while you're stuck in a position that puts m… Engadget RSS Feed
If you work from home, you know about the food problem. Some of us forget to eat, some of us over-snack. This tiny fridge magnet will remind you what your stomach is already telling you — when it’s time to eat, and when you’re probably already full.
Choose when and how many times you want to eat each day, and this kitty will make a hungry face to remind you it’s time. The more you open the fridge between mealtimes, though, the fuller (and more annoyed) it gets. So if you’re not happy that you’re munching on leftover stuffing after already eating three helpings of turkey and mashed potatoes, neither is kitty.
Plus, the fridge kitty is flexible for any kind of eating schedule. You can configure your own ideal snack habits in the firmware,…
French start-up Exotec Solutions is working with e-commerce giant Cdiscount to test a scalable, speedy autonomous robot network that could take order fulfilment to the next level.
Ferrying items from one side of a warehouse to another is well within the operating parameters of many industrial robots. In fact, from online retailers such as Amazon to groceries from Ocado, the brute-force side of the order fulfilment process is increasingly dependant on nuts and bolts, AI and autonomous machines.
However, the final steps of picking, placing and packaging require a level of dexterity that only humans are capable of – although that too is changing. Ocado’s robots are getting smarter and events like Amazon’s Picking Challenge are enabling researchers to test out new techniques in real-world scenarios.
For now though, with the orders mounting up, online retailers are keen to speed up the process in any way possible.
French AI robotics start-up Exotec Solutions is today launching Skypod Robots, an autonomous system designed to improve order processing speed and, according to the company, work two times faster than its rivals.
French e-commerce company Cdiscount has been testing the Skypods at its Bordeaux warehouse and seen order processing speed rise by a factor of four. The Skypod system is making an impact for three reasons.
First is the ability of the ‘3D mobile robots’ to scale shelves as well as roll around at ground level. Second is speed. Scuttling about at 10 mph, the robots can quickly transfer goods in the warehouse to human operators who handle packing and shipping. Third, according to Exotec, the robots’ laser scanner navigation system allows them to travel anywhere in the storage area, while carrying boxes weighing more than 60 pounds.
Romain Moulin, CEO of Exotec Solutions, suggests that a flexible, scalable system is best positioned to disrupt e-commerce logistics. “To respond to today’s market requirements, companies are putting the emphasis on deployment speed and flexible deployment capability rather than heavy fixed infrastructure in order to best respond to rapid fluctuations in demand,” he said.
“The Skypod addresses the needs of a new generation of customers who are looking for high performance and high-density systems that can be modified every two years.”
“From inception, the system has been designed to ensure fast deployment and full scalability. Skypod’s free navigation allows the robots to travel anywhere within the system, something the competition can’t offer today,” said Renaud Heitz, Exotec’s CTO and co-founder.
“The system’s software is powered by the latest artificial intelligence, allowing us to deploy on site within days instead of weeks.”
In December last year, Exotec raised $ 3.5million from 360 Capital Partners and Breega Capital.
The economy is in between gears right now, and that’s a growing problem because as is true with all higher gears, we could be accomplishing so much more with so much less and prosperity could be greatly increased for not only the lucky few, but everyone. What do I mean? Well, let’s look at the gears of capitalism, of which there have so far been three, before moving on to what fourth gear is, what’s stopping us from it, and how we can achieve it.
Fourth Gear Capitalism
First gear was made possible by the invention of the steam engine, which allowed for the beginnings of industry and the bridging of great distances with trains and steam-powered ships.
Second gear was made possible by the invention of electricity, which allowed for industrialization to go into overdrive while bridging even greater distances with the telegraph and telephones.
Third gear was made possible by the invention of the computer, which allowed for full globalization and the connection of everyone to each other all over the world with information technology and the internet.
So what is fourth gear?
Fourth gear is the handing over of labor to machines, and that does not only include muscle labor as was already true in lower gears, but mental labor. It is the long-awaited freeing of humanity to pursue human interests, paid or unpaid, as payment is of less concern when machines are working for us…that is as long as we humans are earning the machines’ paychecks to purchase what they’re producing.
And that’s the rub. That’s why we’ve so far refused to shift into fourth gear capitalism, because in fourth gear, human labor necessarily becomes unnecessary. This can be an obstacle within the mind, for capitalism itself was built to combat scarcity, and the division of labor meant everyone need pull their weight so that all may survive. But each gear along the way has enabled us to do more with less energy expended, so where once a majority of humanity’s time was spent in the fields, now about one percent is.
Where once we worked 3,000 hours per year on average in the U.S. in the late 19th century, we now work 1,900 hours per year here in the early 21st century. This has always been the direction of our ultimate aim, to leverage technology so as to work less, so that we can as humans live more. And yet we are now stymieing ourselves. In the mid 1980s, we actually began working more, after reaching a low of around 1,800 hours per year. Why are we working 100 hours more per year in the U.S. despite productivity doubling in that same period of time?
Known now as the Great Decoupling, our productivity entirely detached from our earned incomes in the mid 1970s, skyrocketing upwards with the advance of technology while the great majority was left behind. Where all incomes once rose with productivity, now only the incomes of those at the top do. For the rest, there is instead an increasingly dangerous cocktail of growing inequality, falling security, increasing precariousness, and an anger whose source can’t quite be pinpointed.
What’s going on? How can capitalism have created so much abundance that there are now even digital goods of zero scarcity due to infinite supply, and the entire planet is a global marketplace for goods and services, and robots are building our cars and phones, and software is providing an increasing number of services, yet capitalism itself can be argued as being responsible for actually eroding the middle class lives of hundreds of millions all over the world? What’s going on when technology is growing at an exponential rate and yet 70 percent of households in 25 advanced economies saw their earnings drop this century?
What’s going on is that we’ve conquered scarcity and yet have refused to acknowledge it. As William Gibson has said, “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” Our world no longer physically requires everyone to work so as to successfully meet everyone’s daily demand for basic goods and services, and yet it does still require the spending of money to acquire those goods and services. Markets require money and people, and yet money isn’t getting to people. There is thus a wrench in the machinery of our own making.
Just as in any manual transmission car, shifting gears requires pushing in the clutch to disengage the current gear, and whereas that’s usually something we must decide to do, in our case, technology has made that decision for us. Technology has its foot on the clutch and so here we are in a global economy that is paradoxically slowing down, despite our being surrounded by more amazing technology at this moment than at any moment in human history.
So, what do we do?
The Fourth Great Shift
Shifting into fourth gear requires the fundamental severing of human labor and income. It critically depends on the provision of unconditional basic income — a universal dividend set above the poverty line — provided to all as a birthright as the descendants of those who came before us who created the technology, who paid the taxes that were put into the government-funded research that made all the technology possible, who shifted the previous gears of humanity and enabled us all to reach this point in time where we now face our next great collective choice:
Do we provide money to all unconditionally and even index it to productivity growth so that everyone can forever purchase what the machines are producing? Or do we continue to insist that money must be earned with human labor despite existing in a world where human labor will be increasingly out-competed by machines and robots don’t buy anything?
Fourth gear capitalism is not even the great unknown we think it is. We’ve actually seen glimpses of it in action. We’ve seen it in Namibia where money was provided to all unconditionally and entrepreneurship tripled, thanks to increased abilities of both producers to produce and consumers to consume. We’ve seen it in India where money was provided to all unconditionally and entrepreneurship tripled compared to control groups. We’ve seen it in Kenya and Uganda thanks to the charity Liberia.
F. A. Hayek himself knew this. Milton Friedman knew this. Both advocated free markets. Both advocated basic income. Why? Because markets require everyone has at least some money in order to participate in them. A market full of customers without cash is like a democracy full of citizens without the right to vote.
We even see beyond capitalism itself every time someone with the time and resources to do so, spends their time contributing pages to Wikipedia or open source code to GitHub for no money in return. We see it in video after video on YouTube, shared with the world for free, created by those with the time and resources to create what they wanted to create for the sake of creation. We see it whenever any scientist or inventor pours their time and resources into the next great discovery, not to get rich, but to peel back the layers of reality to show what is and what might be.
We simply no longer live in a world of immutable scarcity. We live in a world of maldistributed abundance. The first three gears of capitalism made that possible. But shifting into capitalism’s fourth gear must yet be done and it must be done manually. It will not be done for us. It’s a collective decision, and just like any collective decision, it is best done democratically, not passed down from up on high, but voted up from below. We can even use our newest technologies like the internet, and smartphones, and software to empower us in inventive new ways to finally grasp that great lever of capitalism and pull it together.
And with that then accomplished, fifth gear finally becomes possible — postcapitalism— the great undiscovered country of human civilization.
It is for this reason I invite you all to do your part in engaging in this collective decision and many more. Become part of the changes like universal basic income and universal health care that need to be made. Lend your voice. Lend your time. Lend your passion. Connect with each other. Connect with your representatives. Connect with ideas. Be a part of the cultural shifting of gears we need to make here in the 21st century. Be a part of humanity, and of your communities.
Engage and together we can move the world forward.
Sony’s new robotic assistant called the Xperia Hello is now ready for Japanese homes. The swiveling smart speaker we first saw as a prototype last year features big animated eyes and a 4.55 inch LCD in its belly. The Xperia robot runs Android and responds to voice, gestures, and facial expressions. It can also take photos, make Skype video calls, check the status of family members both inside and outside the house, provide reminders, and alert you of news, weather changes, and road traffic. And because it’s for Japan, it’s also able to send and receive messages from the very popular messaging service Line.
Hello’s price is steep though at around $ 1,300; a disappointment to some fans, according to The Wall Street Journal, because its…
We’ve seen levitating Bluetooth speakers and connected smart cameras before, but the Moon, a fully funded Indiegogo project, melds those technologies in a $ 209 ($ 330 at retail) floating robotic eyeball and base that can also act as a smart hub for your home. That is, if it ever ships. The typical crowdfunding caveats apply. Some Indiegogo projects don’t have much of a future, and this is 1-Ring’s first.
The Moon, which comes from 1-Ring Inc., comprises a wide-angle lens embedded in a sphere made of plastic, aluminum, and rubber.
Do you enjoy the sensation of petting a cat or dog, but hate the unconditional love and the fact that they have heads and limbs? Japanese company Yukai Engineering has unveiled the solution to this classic conundrum with Qoobo: a soft, round cushion with a robotic tail that reacts to strokes, just as a loving pet would.
“Tails: a communication tool that doesn’t require words,” the demo video begins. It goes on to show everyone who might find peace with the “cushion-tailed therapy robot”: young people living alone in immaculate apartments, children, the elderly. The process to healing is easy: just give it a good pat and watch the cushion’s tail wag softly in response. It’ll also wag and curl the tail on its own, via an accelerometer in…
Much negativity surrounds the public perception of our robot-ridden future. Indeed, sensationalist fears about thousands or millions of jobs undergoing ruthless robotic appropriation spread like wildfire. But the advancement of intelligent machines isn’t all that miserable. Indeed, some advancements presently making waves will save lives. Enter the Senhance System, a surgical robot recently cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in minimally-invasive surgeries.
Developed by medical device company TransEnterix, Senhance is a robotically-assisted surgical device (RASD) that lets surgeons use computer and software technology to move and control surgical instruments in procedures involving one or more tiny incisions in a patient’s body. Surgeons operate Senhance through a console unit or cockpit with a 3-D high-definition view of the surgical field, where they remotely control three separate arms, each equipped with a surgical instruments.
“Minimally[-]invasive surgery helps reduce pain, scarring and recovery time after surgery,” Binita Ashar, director at the Surgical Devices Division of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a press release. “RASD technology is a specialized innovation in minimally invasive surgery designed to enhance the surgeon’s access and visualization within confined operative sites.”
Man and Machine Working Together
Amid rumors of ineluctable robot oppression, it’s easy to assume the robot-human work dynamic would be based on conflict, instead of mutually beneficence. Senhance-based robotic surgery could enhance the survival rate of surgeries that otherwise remain infamously dangerous. “The clearance of the Senhance System in the US is a milestone in the progress of robotics and is expected to deliver improvement in the efficacy, value and choices offered to patients, surgeons and hospitals,” TransEnterix president and CEO Todd M. Pope said in a statement.
Robotic surgery isn’t new, although the technology behind it has continually improved over the past couple of years. The principle remains the same: these robot surgeons are designed to improve precision and safety during procedures. It’s meant to assist surgeons and not take away their control, so there’s still a human behind every procedure.
“Millions of surgical procedures in the US are performed each year laparoscopically with basic manual tools that limit surgeons’ capability, comfort and control,” Pope added. “New choices are needed that enhance the senses, control and comfort of the surgeon, minimize the invasiveness of surgery for the patient, and maximize value for the hospital. Senhance is this new choice.”
Robotic lawnmowers from Husqvarna are set to collect and report real-time environmental data from parks around the world.
IoT sensor company Telit has put wireless sensors, co-developed by itself and Wireless System Integration (WSI), into robotic lawnmowers from Swedish manufacturer Husqvarna as part of the company’s city robotic mower pilot program.
In collaboration with data science and research community Quantified Planet and cities worldwide, the Husqvarna Automowers will be used at parks in Edinburgh and London in the UK, Gothenburg and Stockholm in Sweden, Almere and Leeuwarden in the Netherlands and in San Francisco in the US.
Cutting grass, collecting data
Equipped with wirelessly-connected sensors, the robotic mowers will collect data about the environment, air quality, water and levels of light and sound, in order to illustrate how robotic mowers can improve overall park maintenance.
The data will be collected by Quantified Planet, using a cellular connection and a digital cloud. All mowers, which are operated using a special smartphone app, are pin-protected and are fitted with alarms and GPS technology so that they can be disabled remotely if they are moved without authorization. To ensure public safety, sensors detect any nearby objects, including people and animals, causing machines to change direction.
The sensor box mounted on top of the mowers uses the robots’ main battery for power supply, recharging whenever the robot returns to base. The sensor box transmits the data using Telit’s HE910 cellular module and Telit’s global IoT connectivity data plans.
In cooperation with Husqvarna, meanwhile, Quantified Planet will receive the data and publish it for citizens to review. City authorities can then analyze that data and implement programs to improve the health of its citizens, based on their insights.
“Collecting this city data gives researchers the opportunity to explore and research the health of urban public spaces in a way that has never been done before,” said Maja Brisvall, CEO, Quantified Planet.
“By using the Quantified Planet data exploration platform, this new data can provide insights and innovation on how to develop and improve sustainable open green spaces which impact the citizens living nearby.”
Pavel Hajman, president of the Husqvarna division involved in the project, said that the need for green spaces is growing in urban areas, and said he found it “inspiring” to think about how parks in cities will be maintained in the future.
“I am excited about the pilot program, learning more about the possibility to increase sustainability and productivity in professional landscaping for urban areas,” he added.
Yosi Fait, Interim CEO of Telit, said that Husqvarna’s city mower program is an example of how cities are using IoT to become more sustainable and efficient.
“Through this collaboration we have been demonstrating again our unique sensor to cloud capabilities, cutting our customers time to market through our integrated lines of products and services as well through our professional services team’s significant IoT know-how.”