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July 17, 2017

Silent language at your fintertips

This glove may look cumbersome but it could seriously reduce the communication burden for thousands of sign language users. It can translate the 26 letters of ASL (American Sign Language) into text and the current version was built for less that $100 using stretchable and printable electronics that are easily commercially available. The glove has the potential to allow sign language users to travel through everyday situations such as train stations or supermarkets without needing a human translator to communicate their questions or needs.

Website link: Low-Cost Smart Glove Translates American Sign Language Alphabet and Controls Virtual Objects, 12th July 2017, University of California, San Diego

June 21, 2017

It’s too hot

I’m British. It’s over 30 degrees centigrade. Today I want to be covered in this cooling film

Website link: Newly engineered material can cool roofs, structures with zero energy consumption, 9th February 2017, University of Colorado Boulder

May 18, 2017

Old skills, new product

As a child Dr Franz Freudenthal visited indigenous communities in the mountains of Bolivia with his doctor grandmother. On these trips she would quote a snippet of Rudyard Kipling “Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the mountains. Something lost behind the mountains. Lost and waiting for you. Go!” It seems unlikely he could have predicted the importance of the words or the trips. As a paediatric cardiologist he went on to utilise the weaving skills of the indigenous Aymara women to develop an implant to close ‘holes in the heart’.

The device is woven by Aymara women in a clean room environment from a single strand of Nitinol, a nickel-titanium alloy that is superelastic and has shape memory. These material properties allow the woven implant to be compressed inserted into the body via a catheter in the groin and only expanded to its ‘top hat’ form when it is correctly positioned in the heart.

“The most important thing is that we try to get really really simple solutions for complex problems” Dr Franz Freudenthal, Paediatric Cardiologist

Website link: “A new way to heal hearts without surgery”, TED 

April 26, 2017

The very hungry caterpillar…

…on saturday he ate through one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of swiss chesse, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, and one sliece of watermelon….and 184mg of supermaket plastic shopping bag.

The Galleria mellonella larva is a very hungry caterpillar indeed.  An amateur beekeeper, Federica Bertocchini, happened upon their amazing digesting and degrading abilities when removing parasitic pests from the honeycombs in her hives. The worms were temporarily kept in a typical plastic shopping bag that became riddled with holes. Bertocchini, from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), collaborated with colleagues Paolo Bombelli and Christopher Howe at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Biochemistry to show that  “The caterpillars are not just eating the plastic without modifying its chemical make-up. We showed that the polymer chains in polyethylene plastic are actually broken by the wax worms,” said Bombelli.

This discovery might lead to a biotechnological solution to the approximately one trillion palstic bags used each year worldwide.

Website link: Caterpillar found to eat shopping bags, suggesting biodegradable solution to plastic pollution, 24th April 2017, University of Cambridge 

March 13, 2017

Nike Pro Hijab – a modest improvement

Great to see Nike have launched a sports Hijab. In 2014 we worked with the pioneering and inspirational Iranian triathlete Shiz Gerami to develop sports clothing that met the Iranian ministry of sport’s modesty requirements, but did not impact on Shiz’s performance in the World triathlon championships. We were delighted to work with her to remove barriers for female athletes who wish to be modestly dressed while exercising. Statistics from Sport England show that just 18% of Muslim women take part in regular sport, compared to 30% of the total female population.

Website link: Shiz Gerami interview, Triathlete magazine, January 19th 2017

Website link: Nike unveils Pro Hijab for female Muslim athletes, Dezeen, March 8th 2017

Shirin Gerami WTS Edmonton

Cracked egg February 8, 2017

Solid state from a fragile source?

It’s possible that future computers could have memory devices based on eggshells as researchers at the Guizhou Institute of Technology have been prototyping a new form of solid-state memory. Eggshells were processed to form a material that changed its resistance in response to a voltage being applied across it thus making it suitable for use as a ReRAM (resistive random access memory) device. This egg-centric research might offer the possibility of an environmentally friendly, low-cost and sustainable material for the next-generation of non-volatile date storage device.

Website link: “A larger nonvolatile bipolar resistive switching memory behaviour fabricated using eggshells”, Current Applied Physics, Volume 17, Issue 2, February 2017

January 16, 2017

A playful solution to a serious problem

A focus on frugality and a willingness to explore unlikely mechanisms has led this team of Stanford bioengineers to develop an incredibly low cost ‘paperfuge’ – a centrifuge made of paper that requires no electricity – as a diagnostic tool to serve the one billion people worldwide who live without infrastructure such as roads and electricity.

Website link: Inspired by a whirligig toy, Stanford bioengineers develop a 20-cent, hand-powered blood centrifuge, 10th January 2017, Stanford University

December 9, 2016

Knitting as the first additive manufacturing

Interesting to chat to Hal Watts from Unmade at a reception for The 1851 Commission (an amazing organisation who funded both Hal and me to study at the RCA) about knitting as the earliest form of Additive Manufacture. In knitting you take a continuous material to form an object without waste and without removing excess – sounds like additive manufacture, no?

Website link: Unmade

Website link: The Royal Commission for the Great Exhbition of 1851

November 17, 2016

Fungus based leather alternative

We’re always interested to come across materials that meet particular requirements. In this case a leather alternative that is not an animal product. Muskin is a material based on a large parasitic fungus that grows on trees in subtropical forests. It is similar in appearance to suede-leather and its texture can be stiff like cork or softer.

It reminds me of another unusual textile I’ve written about before here

Website link: MuSkin, LifeMaterials

N-Pro Tackling Head Injuries in Rugby

We’ve been helping N-Pro develop their new rugby headguard which launched today – more to come…

Website link: n-pro website

 

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