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August 12, 2019

Whose skin?

This morning I was looking at the Pantone website as we want to update our colour reference materials. My eye was caught by their skin matching books which claim to provide “a comprehensive visual reference of human skin tones”. The front cover appears to show a fair range but how they’ve fanned out the sample book seems to reinforce the default of ‘skin’ colour meaning caucasian skin colour. This is an assumption we came across when we worked on prosthesis cosmeses (covers for prosthetic limbs) that have a ‘skin’ colour stocking over the top. It’s interesting to note that truly inclusive design needs to start the second we open our mouths, at the very start of any discussion.

Website link: Prosthesis Cosmesis design: improved realism, longer life

July 21, 2019

No exaggeration, I think saddle points are amazing..

I find saddle points (or hyperbolic paraboloids as they’re mathematically known) a deeply pleasing shape. This little hook was developed as part of a large project we’ve been collaborating on. It’s strong and safe as it has no sharp edges.

For more hyperbolic paraboloid and origami joy pop down the rabbit hole that is the website of Erik Demaine

Website link: Erik Demaine

 

June 15, 2019

Woodn’t it be nice….

Wouldn’t it be nice to have even natural light in a room regardless of the position of the sun in the sky? One unexpected way to achieve this could be to use wooden panels. Clearly (!) not just an 8′ x 4′ from the builder’s merchant but a new transparent material developed At the University of Maryland. The wood is soaked in a solution to remove the lignin that gives wood its brown colour. Unfortunately removing the lignin also removes its strength and so the material then needs to be treated with epoxy to restore it.

Website link: Wood windows are cooler than glass, University of Maryland, August 16th 2016

May 17, 2019

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

April 18, 2019

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 

Exosuit Launches!

We are delighted that in March 2019 Exosuit was launched. Exosuit gives athletes proprioceptive feedback to help improve posture, stability and feeling of power. To help make this possible Thread iteratively developed the garment and it’s patented technology with Exosuit. It was tested and refined in conjunction with Progressive Sports in Loughborough and now this amazing technical garment is available to buy.

https://www.exosuit.co.uk/

Cracked egg February 8, 2019

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, 2019

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 3, 2018

Merry Christmas 2018!

Wishing all our clients, suppliers and collaborators a very merry Christmas and a happy new year. We look forward to working together in 2019!

November 17, 2018

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

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