Apple Watch Can Now Detect Arterial Fibrillation (AF)

Apple has launched the Apple Heart Study app, a first-of-its-kind research study using Apple Watch’s heart rate sensor to collect data on irregular heart rhythms and notify users who may be experiencing atrial fibrillation (AFib).

AFib, the leading cause of stroke, is responsible for approximately 130,000 deaths and 750,000 hospitalizations in the US every year. Many people don’t experience symptoms, so AFib often goes undiagnosed.

To calculate heart rate and rhythm, Apple Watch’s sensor uses green LED lights flashing hundreds of times per second and light-sensitive photodiodes to detect the amount of blood flowing through the wrist.

The sensor’s unique optical design gathers signals from four distinct points on the wrist, and when combined with powerful software algorithms, Apple Watch isolates heart rhythms from other noise. The Apple Heart Study app uses this technology to identify an irregular heart rhythm.

“Every week we receive incredible customer letters about how Apple Watch has affected their lives, including learning that they have AFib. These stories inspire us and we’re determined to do more to help people understand their health,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s COO. “Working alongside the medical community, not only can we inform people of certain health conditions, we also hope to advance discoveries in heart science.”

RFID Tags In Clothing Can Monitor Body’s Vital Signs

 Cornell University engineers have developed a simple method for gathering blood pressure, heart rate, and breath rate from multiple patients simultaneously.

The system uses low-power radio-frequency signals and low-cost microchip radio-frequency identification (RFID) “tags” — similar to the ubiquitous anti-theft tags used in department stores.

The RFID tags measure internal body motion, such as a heart as it beats or blood as it pulses under skin. Powered remotely by electromagnetic energy supplied by a central reader, the tags use a new concept called “near-field coherent sensing.” Mechanical motions (heartbeat, etc.) in the body modulate (modify) radio waves that are bounced off the body and internal organs by passive (no battery required) RFID tags.

The modulated signals detected by the tag then bounce back to an electronic reader, located elsewhere in the room, that gathers the data. Each tag has a unique identification code that it transmits with its signal, allowing up to 200 people to be monitored simultaneously.

Electric Nose Wheel For Aircraft Can Replace Ground Tug

One of the most tedious things about air travel is the long wait between the door closing and the aircraft pulling away from the gate. To help speed things up, Stirling Dynamics has contracted with WheelTug to design a new nose wheel for Boeing’s 737NG jet airliner.

The new wheel will contain electric motors powered by the aircraft’s Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) that will allow the pilot to back away from or taxi to an airport gate without using engine thrust or a ground tug vehicle.

According to Flightwatching, 98 percent of pushbacks from the gate take 13 minutes. This delay isn’t just annoying to passengers, it’s also time lost that could be better spent by the craft being in the air and making money.

The reason it takes so much time is that on the ground a large airliner isn’t like a bus. It hasn’t any means of propelling itself except by using the thrust from its jet engines or being pushed or towed by a tug vehicle. Both of these options can cause delays because jet exhausts can act as a barrier to other aircraft trying to enter and leave, and tugs need to be hooked up, maneuvered, then disengaged and moved clear. That’s assuming there aren’t other delays, like broken tow gear.

Built into the nose wheel, WheelTug allows a plane to move backwards and forwards under the control of its pilot without the need of a tug or dealing with jet wash. This simplifies pushback operations, bringing the time down to one minute. WheelTug says it can save a minimum of seven minutes per flight.

Would You Let An AI System Design Your Clothes For You?

Artificial intelligence might just spawn a whole new style trend: call it “predictive fashion.”

In a paper published on the ArXiv, researchers from the University of California, San Diego, and Adobe have outlined a way for AI to not only learn a person’s style but create computer-generated images of items that match that style. The system could let retailers create personalized pieces of clothing, or could even be used to help predict broader fashion trends.

The paper details two different algorithms. First, the researchers trained a convolutional neural network (CNN) to learn and classify a user’s preferences for certain items, using purchase data scraped from Amazon in six categories: shoes, tops, and pants for both women and men. This type of recommender model is common in the online retail world, usually showing up in an “Other items you might like” area at the bottom of a page.

Microsoft Develops Chip To Keep The IoT Secure

The Internet of Things security crisis persists, as billions of inadequately secured webcams, refrigerators, and more flood homes around the world.

But IoT security researchers at Microsoft Research have their eye on an even larger problem: the billions of gadgets that already run on simple microcontrollers—small, low-power computers on a single chip—that will gradually gain connectivity over the years, exponentially expanding the internet of things population. And that connected electric toothbrush needs protection, too.

The challenge with internet of things security so far has been the cost of implementing hardened features. It’s cheaper and faster to develop a product without spending time and resources on security. Devices rush off the line without adequate protections, often riddled with bugs, and rarely have a mechanism for manufacturers to distribute patches. An attacker who penetrates those IoT devices can potentially steal data, rope the unit into a botnet, or even use it as a jumping off point to infiltrate other parts of a network.

At least for those full-featured IoT devices, fixes exist, even if they’re rarely or poorly implemented. Smaller peripheral devices that run on microcontrollers, though, don’t have the compute power to spare on security steps like encrypting data, or scanning for anomalous behaviour. So Microsoft Research has poured its IoT efforts into Project Sopris, placing the IoT security focus to microcontrollers, while keeping costs down.

The Project Sopris microcontroller prototype is designed to incorporate what Microsoft terms the “Seven Properties of Highly Secure Devices,” a common-sense melange of best practices. It includes the usual suspects, like enabling regular software updates, and requiring devices to store cryptographic keys in a secure part of the hardware.


New E-Bicycle Design Helps Seniors Ride More Safely


It’s an unfortunate fact of life that as people get older, their sense of balance diminishes. This means that seniors have a higher than average risk of falling when cycling. They may be less likely to do so, however, if the senior-specific Sofie e-bike reaches production.


The Sofie is the result of a collaboration between three Dutch groups – the University of Twente, e-mobility company Indes, and Roessingh Research & Development.


Its frame has a steeper head angle than most bikes, along with a shorter wheelbase. Along with relatively small wheels, these features reportedly make it more stable when travelling at low speeds, which is when most falls occur.


Once the rider gets on and gets moving, a couple of other features come into play:  First of all, the motor is designed to very quickly bring the bike up to its modest maximum speed of 18 km/h (11 mph), getting the rider past that risky slow zone as fast as possible. Secondly, once the bike does get up to speed, its seat automatically rises to put the cyclist in a more efficient pedalling position – once they slow down again, the seat goes back down, allowing them to place their feet firmly on the ground when coming to a stop.


“Take Me Home” Button Will Keep Astronauts Safe


It’s a nightmare scenario. An astronaut on a spacewalk gone wrong floats off into deep space with no way to get back and no way for anyone to reach them. To prevent this from happening, engineering firm Charles Draper Laboratory has patented a “take me home” automatic rescue system that allows a disabled or disoriented astronaut to return to safety at the push of a button.


Watch enough science fiction and you’re bound to see it – a scene where an astronaut on a spacewalk, due to accident or carelessness, floats off into the infiniteness of space. In real life, nothing like that has happened and NASA has spent over half a century making sure it doesn’t by developing various thruster systems to help astronauts save themselves in the event of an emergency.


The standard system is the Simplified Aid For EVA Rescue (SAFER) unit. This is a simple U-shaped module that bolts on to the astronaut’s life support pack. The large box on the bottom contains a bottle of pressurized nitrogen and the arms hold tiny thrusters. In the event of losing a handhold on during a spacewalk while untethered, a control unit on the chest allows the astronaut to jet back to safety.


Important Group Of Genes Connected To Longevity Identified


A massive new international study has more than tripled the number of genetic variants associated with a longer lifespan. The study, which looked at genetic correlations among people with long-living parents, found distinct new genetic characteristics connected to lifespan, while also unexpectedly revealing potential gender-specific genetic pathways to a longer life.


There are, of course, a huge variety of factors that determine how long a person lives. Environment and lifestyle play major roles in affecting a person’s lifespan, but genetic heritability is also relevant. Studies of twins have estimated the role of genetics to be between 20 and 30 percent in determining a person’s lifespan.


Prior studies into what specific genetic variants could be associated with longer lifespans have unsurprisingly identified a link to genes associated with heart disease and dementia. This new study took a novel approach and concentrated on finding genetic associations in those subjects with a family history of longer lifespans.


The study incorporated a massive dataset of 389,166 subjects, and not only confirmed the association of eight previously identified genetic variants that have been linked to lifespan, but also revealed 17 new variants, bringing the total number to 25.

Automatic Toothbrush Cleans Your Teeth In Three Seconds


A start-up is trying to raise funds to mass produce the Unico, a smartbrush mouthpiece that is claimed to brush your teeth in just three seconds.


Unico is essentially a mouthpiece containing an unspecified number of little brushes, with a micro-pump system sending toothpaste to each individual brush. These brushes are powered by a separate power unit that contains a motor and slots onto the mouthpiece.


According to the company’s Kickstarter page, the device can actually clean all your teeth in just 1.87 seconds, but the full duration was brought up to three seconds, “to give you the time to at least quickly do your hair or spray on some perfume while you are using it.”


Just what I need.