Wearable blood pressure sensor offers 24/7 continuous monitoring

High blood pressure constitutes one of the principal vital signs of your body and is a common risk factor for heart attacks, strokes and aneurysms, so diagnosing and monitoring it are critically important. However, with all this technology around us, getting reliable blood pressure readings is not always easy.

Visits to the doctor's office can provoke anxiety that distorts blood pressure readings, and even when accurate, such visits provide only one-time snapshots of the patient's condition. To overcome these obstacles, MIT engineers have built a wearable blood pressure sensor that can provide continuous, 24-hour monitoring.

Blood pressure does tend to change during the day. When we wake up, it typically is somewhat higher than it is after we've had a chance to sit down or .eat some breakfast. So, continuous monitoring offers a much broader image of one's cardiovascular health. The new monitor, which loops around the wrist and the index finger, is just as accurate as traditional cuff devices but much less cumbersome, allowing it to be worn for hours or days at a time.

"The human body is so complex, but the cuff gives only snapshot data," says Harry Asada, an MIT mechanical engineer who led the development of the new monitor. "If you get signals all of the time you can see the trends and capture the physical condition quite well."

Devices like this one could be used to keep track on hypertension during the whole day, as well as sleep apnea. The data gathered from this devices can be used eventually by the doctors to predict when a heart attack that may occur.

CardioSign is the company that is working on commercializing the device and hopes to start clinical trials soon. The company was launched by Asada's former student. He thinks that a commercial version of the device could be available within five years, once it becomes easier to use, more reliable and cheaper to manufacture.

The latest prototype was developed jointly with industrial sponsor Sharp Corporation, and Dr. Andrew Reisner of Massachusetts General Hospital took the lead in clinical applications and human subject tests.

No cuff required

Traditional blood pressure monitoring requires a cuff, wrapped around the upper arm and inflated until blood flow is completely cut off. The examiner then gradually releases the pressure, listening to the flow until the pulse can be detected.

With this new device for monitoring blood pressure, no cuff is required. The sensor use a method called pulse wave velocity, which allows blood pressure to be calculated by measuring the pulse at two points along an artery.

Using this method the errors due to height changes will be removed. The sensors can also be calibrated for more accurate measurements. Once the blood pressure information is gathered, the data can be transmitted via wireless Internet. This new blood pressure monitor runs on a tiny battery, about the same size as the ones that power watches.

The wearable blood pressure sensor was born from a collaboration called the Home Automation and Healthcare Consortium, which launched in 1995 and included several MIT faculty members and about 20 companies.

The project was funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and the Sharp Corporation.

Photos: Donna Coveney

BrainPort Device Lets Blind "See" with Their Tongues

Ok. This one got me twisted the first time I read it on the internet. It seems that scientists are currently developing a pair of sunglasses wired to an electric "lollipop" that really helps the visually impaired regain optical sensations via a different pathway.

Neuroscientist Paul Bach-y-Rita hypothesized in the 1960s that "we see with our brains not our eyes." This new device trades on that thinking and aims to partially restore the experience of vision for the blind and visually impaired by relying on the nerves on the tongue's surface to send light signals to the brain.

About two million optic nerves are required to transmit visual signals from the retina—the portion of the eye where light information is decoded or translated into nerve pulses—to the brain's primary visual cortex.

The magic device is called BrainPort and is currently being developed by neuroscientists at Middleton, Wisc.–based Wicab, Inc.

How does it work?
Visual data are collected through a small digital video camera about 1.5 centimeters in diameter that sits in the center of a pair of sunglasses worn by the user. Bypassing the eyes, the data are transmitted to a handheld base unit, which is a little larger than a cell phone. This unit houses such features as zoom control, light settings and shock intensity levels as well as a central processing unit (CPU), which converts the digital signal into electrical pulses—replacing the function of the retina.

From the CPU, the signals are sent to the tongue via a "lollipop," an electrode array about nine square centimeters that sits directly on the tongue. Each electrode corresponds to a set of pixels. White pixels yield a strong electrical pulse, whereas black pixels translate into no signal. Densely packed nerves at the tongue surface receive the incoming electrical signals, which feel a little like Pop Rocks or champagne bubbles to the user.

It's not really clear at the moment whether the information is then transferred to the brain's visual cortex, where sight information is normally sent, or to its somatosensory cortex, where touch data from the tongue is interpreted, Wicab neuroscientist Aimee Arnoldussen says. "We don't know with certainty," she adds.

Using BrainPort it's just like riding a bike
Within 15 minutes of using BrainPort, blind people can begin interpreting spatial information via this amazing device, says William Seiple, research director at the nonprofit vision healthcare and research organization Lighthouse International. The electrodes spatially correlate with the pixels so that if the camera detects light fixtures in the middle of a dark hallway, electrical stimulations will occur along the center of the tongue.

"It becomes a task of learning, no different than learning to ride a bike," Arnoldussen says, adding that the "process is similar to how a baby learns to see. Things may be strange at first, but over time they become familiar."

Wicab will submit BrainPort to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval at the end of the month, says Robert Beckman, president and chief executive officer of the company. He notes that the device could be approved for market by the end of 2009 at a cost of about $10,000 per machine.

Future Weapons, NEW THAAD Missile

The THAAD (theatre high-altitude area defence) missile system is an easily transportable defensive weapon system to protect against hostile incoming threats such as tactical and theatre ballistic missiles at ranges of 200km and at altitudes up to 150km.

The THAAD missile system provides the upper tier of a 'layered defensive shield' to protect high value strategic or tactical sites such as airfields or populations centres. The THAAD missile intercepts exo-atmospheric and endo-atmospheric threats.

Calvin Klein USB Sunglasses

Calvin Klein has introduced a new Sunglasses, its features a 4GB memory drive. The USB-powered memory drive is concealed inside the right arm. Calvin Klein USB Sunglasses will be available in October, Priced at $199.

[via Men.Style.com via GetUSB]

Robotic Technologies are no longer a thing of the future

We still live in an era of modern information technology where some people just can't get it right. For the religious right, it often seems that scientists think too far into the depths of the human genome, we dive and people are not more people and, therefore, stem cells, genetic mutations and are therefore unacceptable. Other people are intrigued by the fact that anyone can be found everywhere on the globe with mobile phones, and they believe that the tracking technology is too far and they want to move to the North Pole.

Scientists have one ultimate goal: to strength the world of science. They believe that everything they do is for the welfare of mankind, maybe forgetting that it is not always the case. Unlike natural scientists who are religious and others just a single scientist who has just a reverse position, even the most insensitive forewarning tech group of scientists seem to be worried. What is it? AI. Artificial intelligence.

Robots making robots, robots learning , which enables them to discover the motor skills and self-expression and so one. There is only one step from this Artificial Intelligence to self-aware. Imagine a robot that is more intelligent, more capable physically, and certainly more sustainable than a man. How will this affect the jobs all over the world? Statiticians will just cease to exist? What about the Economists or Cooks? A question should rise in anyone head right about now. If any part of our society can be replaced by a robot, what's the reason for mankind to still be here? We'll just sit around and eat all day? I understand why some people are terrified by this thought. And what about the social consequences? Can AI Robots own a house? Can AI Robots get married? I don't really know, but I sure don't want to find out the answer.

Now, let's talk about our security. Robots will control our home security, our internet security and so on. What if one day that robot gets broke. What will happen to us? If your computer is protected, you will not be attacked through telecommunications vulnerability. But what happens when the computer itself is attacking you?

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