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How Snorkel Masks and Animal Noses are Helping to make Superior PPE

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A team of Stanford University Engineers are working on creating more effective face shields by borrowing a leaf from animal noses and snorkeling gear. They believe that the resultant PPE would serve frontline workers a lot better than what they are using now.

Stanford Bioengineer Manu Prakash was in quarantine after flying home to California from France when he looked at his gear for snorkeling and scuba diving and thought that they might just have the solution for two of the difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He realized that the collapse in the global supply chain for N95 masks had created a shortage of personal protective equipment in many hospitals. Further, “the masks that are out there, that we put in the hands of our frontline workers, are not that good,” according to Paraksh. “They’re often ill-fitting and uncomfortable, and if they don’t fit, they don’t protect.”

Prakash’s big idea was to take full-face snorkel masks and repurpose them to address the urgent need for personal protective equipment by fitting them with 3D-printed filter-holders.

His idea attracted the attention of partners around the world who collaborated in the design and testing of the adapted snorkel masks in Prakash’s own laboratory as well as other locations. The device is both a mask and shield.

Laurel Kroo is a mechanical engineer at Prakash’s lab who presented the device dubbed ‘pneumask’ to the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics at their annual meeting.

Researchers participating in the collaborative project have already published a set of decontamination protocols for the device that allow it to be reused. They also conducted clinical tests which suggest that it is comfortable enough to last an eight-hour shift.

“From a fluid-dynamics perspective, a mask is a hydrodynamic device,” Prakash clarified. “A lot is happening when you breathe in and breathe out. You have to have the right kind of filters. You have to think about rebreathing, and comfort.”

Not satisfied with the ‘pneumask’ Prakash’s lab is also working on other developments related to Covid-19. The lab was part of the 1000×1000 project launch repurpose candy floss machines into N95-grade mask material.

Candy floss machines melt sugar and spin the liquid into fine threads. The repurposed candy machines spun out nanofibers instead which are capable of trapping tiny particles.

They also participated in the development of a low-cost ICU ventilator called ‘Pufferfish.’

Elsewhere, Cornell University’s Sunghwan Jung observed the nasal structures of different animals and drew design lessons from them to create superior masks. Jung studies animal from a fluid dynamics perspective and works with researchers Saikat Basu and Leonardo Chamorro of South Dakota State University and the University of Illinois Urbana.

“Animals like dogs, opossums, and pigs are renowned for their super-sensitive sniffers,” Jung said. “They have a very complicated nasal structure, and we tried to mimic that structure in our filters.”

Jung describes the human nose as “fairly straightforward and vacuous” compared to dogs and pigs whose nasal cavities are more twisted and indirect which gives them their keener sense of smell. “Fluid mechanics tells us that if you have such a tortuous air pathway, you have more chances to capture more particles,” said Jung.

The researchers have created a mask filter with a more convoluted structure like the one witnessed in the animals that Jung studied. Tests have revealed that the masks they created are capable of filtering out micron-sized particles and it’s low-pressure drop makes breathing much easier.

According to Jung, the masks are still in testing and are not approved nor have they been used in hospitals.

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How the Quest for the Perfect Egg Poacher Led to a Surprising Find

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In the culinary world, where technique and precision often reign supreme, the quest for the perfect poached egg can be a subject of intense debate among chefs and home cooks alike. It’s a simple dish, requiring nothing more than an egg, water, a pot, and, for some, a splash of vinegar. Yet, achieving that delicate balance of softly set whites enveloping a gently runny yolk can be surprisingly elusive. Enter the realm of egg poachers: gadgets designed to simplify this process and make the perfect poach accessible to everyone. But do they deliver on their promise? A recent investigation by The Strategist delves deep into this question, uncovering a landscape filled with devices that range from the ingenious to the ineffective.

The journey begins with skepticism. Many seasoned cooks insist that poaching eggs is an art form that should be executed with nothing but a pot of simmering water. This traditional method, honed over time, allows for a level of control over the cooking process that gadgets can’t replicate. Despite this, the allure of convenience and consistency drives a continued search for the perfect egg poaching device. The investigation embarked upon by The Strategist involved a diverse array of poachers, from electric models to microwavable options and silicone cups designed for stovetop use. The criteria were straightforward: produce a poached egg that lived up to the culinary standard—firm whites encasing a liquid gold center.

The testing was exhaustive, covering a broad spectrum of the market’s offerings. Initial feedback from testers was disheartening, confirming the prevailing wisdom that gadgets often fall short of manual methods. From eggs that emerged too firm to devices that were cumbersome to use, it seemed that the technology was not up to the task. Yet, amidst the disappointment, there were glimmers of hope. Some models, like the electric Dash model and a stovetop pan from Sur La Table, produced eggs that, while not traditionally poached, were pleasantly soft-boiled—a welcome outcome for those seeking an easier path to a similar end.

However, it was the OXO Good Grips Egg Poacher that ultimately stood out as the beacon of hope. With its simple yet effective design, this silicone device managed to deliver true poached eggs with minimal fuss. Its success lies in its ability to mimic the traditional poaching motion within a controlled environment, allowing water to circulate around the egg for even cooking without the egg spreading too thinly. This gadget proved that, with thoughtful design, it is possible to reconcile the convenience of a poaching device with the culinary excellence of the traditional method.

The quest for the perfect egg poacher is more than just a search for a kitchen gadget; it’s a reflection of the broader pursuit of balancing tradition and innovation in cooking. While some purists may never stray from the pot-and-water method, the existence of gadgets like the OXO Good Grips Egg Poacher opens up the world of poached eggs to a wider audience, making this coveted dish more accessible.

This exploration into the world of egg poachers serves as a reminder that, in cooking, as in life, there is often more than one path to achieving a desired outcome. Whether one opts for the traditional method or embraces the convenience of a gadget, the joy lies in the journey—and, of course, in the delicious results.

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Revolutionizing Fitness: The Best Wearable and Fitness Tech of CES 2024

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The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2024 has once again set the stage for groundbreaking innovations in the realm of fitness and wearable technology. This year’s showcase has been particularly notable for its array of smartwatches, fitness headphones, health wearables, and smart rings, each offering unique features designed to enhance our health and fitness experiences.

Smartwatches: A Blend of Style and Functionality

At CES 2024, Garmin unveiled the Garmin Lily 2, a smartwatch that epitomizes elegance and utility. Weighing a mere 20.6g, the Lily 2 features a hidden display that reveals itself upon tapping, blending seamlessly with its fashionable design. It includes connected GPS, a pulse oximeter, and a battery life of five days, making it a versatile accessory for the health-conscious. Priced at $249.99, it’s a testament to Garmin’s commitment to combining fashion with fitness.

In contrast, the Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000 is built for the rugged adventurer. It’s equipped with heart rate monitoring, a pulse oximeter, built-in GPS, and Casio’s Triple Sensor technology. This $500 smartwatch is designed to withstand extreme conditions, offering durability alongside its advanced features.

The Rise of Smart Rings

Smart rings have emerged as a popular alternative to traditional fitness watches. The Amazfit Helio ring challenges the status quo with detailed sleep tracking and readiness scoring, available for an annual fee of $69.99. Meanwhile, the Evie smart ring, priced at $269, targets women’s health with an open ring design and AI-driven insights into sleep, blood oxygen, and heart health, without the need for a subscription.

Fitness Headphones: A New Era of Workout Coaching

Mojawa’s HaptiFit Terra headphones represent a significant leap in fitness technology. These bone conduction headphones, priced at $199.99, feature an AI sports trainer and vibration-based training guidance, offering a unique approach to fitness coaching. Sennheiser also made waves with its new Momentum Sport headphones, which include built-in fitness tracking and a PPG heart rate sensor, priced at $329.95.

Health Wearables: Empowering Independence

One of the most impactful innovations at CES 2024 was the GyroGlove, designed to counter Parkinson’s tremors. Priced at $5,899 per hand, this FDA Class-1 approved glove has been a game-changer for individuals like Roberta Wilson-Garrett, enabling them to perform daily tasks with greater ease. Additionally, the Vixion 01 specs, a pair of glasses that automatically correct vision, showcased the potential of health wearables to significantly improve quality of life.

Conclusion

CES 2024 has highlighted the ever-evolving landscape of wearable and fitness technology. From stylish smartwatches like the Garmin Lily 2 to the rugged Casio G-Shock Rangeman, and from innovative smart rings to health-transforming wearables like the GyroGlove, this year’s event has set a new benchmark in the integration of technology with health and fitness. As we continue to witness these advancements, it’s clear that the future of personal health and fitness is increasingly intertwined with cutting-edge technology.

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Eufy Security Indoor Cam S350: A Comprehensive Review of the Versatile and Nearly Perfect Home Security Solution

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In the ever-evolving landscape of home security, Eufy has emerged as a front-runner, combining cutting-edge technology and user-friendly features. The Eufy Security Indoor Cam S350, a pan/tilt dual security camera, has seamlessly integrated into existing home security setups, proving to be an indispensable asset.

Pricing and Availability

The Eufy Security Indoor Cam S350 is available at Amazon.

Eufy Security Indoor Cam S350 Review

The standout feature of the Eufy Security Indoor Cam S350 is its dual-camera system housed in a single body. One camera boasts a wide-angle lens with a 130-degree field of view, capturing clear 4K resolution footage. The second camera features a telephoto lens with 2K resolution, offering 3x optical zoom and an impressive 8x digital zoom. Both cameras have a low aperture of f/1.6, ensuring optimal performance in low-light conditions.

The device’s ability to pan, tilt, and swivel in any direction provides a complete 360-degree coverage, making it an ideal choice for comprehensive monitoring. Notably, the camera smoothly tracks objects in motion without any staggering, thanks to its advanced tracking capabilities.

One notable feature is the compatibility with the HomeBase 3, a hub for Eufy security devices that supports local storage. While the HomeBase 3 enhances the overall system, it’s not a mandatory purchase for using the Indoor Cam S350. The camera can store footage on an inserted microSD card of up to 128GB, providing an alternative to cloud storage and enabling live notifications of detected motion.

Often marketed as a baby monitor or pet cam, the Indoor Cam S350 serves multiple purposes. I chose to integrate it into my existing Eufy security system, which includes outdoor cameras, doorbell camera, and some older indoor cameras. The seamless integration allows for a live view within the same app, enhancing overall convenience.

The camera’s performance is commendable, with quick notifications upon detecting motion and minimal false alerts. The ability to swiftly hide its lenses during privacy mode ensures privacy without compromising on security.

However, a desirable addition would be the ability to schedule privacy mode activation and a manual engagement button, enhancing user control.

What We Think

The Eufy Security Indoor Cam S350 is a top-tier choice for those seeking a versatile indoor security camera. Whether used as a pet cam, baby monitor, or integrated into an existing security system, its capabilities shine through with clear, high-resolution images. While a couple of additional features could enhance the user experience, the camera’s overall performance makes it a recommended choice for anyone prioritizing home security and surveillance.

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