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



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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Advancing Human Health Through Portable Spectroscopy




In recent years, the convergence of wearable technology and portable spectroscopy has opened up exciting new frontiers in healthcare monitoring and diagnostics. This rapidly evolving field promises to revolutionize how we track and manage our health, offering unprecedented insights into our bodies’ inner workings through non-invasive, real-time measurements.

Portable spectroscopy, particularly near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy, has emerged as a powerful tool in this arena. The National Institute of Standards and Technology has been at the forefront of developing miniaturized spectrometers that can accurately measure infrared light, paving the way for more compact and efficient wearable devices. These advancements are enabling a new generation of health monitoring tools that can provide valuable data on various physiological parameters.

One of the most promising applications of this technology is in the realm of continuous glucose monitoring for diabetes management. Traditional methods of blood glucose measurement often involve finger pricks, which can be inconvenient and painful for patients. However, research published in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics has demonstrated the potential of NIR spectroscopy for non-invasive glucose monitoring, offering a more comfortable and user-friendly alternative for diabetics.

Beyond glucose monitoring, wearable spectroscopy devices are showing potential in a wide range of health applications. For instance, these devices can measure pulse rate, blood oxygenation, and tissue hydration levels with remarkable accuracy. The American Heart Association has recognized the value of home monitoring for conditions like hypertension, and wearable spectroscopy devices could play a crucial role in this area by providing continuous, non-invasive blood pressure measurements.

The integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms with spectroscopic data is further enhancing the capabilities of these devices. By analyzing complex spectral patterns, these systems can potentially detect early signs of various health conditions, from cardiovascular issues to certain types of cancer. The National Cancer Institute has highlighted the potential of AI in improving cancer screening and diagnosis, and spectroscopy-based wearables could contribute significantly to this field.

One of the key advantages of wearable spectroscopy devices is their ability to provide continuous, real-time data. This constant stream of information can offer a more comprehensive picture of an individual’s health than periodic check-ups or lab tests. As noted by the World Health Organization, continuous monitoring can be particularly beneficial for managing chronic diseases, which are responsible for a significant portion of global mortality.

The development of these technologies is not without challenges, however. Ensuring the accuracy and reliability of measurements across diverse populations and environmental conditions remains a significant hurdle. Additionally, issues of data privacy and security must be carefully addressed as these devices collect and transmit sensitive health information.

Despite these challenges, the potential benefits of wearable spectroscopy devices are immense. They could democratize access to advanced health monitoring, enabling individuals to take a more proactive role in managing their health. This aligns with the growing trend towards personalized medicine, as highlighted by the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program, which aims to tailor health care to individual differences in lifestyle, environment, and biology.

The future of wearable health technology is not limited to spectroscopy alone. Other emerging technologies, such as flexible electronics and advanced biosensors, are being integrated into wearable devices to create even more comprehensive health monitoring systems. For example, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been investing in the development of advanced wearable sensors for military applications, with potential civilian healthcare applications.

As these technologies continue to advance, we can expect to see a proliferation of sophisticated, user-friendly wearable devices that provide increasingly detailed and actionable health insights. From smartwatches that can detect atrial fibrillation to patches that monitor hydration levels, the possibilities are vast and exciting.

The integration of wearable spectroscopy into everyday life could have far-reaching implications for public health. By enabling early detection of health issues and promoting proactive health management, these technologies could potentially reduce the burden on healthcare systems and improve overall population health outcomes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has emphasized the importance of prevention in managing chronic diseases, and wearable health technologies could play a crucial role in this effort.

However, it’s important to note that while these technologies offer great promise, they should complement rather than replace traditional medical care. The American Medical Association has stressed the importance of integrating digital health tools into existing healthcare systems in a way that enhances patient care without compromising the doctor-patient relationship.

As we look to the future, the potential of wearable spectroscopy and other advanced health monitoring technologies is truly exciting. These innovations have the power to transform how we understand and manage our health, ushering in a new era of personalized, proactive healthcare. While challenges remain, the rapid pace of technological advancement and the growing focus on preventive health suggest that the future of wearable health technology is bright indeed.

In conclusion, the convergence of wearable technology and portable spectroscopy represents a significant leap forward in personal health monitoring. As these technologies continue to evolve and become more integrated into our daily lives, they have the potential to revolutionize healthcare, empowering individuals to take control of their health in ways that were previously unimaginable. The future of health is wearable, and it’s closer than we might think.

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The Ultimate Guide to Mother’s Day Gifts




Mother’s Day—a time to celebrate the profound impact of mothers in our lives. With this special day just around the corner, you might be pondering the perfect gift for the most important woman in your life. While flowers and chocolates are timeless, why not embrace the digital age and surprise her with something uniquely innovative? This year, tech gadgets are proving to be not just popular but game-changing gifts that offer more than just novelty—they improve everyday life.

Chilling Magic: The Cold Cork
Wine enthusiasts rejoice! The Cold Cork is revolutionizing the way we chill our drinks. Gone are the days of waiting for your favorite wine or spirits to reach the perfect temperature. For $58.46, this nifty device can chill a bottle in just 20 seconds, ensuring your drink is perfectly cooled without any alteration to the taste. This is ideal for impromptu celebrations or winding down after a long day, making it a splendid gift for moms who appreciate a good glass of wine.

Revolutionary Comfort: Barunbio’s HYVLE WE-STIM Leggings
For moms who are always on the move, the Barunbio HYVLE WE-STIM Leggings offer a remarkable blend of comfort and technology. Priced at $65.30, these aren’t your ordinary leggings. They incorporate ‘Wearable Electric Stimulation’ technology, which uses the body’s movement to generate electric energy that fights fatigue and accelerates recovery. These leggings are perfect for active moms or those who have demanding routines, providing relief and support where it’s most needed.

Spa Experience at Home: Lifepro’s BioRemedy Infrared Sauna Blanket
Sometimes, the best gift you can give is the gift of relaxation. Lifepro’s BioRemedy Infrared Sauna Blanket makes it possible to enjoy a spa-like experience from the comfort of home. For $168.74, this blanket uses infrared technology to deliver soothing thermal energy that helps in detoxification, boosts blood circulation, burns calories, and alleviates chronic pain. It’s a thoughtful gift for any mom looking to unwind and focus on her health and wellness.

When choosing a tech gift for Mother’s Day, consider what would best suit your mom’s lifestyle and interests. The beauty of technology is its ability to cater to individual needs, whether it’s enhancing relaxation, simplifying daily tasks, or adding a touch of luxury to everyday activities.

Jessica Naziri, a tech expert featured by CBS Los Angeles, shares these top picks, emphasizing their role not just as gadgets, but as tools that enrich the lives of mothers everywhere. As we approach Mother’s Day, these innovative products stand out as thoughtful and practical gifts that are sure to be appreciated.

In addition to personal gadgets, consider exploring educational resources that could enhance her understanding and enjoyment of these technologies. Websites like TechCrunch or Wired provide insightful articles that can help her make the most out of her new gadgets.

As we continue to navigate the complexities of modern life, technology offers us a way to connect, simplify, and enhance our daily routines. This Mother’s Day, let’s gift with a touch of innovation, offering our moms something uniquely special that celebrates their role in our high-tech world.

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Millennials’ Enduring Love for Classic Consumer Electronics Brands




In an age dominated by rapid technological evolution, certain iconic brands have managed to hold a special place in the hearts of millennials, shaping not only their personal lives but also influencing market trends significantly. A recent survey conducted by YouGov, and discussed on 24/7 Wall St., reveals some surprising favorites among millennials, demonstrating a robust nostalgia for brands that have either evolved with the times or been resurrected in the public’s imagination.

Millennials, typically defined as those born between 1981 and 1996, have witnessed firsthand the digital revolution, transitioning from the era of desktop computers and bulky cell phones to today’s sleek gadgets and omnipresent digital technology. The survey’s findings underscore a fascinating blend of loyalty and sentimentality towards brands that many might assume would be forgotten in the fast-paced tech landscape.

Rediscovering Old Favorites

The list of millennials’ favorite consumer electronics brands is intriguingly diverse, featuring names like Apple, Sony, and more unexpected entries such as SanDisk and Nintendo Wii. These brands, which have variously symbolized innovation and entertainment over the decades, continue to resonate with this generation for their reliability, user experience, and the sheer nostalgia they evoke.

For instance, the iPod, a product nearly synonymous with the early 2000s, continues to be fondly remembered by millennials. Launched in 2001, the iPod revolutionized the way people consumed music and helped Apple avert financial disaster. It wasn’t just a music player; it was a cultural icon that defined an entire generation’s relationship with music and technology.

Similarly, the Nintendo Wii, introduced in 2006, is celebrated not only for its innovative motion-sensing technology but also for the way it transformed gaming into a communal and physically engaging experience. It brought video gaming out of the niche market and into the family living room, appealing to gamers and non-gamers alike.

The Influence on Market Trends

These preferences aren’t just reflections of past times; they actively influence current market dynamics. For instance, the enduring popularity of brands like Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy series underscores the significant impact these products have on current consumer behavior and expectations. As highlighted in the survey, the iPhone continues to dominate the U.S. smartphone market with its intuitive design and extensive ecosystem, while the Samsung Galaxy is lauded for its innovative features and competitive marketing.

Moreover, the resurgence of these brands has also spurred companies to reintroduce classic models with modern twists, aiming to capture the millennial market’s attention by blending nostalgia with contemporary technology. This trend is visible in the various anniversary editions released by tech companies, like the recent revivals seen in the gaming console space.

Why Millennials Cling to These Brands

The reasons behind millennials’ loyalty to these brands are multifaceted. Psychologically, these gadgets often represent more than just tools or entertainment; they are mementos of youth, symbols of the era’s technological optimism, or simply relics of simpler times. Practically, many of these brands have consistently delivered quality and innovation, earning consumer trust across decades.

Furthermore, as millennials now move into their prime spending years, their preferences are likely to keep influencing broader market trends significantly. Companies that can effectively tap into this blend of nostalgia and innovation are positioned to benefit immensely in terms of brand loyalty and sales.

Looking Forward

As we look towards the future, it is evident that the tech industry must balance innovation with a keen understanding of consumer sentimentality. For millennials, technology isn’t just about the latest gadget; it’s about the experience, the memories associated with a brand, and how these products have integrated into their lives over significant periods. Brands that recognize this emotional connection and continue to build on it with integrity and innovation will likely maintain their relevance and appeal among this key demographic.

In an ever-evolving market, the echo of nostalgia, paired with cutting-edge technology, may well be the key to enduring brand loyalty. The success of these brands with millennials is a powerful reminder that in the world of technology, what’s old can always be new again, especially when it resonates on a deeper, more personal level.

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