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Scientists Borrow from Electronics to Build Electric Circuits in Living Cells

Scientists Borrow from Electronics to Build Electric Circuits in Living Cells

Electric Circuits in Living cells: A great mile stone in modern biotechnology

Bioengineers are able to specifically transform the genetic program of cells. In this way they are endowed with new characteristics or abilities that are not so innate but productive. The reprogramming of cells with electric circuits- currently the most dynamic field in synthetic biology – is based mainly on the technological breakthroughs in modern biotechnology.

Genetic methods have been used here for decades to transform microorganisms or cells into living factories for certain natural products, chemicals or pharmaceutical active ingredients. Biotechnologists are here like mechanical engineers, in order to conceive, build and then also continuously check in the cells to tailor-made cells with electric circuits – “production roads”.

While a new biosynthesis pathway is being integrated into a cell in metabolic engineering, some researchers in synthetic biology are pursuing the vision of transforming cells into an intelligent device, which can also be controlled externally through electric circuits. For this purpose, the bioengineers want to develop a catalog with standardized genetic components or switch modules and to assemble them into complex control circuits and electric circuits, which can be specifically controlled.

Their example is electrical engineering, where individual electronic components such as transistors, resistors or capacitors are combined into integrated electric circuits. Such circuits can be standardized and take over so many functions. Intelligent connection of the electric circuits results in complex circuits or even in the construction of living computers.

In fact, bioengineers have a variety of molecular modules at their disposal: genome researchers have already discovered numerous molecular gene switches. With such gene switches – these can be proteins, DNA or RNA molecules – the activity of genes can be precisely controlled.

They can therefore be switched on and off in a controlled manner. Also components of cell communication are always better understood. Optogenetic switches – ie, gene switches that are controlled by light – also offer new scope for controlling the cells in their external behavior.

If such switch modules are linked with other molecular components, then complex control circuits – so-called genetic circuits – can be assembled. The research team of University of Washington are among the pioneers of this approach borrowed from electrical engineering and computer technology. Some notable progress has already been made.

Milestones include a genetic toggle switch, or complex genetic electric circuits that enable cells to process or store binary information like a computer. A catalog with standardized genetic components for bioengineers – the BioBricks – has been developed by UW Researchers.

There are also first application-oriented examples of genetic electric circuits and reprogrammed cells in medicine. Researchers of UW, equip cells with a genetic program that reacts to certain stimuli from the outside and then begins with the production of a substance. This will make the designer cells live measuring station and drugstore in one (to application medicine).

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Flexible Pressure Sensors Similar to Suction Cups Mat Based on Octopus Suckers developed

Flexible Pressure Sensors Similar to Suction Cups Mat Based on Octopus Suckers developed

Prototype Krake: New adhesive material with artificial suction cups

Bionic material has best adhered in a moist and oily environment.
With by means of its fine hairs on the feet – called Spatulae – a gecko keeps itself on electrostatic forces even on very smooth surfaces. In a wet environment, however, this adhesion effect fails. As a model for a new, bionic adhesive material similar to suction cups, which also functions in moisture, Korean researchers have now refined the filigree structure of the suction cups of octopuses. As reported in the “Nature” journal, their suction napkins also adhere well to moist skin and are suitable for novel wound dressings.”Mikrometer small structures in our artificial adhesive material increased the suction effect,” Sangyul Baik and his colleagues from Sungkyunkwan University in Suwon explain the basic principle of adhesion. First, the researchers examined the suction cups of the Common Octopus (Octupus vulgaris) and recognized specific bulges in the small cup-shaped troughs. Thanks to this microstructured suction cups, octopuses can cling to slippery rocks under water, or even their beasts of prey.Suction cupsThese microstructured suction cups were copied by the material researchers with a flexible plastic film. They first pressed small troughs with diameters between 15 and 500 micrometers into a thin layer of silicone rubber. They filled the liquid precursor of a polyurethane-acrylate polymer and cured it under ultraviolet light in the micropipes – about 5,000 per square meter. In this case small, dome-shaped bulges were formed in the troughs. If the researchers pressed this bionic film onto a damp surface, it reliably sucked in with adhesive forces of over 40 kilopascals. If silicone oil was used instead of water, the adhesive forces even rose to 180 kilopascals.

Baik and colleagues were responsible for this effect. On the one hand, air was pressed out of the troughs by lightly pressing the suction napkin, and a small vacuum was built up. This adhesion was strengthened by capillary forces, which could be formed thanks to the filigree bulges. The greater adhesion in an oily environment, the researchers explained with the higher viscosity of the liquid compared to water. Even several thousand times detached, the suction napkins retained their adhesion effect.

Suction cups _2

The researchers found the best results with suction cups with a diameter of 50 micrometers. This film adhered reliably even on damp skin. As a first application, Baik proposes new types of patches to cover inflammatory and wetting wounds. But the thin silicon wafers for the production of computer chips could also be lifted out of the reaction baths with this suction napkin. “This approach could be used to move robots, biomedicine or toys,” says Jonathan Wilker from Purdue University in West Lafayette, assessing the Korean results in an accompanying commentary.

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Soon Chatbots will Talk to Us Like Real People!

Soon Chatbots will Talk to Us Like Real People!

ChatBots: Alexa, Cortana and Siri – The hype around language assistants explained

Amazon’s “smart loudspeaker” Echo with its language assistant Alexa has changed from the curiosity to the hype. Latest buffoonery: the echo show with the display. At the same time, many major names in the industry are already active in the same field: Apple with Siri, Samsung with Bixby, Microsoft with Cortana and Google with his nameless Chattbots. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg programmed his “Jarvis” as a sub-project. But what is the factor? Do these ChatBots have the potential to fundamentally change online marketing and web search, as some experts claim?

Chatbots Alexa and Echo: Amazons “iPod moment”

Looking back, Amazon had the first echo probably his “iPod moment”: When Steve Jobs introduced the MP3 player 2001, the puzzle was initially great and of enthusiasm no trace. Why did Apple, who just barely escaped the bankruptcy, brought out such a device? In the beginning, the iPod was not a big hit – but it eventually became one and changed the music industry together with the iTunes Music Store and paved Apple’s way to the iPhone.

Likewise, the coverage of Amazons Echo was initially very reserved. Amazon had just been embarrassed with his smartphone. The Kindle had a lot of momentum and the new “Kindle Fire” tablets everywhere not synonymous as a striking hit. Why, all over the world, Amazon launched in 2014 that was practically a smart speaker with a microphone? And who, then, would like to have such a device at home, which had practically only one function?

We spool some years forward into the present and Amazon has developed the echo with the language assistant Alexa clever in many respects further developed. On the one hand, there are now other versions of the Echo: the compact “Dot”, the mobile “Tap” and the “Show” with a built-in touch screen. On the other hand, it has developed into the platform: developers can teach Alexa new skills and manufacturers can integrate the wizard anywhere, even in echo copies. Several devices to cars are now “Alexa ready”.

Why language assistants are such a hype

But where does this enthusiasm for ChatBots and “voice search” come from? The basic idea is that they give us a look into the future. In this or very similar form, we will most likely be interacting with computers in the future, as we know from Star Trek. And that this may become such a big revolution as touch screens, apps or the mobile web.

In fact, there is a clear tendency when looking at the development of user interfaces in computers: they are increasingly approaching how people interact with one another and with their environment. In the early years, this was still so abstract that it was only specialists after appropriate training understanding. Display and keyboard made the next step a little easier, as far as the familiar commands.

The graphical user interface of such ChatBots, in turn, was still a habit but tried to make many processes pictorial – in addition, you can try here in doubt. The natural language would now be an understandable and efficient form of operation in many situations. With touch screens, the ChatBots reacted to familiar gestures like wiping and tapping.

The ideal is that the ChatBots understands us just as well as a human being or even better. At the same time, the electronic helper knows everything the Internet knows. And he knows us so well that he can tap into missing information himself. Maybe he can even provide us with answers before we’ve ever asked.

If this were to be the case, this could lead to a significant change. Many situations where we had previously tried a search engine like Google or an app would now be covered by the ChatBots.

For this reason, some experts expect that online marketing and, last but not least, search engine optimization must react to this trend. In our survey of the SEO trends of the year “Voice Search” was mentioned several times.

Examples of language assistants

Practically all the big names in the industry now have their own assistants. The theme is just too interesting and the potential to be alluring. Here is a look at the current state of affairs:

Chatboats Alexa

Amazon Alexa Chatbots

Alexa is the language assistant, the Amazon Echo is the in-house hardware. In 2014 Amazon showed both for the first time to the public. The echo is a loudspeaker connected to the Internet, including several microphones. By voice command he can, for example, play music, announce the weather forecast or order it from Amazon. The latest model and one of the best ChatBots called EchoShow has a touchscreen and a webcam installed. In addition, video calls are now possible, called “Alexa Calling”.

The system is extensible via “Skills”: third-party providers can teach Alexa more skills. In this way, the echo can also become the central hub for the Smart Home. The number of these skills has increased significantly between June and November 2016: from 1,000 to 5,000.

Alexa, however, is not caught in the echo: Via Amazon’s “Alexa Voice Service” other manufacturers can integrate the wizard – free of charge. This has recently led to the launch of a top Android smartphone from Huawei in the US with Alexa pre-installed on the market. This is probably little Google likes, but they make their competitor “Google Assistant” only gradually. Lenovo, with the “Smart Assistant“, even released a cluttered echo clone that costs $ 50 less than the model.

Amazon, it is quite obvious to secure a place in this market as quickly as possible. This is the only way for them to determine how their e-commerce offers are integrated.

Chatbots siri

Apple Siri Chatbots

Already in 2011, Apple presented its language assistant Siri. At that time he was still an exclusive feature of the iPhone 4S. Siri was not developed by Apple itself but bought up. Planned versions of Siri for Android and BlackBerry have been thrown in the process. In the meantime, Siri is represented on all platforms of the Californian company – from the watch to the desktop Mac.

Latest japery: the smart and most admired ChatBots named as “HomePod”. With it, the company would like to build on the success it iPod. It is marketed primarily as a compact, well-sounding loudspeaker that has a digital music expert installed – Siri eben. But Siri can also do everything the assistant can do, so give answers to various questions or even control the Smart Home, as long as it is based on Apple’s HomeKit. However, the HomePad is not yet available on the market. He is currently scheduled to enter the market in December 2017 in the US, UK, and Australia.

Similar to Alexa, third parties can now link their apps to Siri. However, this is currently only very limited in some specific categories of apps.

Chatboats Jarvis

Facebook Jarvis Chatbots

Jarvis is not (yet) a finished product of Facebook. Rather, it is a finger exercise by Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. What you can do in your spare time when you have created the largest social network in the world. In his own words, he was concerned about learning about the state of things in artificial intelligence. Via Jarvis, he can control his Smart Home and the assistant is also to learn about the habits and preferences of the user over time. Instead of installing new “skills” manually, as with Alexa, Jarvis is supposed to find out how to do so far unknown tasks. This combination of language assistant and self-learning. Basically the users do not want to install functions, but at any time and immediately get meaningful and helpful answers to every conceivable question.

Officially Jarvis is currently only a private project by Mark Zuckerberg. In his own opinion, however, he thinks about making the source code freely available (alias “Open Source”). At the moment, however, this is all too directly connected to his home and the existing devices there. Alternatively, Jarvis could also be the basis for a new product.

 

Google Assistant ChatbotsChatbots Google Assistant

Google Search has been a topic for Google for a long time and since 2012 it had found its home in the digital assistant Google Now. With the Google Assistant, it is now to be brought to the next level and at the same level as the competition. Amazon’s Echo and Google Home – there is a lot of correspondence between these two ChatBots.

At first, only a few users were able to try out the new wizard. The “Pixel” smartphones from Google itself. In February 2017, Google then announced to bring it to all Android smartphones version 6.0 (“Marshmallow”). If you can do without the language part, a version of the wizard is currently available on Google’s chat app Allo.

What Amazon calls “Skills” is called “Actions on Google”. This allows developers to develop third-party capabilities for the wizard.

Microsoft Cortana Chatbots

Microsoft has shown its Cortana assistant for the first time in 2014. He was named after an artificial intelligence in the “Halo” series. Cortana has been used for the first time in Windows 10 and is now also available for Android and iOS devices as well as on the Xbox One. The functionality is comparable to what has already been described in the competition. Cortana is closely linked to Microsoft’s browser edge and its search engine Bing.

In addition to Chatbots, Cortana is part of what Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has summed up as “conversation as a platform”. Microsoft wanted to “take the power of human language” and apply it in many places. He explained this at the build conference 2016 in San Francisco in his keynote speech. He sees language as a new form of user interface. “Bots are the new apps, digital wizards are meta apps,” he said.

One year later, Microsoft also showed an interface for developers (“Cortana Skills Kit”). In the future, Cortana will also be able to be used by other manufacturers as well as Alexa for their devices.

Harman-Kardon also shows his echo competitor “Invoke”. The smart loudspeaker is expected for this year. And Microsoft also works with “HomeHub” to make every Windows device an echo competitor.

Chatbots cortana

Conclusion

Between a successful tech demo and a successful product for consumers, there is still a long distance that should not be underestimated. Often screenings on a stage are completely scripted and not as “live” as they seem. In addition, the makers there know exactly what they should say so that the desired result comes out. In reality, however, the language assistant has to deal with dialects, ambient sounds, and linguistic peculiarities, to cope with bad Internet connections or to answer questions that the software has generally only understood half or which are so ambiguous that no simple answer can be given.

Nevertheless, it seems clear that progress in the artificial intelligence has been so rapid and impressive in recent months that the abilities of these ChatBotsAlexa, Siri, Cortana, and others can soon be improved very noticeably. And then it is actually interesting for online marketing and here not least for search engine optimization.

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Scientists Recommend Drones For Pipeline Monitoring

Scientists Recommend Drones For Pipeline Monitoring

Transmission pipelines for oil and gas require to be monitored for their maintenance and safety purposes such as to prevent the occurrence of accidents and failure of equipment. A new technology known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) technology if fast proving to be an opportunity for pipeline monitoring. Small UAVs are a smart solution as they are easily adaptable and flexible and have a reliable capacity to gather data on a smaller or medium scale. Through various trials and errors in their research and operations, UAVs have proved to be a trusted method when it comes to oil and gas pipeline monitoring.

Till present, most of the oil and gas pipeline monitoring systems in current use or undergoing development have the basis of the concept of large UAV platforms, flying at heights that allow repetitive coverage of vast areas and scanning of areas where there is a threat to security e.g. Angola-Nigeria. These are very expensive and are complicated systems that are drone-based, with most of them being military grade. The swift expansion and growth of platforms that are small in scale such as mini or micro UAV, along with sensors as a component of the UAV technology, shows a big potential for pipeline monitoring works in a complementary manner and at a more smaller and local scale. Different monitoring goal has a suitable and appropriate strategy and accordingly it uses a combination of platform and sensor.

Proposed UAV system pipeline monitoring

According to research conducted by scientists at the University of Aberdeen, using aerial drones for oil and gas pipeline monitoring could bring substantial advantages to its operators. The network of pipelines require timely and periodic inspection and monitoring for maintenance, security and safety. Pipeline monitoring is usually done by somebody checking it out physically or with the help of helicopters. However, scientists believe using drones for pipeline monitoring will bring better results especially scanning areas that are tough to reach.

The primary risk that an oil or gas pipeline poses is the possibility of a leak or spill that will affect the surrounding environment causing which will not only be disastrous but also pose a risk of an explosion. A fool-proof system for pipeline monitoring needs the usage of specific sensors that can identify any type of corrosion or rust or if the pipeline is situated underground, the presence of methane or a change in the vegetation surrounding the pipeline that show a failure.

This type of technology is fast progressing to a stage where these highly developed sensors are now fitted in compact sizes so that they can be easily mounted on a UAV. One of the many benefits of using drones is that it is possible to programme them to cover large areas in more organised manner along with reaching out to areas that are otherwise hard to access.

This is not only more cost-effective but it also provides the inspectors with a flexible answer to any problems of limited or restricted access, which may turn out to be vital in recognizing a problem. For the full development and use of this technology, certain rules will have to be in place.

However, researches show that drones have an important contribution to make when it comes to oil and gas pipeline monitoring and maintenance. Oil and gas companies are proactively working out on how to incorporate UAVs into their Intelligent Pipeline Management imitative. A considerable amount of studies for its feasibility have been conducted, but only a few cases are currently at an operational stage.

Advantages and Restrictions of UAVs for pipeline monitoring

The utilisation of small UAVs, like any other technology, have some advantages but also some restrictions for pipeline monitoring. The Pros of having small UAVs over other methods is that it has a lower cost, better safety and very reliable mission flexibility. Compared to this, ground and manned aerial surveys are further expensive and manned aerial surveys are far less secure and leave little room for flexibility.

In addition, where the UAVs cannot go further to a higher altitude due to wind factor, cloud cover or other climatological factors, small UAVs function at a relatively less height than 150m that further gives high spatial resolution images as an outcome. Also, there are also waterproof UAVs and can fly in bad weather conditions, providing a way safer alternative to manned flights in stormy weather or extreme desert-like climates.

Factors to Consider for Small UAVs

The selection of a small UAV system for oil and gas pipeline monitoring depends on a number of factors. The type and kind of information needed to complete the monitoring process is of utmost importance such as visual records of the infrastructure to be inspected, physical aspects such as temperature, etc.

The physical aspects of the area surrounding the inspection site, such as, ease of access, topography, distance, etc. pose restrictions in the case of certain systems or configurations. A few other factors such as the regulations and compatibility of the components of the UAV are also vital while considering a small UAV system for any particular monitoring operation.

Conclusions Regarding pipeline monitoring

UAV technology has a potential application when it comes to oil and gas pipeline technology. It has the capacity to provide support and also, in some cases, be a substitute for other traditional methods of pipeline monitoring. Small UAV systems are evolving rapidly as very effective tools for closely inspecting the infrastructure and for timely investigation of the environment.

Shrinking the size of specific sensors for the purpose of detection, identifying and reporting of hydrocarbon leaks, improving the battery power for missions that are of a longer duration and demand more power and development of detailed and exact rules are the current characteristics that are necessary for the complete development of this technology which is expected to be achieved soon in the future.

Unmanned vehicles are expected to undertake a variety of tasks which includes monotonous and also unsafe operations and small aerial platforms can improve security and environmental protection. In the near future, UAVs are expected to be an important aspect in oil and gas pipeline monitoring, inspection and maintenance.

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New Robotic Exosuit Could Push the Limits Of Human Performance

New Robotic Exosuit Could Push the Limits Of Human Performance

Human performance limits will be tested and enhanced with the new robotic exosuit

In this modern with the emergence of highly captivating performance tools and apps we have grown highly sceptical about our own performance. Our body is designed to work at certain levels and overreaching it doesn’t usually turns up good results. It isn’t possible to improve upon the average running pace or other workouts without required amount of training over a certain period of time. In order to get over these shackles researchers at Harvard University had come up with a highly sophisticated and futuristic kind of Exosuit.

A Exosuit to power your performance

This robotic exosuit is designed to reduce the metabolic cost on the body to great extent to improve up on the overall performance of a human body. In short it aids in bringing the ideas or dream of high performance right into the reality by simply arming a person with a performance boosting exosuit.

Running is described as a costly form of movement which happens to put huge strain on the body. The new soft robotic exosuit technology designed by researchers brings an ideal platform for the assisted running which can be brought to wider masses in near future. Herein users have to wear an exosuit which is made up of textile. It is extremely lightweight so the body doesn’t bear the additional burden while running around. It comes loaded with flexible wires which connect to the apparel placed at the back of the thigh and an actuation unit is placed in the waist belt. When a person runs wearing then the robotic exosuit jumps into the action aids in running by applying force to the legs at each stride.

Testing and Development of the exosuit

Researchers had tested this suit on two distinctly different assistant profiles as well as the patterns of wire pulling. Their testing was based on two aspects one being the human biology interacting with the applied force and another was simply a simulation of the exoskeleton assisted running.

It was found that when force is applied on the running stride on the person going through the simulation then it happened to outperform the biology based profile to a great extent. The simple reason attributed towards this success was given to the fact that it helped in reducing the metabolic cost by quite a number of factors.

The future prospects of the battery powered exosuit

We are not going to see the emergence of popularity of the battery powered exosuit right at the moment and it might even take quite a while before it is brought to the consumers. Researchers has stated that the technology being used to power the exosuit and to derive better performance out of it is still going through development phase and it will take few more years before it is perfected.  But their study has already shown that in future companies will be able to leverage the experience and expertise of the robotic exosuit to the wearable technology as well as biometrics. It will help in improving upon the human performance wherever required thereby showcasing widest variety of application.

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