3 things direct from the future

10th Edition

Once every 2 weeks I will deliver “3 things direct from the future”. A 2 minute read that will always give you:

  • one thing that can help,
  • one thing to be wary of, and
  • one thing to amaze.

If this sounds interesting to you then please subscribe.


1. One to help

Levitating dead cells

Stanford bio-engineers are now able to use magnetic levitation to separate dead cells from living cells. How can this help?

Say they want to test an experimental drug. All they have to do is drop the drug in a vial of cell samples, and use magnetic levitation to lift the live cells from dead cells. The dead cells can then be safely collected and removed from the sample solution.

The researchers can now monitor just the live cells in real-time to see how they react to the drug. Also, since magnetic levitation does not adversely affect the live cells (unlike the current method of spinning them in a centrifuge), the results are more accurate.

This technique also has potential for use when 3D printing new human organs. First lift the dead cells out of the organ tissue you are using, and use the healthy ones to print up a new organ. OK – it’s much more complicated than that but you get the idea.

To see the method in action, see the video below:

             GozdisGozde Durmus @gozdis
Here is a video of magnetic levitation and focusing of heterogeneous mixture of live and dead cells in real-time. Jmqivzfwpqwi94oy3vov

2. One to be wary of

Accidental hospital hack

In a report on September 17, German authorities said that  Duesseldorf University Clinic was hacked. “Widely used commercial add-on software” was targeted, enabling the hackers to encrypt 30 servers in the hospital.

While this was going on, emergency patients were redirected to other hospitals. Tragically, one patient died after having to travel 32 kilometres to receive aid.

To make matters worse, it seems the hospital was not the intended target of the attack. After being contacted by police, the hackers provided the decryption keys when they learned that instead of hacking Heinrich Heine University they mistakenly targeted the affiliated Dusseldorf University Clinic.

Cyber-security is fast becoming the most important discipline in technology with increasing career opportunities. If you or your kids are interested in this area it would be a fascinating career path to journey on.

3. One thing to amaze

Touchless touch screens

In February it would have been be difficult to imagine a world without touchscreens. But Covid-19 has made us all too aware of the greebies that are left on screens, and the danger of touching surfaces that others have been in contact with. The solution: touch-less touchscreens.

Professor Simon Godsill and his team at Cambridge University have developed software that can allow you to operate a touchscreen just by pointing. Using artificial intelligence and sensors, the system can recognise your intent as you point at the screen.

It was primarily developed for drivers interacting with their cars and can reduce driver-screen interaction by up to 50% helping to keep eyes on the road.

Enter our arch-enemy Covid-19 though, and we see a much wider application. Integrating this software into existing touchscreens such as ticketing systems, food menu selection and ATM’s, will mean that we don’t touch the same screen everybody else uses. This will help no-end in combating this pandemic.

Now I need some technology to stop my kids touching EVERYTHING in all public toilets.

Have a great week.

Daniel J McKinnon

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