Future Tech: Plus…machine learning combats crop disease & soccer balls get smarter.
‘Biosensitive’ inks could lead to new health monitoring techniques
From Harvard Gazette:
Harvard and MIT researchers have developed smart tattoo ink capable of monitoring health by changing color to tell an athlete if she is dehydrated or a diabetic if his blood sugar rises.
The work, conducted by two postdoctoral fellows at Harvard Medical School and colleagues led by Katia Vega at MIT’s Media Lab, paired biosensitive inks developed at Harvard with traditional tattoo artistry as a way to overcome some of the limitations of current biomedical monitoring devices.
“We were thinking: New technologies, what is the next generation after wearables?” said Ali Yetisen, who is a Tosteson postdoctoral fellow at HMS and Massachusetts General Hospital. “And so we came up with the idea that we could incorporate biosensors in the skin.”
An app that identifies crop pests and plant diseases
From Fast Company:
The world’s 500 million smallholder farmers have a new weapon in their never-ending fight against pests and plant diseases: an app called Plantix. By uploading pictures of affected crops to the mobile service, they can quickly diagnose unwanted (fungi) and insects and get ideas about how to deal with infestations before they get out of control.
Three years after launch, the app is being used more than 1 million times a month, particularly in India, Brazil, and North Africa.
In Africa, the current number-one enemy pest is the fall armyworm — so-called because it marches like an advanced military unit, eating everything in its path. The colorful caterpillars are munching through maize, sorghum, rice, and legume fields in 24 countries. If farmers don’t react in time — for example by spraying with the appropriate pesticides — economic losses could reach more than $5 billion this year, estimates show.
Here’s a smart soccer ball without any sensors
Over the past few years, brands such as Adidas and Wilson have introduced sensor-laden balls designed to track performance data, including shot accuracy and trajectory. But those products have been far from perfect: they’re not always precise and, in the case of Adidas’ miCoach Smart Ball, having to charge it is a tedious process.
Here’s where DribbleUp, a startup based in Brooklyn, hopes to shine with its new app-enabled soccer ball. One of the most interesting parts about DribbleUp’s ball is that doesn’t have any sensors inside of it. Rather than pairing it to an iOS or Android device via Bluetooth, that step is done when you scan a QR code-like optical marker on the ball’s design with your smartphone or tablet’s camera.
It was actually quite surprising how efficiently this worked during the demo, as the setup only took about a second or two. Once you’ve done that, DribbleUp says its proprietary computer vision and machine learning takes care of tracking the ball in real-time and uses that information to grade your footwork.
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