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Could tiny spider robots one day be crawling through human bodies?

Future Tech: Featuring a stress-tracking dental chair & AI-powered learning tools.

Developments in new tech for invasive medical procedures

From Fast Company:

A team of Harvard University researchers recently achieved a major breakthrough in robotics, engineering a tiny spider robot using tech that could one day work inside your body to repair tissues or destroy tumors. Their work could not only change medicine — by eliminating invasive surgeries — but could also have an impact on everything from how industrial machines are maintained to how disaster victims are rescued.

Until now, most advanced, small-scale robots followed a certain model: They tend to be built at the centimeter scale and have only one degree of freedom, which means they can only perform one movement. Not so with this new bot.

It’s built at the millimeter scale, and because it’s made of flexible materials — easily moved by pneumatic and hydraulic power — the critter has an unprecedented 18 degrees of freedom.

It’s smaller and more dexterous than any of its tiny robotic peers — a significant step toward robots that will be able to perform tasks inside the human body.

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This dentist’s chair can tell when you’re stressed

From Popular Mechanics:

What if your chair at the dentist could tell the practitioner when you’re stressed? According to The Outline, dentists at Columbia University want to remake the often dreaded dentist visit into something more comfortable.

Visitors to the high-tech dental center get assigned an RFID-enabled wristband that identifies them throughout the visit. RFID tags track practitioners and dental equipment too, measuring when, where and how long instruments are used, as well as patient whereabouts. In the next six months, the center will add a new feature to track patient stress: chairs will start measuring patients’ pulse and oxygenation levels.

Instead of waving down a dentist while you suffer in pain, data will be able to alert the practitioner right away. Cameras installed in the chair will record procedures for analysis and could be someday equipped with facial recognition software to better detect stress or pain levels. Logging patient heart rates over time can give practitioners a sense of a patient’s overall health, too.

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AI that tells your boss what you’re learning

From MIT Technology Review:

Here’s the conundrum with corporate online learning: there are so many classes available from sites like Coursera, edX, and Udacity that companies don’t know what content to offer their employees. And once companies do choose a learning program, it’s tough for them to figure out what skills their employees pick up and to what degree they’ve mastered them. They need an objective metric to evaluate proficiency.

A new AI-powered tool developed by Coursera aims to be that metric. The feature, which the Bay Area startup announced recently, lets companies that subscribe to its training programs see which of their employees are earning top scores in Coursera classes, how their employees’ skills measure up to their competitors’, and what courses would help fill any knowledge gaps. Companies will be able to access the tool, which uses machine learning to derive insights, in the online dashboard of their Coursera profiles later this year.

The new feature is just one example of the ways online-learning providers are using AI to match learners with courses, assess their ability, and tweak class content in response to feedback.

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The Editors

The Editorial Team develops articles, company profiles and resources for the Business Hub to bring IT, tech and innovation stories to the Manitoba business community.

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