HotSpot 78: Smart Skin for Aircraft

Tue, 09/02/2014 - 10:15am
Eric Sorensen, Coordinator of Multimedia Development

This week on WDD’s HotSpot:

  • Stanford University researchers have developed a tiny eye implant for those who are battling glaucoma. Internal optic pressure (IOP) is the main risk factor associated with glaucoma, which is characterized by a continuous loss of specific retina cells and degradation of the optic nerve fiber. Lowering internal eye pressure is currently the only way to treat glaucoma. The new implant consists of a small tube – one end is open to the fluids that fill the eye; the other end is capped with a small bulb filled with gas. As the IOP increases, intraocular fluid is pushed into the tube; the gas pushes back against this flow. As IOP fluctuates, the meniscus – the barrier between the fluid and the gas – moves back and forth in the tube. Patients could use a custom smartphone app or a wearable technology, such as Google Glass, to snap a photo of the instrument at any time, providing a critical wealth of data that could steer treatment. Read: Stanford Eye Implant Could Lead to Better Glaucoma Treatments
  • Engineers at our Advanced Technology Center are investigating a ‘smart skin’ concept which could be embedded with tens of thousands of micro-sensors. When applied to an aircraft, this will enable it to sense wind speed, temperature, physical strain and movement, far more accurately than current sensor technology allows. The revolutionary ‘smart skin’ concept will enable aircraft to continually monitor their health, reporting back on potential problems before they become significant. This would reduce the need for regular check-ups on the ground and parts could be replaced in a timely manner, increasing the efficiency of aircraft maintenance, the availability of the plane and improving safety. These tiny sensors or ‘motes’ can be as small as grains of rice and even as small as dust particles at less than 1mm squared. Collectively, the sensors would have their own power source and when paired with the appropriate software, be able to communicate in much the same way that human skin sends signals to the brain. Read: 'Smart Skin' Will Enable Aircraft to Feel
  • Technology is getting pretty fashionable with Ralph Lauren’s next evolution of wearable technology: the high-performance, fashion-forward Polo Tech shirt. The Ralph Lauren Polo Tech shirt features sensors knitted into the core of the product to read biological and physiological information. With Ralph Lauren’s leadership in the design community, the compression shirt also has a sleek look in black with a signature yellow Polo Player logo. The second-skin fit enhances comfort and agility. The Ralph Lauren Polo Tech shirt was developed with proprietary technology from Canadian-based OMsignal, whose team includes experts in neuroscience, sports medicine and engineering.
  • Speaking of high-tech fashion, a group of British high street retailers is trying out mannequins enabled with a wireless technology called VMBeacon. Developed by Iconeme, VMBeacon sends customers information about clothes on display, giving retailers an extra channel of contact with shoppers and passers-by, by providing information on prices, in-store location and even links to purchase the items directly from the retailer’s e-commerce platform.

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