Today on Engineering Newswire, we’re 3D printing bump keys to pick locks, taking electrical prescriptions, and spraying smart skin onto airplanes. This episode features:

Spray-On Smart Skin: Engineers at BAE Systems are currently investigating a new smart skin concept that could be used on aircrafts, cars, and even ships. What makes this skin smart, is tens of thousands of micro-sensors, or motes that can be as small as a dust particle.

The motes have their own power source and software counterpart enables them to communicate in the same way that human skin does with the brain. In the future, BAE believes the new technology will allow for more robust defense platforms capable of more complex missions all with fewer routine maintenance checks.

The 3D-Printed Threat:  A couple of engineering “entrepreneurs” have started using 3D-printed “bump” keys and a custom-developed software called Photobump to pick locks.

Basically, they take a picture of a key hole and use their software to print a bump key, which resembles a normal key but can open an endless number of locks with a fine-tuned tapping technique. The bump key technique isn’t new, but it has often been a challenge to create the bump keys, especially for high-security locks. Now with 3D printing, these keys can be developed with a quick photo and a cheap 3D printer.

Electrical Prescriptions: A new DARPA program aims to explore neuromodulation of organ functions to help the human body heal itself by monitoring and targeting the regulation of signals in the peripheral nervous system.

To help manage difficult-to-treat conditions more effectively, DARPA’s electrical prescriptions, or electrics, aim to develop new, high precision, minimally invasive technologies for modulating nerve circuits to restore and maintain health.

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