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A team of researchers from the University of Texas at Arlington (UT-Arlington) in Texas, USA has demonstrated a novel cancer cell detection method based on real time cell behavior tracking on engineered surfaces. A synthetic RNA molecule is coated on chip surface to identify cancer cells. The otherwise "calm and quiet" cells on this surface show interesting dancing behavior when their membrane receptors are matched to the surface RNA molecules. The behavior is quantified using interesting image processing techniques. Cancer cells are shown to demonstrate significantly different behavior than regular healthy cells. This phenomenon has potential to detect cancer in a tabletop setup thus leveraging doctors to perform frequent and economic tests with faster results and better disease prediction. The report appears in the December 2015 issue of the journal Technology.

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In its current prototype, the personal flying machine can bear the load of a single person up to 70kg for a flight time of about 5 minutes. Rather than a mode of transportation, the team envisions this more as an electric aircraft for personal recreational use in a large indoor space, to satisfy one's desire to fly freely.

"A common trope in popular science fiction is the projection of humans flying on our own -- think the Jetsons, or even Back to the Future. NUS' Snowstorm shows that a personal flying machine is a very real possibility, primarily as a means to fulfil our dreams of flying within a recreational setting," said Dr Joerg Weigl, one of two supervisors of the project, who is from the Design-Centric Programme at the NUS Faculty of Engineering.

"Designing and building Snowstorm was a great learning opportunity for us. The toughest part of this engineering challenge was ensuring a good thrust to weight ratio to allow the craft to lift a person into the air. At every stage of our design, we constantly had to balance and consider trade-offs between the types of materials, their characteristics and weight. In some instances, we even 3D-printed parts, such as our landing gear mount, just so we can have a customised and optimal fit," said Mr Shawn Sim, a third year NUS Engineering student.

The team first tested their design on a smaller 1/6 scale prototype, before proceeding with the massive task of building the current prototype. Using fasteners and non-permanent connections for the beams, the NUS team also designed the flying machine such that it can be dismantled, transported and reassembled easily.

"Recent advances in motors and battery technology has made it possible for us to literally take to the skies," said Associate Professor Martin Henz of the University Scholars Programme and the School of Computing at NUS, who also supervised the project. "The NUS team will continue to fine-tune Snowstorm, working on mechanical safety measures, propeller and motor configurations, and control software and hardware to achieve the high levels of safety, simplicity and performance required for recreational use by the general public," he added. The NUS team hopes the improvements in the coming year will bring Snowstorm closer to commercialisation.

The NUS team spent two semesters designing and building the flying machine, combining their skills and expertise across different fields of engineering such as computer engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. Aside from the construction of the physical frame, the students also designed and implemented the craft's electronic control and stabilisation system, a pilot safety system as well as an electric energy management and supply system where the three batteries that power the craft can function independently in the event any of the batteries malfunction.

The electric flying machine sports 24 motors, each driving a propeller of 76cm diameter with 2.2kW of power. Its hexagonal frame is made up of anodised aluminium beams, carbon fibre plates and tubes with Kevlar ropes. The pilot seat is positioned at the centre of the machine, its weight supported by six landing gear legs, the bottom of which is an inflated ball that adsorbs shock when landing. Three independent rechargeable lithium batteries sets provide a total power of 52.8kW.

To ensure pilot safety, the seat is installed with a five-point harness that secures the pilot to the centre of the machine. The flight control system allows the pilot to adjust thrust, pitch, roll and yaw of the craft. In addition, Snowstorm provides a variety of automated flight modes familiar to operators of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), including altitude hold, loiter and position modes. For safety, the team has also worked in a separate switch that can be controlled from the ground to end the flight and bring the machine to a landing, should the pilot lose control of the machine.

"Designing and building Snowstorm was a great learning opportunity for us. The toughest part of this engineering challenge was ensuring a good thrust to weight ratio to allow the craft to lift a person into the air. At every stage of our design, we constantly had to balance and consider trade-offs between the types of materials, their characteristics and weight. In some instances, we even 3D-printed parts, such as our landing gear mount, just so we can have a customised and optimal fit," said Mr Shawn Sim, a third year NUS Engineering student.

The team first tested their design on a smaller 1/6 scale prototype, before proceeding with the massive task of building the current prototype. Using fasteners and non-permanent connections for the beams, the NUS team also designed the flying machine such that it can be dismantled, transported and reassembled easily.

"Recent advances in motors and battery technology has made it possible for us to literally take to the skies," said Associate Professor Martin Henz of the University Scholars Programme and the School of Computing at NUS, who also supervised the project. "The NUS team will continue to fine-tune Snowstorm, working on mechanical safety measures, propeller and motor configurations, and control software and hardware to achieve the high levels of safety, simplicity and performance required for recreational use by the general public," he added. The NUS team hopes the improvements in the coming year will bring Snowstorm closer to commercialisation.

John Mardaljevic, Professor of Building Daylight Modelling in the School of Civil and Building Engineering, has been using high dynamic range (HDR) imaging to measure where the natural light falls at different points throughout the day and over several months in the Smoking Room at Ickworth House near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk.

As is the case with the majority of its historic buildings, the National Trust is keen to balance visitor enjoyment with the preservation of paintings, textiles and furniture that are vulnerable to light fading and aging.

As a result of his new research, Professor Mardaljevic was able to show the distribution of light exposure across all surfaces which were of interest in the rooms, so that a comprehensive evaluation could be made of the illumination conditions over long periods of time. He did this with the help of a camera tethered to a computer that controls a sequence of exposures which occur every 10 minutes. These exposures were then converted into physical measures of the light level as it falls onto a surface at different points.

Professor Mardaljevic said: "In any heritage building the light will vary across the walls depending on the arrangement of windows and the time of day. This is the first time, however, that we have been able to use HDR in a heritage setting to create a cumulative luminance image, from which a physical measure of illumination exposure across the camera's wide-angle perspective is derived.

"Together with the HDR measurement, we are using a technique called climate-based daylight modelling to predict how the long-term daylight exposure can change when, for example, opening hours are increased. Used together, these two techniques are a great way of better understanding natural light, especially at a time when historic houses are being encouraged to extend access and opening hours where possible."

As a result of this research, which was conducted in partnership with Cannon-Brookes Lighting and Design, the National Trust is looking into the feasibility of revising the daylight management guide for its historic houses which takes into consideration the scheduling of the use of shutters/blinds in each of the rooms.

Dr Nigel Blades, Preventive Conservation Adviser at the National Trust, said: "The research is enabling the National Trust to understand better than ever before, the fall of daylight onto light sensitive surfaces in historic showrooms.

"We are learning how the daylight received accumulates through the days and seasons of the year. This knowledge will enable us to understand the impact of extended opening hours on light exposure. Based on the research, we will fine tune our use of daylight to minimise the rate of change in light sensitive objects, while providing sufficient daylight for visitors to enjoy our collections."

John Mardaljevic, Professor of Building Daylight Modelling in the School of Civil and Building Engineering, has been using high dynamic range (HDR) imaging to measure where the natural light falls at different points throughout the day and over several months in the Smoking Room at Ickworth House near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk.

As is the case with the majority of its historic buildings, the National Trust is keen to balance visitor enjoyment with the preservation of paintings, textiles and furniture that are vulnerable to light fading and aging.

As a result of his new research, Professor Mardaljevic was able to show the distribution of light exposure across all surfaces which were of interest in the rooms, so that a comprehensive evaluation could be made of the illumination conditions over long periods of time. He did this with the help of a camera tethered to a computer that controls a sequence of exposures which occur every 10 minutes. These exposures were then converted into physical measures of the light level as it falls onto a surface at different points.

Professor Mardaljevic said: "In any heritage building the light will vary across the walls depending on the arrangement of windows and the time of day. This is the first time, however, that we have been able to use HDR in a heritage setting to create a cumulative luminance image, from which a physical measure of illumination exposure across the camera's wide-angle perspective is derived.

"Together with the HDR measurement, we are using a technique called climate-based daylight modelling to predict how the long-term daylight exposure can change when, for example, opening hours are increased. Used together, these two techniques are a great way of better understanding natural light, especially at a time when historic houses are being encouraged to extend access and opening hours where possible."

As a result of this research, which was conducted in partnership with Cannon-Brookes Lighting and Design, the National Trust is looking into the feasibility of revising the daylight management guide for its historic houses which takes into consideration the scheduling of the use of shutters/blinds in each of the rooms.

Dr Nigel Blades, Preventive Conservation Adviser at the National Trust, said: "The research is enabling the National Trust to understand better than ever before, the fall of daylight onto light sensitive surfaces in historic showrooms.

"We are learning how the daylight received accumulates through the days and seasons of the year. This knowledge will enable us to understand the impact of extended opening hours on light exposure. Based on the research, we will fine tune our use of daylight to minimise the rate of change in light sensitive objects, while providing sufficient daylight for visitors to enjoy our collections."

The Power Over Wi-Fi (PoWiFi) system is one of the most innovative and game-changing technologies of the year, according to Popular Science, which included it in the magazine's annual "Best of What's New" awards announced Wednesday.

The technology attracted attention earlier this year when researchers published an online paper showing how they harvested energy from Wi-Fi signals to power a simple temperature sensor, a low-resolution grayscale camera and a charger for a Jawbone activity tracking bracelet.

The final paper will be presented next month at the Association for Computing Machinery's CoNEXT 2015 conference in Heidelberg, Germany, on emerging networking experiments and technologies.

"For the first time we've shown that you can use Wi-Fi devices to power the sensors in cameras and other devices," said lead author Vamsi Talla, a UW electrical engineering doctoral student. "We also made a system that can co-exist as a Wi-Fi router and a power source -- it doesn't degrade the quality of your Wi-Fi signals while it's powering devices."

PoWiFi could help enable development of the Internet of Things, where small computing sensors are embedded in everyday objects like cell phones, coffee makers, washing machines, air conditioners, mobile devices, allowing those devices to "talk" to each other. But one major challenge is how to energize those low-power sensors and actuators without needing to plug them into a power source as they become smaller and more numerous.

The team of UW computer science and electrical engineers found that the peak energy contained in untapped, ambient Wi-Fi signals often came close to meeting the operating requirements for some low-power devices. But because the signals are sent intermittently, energy "leaked" out of the system during silent periods.

The team fixed that problem by optimizing a router to send out superfluous "power packets" on Wi-Fi channels not currently in use -- essentially beefing up the Wi-Fi signal for power delivery -- without affecting the quality and speed of data transmission. The team also developed sensors that can be integrated in devices to harvest the power.

In their proof-of-concept experiments, the team demonstrated that the PoWiFi system could wirelessly power a grayscale, low-power Omnivision VGA camera from 17 feet away, allowing it to store enough energy to capture an image every 35 minutes.

It also re-charged the battery of a Jawbone Up24 wearable fitness tracker from zero to 41 percent in 2.5 hours.

The researchers also tested the PoWiFi system in six homes. Users typically didn't notice deterioration in web page loading or video streaming experiences, showing the technology could successfully deliver power via Wi-Fi in real-world conditions without degrading network performance.

Although initial experiments harvested relatively small amounts of power, the UW team believes there's opportunity for make the PoWiFi system more efficient and robust.

"In the future, PoWi-Fi could leverage technology power scaling to further improve the efficiency of the system to enable operation at larger distances and power numerous more sensors and applications," said co-author Shyam Gollakota, assistant professor of computer science and engineering.

The research is funded by the National Science Foundation, Qualcomm and the UW.

Co-authors include UW electrical engineering doctoral students Bryce Kellogg and Saman Naderiparizi, research associate Benjamin Ransford and associate professor of computer science & engineering and of electrical engineering Joshua Smith.

 

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