A Wearable Device That Could Control Computers and Prosthetics

Researchers from UC Berkeley have developed a gesture-detecting wearable device that could be used to control electronics and prosthetics. It uses a combination of AI software and biosensors to identify the hand gestures a person intends to make by analyzing electrical signals from their arm.

Human hand reaching out to a robotic hand
A Wearable Device That Could Control Computers and Prosthetics

A Prosthetics Device That Brings Convenience

It is not the first gesture recognition system designed for human-computer interaction, but this one offers great and unique benefits. Most importantly, it uses a neuro-inspired hyperdimensional computing algorithm to update itself when it receives new information, such as changes to electrical signals if the arm gets sweaty.

Ali Moin, who is the study coauthor, explained that in gesture recognition, the signals of the person who is wearing the device are going to change over time and that this could easily affect the performance of the model. The creators of the special prosthetics were able to greatly improve the classification accuracy by updating the model on the device.

Prosthetics controlled by a wearable device
A Wearable Device That Could Control Computers and Prosthetics

A Wearable Future

The team screen-printed the biosensing system on a thin sheet of PET substrate. It’s a polymer resin that is usually used to produce plastic containers and synthetic fibers. The specialists picked the material from their armband due to its flexibility. This way, it allows it to conform to the muscle movements of the forearm. The array consists of 64 electrodes. Each of them detects electric signals from a different point on the arm. This data is then fed into an electric chip that uses the algorithm to associate the specific hand gestures with the signals.

Prosthetics are one important application of this technology. Aside from this, it offers a very unique and intuitive way of communication with computers. Reading hand gestures is one amazing way of improving human-computer interaction. All the computing on the device is done locally on a chip that protects the biological data of the user and speeds up the system. Ali Moin believes that this combination of performance and security could turn the system into a viable commercial product.

New Study Finds Potentially Harmful Chemicals in Plastic Toys

A new study by the Technical University of Denmark suggests that there are more than 100 harmful chemicals used in plastic toys. The findings of the novel research can lead to stricter international regulations regarding plastic toy materials.

New Study Finds Potentially Harmful Chemicals in Plastic Toys
New Study Finds Potentially Harmful Chemicals in Plastic Toys

Harmful Chemicals in Plastic Toys Is No News

It has long been a public secret that some plastic toys contain chemicals that can be harmful to human health. However, it’s still difficult for parents to know which plastic toys contain these harmful elements and protect their children from them. Aside from the so-called “chemicals of concern” list, there are currently no international agreements on the substances that shouldn’t be used in toy materials.

To help bring positive change and provide evidence for greater international regulations, researchers from DTU and the University of Michigan joined forces with the UN Environment to analyze chemical functions and amounts found in plastic toy materials.

The Results of the Study

Researchers tested 419 chemicals found in soft, foam, and hard plastic materials used to make children’s toys. They identified 126 of those that can potentially have a negative effect on children’s health and ranked them according to the level of risk. That same study found that kids in Western countries have about 40 pounds of plastic toys on average, which shows the significance of controlling the use of harmful chemicals in toy materials.

Children playing with plastic toys
New Study Finds Potentially Harmful Chemicals in Plastic Toys

The problem with current toy production is that manufacturers don’t usually provide any information regarding the chemical content of their products. That’s partly because there’s no regulation about it and partly because they are indeed using harmful elements. The researchers further outlined safe alternatives to the majority of harmful chemicals they identified.

Although this study is bringing the spotlight on an important issue, there’s still a lot more to be done before official regulations are in place. In the meantime, researchers advise parents to avoid buying plastic toys altogether to reduce the health risk for their children and themselves.