Archive for the ‘health’ Category

Low cost wearable sensor for detecting Electromagnetic fields

Saturday, September 20th, 2008


My work “Electromagnetic Field Detector Bracelet” has been accepted as a video. The video will be presented at Ubicomp in Seoul South Korea during the one minute madness Monday 22nd and during the video reception 17:15 - 19:00!

Abstract of the work

We present the design of a cost-effective wearable sensor to detect and indicate the strength and other characteristics of the electric field emanating from a laptop display. Our bracelet can provide an immediate awareness of electric fields radiated from an object used frequently. Our technology thus supports awareness of ambient background emanation beyond human perception. We discuss how detection of such radiation might help to “fingerprint” devices and aid in applications that require determination of indoor location.

Come see me to talk about this work! If you cannot make it, here is the video:

Today, many people fear electromagnetic fields. They believe that ambient fields can negatively influence their health. Perhaps, by visualizing the presence of common electromagnetic (EM) fields, users might feel in control of difficult-to-perceive information and transcend their fear, beginning the process of recognizing and moving beyond fear. An analogy might be found in the cheap RF power meters that are sold to enable people to gauge radiation leakage from their microwave ovens. Conversely, providing users with blind data could increase their paranoia when low-level field leakage from common appliances is visualized. Clearly, people need to be educated in how to properly interpret this data. Regardless of one’s belief on the health impact of background EM fields, visualizing the unseen in this way always leads to fascinating and playful exploration. All devices emit background signals (electrostatically, magnetically, acoustically, and optically) that are characteristic of particular devices and also sometimes indicate that device’s mode of operation. Indeed, government contracts mandate that computers and displays used in highly classified work be kept in shielded rooms (SCIFs) to thwart espionage that monitors such background leakage fields.

The “Electromagnetic Field Detector Bracelet” has been accepted as a video for Ubicomp 2008, Seoul South Korea!

Press on Engadget and Make Magazine.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

[tags] , bracelet, consumer, culture, DIY, electromagnetic field, EMF, fashion, Media Lab, MIT, mobile, project, technology [/tags]

Iced Chest

Monday, August 25th, 2008



I had designed a system to cool down the body for mental health support. It is always nice to see how such system can be used in another context such as the Nike Lab that designs innovative garments for athletes. One of the product, that I found in the Print edition of Fast Company Magazine, is a jacket that cools down the body. Discovering that performance falls off drastically when core body temperature hits 103 degrees, the Nike lab designed a vest that slows the rise of core body temperature. It is simply filled in with water, then frozen overnight. The vest is meant to be wear an hour prior to competition.

Screenshot from the Nike designer story

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

[tags] product design, body, health, sport, culture, fashion, fabric, haptic [/tags]

A Health-Obsessed Robot for Health Obsessives

Monday, May 19th, 2008

After leaving us for London, Daisy Ginsberg now designs health obsessed robots at RCA! Daisy uses her Bio Spy concept to express that we develop irrational relationships with machines, mourning dead appliances or resisting unfamiliar replacements. How will we behave when robots are trusted with the most intimate moments of our personal lives? Will the master/slave relationship survive? Is symbiosis with a robot possible? And what are the consequences of offering our most personal data for surveillance? Her questions remind me of my post on jealous computers and the 80’s electric dreams movie, with a special RCA’s touch!


For the hypochondriac, the BioSpy offers reassuring constant health surveillance, removing the nagging fear of illness. But would such a health aid induce unhealthy behaviour? The user and robot develop obsessive mutual dependence: the user only feels healthy when accompanied by the robot, sharing her most intimate information with it. Meanwhile, recording, storing and analyzing every physical change 24/7, the robot is dependent on its user’s health for its existence.


After a period of domestic harmony, the robot captures data that indicates serious illness. ‘Fearful’, it mirrors its user’s own neurosis. It logically computes that if it records any more data, it might ultimately result in unplugging. The robot’s erratic behaviour confuses the owner – is it behaving autonomously or malfunctioning? Is the user really ill or is it imagined?

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

Living in a robot

Friday, May 16th, 2008


Victor Vetterlein
’s Reboot is a self-sufficient and eco-friendly house. The building is constructed with a space frame, and the outer skin increases structural strength through double curvature. The skin system consists of a vapor barrier, dense foam insulation, and metal sheathing where the exterior face is glazed in solar cell paint. The surface of the building serves as a solar energy collector.


Supplemental electricity is provided by on-site wind turbines and energy is stored in batteries on Deck 1. Wind power is also used to pressurize a large canister to operate the hydraulic elevator and the water treatment system. The smooth outer skin of the building acts as a foil against adverse weather conditions, and the rooftop serves as a water collection surface where rainwater runs into a drain located above the resin laminated glass windows. The water is stored in holding tanks positioned below the Main Deck and managed by an in-house water treatment system on Deck 2. Natural ventilation is provided by operable vents located at the top and the bottom of the structure. Lastly, the building’s mechanical systems are stacked on two floors above the Ground level eliminating the need for massive ground penetrations and a large site footprint.

See also his robotic furniture design!

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

Vein Viewer

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

The VeinViewer by Luminetx™ uses a combination of near-infrared light and patented technologies to image vascular structures, thus allowing physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals to clearly see accessible vasculature (or lack thereof) in real time, directly on the surface of the skin. The near-IR camera located the subcutaneous veins and project their location onto the surface of the skin.

This technology reminds me of the device used to visualize inside a baby in the e-baby’s video.

Screenshot of the e-baby video - 2003
Posted by Cati Vaucelle

Therapeutic objects

Sunday, January 6th, 2008

Having researched and designed haptic devices to support psychotherapeutic treatments, I am fascinated by French designer :) Mathieu Lehanneur’s work on therapeutic objects he conceived with psychiatric consultants: Bernard Lachaux, Patrick Lemoine and model makers: Alban Danguy des Deserts. These objects are part of the permanent collection of the MOMA, NYC.

He proposes a series of objects not only as an attempt to bring design into the medical sphere, but essentially to design medications from the perspective of the patient and his/her illness relationship.

His scenario envisions: the placebo effect, a participation of the patient in his/her treatment, making the medication a communicative and sensory object, debating on the mechanistic approach of modern pharmacology, playing on emotions of attraction, desire, fear and repulsion towards a device or a particular form using gestures, usage practices and rituals.

Therapeutic felt-tip pen, 2001.

This analgesic for chronic pain is a systemic medication, which acts on all symptoms together. All that is required is to write on the painful area of the body each day and to remove the used cartridge at the end of each day. This transdermal product is coupled with a user-friendly ink that disappears after several minutes.

The Third Lung, 2001.

This project consists of a base treatment for asthma. The patient who refuses to accept his illness will reject even more the idea of taking medication unnecessary. The idea behind this therapeutic object is to establish a relationship of dependence.

But in this case the medication is dependent on the patient. Between two doses, the volume of the medication increases, this displaying its own physiological problem and indicating to the patient the urgency of taking the medication. Once the dose is administered, the volume decreases and returns to its normal level, only to expand once again until the next dose is administered.

The First Mouthful

Posted by Cati Vaucelle

A portent of human augmentation

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

Greasy Spoon, 2007 by Brian Walker

In our cyborg world, I think it would be nice if prosthesis could mean expanding human skills or on a contrary re-creating fragile and powerless human sculptures.

Examples of prostheses

  • Researchers explored the ability of the skin to acquire and process information rivaling our senses of sight and hearing. The e-skin lab researches on tactile interfaces consisting both of sensors and actuators: wearable artificial skins as a navigation aid in space.
  • The Rheo Knee made by Ossur adapts to an individual’s walking style by detecting 1,000 times every second the knee’s position and the load applied to the limb. The user gets the proper amount of resistance for every step.
    Via wired
  • Victhom’s urinary implant, a catheter-free, fully implanted pacemaker for the bladder. If trials go well, it could help 800 million people worldwide with bladder dysfunctions caused by spinal cord injury.
  • Durom™ Hip Resurfacing a joint replacement system that offers “freedom” of movement.
  • The cyberhand gives amputees the ability to use thought to move and grasp naturally, even to feel whatever the device touches.
  • A nanotechnology developed at MIT can “knit” together damaged neurons. Researchers have already restored sight to rodents and they believe the technique might also help repair injured spinal cords
  • Penn State developed the first fully implantable artificial heart, and in 2000 AbloMed acquired rights to further develop the technology. It is FDA approved only for emergency use and the company hopes to have broader approval by 2008. Eventually, researchers hope it can be a long-term solution for heart failure patients.
  • Current research on technological prostheses by Hugh Herr -director of the bio mechatronics group at the MIT Media Laboratory- transforms the perception a person wearing a prosthesis has of his artificial body part. While the mechanical properties of conventional passive prostheses remain fixed with walking speed and terrain, this research explores the prosthesis not just as a passive object, but also as an extension of the body. The prosthesis enables additional mechanical energy for forward propulsion of an ankle as well as controlling the ankle joint impedance.
  • The rehabilitation institute of Chicago made a biohybrid arm that allows amputees to move the prosthetic by thought alone.
  • For patients who have lost the use of their arms, scientists at the Cleveland FES Center are developing functional electrical stimulation systems.
  • Harvard and Massachisetts General Hospital researchers are developing an implantable artificial electrolarynx communication system for patients who have had a complete laryngectomy. The technology includes a neural interface and hands-free control of a natural sounding voice prosthesis.
  • Advanced Bionics made a cochlear implant that sends sounds directly to the auditory nerve instead of amplifying sound like a regular hearing aid.
  • IIP technologies and Intelligent Medical Implants made a retinal implant that bridges and replaces the processing function of a defective retina. Using it some blind persons can regain partial vision and orientation, even in unfamiliar surroundings.
  • A silicon hippocampus replacement could eventually replace damaged areas of the brain. Currently being developed by scientists at the University of Southern California.
  • Cyberkinetics created Braingate, a neuroprosthetic system with a patch that attaches directly to neurons in the brain to sense electrical signals. The sensor sends signals that can move a computer cursor or flip a switch.
  • Living bacteria have been incorporated into an electronic circuit to produce a supersensitive humidity sensor. Similar devices could one day be made that take greater advantage of living organisms, perhaps even using bacteria’s energy systems to power electrical devices. Via We make money not art.
  • Microsoft Research filed a patent on power and data transmission through the human body. The human body is used as a conductive medium, which distributes power and/or data by coupling a power source to the human body via a first set of electrodes. In this case, the body acts as a computer network.

    Don’t forget to check out the insightful Prosthetic Impulse: From a Posthuman Present to a Biocultural Future

    The prosthesis is not a mere extension of the human body; it is the constitution of this body qua “human.”
    —Bernard Steigler,Technics and Time

    Natalie Portman by freaking news.

  • Lifestyle in 2057

    Monday, October 1st, 2007

    2057 EP1 The Body featured on Discovery Channel offers mixed information between current research explorations and fictional scenarios of our lifestyle in 2057.

    It is a nice effort in considering what is being done in HCI and medical research which converges into everyday scenarios. Under its over dramatic tone, the examples are sometimes tacky and stereotypical. The show could have incorporated other important issues such as affordable cutting edge technological solutions for the rest of world.

    This video is fun and accessible. I loved the transplantation of a human heart, heart that can be 3d printed! Presenting a vision for a future lifestyle, this video reminds me of the American Look (1958): America lifestyle in the 50’s with its *idealistic* sense for design.

    Operation for adults!

    Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

    Operation, game by Hasbro

    Today, I met with TMG alumni Paul Yarin. One of his latest project, the interactive sensing module for laparoscopic trainer, developed with Wendy Plesniak reminded me of the funniest childhood game Operation created by Hasbro. The child practices coordination skills by removing the patients symptoms with the tweezers.

    The sophisticated and impressive Interactive sensing module for laparoscopic trainer is a self-contained simulator for structured testing and training of skills used in laparoscopic surgery. Digital video and electronic sensors capture user performance and is approved to be used by medical centers to train and test critical laparoscopic skills. This is such a clever implementation. The advantages of physical objects as tools and the power of computer simulation are combined at their best.

    “This interactive laparoscopic training simulator combines the best of physical and virtual simulation into a plug ‘n’ play solution. It combines validated physical reality exercises, computerized assessment, and validated McGill Metrics. Electronic sensors and digital video capture user performance with a PC interface.”

    An example of practice task

    Real Laparoscopic Simulation’s web site

    Small, mobile, clever humanoid robots

    Thursday, August 9th, 2007

    The Personal Robots Group at MIT media lab is developing mobile humanoid robots that possess a novel combination of mobility, moderate dexterity, and human-centric communication and interaction abilities. The small footprint of the robot -roughly the size of a 3 year old child- allows multiple robots to operate safely within a typical laboratory floor space.