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  1. Brain Pacemakers with Alzheimer’s

    December 9, 2012 by Georgia Konzel

    For the past 15 years, Doctors have used electrical pulses on the brain to help fix some pretty serious problems. This stimulation has shown success in people with Parkinson’s disease, depression, or any other neurological problem.  Researchers have hypothesized that these deep electrical pulses to the brain should also help improve Alzheimer’s disease. Similar to a heart pacemaker, the researchers believe that a small device could be implemented into the brain that will send out these electrical signals. by sending out these pulses frequently, the brain will stay more active thus decreasing the severity of Alzheimer’s.

    Brain pacemakers show promise in Alzheimer's trials, might open new treatment possibilities


    Surgeons at John Hopkins in Baltimore were the first to start implementing these devices into patients that were showing the early stages of Alzheimer’s. The device uses DBS (deep brain stimulation) which is very comparable to how a heart pacemaker functions. As of December 7, 2012,  this new idea only is being used one one patient, although approximately forty new patients are supposed to have the device implanted within the next year. When tested in the lab, the stimulation increases the rate of metabolism of glucose, and those with a higher rate did not have as severe Alzheimer’s in comparison to a low rate of glucose metabolism.

    The main focus area for the brain pacemaker, is called the fornix. The fornix is where electrical energy is converted into chemical energy. Although this is not expect to be a cure for Alzheimer’s, researchers believe that it should slow down the rate of memory-loss.  The doctors believe that this is a good idea to test with Alzheimer’s because it has shown a lot of success with other neurological problems. DBS was first started to reduce tremors, and has been very successful  and has also shown success with epileptic patients. DBS has also been used to stimulate the brain and bring people out from a coma, and plans to be tested on people who have severe mental disorders(OCD).


  2. Mercedes Benz BIOME

    December 8, 2012 by Georgia Konzel


    At the Los Angeles Auto show in 2010, Mercedes Benz released their BIOME design in order to complete in the Design Challenge.Although it did not win, the Mercedes Benz BIOME, is arguably the greenest car design at this time. One mock-up was developed at that time for competition purposes, but they plan to have similar models out by 2015. The details for the auto show, was to design a car that weighed less than 1000 pounds, had a cutting edge design, is a compact car, and was safe and comfortable. The Mercedes Benz met all of the criteria while being completely environmentally friendly.

    The BIOME is made of BioFibre. BioFibre is a material that is rooted from DNA molecules, and is grown in a lab. It is capable of taking in the sun’s energy and storing in as a chemical bond, that has been termed BioNectar4535. The Bionectar is stored in the vehicle and is used to power it. The BioFibre also is very light in comparison to most outer materials used for cars, and the designed model weighed only 875 pounds, which is much less than the 1000 design limit.  The Biofibre used to make the car, would actually be grown in a lab at Mercedes headquarters. This would make the car made completely out of organic material, which can be composted after it is no longer used.

    Already extremelly impressive, there is more about the BIOME that adds to its eco-friendly reputation. The BIOME emits pure oxygen as the “waste product.” Its amazing to think that the  “BIOME would be grown in a lab rather than built on a production line.” The Mercedes Benz head of advanced design, explain that the mission of the BIOME for the competition would be to design a car that is inspired by nature, and has no negative impact on the enviorment.

    Front view of the Mercedes-Benz BIOME

    Video about BIOME Design

  3. Airless Bike Tires

    December 6, 2012 by Georgia Konzel

    Britek has found a way to make a sustainable tire for biking that does not require any air. Their design would allow bikes to have a normal rubber tire, but instead of the need to pump air into it, the solid rubber would have the same compression values as a normal bike tire that is filled with air. This airless bike tire wouldn’t be able to be punctured, would never become flat, and wouldn’t need to be changed as frequently as normal bike tires. The idea for the airless bike tire came from researcher Brian Russell when trying to find a way to reduce oil consumption in cars while increasing efficiency. They’ve been calling it the “Energy Return Wheel”, because like a spring, it requires less energy to move. The science behind the ERW is very similar to spring energy, when the spring condenses and then stretches, it uses the elastic potential energy, and converts it into kinetic energy. The Elastic potential energy is also relevant when dealing with rubber. Since the kinetic energy rises, the bike will gain velocity just from the transfer of energy and will not need as much effort to power it.



    The tire is made up of a layer of rubber which is stretched over many tiny rods. These rods are lined with carbon nanotubes, and the bike user can actually make adjustments to the rods to specifically fit the intended terrain.The rims of the bike are made out of carbon fiber, thus decreasing the weight of the bike. This idea originally stemmed from the need to make cars more efficient, but was translated over in to the tire market because of the potential to reduce common bike problems. Similar products have been designed before for military and business use, but this is the first tire to use the Energy Return technology, that has only been used on cars until now. The airless tires until now have been using a filler to replace where the air would be, usually a special type of foam, while now Britek is using carbon nanotubes and stretched rubber to make a good solution.

    Link for Video


  4. Impact of Windows 8 on the Smartphone Market

    December 6, 2012 by Georgia Konzel

    The release of Windows 8 will have a huge impact on the technology market, especially the smartphone market. Right now the main operating systems for smartphones, are primarily android, Apple iOS, and Blackberry. Researchers have predicted that the smartphone operating system market will stay relatively the same except that windows will could quadruple their market share within the next 4 years. Right now, the Windows holds around 3 percent of the market, and it is expected to rise to around 11.5. Thanks to Nokia and HTC, will now have a reliable way to share their system.

    A huge reason why Windows will gain some of the market is because of it open developing system. In order to develop an app for an apple product, the developing company must pay apple a licensing fee. This means that even if the developer wants to create a free app, they must pay apple in order to design it for an apple product. Apple has been collecting a profit off of these licenses that must be renewed each year. Because Windows 8 is an open operating system, this allows app designers to create apps without paying a licensing fee. This is very appealing to the app makers, because by reducing their output costs, their profit will increase. Any app run through any apple device, has had to be licensed by Apple.

    Like the Windows market, Android also follows an open application design system. This means that app developers do not have to pay in order to develop apps for the Android store. That is a main reason that Android possess over close to half of the smartphone market. Some of Androids success is also due to the fact that they collaborate with make different cell phone makers(Samsung, Motorola, LG, ect.) which allows the customer to have more options when selecting a phone. A main spot where Android is lacking in the technology department is has never released a desktop computer. Recently it has a released a tablet, that runs with the Android operating system, but there is not talk of it exploring into desktop computers.

    I think I can finally say that Microsoft is back. They were never really gone, 90 percent of the computers in the world, run via Microsoft, they were just having a bad couple of years with the rise of  Apple Products. But its new operating system will is very modern, and has a perfect place in today’s smartphone market. Due to their open market in licensing apps, and they have products in all of the necessary technology areas, and now have a competitive operating system, Microsoft should definitely see growth. Microsoft’s next step, would be to better their search engine, Bing.

    Yahoo even acquired Marissa Meyer from Google to be their CEO, and Yahoo is operated by Microsoft’s Bing. She completely switched alliances which is just a premonition highlighting Microsoft’s upcoming success.


  5. Windows 8 Devices

    December 6, 2012 by Georgia Konzel

    With the release of Windows 8, Nokia was the first to release a smartphone using the new software. Although it was not chosen by Microsoft to be the designated Windows 8 phone, it is a very promising phone. Nokia has taken the earlier versions of the Lumia, and with the addition of Windows 8, they modified the Lumia for ideal functioning with  the operating system. However the Lumia, wasn’t the only device redesigned to meet the windows 8 criteria. Microsoft have debuted a  tablet(aka surface) especially for Windows 8. They released the Windows 8 Pro surface, which can be ordered now, but will not be available till 2013.

    The beauty of these devices  is that they all feature Windows 8, and through that they all have access to SkyDrive. The SkyDrive is a feature that allows all of the users files to be stored, and then can be accessed through any computer. This means that documents saved on the devices hard drive, will also automatically be saved on to the SkyDrive.

    Another aspect about Windows 8, is that it is a great match for these touchscreen devices. Through reading reviews of Windows 8, many people said that it was best when used on a surface or smartphone. Because of the tile-app design,  the ability of pressing on the application when you want to start it, is much more liked than having to use a mouse to click on the application. Even though both Desktop computers, and portable devices are both ways to run Windows 8, more people have preferred using a touchscreen with it. Windows 8 was designed by Microsoft with the intent of having a better operating system for smartphones and tablets, and they succeed on portable devices.

    I was very interested in this topic, due to my dad’s connection to Microsoft. He is a Small business partner with Microsoft, and designs software. I was really intrigued, because when I went home for thanksgiving break, he had the Microsoft Surface RT, and switched to the Nokia Lumia 920. Because the Microsoft RT surface, uses Wi-fi, my dad can use his mobile hot-spot application from his phone, anywhere to provide the surface with internet. He found that this a nice feature, because between his phone and surface, he can have internet anywhere he goes for both, but only has to pay for one internet bill, which is the phone bill.


  6. Windows 8

    December 5, 2012 by Georgia Konzel

    On October 26, Microsoft  unveiled their newest form of operating software, Windows 8. This is their latest form of software, and completely different than their older version, Windows 7 ;which was released in 2009. Windows 8 has been stirring up a lot of buzz, due to the total change in design, and since Microsoft has been working on it for the past 3 years. Windows 8 was designed to be user-friendly on a desktop  home-computer as well as modern enough to be a practical cell-phone operating system.  Along with the launch of the software, many companies are launching devices that are compatible with the software, whether it be smartphones, tablets, or laptops.

    Like mentioned earlier, Windows 8 is very different than any Microsoft operating system released before. All Windows 8 devices are directly connected to the Microsoft SkyDrive, so when starting, you will be prompted to enter your Microsoft account information, or make an account. Due to the SkyDrive, anything created in a Microsoft application will automatically be stored, and can be accessed though you’re Microsoft account.

    Th most noticeable change about Windows 8 in relation to Windows 7 is the Home screen.   The desktop-picture background with small  shortcut pictures, has been replaced by a tile-like design where the applications fit most of the home screen space.  This design has been inspired by the successful setups for smartphones. With this new tile design, Microsoft has discontinued the start button for laptops, and has traded to motion as the start-up senors. With this being said, all the user has to do to start their computer is to hover their mouse in the lower corner of the screen, and then start-up will begin. The motion of moving the mouse to the lower right hand corner also triggers the start-menu which with Windows 8 is now also the common background (Tile design). Due to change of not having a desktop background, many users were worried that they would not be able to personalize their device. Microsoft has added many possible background choices and the ability to set a picture as the background. Its not displayed as much at the previous version of windows because it is covered by the tile applications. Windows 8 also comes with a feature that can switch the main screen to a desktop loop, which is very similar to the look of Windows 7.

    Windows 8 will also come with many common features. Mail, a calendar, Camera, Games, and Music all are applications that are pre-programmed into the device and operate through windows 8 technology.  The device will also come with many Bing (no surprise) related applications including weather, travel, sports news and maps. When searching for new apps, the user will have access to the windows store. Although the windows app store does not have as large of a market at the apple app store, with the release of Windows 8, many top applications are expected to make their debut of the windows store. As of right now though, the Windows app store really lacks in the applications department; they don’t even have some of the most popular ones like Facebook, and Twitter.

    Personally, I think that Windows is moving in the right direction by releasing a completely new operating software. Their design so far seems to be a step up from Windows 7 and fits the well with the most successful operating systems on the market now. If I was to get windows 8, I would want it to be on a touch screen device. I have tried Windows 8, on a surface tablet, and really liked the tile-menu with the touch screen ability. Although windows 8 can be downloaded onto a desktop computer with mouse, I think the software is more aesthetically appealing when able to touch it.

    Here is an example of what the home screen looks like, it shows the tile-app design, which functions as the start menu.




  7. Emotional Design

    November 2, 2012 by Georgia Konzel

    It is said that the best design innovations come from strong emotions within the design team. When the team is very passionate about what they are trying to create, they make sure the product turns out great. That strong emotion can lead to new ideas which can create very important and successful products. Emotional Design can help the design team better understand the world around them by having them tap into their emotions and feelings. This will create the ability of the design team to use those feelings to design something they are very passionate about.  Although emotional design helps when creating new products, it can also be very useful when trying to modify a product to make it better. Emotional design is a very important source of innovation.

    When I went to take money out of my wallet this morning to pay for a coffee, I couldn’t find where I kept my change. When purchasing my wallet, I loved the outside print and exterior design; I never realized how impractical the wallet is organized. At that moment at the coffee shop, I was feeling very frustrated, rushed (because there was a long line behind me), and just annoyed with how my wallet is set up. If I was an engineer who deals with designing wallets  I would use this experience and these emotions as a guide on how I would want a wallet designed. Emotional design can be very important because it taps in to how a user really feels about a product when interacting with it.

    Emotional Design also involves how a reader feels about a whole type of this product. For example, If a user says “I hate brushing my teeth because I hate they way all toothpastes taste.” Since the consumer expressed how they are unsatisfied with all types of toothpastes, the goal as a designer would be to create the kind that accomplishes the same goal, but is different enough so that the user has good feelings about it. In this situation, emotional design allows the design team to create a product that is different than everything that the user is unhappy with.

    While searching for information about emotional design, I came across a website that explained how a good company allows their product to emotionally connect with the user. They encouraged that any interaction with the customer about the product should create pleasant emotions. The Design and Emotion Society is an organization of people who look for ways to better their product through an emotional level. They  take input from the members, on what strategies work when connecting emotionally, and allow other members of the group access to those ideas. They also hold conferences that educate future designers about different ways to allow their product to emotionally connect with the audience, and how that emotional connection is necessary for a successful product.

    What my wallet looked like.



  8. Green Nanotechnology

    October 30, 2012 by Georgia Konzel

    Along with the rise in the popularity on Nanotechnology, engineers are exploring ways that it can be useful for the environment. It has been termed Green Nanotechnology, due to its relation to the green movement which looks for environmentally friendly options while still maintaining a high level of sustainability . Green nanotechnology focuses on problems at the nanoscale, 1/100,000,000 meter is a nanometer.   There are 2 major goals of Nanotechnology, the first is to create environmentally friendly designs using nanotechnology, and the other  is to use nanotechnology to minimize environmental and health hazards by looking for ways to replace current nanotechnology uses with green nanotechnology products. Some of the more common ways to create green nanotechnology, includes using eco-friendly materials, using less energy when manufacturing, and the ability to be recycled after use. Engineers look for natural materials when designing through green nanotechnology because they want biodegradable solutions that will not harm a someone or the environment. Some studies have shown that nonorganic nanotechnology materials can be harmful on the body, so researchers are looking for ways to convert those products to a material that is safer.   Green Nanotechnology has also shown progress in reducing our need for fossil fuels by creating alternative energy solutions.

    One area of green nanotechnology that is being heavily studied right now is the ability to harness green nanotechnology when designing solar cell. These solar cell will make up an solar panel, and take in the sun’s light to create energy. These solar cells would be made up of nanoparticles of titanium dioxide with with a polymer that is capable of taking in the sun’s energy. The engineers have found that there is a much lower cost of production for these solar cells in comparison to the ones out on the market today. However, with the lower cost, these green solar cells are not as efficient as the ones on the market and engineers are looking for ways to increase their efficiency. Some companies are testing out different metals metals with polymers, while others are trying organic molecules to find a better solar cell. The exploration of better solar cells is a great example of green nanotechnology because it actually accomplishes both of the goals,it is developing a product using green materials, and it looks for a more environmentally friendly solution to something on the market.


  9. Nanotechnology in Medicine

    October 29, 2012 by Georgia Konzel

    Nanotechnology is a new upcoming technology which focuses on the technology at a nanometer scale.  It is becoming more and more popular due to the fact that more than 9 billion is invested in it each year and it has great potential in the medical community. A nano-meter is 1*10^-9 meters, and to put it into perspective  a germ is about 1000 nanometers wide. Nanotechnology involves developing and designing at a level that is not visible to the human eye.  Nanotechnology is on the same level as atoms which means that with increases in this field, designers will be able to the smallest anatomical changes. Even the smallest anatomical differences can change the physical make-up of an element. By changing the chemical design of carbon atoms,engineers are able to make carbon nanotubes which are lighter than normal carbon atoms, and also stronger. Carbon nanotubes are used to design racing bicycles because of their lighter weight, the cyclist can use more energy to go faster.

    Carbon nanotubes can also be redesigned to create nanofibers. These can be used in the medical field as  good materials for bandaging wounds, artificial organ transplants, and tissue engineering. Nanofibers are very useful, but the biggest challenge that engineers have had to overcome, is the preciseness that each nanofiber must be. The use of nanoparticles  of certain metals, has been found to create more uniform nanofibers that can be used. A new study has find that nanofibers can be made out of proteins and that these nanofibers are easily accepted by the body. These protein nanofibers are have been found to have the capabilities of targeting certain problem areas of the body, and releasing medications at those areas. The researchers at Polytechnic Institute of New York University plan to study this aspect more to see if it could be a possible solution for cancer.


    The rise of nanotechnology is creating many new medical advances. The approximate size of a virus is 100 nm, and with nano technology, these viruses can be altered. Nanotechnology has been called the “sub-microscopic lab bench,” because it allows researchers to directly change the make-up of a material. It is especially useful in manipulating DNA. There are many diseases that are the result of a abnormality in the DNA strand. These people can undergo DNA therapy to lessen the impact of that abnormality, and DNA therapy heavily focuses on nanotechnology.


  10. Biomimicry on Design

    October 26, 2012 by Georgia Konzel

    Biomimicry is using an element that exists in nature as inspiration to solve a problem. This solution  formed from the idea that everything we ever need as humans can be found in the environment.    Biomimicry uses the solutions that nature has already found, and converts them to solve a practical problem. With Biomimicry, plants, animals, and bacteria are the engineers who solve the problems, and human engineers either take their ideas directly to solve the problem, or use their solutions as ideas to find a way to solve a problem. Using solutions that are inspired by the environment really drives home the fact of how important the environment and its biodiversity. Biological Engineers intensively study biomimicry and its effects because they learn many design methods through engineering and apply that to the information that they learn about the environment.

    We can learn a lot from the environment  and with biomimicry, we learn how to solve problems based on how nature has solved problems. Biomimicry shows us how we can learn from the environment, instead of taking from it. We can use biomimicry during  the process because it just gives us an options of how to find a sustainable solution. An American inventor name Otto Smith came up with the term biomimetics which means to transfer ideas related to biology and look at them with a technological point of view. This was the idea that started biomimicry because Smith was the first person to bridge the gap between biology and technology. Janine Benyus coined the term biomimicry after writing a book on this topic. Benyus stressed 3 ways that we could look at nature: as a “model” that shows how solutions can be achevied, a “measure” that can judge how sustainable solutions will be, and a “mentor” that can inspire innovations to solve the problem at hand.

    A great example of biomimicry, is how George de Mestral, a swiss engineer, invented velcro. He was inspired by the burrs that would cling to his dogs fur. He examined the burrs under a microscope and noticed how they had small hook-like appendage that would cling to the dog.  He designed velcor with the knowledge that he gained about burrs in mind and created one side of the material so that there were hook-like projections, and the other side had loop like projections.


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