Empatica Embrace – A gorgeous watch designed to save lives

Recently, a new smart watch product have came out and drew people’s attentions. It was originally doing fund raise on indiegogo and was 514% funded on January 21, 2015. It’s not just normal smart watch like apple watch to let you check messages and app easier or count your heart beats per minutes and steps you walked everyday; in fact, it can do much more on this part of health monitoring. Team led by Rosalind Picard from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed a smart watch called “Embrace”. Because the skin electrodermal activity may reflect some deep changes in the brain, this watch is able to warn the wearer before seizures happens by measuring the change and combining with the data model based on many years of clinical data. In addition, just like all other smart watches, this watch can also collect daily wearer’s body temperature and motion data to assess their physical activity and sleeping quality.


Embrace smart watch. Source: wired.com

This design of watch was inspired by studies on the emotional state of children with autism conducted by Picard team. In that study, they need to measure children wrist’s skin conductance. Picard noted one child’s skin electrical activity emerged a peak. Twenty minutes later, the child appeared a seizure. Pickard said: “When I realized that the bioelectrical wrist can predict seizures, I was shocked.”

When the watch detects a forthcoming epilepsy, it will send a message to the wearer’s a pre-assigned friends or family. Embrace’s appearance looks no different than other smart watches. I think that is a big advantage for those patients who need it since no one wants to be looked abnormal.


That obstruction of this development might be any form of pressure that could possibly cause signal similar to seizures. The greatest challenge to such equipment is the accuracy rate of detection sensitivity and specificity. Those problems may lead to false alarms and miss alarm of epilepsy. But overall embrace is a very promising product. Also, when you order one embrace watch, the company is going to donate one for kids who cannot afford but need it.


NewScientist, Smartwatch detects skin’s electricity to predict seizures

Only four sets of data, Your shopping patterns are exposed! 

Do not just randomly throw away your little receipts anymore! Several scientists from the MIT Media Lab, University of Aarhus, Denmark, and New Jersey’s Rutgers University have published a paper that proved people only need four groups of data representing the exact time of payment, merchants and transaction amount, it already can almost certainly confirm this cardholder’s all spending records. The accuracy rate is beyond 90%. Even only have ambiguous payment data, it still very likely to leak consumption history.


The researchers got an anonymous credit card data sets, including the OECD countries from a 110 million consumer records in 10,000 businesses. This data set is very simple, only the user ID, payment amount, accurate to the day time and accurate payment to the merchant’s site. There is no obvious identity information, no phone number, no name, no address. But even so, by comparing the consumer space, time and consumption capacity, they were still able to match the spending records and correspondence with a user ID.


(Showsthe cardholders 7abc1a23 consumer behavior is listed in chronological order. Each expense is classified into different intervals.)


This means that someone can an know all of your credit card spending records as long as know a few credit card transaction or such specific information,. You might think that’s not really a news, cause the credit card data are used for personal credit evaluation, fraud detection and shopping patterns since long time ago . In fact, credit card companies may be aware of your credit card is stolen even earlier than you – each person has unique shopping patterns. I think it’s very true cause I actually had that experience. The bank put a hold on my credit card even before i realized my card information was stolen. However, this study revealed a new kind of danger – we always tend to think that in a large number of anonymous data, it is difficult to correspond a specific  ID to a specific user. But this is not the case as studies confirmed. Personal consumption uniqueness are greater than assumption we made from intuition.


It is also worth attention that female user are easier to identify than male users. High-income users are also more likely to be recognized than in low-income users. This data set is fairly comprehensive; therefore we can say our consumption records are not safe either in the real world.



Unique in the shopping mall: On the reidentifiability of credit card metadata Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, Laura Radaelli, Vivek Kumar Singh, and Alex “Sandy” Pentland Science 30 January 2015536539.


Facebook’s New Function–Suicide Prevention


Have you realized that Facebook is having a new feature, to help those people who have suicidal thoughts away from the actual action. Facebook announced in a blog post that they are having a collaboration with many mental health institutions such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and suicide intervention agencies (Now Matters Now). Facebook hope to seek appropriate ways to intervene the suicide through the social networks.

How it works?

If the user made a post on Facebook that contains self-mutilation or suicide contents, Facebook will receive the information and encourage users to communicate with mental health professionals at national suicide prevention hot line. The professions can provide advice and support to help them face and solve their problems.


In addition, Facebook also gave users who find out such posts a solution: Users can report post with suicidal thought to Facebook, the team in charge of this program will offer help to those authors who have severely suicidal posts (such as self-mutilation). Facebook said that they are committed to this function in the global promotion.

What do you think about this function? Helpful or creepy monitoring user’s activities? Will it really help people who think about suicide or push them act even quicker to suicide without leaving any trace behind? Are people post these kind of content are people who really want to suicide or just a group of people lack of attention? Will it become a useless chicken rib that only increase people playing plunks to test this function? We need time to see how it goes.



Facebook website.

Emoji Password is Coming Out!

In the past few years, the emoji field has been keep innovating. You must have been noticed that emoji now actually have different skin color expressions, and even added some endangered mammals. But so far, few people have tried to apply ubiquitous emoji to the password field. Along with emoji becoming one of the fastest growing language, a British technology company launched the world’s first emoji password composition.

(Emoji password can also tell a story to your brain and help you remembering it.)

The “expression Password” allow consumers to use a combination of four expressions logging into a bank account rather than the traditional identification code or password. These four characters are chosen from 44 emoticons. The inventor of this technology (Intelligent Environments) company believes that this emoticon identification code (pins) are remembered easier than “digital” or “character” predecessors. Moreover, from a mathematical point of view, the digital code can only select 0-9 this 10 digits, while expression password, you can choose from 44 kinds of expression. If necessary, they can continue to increase the number of expression bank. As a result, the number of combinations of different expressions password will greatly exceed numeric code, which makes it more secure than traditional digital password. It also can prevent hackers from identifying common or easy digital code, such as birth date or anniversary.

According to the UK survey results over 1300 respondents showed that nearly a third of them have forgotten their passwords. While a quarter of respondents said, they used same passwords for all cards. In this situation, the company hopes to negotiate to any interested bank.  These banks plan to bring this technology to their customers in the next 12 months.

They said the new emoticons safety technology can help people more easily remember different passwords. Studies have shown that human have better memory on image than words. Memory expert and inventor of Mind Mapping technique, Tony Buzan, comments “Expression password played a remarkable ability of human memory of the picture, this capability is rooted in our evolutionary history when the information in picture form appears, we can remember more information.” Because expression passwords are easier to remember, Tony also suggest that it would encourage people to come up with different passwords for different use, rather than use the same one on all platforms password.

David explained that they would target on people were born in 1990s and 2000s. During their research and development of this technology, they found out that now the younger generation are using new ways to communicate. The research shows that 64% of youths often only communicate with emoticons. Therefore, they decided to develop the world’s first ’emoticons’ security technology as a new generation of the password.

Although I don’t know will emoticon password take over traditional password’s place in future, it is still a very interesting idea and innovation. It expanded the field of password and very possibly will be adopted widely in various area. The shortcoming of this kind of password maybe easier to let other people see while you tying it.  But in conclusion, I’m more than likely to try it out in my life. Are you interested in trying it out?

PS: Like sometimes it might be even easier to decode..such as…


: )



Cheryl L. Grady, Anthony R. Mcintosh, M. Natasha Rajah, Fergus I. M. Craik, “Neural correlates of the episodic encoding of pictures and words”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 95, pp. 2703–2708, March 1998

Gel “Drawing Board” : Finer 3D Printing Technology

As technology developing, 3D printing is now not a new topic anymore. As long as the computer model is built, people can use the 3D printer to create items easily and casually in three-dimensional space. However, this “casual creations” are still some restrictions. If the printer is used to print something very thin and complex part or use a soft, fragile material, print products still will be easily deformed.


But now, a group of US researchers have found a subtle solution to this kind of problem. Just need to use a very common thing in life, you can make all the delicate structures to be supported and make the 3D printing to get real “freedom”. In the demo video, the researchers used their equipment to make jellyfish’s slender tentacle and other complex structures effortlessly.


The key to this technique is a gel matrix called “Carbomer”.  Carbomer is a crosslinked polymer material formed by the polymerization of acrylate and polyol, because of its molecular chain structure has a lot of hydrophilic carboxyl group (-COOH), so it can “lock” a large number of water molecules in the middle of the molecular chain to form a hydrogel. If you have study cosmetic ingredient list, you may not be stranger to carbomer. Only very low concentrations of carbomer can play a highly efficient thickening effect, so carbomer gel has been a day of supplies of rheology modifiers are widely used since the 1990s.


(click to see the amazing drawing!)

Researchers use a carbomer gel which particle sizes are only 7 microns. This hydrogel has a special physical properties: it usually can stably maintain the shape, but only by applying a low shear strength can make it exhibit good followability. That is to say, when the material 3D printing remain in place, the gel can provide support for it; and when the printing needle move in the gel, the gel will flow around it, will not impede the movement of the needle . Moreover, after the needle is removed, the surrounding gel will make restitution.


(click to see the amazing drawing!)

In my opinion, gel medium have made 3D printing technology to expand more possibilities; and it may find its own arena in the field of biotechnology, bionic structure and so on. I think this strategy of using unusual materials to solve technology issues is also very instructive for engineers.


  1. Writing in the granular gel medium
  2. Chemistry World:3D printer uses gel matrix to tie the knot