As any of our regular subscribers will know every fortnight the team at d2 Digital have an internal competition to look for a really exciting, innovative example of digital technology being used anywhere in the world. We’ve come across some interesting concepts. We’ve explored virtual dressing rooms, robotics, drones in the jungle and prosthetics in the health sector. Every so often we come across something that fits with our own work in behaviour change solutions and use of digital for social good. Here’s 3 of our favourites most recently:
Researchers at the University of Sheffield have developed a 3D printing guide which has helped a damaged nerve repair itself. The 'Nerve Guidance Conduits' have been successfully used in animals and can now be used to treat traumatic injuries.
As nerves don't naturally repair themselves the conduits, have a framework of tiny tubes which guide the nerve endings towards each other. Using laser light building blocks, the materials are turned into a solid structure to help repair the nerve.
Over the last few years we've seen a growth in mind-controlled prosthetic limbs but researchers have struggled with replicating the same smooth motor control people have over their natural limbs.
This problem is now being tackled by a team of researchers who are connecting an artificial limb to another part of the brain. In testing, the connections to the prosthetic arm were wired to the patients posterior parietal cortext. This is the part of the brain which forms initial plans to make certain movements. What's particularly innovative is how the computer processes signals from the parietal cortex to detect the type of movements and the pressure intended and then sends these to the bionic arm.
South Korean start-up Dot have announced the launch of the first ever smartwatch designed for the blind and those with visual impairments. The watch face features four cells with six active dots, which can be raised or lowered to make four braille letters at a time. This then links up to the users Bluetooth and converts text from apps such as iMessage into the equivalent of braille letters. Whilst the ability to relay text messages, set alarms and read location directions are standard, the braille characters are highly innovative. A vibration motor inside alerts the users of incoming notifications being sent to the watch.