May 12, 2017

Cyborg Eyes, Stumble Suits and Other Advances

By Chelsea Follett
Stumble Suit to Prevent Falls

A new invention could improve the lives of elderly persons at risk of dangerous falls. The “stumble suit,” a lightweight carbon fiber exoskeleton that supports the hips and legs, helps its wearer regain balance after a slip, preventing a harmful or even deadly fall. The system uses a built-in algorithm to detect anomalies in the wearer’s gait that might signal an oncoming stumble, and quickly works to reestablish stability. The inventors hope their invention will prevent bone fractures and dislocated hips, and believe it even holds the potential to save lives.

Anti-HIV Drugs Lengthen Lifespans

Medical science has come a long way since the days when an HIV diagnosis was widely considered a death sentence. Today, thanks to new drugs, HIV-positive young people enjoy a near-normal life expectancy. “Twenty-year-olds who started antiretroviral therapy in 2010 are projected to live 10 years longer than those first using it in 1996,” according to the BBC’s report on new research in the medical journal The Lancet. The virus cannot adapt and build up a resistance against the new drugs as easily as it could against the old ones. In addition to being more effective at fighting HIV, newer drugs also have fewer negative side-effects.

Cyborg Eyes Restore Vision

Scientists have developed the first-ever artificial retina. This ‘cyborg eye’ could restore sight in the blind. The double-layered device is made out of soft biological cell protein membranes and hydrogels. Just like regular retinas, the artificial ones react to light and generate electrical signals to send visual information to the cells at the back of the eye—enabling sight. Unfortunately, right now, the artificial retinas can only produce greyscale images (colorblind sight). The technology is fully biodegradable, and because it is natural it is less likely to cause scarring like current metal retinal implants sometimes do.