Focus on Technology

Mondays at 6:44 a.m.; 8:44 a.m. during Morning Edition and 4:44 p.m. during All Things Considered

Ann Thompson reports on the latest trends in technology and their effects on medicine, safety, the environment or entertainment.

University of Cincinnati

Seeing is believing for University of Cincinnati psychology graduate students who are using eye-tracking devices to study behavior.

PulsePoint

On May 9, 2014 Oregon firefighter Scott Brawner was exercising at a health club when he got an alert on his smartphone. The notification was from PulsePoint, an app originally designed and built by Northern Kentucky University.  It was the idea of former California fire chief Richard Price.

The 9-1-1 connected mobile app is designed to alert CPR-trained citizens of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)  emergencies in their proximity.

Ann Thompson / WVXU

Last month's Consumer Electronic Show reminded us just how advanced household appliances can be. Refrigerators and washing machines talk to you via text message. The LG Home Chat Fridge lets you know what it still has and what you need. A smart washing machine can start remotely and let you know when your laundry is done.

Ann Thompson / WVXU

During a kindergarten math class at Roselawn Condon School,  teachers throw around terms like schematic, fulcrum, balanced and unbalanced.

Ann Thompson / WVXU

A Cincinnati business-led initiative is quietly giving life to an increasing number of technology start-up companies, improving their chances of becoming financially successful.

Ann Thompson / WVXU

It’s a busy day in Montgomery County Domestic Relations Court. Dozens of people are waiting for their divorce hearings. Receptionist Sheila Jarvis keeps it running.

Not only does she answer the phone, she answers questions from people filling the hallways while they wait for their hearings. But she no longer has to check people in because this court now has kiosk check-in. Montgomery County is the first to use court kiosks in Ohio.

Ann Thompson / WVXU

Kentucky is leading the nation in its use of big data to help determine bail and criminal sentences.

The data-driven programs Kentucky and at least 20 other states use, like PSA-Court, look at a variety of factors including charges and criminal history. That information is given to a judge to help determine whether the defendant gets out on bail and how long their sentence will be.

Ann Thompson / WVXU

(This story first aired July 23, 2014.) 

Increasingly people are losing interest in the "one size fits all" approach for medical care. Sixty-eight year old Gary Marcum knew he didn't want it when he faced his second knee replacement. The first one was  a partial, but the recovery lasted months and he was in a lot of pain.

Ann Thompson / WVXU

(This story first aired September 10, 2014) 

The concept is 21st century clever. Help companies promote their products via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram  to get free products from special vending machines.

Patrick McDonald thought of this idea years ago and launched Innovative Vending Solutions in 2008. The company is based in West Carrollton. His partner is Jeff Thibodeau.

Kapture

Have you ever  thought "I wish I had recorded that?" Kapture, a Cincinnati start-up company, has apparently solved that problem with an audio recording wristband.

Users, without breaking eye-contact, simply double tap to record the previous sixty seconds and with Bluetooth it goes to your smartphone and saves in a Kapture app where you can edit and post to Facebook, Twitter, email or text later.

Ann Thompson / WVXU

GE Aviation has come a long way since its rocket testing days sixty years ago.

Once so slow employees sold Christmas trees on the Adams County site, the Peebles Test Operation now does round-the-clock work testing more than 1600 engines a year at the 7,000-acre site.

Ann Thompson / WVXU

Miami University students are mapping out molecular properties with the help of new ultrafast laser technology to better understand energy transfer for processes in collisions between atoms and molecules.

Ann Thompson / WVXU

During his elementary and teenage years Jake Goodwin was sometimes overlooked in class. It wasn't that he didn't have anything interesting to say. In fact, the Mariemont High School sophomore has a lot to say, but sometimes he isn't understood. He suffers from a speech disorder that makes it hard to say the "r" sound.

"It always bothered me but after so many years of just no success at changing it I more or less accepted it as part of myself."

Google

Researchers from Google X, Stanford and Duke plan to drill down to the most basic level of the human body. They want to determine what we look like when we're well, so doctors know sooner when we are becoming sick.

Here's how it will work initially:

Ann Thompson / WVXU

North College Hill's David Puckett knows what it's like to suffer from reflux disease. For five years he was on medicine to prevent mouthfuls of stomach juices from coming up and interfering with his daily life. He also had to watch what he ate and when he ate it.

Then David heard about a new device called LINX.

The titanium beads allow patients to swallow food but they tighten around the esophagus to prevent the acid from coming back up.  Here's how the outpatient procedure works:

Ann Thompson / WVXU

It's no secret that teens don't get enough sleep on school nights, an estimated five to seven hours a night. They need nine. Researchers say not only does this affect their school work, it affects their driving.

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center is studying whether adding 90 minutes of sleep a night will  make them more alert and decrease accidents. The study involves driving a simulator and monitoring the mood of the teen while they do it.

Dr. Dylan Ward / University of Cincinnati

A camera and a computer may be all it takes to scientifically map earth formations.

Using a regular camera with Agisoft Photoscan software UC Geology Professor Dylan Ward pitched his tent at the bottom of a cliff near Ferron, Utah in May and began clicking away. He took 900 digital images at the base and once back in Cincinnati loaded them into the computer.

Wikipedia

It may not be too long before your co-worker is a robot. That robot might eventually take your job, according to this video.

GE Aviation

NOTE: This originally ran on January 15, 2014.

GE Aviation has so much faith in 3D printing that it will soon relocate its Sharonville facility to a much larger space. GE bought what used to be called Morris Technologies in 2012. Morris was the first to introduce 3D metallic based technology to North America.

It's still five years away from human clinical trials, but at least in mice, a new antibody injection has seemingly suppressed allergic reactions to food.

Cluster headaches are often called "suicide headaches" because of their intense pain, paralyzing suffers for 15 minutes to three hours at a time.

Holly Yurchison / WVXU

Note: This originally aired on July 31, 2013.

Scientists are just beginning to learn how the body’s hormones are programmed to melt away fat. More hormones in combination with minor surgery may be the solution for the obese. 


Dr. DiPaola / UC Health

Doctors say it is something in the air that's helping infertile couples conceive at West Chester Hospital. Ever since the installation of a high-tech air filtration system the UC Health Center for Reproductive Health has seen a 20% increase in fertility for in vitro fertilization.

Medical Director  Krystene DiPaola, MD, says the national average is 40%. In West Chester it's 60%.

Ann Thompson / WVXU

Slugging it out on a court that is way hotter than the actual air temperature is a set-up for heat related illness according to Dr. Brian Grawe, a UC Health sports medicine surgeon, who was the doctor for tennis players at the Western & Southern Open. Right now there are a couple of common ways for them to cool down including waiting for ball boys and girls to bring wet towels.

Ann Thompson / WVXU

Clinical trials are underway in Cincinnati and nationwide that could prove brain stimulation is beneficial to stroke victims.

The stimulation is actually turning off a part of the brain

As confusing as it sounds, the 1 hz "stimulation" actually shuts down the side of the brain unaffected by the stroke. This is because the non-lesioned side often takes over and hinders recovery.

Ann Thompson / WVXU

University of Cincinnati scientists have literally drilled down through the teeth of mammoths and mastodons to discover their habits in what’s believed to be the first study of its kind in the region.

UC paleoecologist Brooke Crowley borrowed some mammoth and mastodon teeth from the Museum Center with hopes of finding out where they lived and what they ate. The specimens, very small amounts of white powder from the teeth, were eventually sent to the University of Illinois for  testing.

The process

Babak Ziaie / Purdue University

The market for wearable electronics could top $3 billion by 2018, according to a new report. However, Beecham Research says with better collaboration between technology companies and the fashion industry, the market could be worth $9.3 billion by 2018.

Skybox

Peering down to earth from one satellite now and eventually 24, Google is expanding its view, and some say its influence in the universe.

In June Google bought Skybox Satellite for $500 million. Images from the high resolution satellite are updated daily and users with special software can zoom in on things like crops and construction or see how full oil containers are at a Saudi oil field.

Take a look at one such example where the Burj Khalifa skyscraper casts a shadow over Dubai.

Ann Thompson / WVXU

Except for a small sign the  "Innovation Collaboratory House" looks like any other villa at Maple Knoll Village. But walk inside and it's anything but.

Telehealth robots are in the sitting room and a Microsoft X-Box "Kinect" demonstration is in the bedroom. "Flo-bot" can manage congestive heart failure and do stroke intervention. "Little-bot" can ask you questions.

Other innovations:

Ann Thompson / WVXU

The University of Dayton's new Mumma Radar Laboratory opened, not with bangs, but with lots of blips.

The state-of-the-art facility, in Kettering Laboratories, contains perhaps the most precise radars in the world, accurate to 1/10th of a micron or within a fraction of a human hair. They also don't take a lot of power. Lab Director Dr. Michael Wicks says they only need the power equivalent to 1/100th of a Christmas tree bulb.

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