Category Archives: MPF Eye on Technology

MPF Eye on Technology – 3D Bioprinter Creates Bone, Muscle, And Cartilage

3D Bioprinter

Technology in today’s world is fascinating, we seem to be making great strides in so many areas. 3D printing is creating incredible possibilities in numerous fields, but this is truly an exciting development that will make a huge difference in countless peoples lives.

3D Bioprinter Creates Bone, Muscle–And Cartilage For This Ear

Almost good enough to be transplanted into humans

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3D printer created this synthetic tissue
Synthetic cartilage printed in the form of an ear by the Integrated Tissue-Organ Printing System at Wake Forest UniversityBecause the demand for donors’ organs and tissues is so high, researchers have spent years engineering synthetic tissues that could be transplanted into humans. But that’s not very easy to do—many of the gel-like tissues have been too mushy to be moved into a living organism, and without the intricate pathways in the tissue through which oxygen and other nutrients can travel, the living cells inside don’t survive long.

Now a team of researchers from Wake Forest University has created a 3D bioprinter that creates large synthetic bone, cartilage, and muscle tissue that is viable for weeks or months at a time when implanted in animals. With a bit more work, the researchers believe these 3D printed tissues could be transplanted into humans, according to a study published today in Nature Biotechology.

The tool, called the Integrated Tissue-Organ Printing System, creates synthetic tissues out of a biodegradable polymer that contains living cells. This mixture is dabbed into the desired shape through nozzles that are fractions of an inch wide. The printer simultaneously creates an outer mold that dissolves once the tissue has hardened, leaving behind a tissue lattice that is structurally sound but also contains tiny channels through which oxygen can reach the living cells. With CT scans taken before the printing begins, the tissue can be printed into the exact shape needed in the patient’s body.

The researchers printed a human-size piece of jawbone, the cartilage of an ear (complete with complex folds), and soft muscle tissue. They then took small samples of these synthetic tissues and implanted them: the bone and muscle went in rats, and the cartilage in mice. When they checked on the implants after a number of weeks, they found that each of the synthetic tissues had been integrated with the rat’s own tissues. The synthetic ones were healthy and working well.

While the 3D bioprinter method takes longer than other techniques that make viable synthetic tissues, the tissues it produces are larger. To work around the structural challenge presented by larger synthetic tissues, researchers had previously been working on the tiniest scales.

The researchers haven’t yet tested these tissues on humans. Before doing that, they intend to make synthetic tissues with different types of cells from the body. If they can do that, they would want to extract some of the human’s own cells to put into the synthetic tissue. That would help the tissue integrate better, making the body less like to reject the transplant.

Posted in Popular Science Online

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MPF Eye on Technology – Memory Hackers – Fiction or Fact

Memory Hackers – Fiction or Fact

Memory Hackers,MPF Eye on Technology Memory Hackers,Mission Positive Films,MPFJake Hausler

When I read this article, I gulped. There is a new documentary on Nova entitled ” Memory Hackers “, that details the research being done to manipulate memory. The claim is that not only can they alter our existing memories, but even more astounding, they can create memories of events that never happened. The possibilities and perils of this technology are both exciting and terrifying. There are some that have memories so traumatic that it impacts their ability to function normally, so the removal or alteration of those memories could be very therapeutic. But for the majority of us, our memories are part of who we are, so altering that could have dramatic changes to our personality, our tastes, our goals, and everything else that makes us uniquely us.

There would also be major implications for the criminal justice system. How could you know if someone being charged with a crime had real memories, or manufactured ones, or if a witness had been impacted by memory changes ? How can you regulate who is allowed to be ” Memory Hackers ” ?  Can you imagine all the laws that would need to be put in place to protect our society from the misuse of the technology, knowing that it will still be misused ? The more you consider the implications, the more questions and concerns arise. As quickly as technology is moving these days, we are opening all these new doors without considering the possibility that maybe there are some doors that shouldn’t be opened.

Anyway, lots to think about. I’d love to hear your opinions on this.

Following is an article by Adam Boult that was posted in The Telegraph, with more information on the film.

Or what if you could alter unpleasant memories so they’re no longer upsetting? Or create entirely new memories of events that never occurred?

It sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but according to a new documentary that premiered in the US this week, scientists have discovered how to do just that – and more.

“Memory Hackers,” from PBS’s NOVA documentary strand, looks at cutting edge research into the nature of memory, and how it might be manipulated for mankind’s benefit.

“For much of human history, memory has been seen as a tape recorder that faithfully registers information and replays it intact,” say the film’s makers.

“But now, researchers are discovering that memory is far more malleable, always being written and rewritten, not just by us but by others. We are discovering the precise mechanisms that can explain and even control our memories.”

Among the documentary’s subjects is Jake Hausler, a 12-year-old boy from St. Louis who can remember just about every single thing he has experienced since the age of 8.

Jake is the youngest ever person to be diagnosed with Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory, which makes it difficult for him to distinguish between trivial and important events from his past.

“Forgetting is probably one of the most important things that brains will do,” says André Fenton, a prominent neuroscientist who is currently working on a technique to erase painful memories. “We understand only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to human memory.”

Other interviewees include Julia Shaw, psychology professor at London South Bank University, who has designed a system for implanting false memories, and has successfully convinced subjects they’ve committed crimes that never took place – research that has potentially troubling ramifications for the criminal justice system.

Heather M Spencer
Mission Positive Films
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MPF Eye on Technology – Brain Computer Music Interface – by Sarah Knapton

Brain Computer Music Interface Software

This is one of those, ” Wow, that is so wonderful ” articles. Technology is opening so many doors for things that we never dreamed possible, and is giving hope back to those that had lost it. We are living in amazing times, and I can’t wait to get to one of these concerts. Please enjoy Sarah Knapton’s article on the Brain Computer Music Interface Software.

Brain damaged violinist makes music for first time in 27 years with mind-reading technology

Rosemary Johnson had made music for the first time since suffering a devastating car crash in her 20s.

Violinist Rosemary Johnson at approximately aged 17

Violinist Rosemary Johnson at approximately aged 17 Photo: Paul Grover/The Telegraph

A member of the Welsh National Opera Orchestra she was destined to become a world class musician before the road accident in 1988, which left her in a coma for seven months.

Violinist Rosemary Johnson at approximately aged 19Violinist Rosemary Johnson at approximately aged 19  Photo: Paul Grover/The Telegraph

Miss Johnson suffered a devastating head injury, robbing her of speech and movement and meaning she could only pick out a few chords on the piano with the help of her mother Mary.

“The first time we tried with Rosemary we were in tears. We could feel the joy coming from her at being able to make music”
Professor Eduardo Miranda, Plymouth University

But now, thanks to cutting edge technology, she is creating music again, using just the power of her mind.

In an extraordinary 10-year project led by the Plymouth University and the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability in London, her brain has been wired up to a computer using Brain Computer Music Interfacing software.

Ground-breaking musical performance by severely motor-impaired people to be premiered at Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival.   Photo: Plymouth University

By focusing on different colored lights on a computer screen she can select notes and phrases to be played and alter a composition as it is performed by live musicians. The intensity of her mental focus can even change the volume and speed of the piece.

It is the first time Miss Johnson, 50, has been able to create music in decades and has been an emotional experience for the her, and the scientists involved in the program.

Brain Computer Music Interface,Ground-breaking musical performance by severely motor-impaired people to be premiered at Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival.   Photo: Plymouth University

“It was really very moving,” said Professor Eduardo Miranda, Composer and Director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research at Plymouth University.

“The first time we tried with Rosemary we were in tears. We could feel the joy coming from her at being able to make music. It was perfect because she can read music very well and make a very informed choice.

Violinist Rosemary Johnson at approx aged 25 after the accidentViolinist Rosemary Johnson at approximately aged 25 after the accident  Photo: Paul Grover/The Telegraph

“The great achievement of this project is that it is possible to perform music without being able to actually move. She is essentially controlling another musician to play it for her.

“It’s not yet possible to read thoughts but we can train people to use brain signals to control things.”

Ground-breaking musical performance by severely motor-impaired people to be premiered at Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival.   Photo: Plymouth University

Three other disabled patients who live at the hospital have also been trained to use the technology, and have been working alongside four able-bodied musicians from the Bergersen String quartet who play the music in real time as it is selected.

They are called The Paramusical Ensemble, and they have already recorded a piece of music entitled Activating Memory which will be heard for the first time at the Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival in Plymouth later this month.

Miss Johnson’s mother Mary, 80, of Hounslow, West London said the project had given her daughter new hope.

Violinist Rosemary Johnson at approximately aged 17Violinist Rosemary Johnson at approximately aged 17  Photo: Paul Grover/The Telegraph

“Music is really her only motivation,” she said. “I take her to the grand piano in the hospital and she can only really play a few chords, but that was the only time she shows any interest. She doesn’t really enjoy anything else.

“But this has been so good for her. I can tell she has really enjoyed it. When she performed I went to the hospital and that is the first time I have heard her make music, other than the piano chords for a long, long time.”

The technology works like a ‘musical game’ where the players select pieces of melody at certain times of the performance to augment the overall work, which was composed by Prof Miranda.

Each patient wears an EEG cap furnished with electrodes which can read electrical information from their brain. They are paired with a member of the string quartet who views the musical phrases on a screen as they are selected in real-time.

Ground-breaking musical performance by severely motor-impaired people to be premiered at Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival.   Photo: Plymouth University

Julian O’Kelly, Research Fellow at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability added: “This is a great means of transcending disability to offer individuals a unique experience of creating music with each other, and interacting with skilled musicians to create original compositions.

“In the case of Rosemary, the project illustrated the great potential this innovation could have for participants who may have once been gifted musicians, but now lack the physical abilities to engage in music making.

“You could clearly see in her broad smile during the performance how much she enjoyed the experience.”

The patient quartet are made of Miss Johnson, Clive Wells, Richard Bennett and Steve Thomas.

Speaking through an automated voice machine, Mr Thomas said: “I like music and I am very interested in the Brain Computer Music Interface. It’s more interactive with people actually getting my instructions.

“It was great to hear the musician play the phrase I selected. I tried to select music that was harmonious with the others. It’s very cool.”

The team are hoping that the technology could be used one day to improve mood and help them to express their feelings.

“If our patients were able to compose music to reflect their state of mind, that would be an amazing way for them to be able to express themselves and music therapists could then use that to work with the patients,” added Dr Sophie Duport, of Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability

Joel Eaton, PhD Research Student at Plymouth University’s said: “One of the key things about this system is that not only does it give a user the interaction and control of an instrument, it allows them to interact with each other.’

‘If this idea was developed it could have ramifications in all areas of someone’s life. Potentially I can see the ability for someone to express musically how they are feeling again without their ability to move their fingers, to communicate with words.’

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MPF Eye On Technology – Flying Cars

Flying Cars


In a recent post on Autonomous Cars, we mentioned that Flying Cars wouldn’t be too far behind. Literally the next day, a friend posted a YouTube video on just that, a flying car, how’s that for a coincidence ? Right now, there seems to be 2 major players, Terrafugia and AeroMobil.

The FAA has authorized Terrafugia to operate small Unmanned Aircraft Systems for research and development purposes. The TF-X™ is a four-seat, hybrid electric, semi-autonomous, vertical takeoff and landing flying car. The FAA exemption will allow Terrafugia to test the hovering capabilities of a one-tenth scale vehicle up to an altitude of 400 feet, and at speeds under 100 mph.


AeroMobil’s flying cars make use of existing infrastructure created for automobiles and planes, to create door-to-door transportation. In car mode, It fits into any standard parking space, uses regular gasoline, and can be used in road traffic just like any other car. As a plane, it can use any airport in the world, but can also take off and land using any grass strip or paved surface just a few hundred meters long. It has been in real flight conditions since October 2014.

So at this point my mind is spinning with how the transportation department is going to manage the 3 dimensional travel created by these flying cars. It’s definitely going to be a very interesting future.

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MPF Eye on Technology – The Robotic Kitchen

The Robotic Kitchen

I have always envied those special folks that love to cook. I get the urge on occasion, and we’re talking rare occasion, but most of the time, I’m trying to come up with the fastest, easiest way to get the food on and off the table. Well it looks like technology is coming to the rescue.

In 2017 Moley will launch the consumer version of the Robotic Kitchen featuring a pair of fully articulated robotic arms that can reproduce  the entire function of human hands with the same speed, and sensitivity of movement. The unit includes an oven, a sink, a touchscreen unit, all the utensils needed to create a series of delicious meals, and it can also be operated remotely via smartphone, so you can have it prepare dinner while you’re on your way home.

How does the magic happen ? A chef preparing a meal is recorded in 3D, and the system is able to capture not just the exact movements, but each nuance as well, so the robotic hands are able to duplicate the entire process. There is growing collection of recipes from around the world that will be accessible through an iTunes style library.

I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely putting the Robotic Kitchen on my Christmas wish list. Oh, and by the way, it also cleans up after itself. Wow !

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MPF Observation Series – Technology – Driverless Cars

Driverless Cars

The cars aren’t flying yet, but the way it’s going, it won’t be very long.

If your secret ambition is to be a Driving Instructor, you might want to rethink your career path. It looks like the future of cars is to take the steering wheel out of our hands, and give it to our cell phones. Well not quite, but strangely enough both Google and Apple have entered the ” Who’s going to be the first to have driverless cars ” race.  What seemed a few years ago to be something used only in Hollywood movies, is now right the corner, and I mean right around the corner, as in 2020.

The race is definitely on, and in high swing, with all the major players vying to hit the market first. Let’s take a look at the competitors.


Nissan had their first public Autonomous Drive in 2013 at CEATEC JAPAN, Japan’s largest IT and electronics exhibition, and have been working together with teams from MIT, Stanford, Oxford, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Tokyo. So they are well on their way to that 2020 goal, which by the way corresponds with the Tokyo Olympics. How’s that for good timing. Their driverless concept vehicle is not only great looking, but extremely polite.


BMW has joined forces with Chinese search giant Baidu to produce a driverless car for the Chinese market. After watching this video, all I can say is ” wow, that computer really can drive “.
Daimler – Mercedes

Daimler is set on being the first to have driverless cars on the road, and they are definitely headed in the right direction to make that happen. They also have a driverless truck called the Freightliner Inspiration Truck ( 18 wheel type ) that is now licensed for Nevada roads.

This one’s a little hard to wrap my head around, but Google is well on it’s way to making driverless cars a normal part of our lives. Their vehicles have self driven over a million miles, and are already on the streets of Mountain View, California and Austin, Texas.


Tesla recently enabled the use of an automated driving system, called Autopilot, which allows properly equipped cars to steer, switch lanes, and manage speed on its own. This is their stepping stone to a fully automated vehicle. Look ma, no hands.

Toyota is a little late to the table, but is trying to make up for lost time. In September they announced plans to invest $50 million in building artificial intelligence into its vehicles, and will work with both Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to get back in the game.

Apple has just recently admitted to being a part of the race, but at this point, any details are strictly speculation. I’m betting it’ll be silver, what do you think ?

Honda, GMC, Ford, and Audi are also in the hunt, but are not likely to hit the 2020 timeframe.

The Federal Government has recently upped the ante in this game with the decision by The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, which is responsible for determining the safety ratings for new vehicles, to include advanced safety technologies as part of their ratings assessments. This means that vehicles that don’t have these technologies will have a harder time making a 5 star rating, and following that same line, there will be a significant impact on insurance rates.

I recently caught the tail end of last weeks 60 Minutes show that covered driverless cars, and the interviewer asked ” The Question ” about the inevitable glitches that comes with every computer. The answer of course, was that this technology is different, and that we won’t see the types of issues that are normally associated with computer processing, and I’m thinking to myself, ” Oh come on, really, who’s gonna buy that one ? “.  The fact is yes, there will be problems, especially in the early years, and there will be headlines, big ones, and the lawyers will be lining up rubbing their hands together in joyful anticipation of a large payday, but none of that will change the direction we’re headed. The technology will get better, and it will save lives, because the comparison between accidents caused by computer glitches, and those caused by texting, eating, or putting on makeup while going 70 miles an hour, will be overwhelming.

Driverless cars are coming, and they will change the way we get from one place to another, almost as much as when Ford put the first horseless buggie on the road. Their impact though won’t be limited to just transportation. Every piece of equipment that has an engine will at some point be affected, and it’s need for human operators reduced. We’re seeing a large step in the evolution to attain a fully computer managed world, and the technology is moving way faster than our social ability to deal with the changes it brings. So, hold on to your hat, the world of The Jetson’s is just around the corner.

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Mercedes-Benz F015 – Luxury in Motion. From the Mercedes Website