It’s time for another round of Sensor Sunday. This week there’s been plenty of news bits involving sensors and the technology around sensors. We’ve chosen to highlight a few with a special focus on devices that monitor wildlife and the environment, and wearable technology.
Sensors will Help Save Salmon from Dam Deaths
Some of the biggest sensor news this week comes from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, where a team of scientists have been hard at work designing a Sensor Fish, which will swim with young salmon, or smolt. Many salmon die every year in dams, being torn apart by turbines and exploding from pressure changes. The Sensor Fish are equipped with accelerometers, gyroscopes, and pressure sensors inside a waterproof tube. The information gathered will help dam engineers design more fish-friendly dams.
Using Sensors to Save Sea Turtles
National Park Services have been trialling a project that will better monitor when sea turtles are hatching, and when beaches need to be closed. They’ve partnered with the all-volunteer group “Nerds Without Borders” to design the sensors, calling the project “Turtle Sense“. This summer, the project showed massive success in helping biologists predict when baby sea turtles would emerge from their nests. Park Services hopes to refine the equipment and bring it to more beaches, which will allow greater access to areas that are sometimes closed while still keeping the endangered critters safe.
(via Here & Now)
Hackers Work to Solve Brazil’s Water Crisis
The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Nerds Without Borders aren’t the only groups working around monitoring nature. A group of hackers in Brazil met up in early September to discuss the diminishing water reserves in the Amazon and São Paulo. Faced with some restrictions and obstacles, the team believes they have come up with a system of autonomous sensors that can be launched later this year, and will help people to better visualize the data and articulate their proposals for change.
A New Wrist Sensor Can Track Electrolytes
At Sandia National Laboratories researchers have developed a wrist-worn device that will measure electrolytes to give real-time health information. The sensing band has nine hollow microneedles to suck up the colourless fluid just beneath the skin. Electrodes then measure electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium and other salts. This technology could mean that future wearables will be even more personal.
(via IEEE Spectrum)
A New Wearable Tracks Eating Automatically
Researchers at the University of Alabama are working on a new type of wearable that automatically tracks diet by way of vibrations in your jaw. The sensor, called an Automatic Ingestion Monitor (AIM), is worn around the ear and senses vibrations in the jaw during food intake, but filters out other jaw motions, such as talking. It can then estimate energy intake as well as track eating behaviour, which could be useful for treating eating disorders. The AIM is only in prototype phase at present, but with a five-year grant from the National Institute of Health, hopes are high for clinical roll out in the near future.
Hearing with VEST
Currently, the options to give hearing to the deaf are limited and expensive, but Dr. David Eagleman hopes to change that with a sensory substitution VEST for the hearing impaired. The VEST gives vibrations to the wearer based on sounds picked up by a smart phone, and it doesn’t stop there. Eagleman also mentioned how the vest could be hooked into your Twitter feed so you would “hear” when people are talking about you. There’s still testing to be done, including behavioural testing and brain imaging studies, but the idea is already getting many people excited.
(via Design News)
For those following smart cities, a story in New Scientist covered how Singapore’s citywide sensor network (which we talked about a few weeks ago) tracked a sprung leak and helped prevent lots of damage in the city. There’s lots more going on in the sensor industry, and we’ll be back next Sunday with more stories, so stay tuned. If you hear about a story or have something to share, please leave it in the comment below.