A Sleep Monitor For Minimum Outlay

There are a variety of instruments used in sleep studies to measure bodily activity during sleep and consequent sleep quality. Many of them use techniques that perhaps aren’t so easy to replicate on the bench, but an EEG or electroencephalograph to measure brain waves can be achieved using a readily-available module. [Ben Jabituya] shows us a sleep monitor using one of these modules, an EGG Mikroe Click.

The brains of the operation is an Adafruit Adalogger Feather M0, which is hooked up to a headband containing the sensing electrodes. The write-up gives us a round-up of the available boards, which should be handy for any experimenters in this field. The firmware meanwhile was written using the Arduino IDE. It collects raw sampling data to an SD card, and one surprise comes in just how relatively small a space it requires to store a night’s results.

Finally, a Python script was used to process the data and turn it into a spectrogram to look at brain activity through the night. He envisages using the device for triggering lucid dreaming during REM sleep, but we can see it might be rather useful for sleep disorder sufferers, too. Take a look at it in the video below the break. Continue reading “A Sleep Monitor For Minimum Outlay”

Live Glucose Monitoring With The Apple Watch

There has been a rumor that Apple is working on a glucose monitoring solution for the Apple watch. [Harley] decided not to wait and managed to interface an Abbot FreeStyle Libre sensor with the Apple watch. The sensor doesn’t directly read glucose continuously, but it does allow for more frequent reading which can help diabetic patients manage their blood sugar levels. However, as part of the hack, [Harley] effectively converts the meter to a continuous-reading device, another bonus.

The trick is to add a Bluetooth transmitter to the NFC sensor. Using a device called a MiaoMiao, the task seems pretty simple. The MiaoMaio is small, waterproof, and lasts two weeks on a charge, which is longer than the sensor’s life. Honestly, this is the hack since once you have the data flowing over Bluetooth, you can process it in any number of ways including using an app on the Apple watch.

It isn’t perfect. There’s a slight lag with readings due to the way the sensor works. However, you usually don’t care as much about the absolute value of your glucose (unless it is very high or very low). You are usually more interested in the slope of the change. This data is more than good enough for that.

In fact, the most complex part of this seems to be the watch app. It might be less work to feed the data to a machine learning model and let AI guide your insulin injections. Something to think about.

We have a keen interest in glucose monitoring around here and we know why it is so darn hard. Honestly, the idea of pushing glucose meter data to a watch isn’t new, but this is a well-done implementation with a lot of possibilities.

Auditory Brainstem Implants: The Other Bionic Hearing Device

You might have heard of the cochlear implant. It’s an electronic device also referred to as a neuroprosthesis, serving as a bionic replacement for the human ear. These implants have brought an improved sense of hearing to hundreds of thousands around the world.

However, the cochlear implant isn’t the only game in town. The auditory brain stem implant is another device that promises to bring a sense of sound to those without it, albeit by a different route.

Continue reading “Auditory Brainstem Implants: The Other Bionic Hearing Device”

Blu-ray player with 3 slides on a disk

Blu-ray Microscope Uses Blood Cells As Lenses

When you think of high-throughput ptychographic cytometry (wait, you do think about high throughput ptychographic cytometry, right?) does it bring to mind something you can hack together from an old Blu-ray player, an Arduino, and, er, some blood? Apparently so for [Shaowei Jiang] and some of his buddies in this ACS Sensors Article.

For those of you who haven’t had a paper accepted by the American Chemical Society, we should probably clarify things a bit. Ptychography is a computational method of microscopic imaging, and cytometry has to do with measuring the characteristics of cells. Obviously.

This is definitely what science looks like.

Anyway, if you shoot a laser through a sample, it diffracts. If you then move the sample slightly, the diffraction pattern shifts. If you capture the diffraction pattern in each position with a CCD sensor, you can reconstruct the shape of the sample using breathtaking amounts of math.

One hitch – the CCD sensor needs a bunch of tiny lenses, and by tiny we mean six to eight microns. Red blood cells are just that size, and they’re lens shaped. So the researcher puts a drop of their own blood on the surface of the CCD and covers it with a bit of polyvinyl film, leaving a bit of CCD bloodless for reference. There’s an absolutely wild video of it in action here.

Don’t have a Blu-ray player handy? We’ve recently covered a promising attempt at building a homebrew scanning electron microscope which might be more your speed. It doesn’t even require any bodily fluids.

[Thanks jhart99]

3D Printing Pills All At Once

To the uninitiated, it might seem like a gimmick to 3D print pharmaceuticals. After all, you take some kind of medicine, pour it in a mold, and you have a pill, right? But researchers and even some commercial companies are 3D printing drugs with unusual chemical or physical properties. For example, pills with braille identification on them or antibiotics with complex drug-release rates. The Universidade de Santiago de Compostela and the University College London can now 3D print pills without relying on a layer-by-layer approach. Instead, the machine produces the entire pill directly.

According to a recent report on the study, there are at least two things holding back printed pills. First, anything medical has to go through rigorous testing for approval in nearly any country. In addition, producing pills at typical 3D printing speeds is uneconomical. This new approach uses multiple beams of light to polymerize an entire tank of resin at once in as little as seven seconds.

With 3D printed drugs, it is possible to tailor release profiles for individual cases and make hybrid drugs such as a French drug that joins anticancer drugs with another drug to manage side effects. Is this a real thing for the future? Will doctors collect enough data to make it meaningful to tailor drugs to patients? Will regulators allow it? For hybrid medicine, is there really an advantage over just taking two pills? Only time will tell.

Sure, technology can help dispense pills. We know, too, that 3D printing can be useful for prostheses and medical devices. We aren’t so sure about pharmaceuticals, but in the meantime you can already order custom-printed vitamins.

A Bargain In Bionic Knees

You probably don’t want to lose a leg, but if you have to there are many options now that were unthinkable not long ago. That is, if you can afford them. A microprocessor knee — a prosthetic with some smarts in it — can run anywhere from $25,000 to well over $100,000. However [Lucas Galey], a PhD candidate at the University of Texas El Paso in a recent paper claims to be able to produce a comparable artificial knee for under $1,000. If the paper is too long to read, Amplitude has a good summary including what it means to people who need them.

Of course, the cost of making something like this is almost incidental. The cost of approvals, testing, and other factors mean that even with about $500 in parts, the retail price would be much higher. Probably not $25,000, though.

Continue reading “A Bargain In Bionic Knees”

Helping The War Effort With 3D Printed Tourniquets

It’s a sad statement on the modern world that even civilians are at risk for severe traumatic injuries in the course of going about their lives. And if something unthinkable happens to you or someone you love, here’s hoping both that the injury can be treated, and that someone is nearby who both knows what to do and is properly equipped to do it.

That’s the thinking behind these 3D printed tourniquets, an unfortunate but necessary response to the ongoing war in Ukraine. To get tourniquets into the hands of those trained to use them, [3DPrintingforUkraine] is working on plans for a printable version of the C-A-T, or combat application tourniquet, a lightweight but strong tourniquet that can be rapidly applied, even by victims themselves. The commercial device consists of molded nylon buckles and hook-and-loop fastener bands, along with a very sturdy plastic handle that serves as a windlass that provides the necessary occlusive force when twisted. The 3D printed version’s parts aren’t as streamlined as the commercial unit’s, but they appear to be strong enough to withstand the considerable forces involved. From the look of their site, STL files and instructions for assembly will be available soon.

To be clear, tourniquets should only be applied by someone properly trained to do so. But having ample tourniquets available where traumatic injuries to the extremities are likely to occur can only improve the odds that one will be available when it’s needed. So hats off to [3DPrintingforUkraine] for making the effort to push this forward.

[Austin Everman] sent us this tip. Thanks!