EEG graph with activity sections highlighted, one part highlighted as "F" and other as "6"

DREEMWORK Lets You Code Morse From Inside Your Dream

Lucid dreaming fascinates hackers. Every few years for over a decade now, we’ve seen a serious project dedicated to studying or taking advantage of this phenomenon, and the interest in this topic hasn’t faded still. [Michael] has contacted us to tell about a small and unconventional breakthrough that a few lucid dream hackers have accomplished — communicating in Morse code from their dream using eye movements.

These hackers are using Dreem 2 and 3 headbands, which include clinical-grade polysomnography features like EEG measurements, which is instrumental for decoding eye movements. [Michael] tells us that one of the participants, [Sebastiii], was able to transfer the letter F by looking twice to the left, then right and left again – ..-. in Morse. With an off-the-shelf headband, this information transmission method is quite accessible to anyone willing to learn Morse, and [Michael] himself is now working on an automated decoding solution. We might forget what happens in our dreams fairly quickly, but this unexpected side channel could be a good counter.

[Michael] has tipped us off to many of the projects we’ve covered, and himself has quite a history in the field. His own research into using Morse to communicate out of lucid dreams dates back as far as 2012. If your ham exam preparations have you dream in Morse, perhaps this is the perfect project to join. A lot of projects we’ve seen focus on gaining enough awareness to achieve lucidity first, like the variety of lucid dream-invoking masks we’ve covered over the years. This part being thoroughly explored, it makes sense that communication is the next frontier to be tackled.

Microsoft Wants You (To Help With Assistive Tech)

In college I had an exceptional piano teacher that was entirely blind. One day he noticed I had brought in my new-ish laptop, and his unexpected request — “can I look at your laptop?” — temporarily flabbergasted me. Naturally there wasn’t much he could do with it, so he gave it a once over with his fingers to understand the keyboard layout, and that was that. I still think about this experience from time to time, and the most obvious lesson is that my paradigm for using a computer didn’t map well to his abilities and disability.

The folks at Microsoft are thinking about this problem, too, and they’re doing a lot of work to make technology work for more users, like the excellent Xbox Adaptive Controller pictured above. Now, if you have some experience helping folks overcome the challenges of disability, or have a killer idea for an assistive technology solution, Microsoft is looking for projects to fund. Did you rig up a Raspberry Pi and webcam to automatically read text aloud? Maybe you pulled that old Kinect out, and are working on sign-language reader using 3D data points.

Make a pitch of your project or solid idea by the November 4th deadline, and just maybe you can get some help to make it a reality. Just make sure you come back and tell us about it! After all, some of the coolest hacks we’ve ever covered have been adaptive tech projects.

Thanks to [MauroPichiliani] for sending in this tip.

picture showing the re-built scale with an extra blue box with electronics on the bottom of it. on the scale, there's a transparent food-grade plastic glass with measurement marks on the side.

Urine Flow Measurement Made Accessible With UroFlow

If you’re dealing with a chronic illness, the ability to continuously monitor your symptoms is indispensable, helping you gain valuable insights into what makes your body tick – or, rather, mis-tick. However, for many illnesses, you need specialized equipment to monitor them, and it tends to be that you can only visit your doctor every so often. Thankfully, we hackers can figure out ways to monitor our conditions on our own. With a condition called BPH (Benign Prostate Hyperplasia), one of the ways to monitor it is taking measurements of urinary flow rate. Being able to take these measurements at home provides better insights, and, having found flow rate measurement devices to be prohibitively expensive to even rent, [Jerry Smith] set out to build his own.

This build is truly designed to be reproducible for anyone who needs such a device. Jerry has intricately documented the project and its inner workings – the 31-page document contains full build instructions, BOM for ordering, PCB description and pinout diagrams, calibration and validation instructions, and even software flowcharts; the GitHub repo has everything else you might need. We’re pleasantly surprised – this amount of documentation isn’t typically seen in hacker projects, and is even more valuable considering that this is a medical device that other hackers in need will want to reproduce.

Graph titled "Flow", with X axis saying "seconds" and Y axis saying "ml/Sec". There's differently colored plots on the graph, each apparently corresponding to a different measurement.For the hardware, [Jerry] took a small digital scale of a certain model and reused its load cell-based weighing mechanism using an HX711 amplifier, replacing the screen and adding an extra box for control electronics. With an Arduino MKR1010 as brains of the operation, the hardware’s there to log flow data, initially recorded onto the SD card, with WiFi connectivity to transfer the data to a computer for plotting; a DS3234 RTC breakout helps keep track of the time, and a custom PCB ties all of these together. All of these things are easy to put together, in no small part due to the extensive instructions provided.

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Smart Pills Can Tell Your Doctor That You’ve Taken Them

We have many kinds of pills available these days to treat all kinds of different disorders. Of course, the problem with pills is that they don’t work if you don’t take them. Even Worse, for some medicines, missing a dose can cause all kinds of undesirable withdrawl effects and set back a patient’s treatment.

Smart pills aim to fix this problem with a simple monitoring solution that can tell when a patient has taken their medication. They’re now publicly available and authorized for use, so let’s look at how they work.

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New Parkinson’s Test Smells Success

Parkinson’s disease affects millions of people all over the world. The degenerative condition causes characteristic tremors, trouble walking, and often comes with complications including dementia, depression, and anxiety.

One of the major challenges around Parkinson’s disease involves diagnosis. There’s no single, commonly-available test that can confirm or rule out the disease. It’s can cause particular frustration as the disease is most treatable in its early stages.

That may soon change, however. One woman identified that she seemingly had the ability to “smell” the disease in those affected, and is now working with scientists to develop a test for the condition.

Follow Your Nose

The human sense of smell, by and large, isn’t particularly impressive. It helps us enjoy the scent of fresh bread baking in an oven, or the aroma of freshly cut grass. However, as a tool for inspecting and learning about the world around us, it really comes up short.

Some of us, though, are more capable in the olfactory department than others. Joy Milne from Perth, Scotland, is one such person. She happened to detected a change in her partner’s characteristic smell, one day, and twelve years later, they were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

The idea that someone could “smell” a difference with people with Parkinson’s disease is an easy one to test. When Milne eventually put the idea together that the different smell she noticed was perhaps related to her husbands condition, she quickly drew the interest of scientists. With the aid of her partner, a former doctor, she teamed up with researchers Dr. Tilo Kunath and Professor Perdita Barran to investigate further. Continue reading “New Parkinson’s Test Smells Success”

Robotic Surgeons Are Showing Hints Of One Day Outperforming Humans

When it comes to fields that are considered the most complex of human endeavours, the most typically cited are those of rocket science and brain surgery. Indeed, to become a surgeon is to qualify in a complex, ever-changing, and high-performance field, with a pay scale and respect to match.

The tools of surgery have changed over time, with robotic assistants becoming commonplace in recent decades. Now the latest robots are starting to outperform human surgeons in some ways. Let’s look at how that’s been achieved, and what it means for the future of medicine. Continue reading “Robotic Surgeons Are Showing Hints Of One Day Outperforming Humans”

3D Printing A Prosthetic-Compatible Golf Club

Relearning an old sport, or starting a new one, can be challenging for amputees. Besides the obvious physical aspects, custom prosthetics or adaptors might need to be made and fitted, which can be very expensive. With the power of 3D printing and some machining, [Ian Davis] was able to build a custom prosthetic golf club to get a quadruple amputee back on the greens.

The recipient of this prosthetic lost both hands above the wrists, so [Ian] had to come up with a mechanism that could hold the club and mimic wrist motion throughout the swing. He was able to achieve this motion with a simple four-plate hinge for each arm. For optimal ergonomics, [Ian] also added two-axis adjustability, with only a single bolt needing to be loosened per axis. A standard golf club can be used and is clamped in the printed holders.

Machined prosthetic sockets were used to allow quick connection to the user’s existing prosthetic forearms. Theoretically, this should also allow him to switch clubs without excessive hassle. [Ian], an amputee himself, has used his engineering skills to build a series of prosthetic hands and even a custom controller mod to get back to gaming with fewer flesh fingers.

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