Jun 8, 2012Science and Technology
Patexia Weekly: 06/01-06/08

This week saw some changes in the Patexia’s content. One of the main changes is that your truly will be covering the bulk of the news developments -- this also means that I only get one post to coalesce all the interesting things that happened in research in both technology and medical fields. The format will change slightly in upcoming weeks, likely with more time devoted to developing a particular trending aspect of research, but I will continue to do identify and report on rising trends that emerge throughout the week.

The better to sense you with...

A medtronic blood glucose monitor and insulin pump.Later in the week, I noticed that a lot of news was showing up in medical diagnostics, and sensory technology in general. The first was a news release late last week about a group of researchers that implement increasingly ubiquitous nanotechnology to significantly increase the sensitivity of biological tests. Another example arose in insulin testing and blood-sugar management for diabetic patients when late this week Medtronic announced it was submitting a combined glucose pump and monitor, the first of its kind, for approval with the FDA. A simple idea -- combine wireless technology, blood-glucose monitoring, and a portable insulin pump -- that should provide a good deal more flexibility to patients. There was also a new test for glucose intolerance, exploiting technological miniaturization to create a "lab-on-a-chip" test at an unprecedented low cost and high accuracy. Finally, one that is not entirely medical: a test for contaminants in water. The first and last tests are most interesting, mostly due to the generality of their result: clever application of nanotechnology is revolutionizing sensors of all kinds. Conveniently, the NIH launched a competition this week, challenging the world at large to devise a "personal air pollution and health sensor." Here's the kicker; the grand prize is $100,000 -- not too shabby, but not enough to sustain a modern biosensing research lab. Given recent advances in nanotech applied to sensing technologies, I have little doubt that the winning technology is going to be nano-based. Will it be yours?

For those of you following along with technology...

PocketCell: a simple, well thought-out and well-executed mobile charging solution wins a top prize at Computex.Computex, the Taipei-based consumer electronics conference was this week. I won't delve too deep into the over anticipated Windows 8 release, not the increasing confusion about what exactly we want to call "ultrabooks" Instead, I offer a small, simple device that solves a big problem: mobile device charging...

The device offers a simple and elegant solution to two of the biggest problems in today's mobile-drive world: running out of batter power and not having the right cord to charge your device. Says P.S. Tang, senior director of Innergie, "the PocketCell packs a 3000 mAh rechargeable battery bank into its 72 gram frame, and can extend an iPhone’s talk time to more than 25 hours. It's chipset can figure out what kind of device its recharging power is coming from through the  2.1 amp fast-charging USB port and adjust how the power flows."


A question on everyone's mind in the wake of all this flurry of mobile activity: money. More appropriately, money from mobile. G. Taylor explores the appropriate way to look at monetizing on the mobile space:

The mobile landscape as related to the monetization of applications, social media or otherwise, has questionable immediate benefits. Conversion -- a term used by so many in the online advertising space to articulate a sale -- is difficult to obtain in the mobile space and therefore such initiatives have a questionable return on investment. However, if a mobile company wishes to explore the benefits and release the true value proposition of its products or services, it will have to use a hybrid advertising approach that explores different venues simultaneously. This long term approach requires an acknowledgement that the current mobile metrics are somewhat broken and based on fallacies that put adoption rates ahead of monetization factors.

Even more exciting, though somewhat more distant from the consumer, was a breakthrough achievement in quantum computing: second-long quantum memory. Extraordinarily, researchers were able to confine a quantum bit for more than a second at room temperature. This is a huge step forward for quantum computing, and many have said that second-long memory storage was one of the major hurdles. There are many problems left to be solved, no doubt, but what good is solving problems if you can't remember the answers?

Finally, the week would not be complete without a nod to the next generation of internet technology. Though it will go largely unnoticed by the average person, it's good to know that someone's taking care of the digital infrastructure that now dominates all of our lives. IPv6? Bring it on.

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