DESIGN TO IMPROVE LIFE HEADLINES – AUGUST 24

This week: tiny engineered devices with massive capabilities, Twitter tackles online abuse, and could flying drones be the future of public transport? One leading company thinks so and has some very ambitious plans.

TINY PARTICLE A HEAT-SEEKING MISSILE FOR ALZHEIMER’S
In the past few months we’ve seen numerous break-throughs in the quest to cure alzheimer’s. Now, researchers have come up with a special nano-particle that can greatly reduce the harmful side effects –like hallucinations and comas– of the commonly prescribed drugs. The tiny particle will significantly improve treatment by helping the drugs solely target the overactive brain receptors that cause neurological disease, without harming the healthy receptors.

BOTTLE CAP-SIZED CHIP PURIFIES WATER
Keeping on the subject of tiny objects with great potential, the tech to purify water just got a whole lot smaller thanks a team at Stanford University in California. The research team designed a new tiny widget, about the size of a bottle cap, that uses sunlight to purify water. Simply drop it into a clear bottle and place it in the sun for 20 minutes… and voilà!

DRONES TO BE THE NEXT RIDE-SHARE VEHICLE
Forget autonomous cars! Leading aircraft manufacturer Airbus plans to make autonomous flying drones as the new taxis/ride-share vehicles. In their recently revealed plans, the vessels will fly above cities and dock at various helipad stations to drop off and pick up passengers. The company envisions their ambitious emission-free system to be the ultimate solution for road congestion and pollution.

LAB-GROWN EYES ON THE FAST TRACK 
Scientists have been able to grow artificial corneas, the part of the eye responsible for vision clarity, and successfully implant them into living eyes. Researchers at the University of Melbourne, Australia, believe the artificial corneas will be superior to donor corneas as they will eliminate compatibility issues. According to Wired, human trials could start as early as next year.

START-UP TACKLES WORKPLACE SAFETY
Construction labourers often work in highly unsafe areas. They regularly use dangerous tools and machinery, and can often be exposed to hazardous substances. To improve safety, a new startup called SmartSit  have developed a smart device that can monitor noise levels, airborne particulates and UV rays. It includes a microphone, laser particle counters and UV sensors to let construction teams quickly see where and when their workers may be at risk.

BREAK-THROUGH DEVELOPMENT FOR ZIKA VACCINE
Researchers have developed a Zika ‘clone’ that they hope will help biologists develop and test strategies for a vaccine. The scientists’ aim is to develop a vaccine similar to the ones used against other viruses like polio and yellow fever. These particular vaccines are made by taking an infectious agent and altering it so it’s harmless or less destructive before it’s put into the body to boost immunity.

TWITTER MOVES TO CAP ONLINE ABUSE
Everyone should have the freedom to freely express themselves online, but we all know there’s a limit. In a bid to stamp out abusive content, in the next few days Twitter will be rolling out a new ‘quality filter’. The new feature will simply allow users more control over who contacts them, via @ mentions and retweets, and will also help filter “hateful conduct”, repetitive and automated content.

GLOBAL WARMING: HALF A DEGREE COULD MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE
While global warming seems like a massive unstoppable force, reducing temperatures by just half a degree could make a huge difference. A recent report published by the Climate Institute suggests that limiting warming to 1.5℃ rather than letting it reach 2℃ could reduce the severity of extreme weather events in, for example, Australia. Researchers claim it would make a “noticeable difference”. Heatwaves would be shorter, the hottest days a degree cooler, and coral reefs would have a much better chance of survival.

ZUCKERBERG TO JOIN HOUSING CRISIS BATTLE
The Chan Zuckerberg Foundation could be taking on the affordable housing crisis as their next big challenge. The foundation, with the motto “Advancing Human Potential and Promoting Equality” and worth an estimated $45 billion, recently met with several housing experts, according to The Information. We hope these reports are true!

MUST READ: WILL WEARABLE POLLUTION MONITORS BE THE UNIFORM OF THE FUTURE?


Images: Airbus, Patrik Carlsson and Per Gosche.

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