Ann, I'll ask a question that I've asked before, but in a slightly broader way. All of this surprising new technology -- are these developments accelerating, or does it just seem that way because you're shining a light in a lot of disparate corners? It sure seems there's a flood of shocking advancements in medical and robotics.
We're several years aay from knee replacements. I'm not sure if even Baby Boomers will benefit from this on a large scale. I haven't read anything about computer trails or even animal testing yet.
The fact that two relatively weak hydrogels were combined to create something amazing and strong is another lesson for many. Finding the right combination in the right scale is, very often, the key to innovation.
I wonder if anyone is working on a substance that could contract to a fraction of its original length, simulating a muscular contraction. If such a substance could be interfaced with nerves it could replace lost muscles and limbs -- and think of the possibilities for robotics without motors.
Rob, I think it's both: I do like finding obscure but weird and potentially earth-shaking developments in technology of several kinds. It's also true that we have more researchers now than ever before in many different disciplines, countries and cultures, working on many different solutions to many different problems. Humans have been ingenious creatures for hundreds of millenia: these advances aren't nearly as earth-shattering and shocking as the first sentences, or the first tools, or the first wheels.
Ann, I had done a bit research for my mother having the same problem. She has some wear and tear in her knee cartilage and doctors advising us for a complete knee replacement. We are looking for some alternate therapy, which can regenerate the cartilages. Eventhough many are clamming that it can be regenerate, but so far nothing is medically proven.
Mydesign, replacement knee surgery is not a sure thing re results, not at all guaranteed, can cause a lot of problems and is insanely expensive: at least half the cost of a low-end car. Otherwise I would have done it by now. Also, most replacement knee implants/structures are engineered for men, not women. But you probably know all that. Meanwhile, any claims of technologies that regrow cartilage are, AFAIK, untrue.
Years ago, 35 to be exact, my wife and I enjoyed running-10Ks mostly. Well, father time has put an end to that activity but the "remains of the day" linger. I have real problems with my right hip and right knee. Hip replacement surgery has been recommended but I have put it off for several months due to schedule and the fact that I'm 168 pounds of rompin stompin coward. I talked with my doctor about repairing the cartilage in the joint but he tells me the repair, if possible at all, would be considerably worse than the replacement. With that being the case, Ann do you have a time-line for commercialization of the hydrogels or is this technology in its infancy--tried but unproven? Great article also.
A tiny humanoid robot has safely piloted a small plane all the way from cold start to takeoff, landing and coming to a full stop on the plane's designated runway. Yes, it happened in a pilot training simulation -- but the research team isn't far away from doing it in the real world.
Some in the US have welcomed 3D printing for boosting local economies and bringing some offshored manufacturing back onshore. Meanwhile, China is wielding its power of numbers, and its very different relationships between government, education, and industry, to kickstart a homegrown industry.
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