Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Developers are Once Again Working to Bring Reality to Science Fiction

Posted on: February 24th, 2017 by Dickson No Comments

Medical devices come in many shapes and sizes and can be inspired in a great many number of ways. As we’ve discussed on our blog many times in the past many ideas come from the imaginations of those outside of the industry.

Another example of this kind of innovation has been underway thanks to a competition that was initiated back in 2012 that has these innovators working to recreate a medical marvel that first debuted on televisions a half century ago.

Star Trek’s Tricorder was a multifunction hand-held device used for sensor scanning, data analysis, and recording data. Each prototype must have the capacity to monitor five vital signs and diagnose medical conditions, send data to the internet, and weigh under five pounds.

You can read more on STAT about the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize and how two teams are working to develop a real life version of Star Trek’s medical Tricorder.

 

Pulled Apart: How Magnetism May Soon Help People Put their Lives Back Together

Posted on: February 14th, 2017 by Jeff Renoe No Comments

pulled-apart

Valentine’s Day means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

For those lucky enough to be with a special someone, it’s a time for celebration. For those who aren’t with someone, the pressure to be in a relationship can become even more apparent. In extreme cases, feelings of loneliness can bubble up to the forefront. This, according to Louise Hawkley, PhD, a research associate in the psychology department at the University of Chicago, often leads to depression.

“Although depression doesn’t always lead to loneliness, feeling lonely is often a predictor of depression, and it certainly leads to sadness,” said Hawkley.

Allowing depression to go unchecked is a dangerous game. According to the non-profit Suicide.org, the number one cause that leads to suicide around the world is related to untreated depression. NeuroQore, a company out of Ontario, believes it can help more receive treatment. They claim to have found a way to cure depression through the use of magnetic pulses. Mehran Talebinjad, co founder of the company, discussed her method’s success in an interview with TechCrunch.

“We have an 87.5 percent remission success rate over drug-resistant depression,” said Talebinjad.

The method that NeuroQore uses isn’t a new innovation. In fact, it’s built on Neurofeedback therapy, an idea that’s been around for more than twenty years. Tech Times discusses how that treatment has historically worked.

“Neurofeedback therapy entails stimulating parts of the brain to send a positive signal in the form of a pleasant tone through the ears. This happens each time a desirable mood is achieved by the subject. The process is repeated over time in hopes of eventually achieving a permanently positive and healthy pattern, and has been used in clinics that did not rely on drugs as a primary treatment.”

The Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or rTMS, that NeuroQore uses, works similarly. However, instead of using audible tones through the ears, they use magnetic pulses that transmit tones directly to the brain. According to TechCrunch, there’s one other subtle difference in the process.

“NeuroQore also measures its results with biomarkers as physical evidence. Unlike with talk therapy or drugs, this takes out some of the guesswork of if and where the brain might be improving.”

The idea was pioneered following Talebinjad’s first performed brain surgery.

“Neuromodulation is super important and the brain is so complex,” he said. “I realized during this surgery there wasn’t a lot of effective approaches out there.”

While the treatment is still awaiting FDA approval, it has already been approved in the company’s native Canada. As with all treatments that currently exist for this and similar disorders, there is no guarantee that this method will work for every patient. However, the results, mixed with the lack of side effects that the company claims exist, make it a treatment worth exploring. A life without depression could mean something different to a lot of different people. Whatever the meaning, everyone should be lucky enough to experience that.

Are you suffering from depression and/or experiencing thoughts of hopelessness or suicide? There are a tremendous number of resources available online just like this to find the help you need.

 

On the Road: Dickson at Pittcon 2017

Posted on: February 8th, 2017 by Jeff Renoe No Comments

Curiosity is one of the most interesting aspects of life. The desire to know or learn can give life meaning. It’s about the desire to grow and to better one’s self and in some cases humanity as a whole. Few places is that more on display than at Pittcon, the world’s largest conference and expo on the field of laboratory science.

The show covers a variety of topics including subjects like biomedical and electrochemistry. Its audience is made up of all laboratory scientists, and provides value to anyone who identifies, quantifies, analyzes or tests the chemical or biological properties of compounds or molecules, or who manages these laboratory scientists. While the convention was initially rooted in analytical chemistry and spectroscopy, Pittcon has now evolved to include life sciences, pharmaceutical discovery and QA, food safety, environmental, bioterrorism and other emerging markets.

Last year, one topic that was often discussed involved water. Several of the companies and researchers we spoke with had invested tremendous time on the subject. General Electric was working on a product that would allow them to do a better job of recycling surface water for human consumption. Another had been working to detect oil spills that occur off the mainland.

This year’s show is located at McCormick place in downtown Chicago from March 5th – 9th. If you’re attending, or considering to, reach out and let us know. We’ll be set up at booth 5245 and would love to hear from you. We’re currently scheduling live consultations with our validation and mapping experts as well as time with our product manager for discussing our DicksonOne platform. Send an email to jeff@dicksondata.com to learn more.

Saving the World with Smart Design

Posted on: February 1st, 2017 by Jeff Renoe No Comments

water

The atomic clock just shifted closer to midnight than it’s been since the 1950’s. According to the atomic scientists, the end of the world is nigh. That hasn’t stopped developers from innovating on the IoT to try and save the planet they live on.

In the past we’ve spent considerable time discussing a variety of smart devices on our blog. We’ve covered everything from connected trash cans, to smart inhalers, and even our own SaaS based temperature monitoring devices. A new device is looking to make headway on the market that can fundamentally shift a major global issue, while providing some benefit back to the user. It’s a shower head that’s connected to more than the pipes in your house.

The new device is being marketed as an opportunity to preheat a shower from bed. When I’d first read that, it seemed like an incredible waste of water and made me think the exact opposite of everything I’ve talked about above. Then I looked more into what made the unit so smart.

Not only does this showerhead power off once the water has reached a desired temperature, but it can be programmed to limit how long a person can waste time in the shower. A device that sounded terribly wasteful at first glance actually has incredible potential. What it could do to help limit a country of over indulgers is difficult to quantify. That doesn’t mean we won’t try. Even if we are about more than data, it’s still our thing, after all.

2017_water_usage_infographic-01-1According to research, the average shower uses 2.1 gallons of water per minute. With an average American shower time of 8.2 minutes, that’s more than 17 gallons per shower, per person, per day!

If a 2009 study conducted by AOL Health is accurate then nearly two in three Americans shower daily. Based on those numbers we’re able to estimate that we use more than 3.6 billion gallons of water each day because of our hygiene habits. Comparatively that means that a Lake Tahoe worth of water is used to keep Americans clean approximately every ten days. That’s a lot to swallow.

If everyone in the country was able to limit their showers to five minutes each day, we’d save nearly 17 Lake Tahoes every year. That’s 1.41 billion gallons of water per day or enough to provide drinking water to more than 2.8 billion people on a daily basis. In another sense, that’s enough to quench the thirst of everyone in the western hemisphere in a single day–twice.

The fact that one billion people on earth go thirsty every day doesn’t seem quite so daunting now, does it?

To bring the problem back home, parts of California have experienced drought conditions for years. In fact, they’ve been under a state of emergency for three years now and it’s impacted the lives of 24 million people. The impact can be far reaching and includes things like ground sinkage, seawater intrusion, and wildfires. From an individual’s perspective, the hardest hit county has been Tulare county where nearly 5,500 citizens have been forced to live without water. If America’s shower habits could be tweaked to provide water for billions, imagine what a little concentrated effort could do for these Americans living without the most necessary of resources.

Unfortunately, providing water to the world isn’t as easy as taking shorter showers. There are a lot of other factors involved including things like location and, in many cases, the temperature and humidity of a region. We’ve talked in the past about how moisture farming could provide relief to drought stricken parts of the world. New technology and a better understanding of science has even led to innovations for growing food in extreme environments.

Knowing where we’re at and how we compare to other parts of the world is a major part in the process toward finding a solution. Recognizing a problem is often the part that most often hinders progress. Now, a problem has been identified. It’s up to us to architect a future that solves it. That’s the genius that smart design can give to the world.

 

Time is the Most Valuable Thing We have to Give

Posted on: January 23rd, 2017 by Jeff Renoe No Comments

Charitable causes are many but, for many, volunteers are often short.

According to research done by those at the YMCA, Americans’ interest in charity is waning. It’s why we’re always thrilled when our employees take time out of their day to support those in need. That idea starts at the top as evident by the weekend activities of our company’s VP of Marketing and Sales, Chris Sorensen. This past Saturday, he and his son, George, spent their afternoon volunteering for the Feed6 charity in order to help feed both the hungry and the homeless. Within one weekend, the Sorensen’s were able to help the organization pack more than 68,000 meals for distribution to local food banks and homeless shelters in the Chicagoland area.

volunteering-stuff

“Each person who volunteers has a specific job in the group,” said the younger Sorensen. “Over 360 people showed up to help and the organization had to ship in more supplies last minute allowing the event to exceed its initial goal of 50,000 meals. It was a very fun, upbeat, and lively environment and the two hours we spent there went by quickly.”

While the meals will help the cause, they won’t solve everything. According to Feed6, nearly 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes every day. Still, the three million meals the company has packed has helped feed a lot of hungry people.

If you’d like to help but don’t have the time to support a cause like this, you could feed 20 hungry children for the cost of a $5 latte. If you have a couple of hours of time, and a little money to spare, your help can feed as many as 100 children. If you’re interested in offering your support you can find more information on how to volunteer here or donate here.

If you’d like to learn more about other charities, you can find a list of reputable organizations through the Better Business Bureau’s Give.org charity portal. Regardless of what cause you support or how much you have to give, just remember that every second and every cent has the potential to impact someone in need. The Greek fabulist, Aesop, said it best.

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”