3-D Printing at the Mall, Bumpier Flights, and Digital Drugs to Cure You—The Download, April 7, 2017
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Can Software Cure Your Ills?
Take the red pill, blue pill … or, perhaps, the digital pill. Conventional pharmaceuticals may be effective in treating all kinds of illness, but they’re expensive to develop and often come with the burden of side effects. So researchers are developing digital replacements to drugs—so-called digiceuticals—that are essentially software designed to run on a smartphone and help improve a person’s health, usually via tracking or coaching. We investigate whether they can be as effective as prescription medication.
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Modern Manufacturing Takes Made-to-Measure to the Mall
For a bespoke outfit, head to the stores. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s a guiding principle behind a new trend using 3-D manufacturing to create custom clothing. Several companies have been trialling whole-garment knitting devices in stores: show up, tweak the size and design of a garment, and hi-tech looms manufacture new threads while you wait. Adidas, meanwhile, is working with 3-D printing company Carbon to create custom-made midsoles for sneakers, designed to help your kicks conform to your feet.
The Fuel Cell Isn’t Dead Yet
Hydrogen could still prove useful. Fuel cells flopped for use in consumer vehicles and, as Elon Musk has pointed out, using electricity to generate hydrogen is inefficient. But the fuel has one appealing advantage: unlike charging an electric car, a fuel cell vehicle can be refuelled and moving again in minutes. That appears to be why Amazon has decided to use the technology in some of its forklifts, and it’s also one reason the military continues to test hydrogen vehicles—so fuel cells may yet find a home, even if it isn't the city streets.
Ten Fascinating Things
The FDA will now allow gene-testing company 23andMe to directly tell consumers whether their DNA puts them at risk of genetic diseases.
It doesn’t get much more cutting-edge: at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, scientists are working on moonshot AI schemes to improve future space missions.
FCC chairman Ajit Pai reportedly has a plan for rolling back net neutrality rules that could be made public within the month.
Twitter is suing the government over demands that it unmask the user behind an anti-Trump account thought to belong to a federal immigration employee.
Speaking of which: here’s how the writing style and publishing habits of users can reveal their identity across multiple social media accounts.
Google is experimenting with a new AI approach that learns on your device then sends encrypted updates to a central software library.
Formula 1 team McLaren-Honda is taking a 3-D printer to the Bahrain grand prix so that it can tweak component designs at the trackside.
Fasten your seat belts: a new study suggests that more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere will make bad turbulence a far more common feature of flights.
This knife-wielding robot isn’t as scary as it sounds: it’s actually designed to help forensic scientists determine how weapons were used during crimes.
Sweet, delicious irony: the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum is switching to solar in a bid to save money.
Quote of the Day
"I can make a fist, I can hold a pen ... I think it will be the icing on the cake when I can do my laces, and I don’t think that’s far off."
— Chris King, the first person in the U.K. to undergo a double hand transplant, describes how the surgery has changed his life.
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