Expendable microphones may help locate building collapse survivors

Data gathered by Penn State engineers in a volunteer effort at the World Trade Center tragedy, suggests that simple, inexpensive microphones dropped into the rubble of a collapsed building may be able to aid search and rescue teams despite ground level noise.
Dr. Thomas B. Gabrielson, associate professor of acoustics and senior research associate at Penn State’s Applied Research Laboratory, says, “In conventional survivor searches, noise generating activities at the surface must be stopped while listening for survivors.”
However, the Penn State team found that the noise level in the interior voids of the rubble was about the same as that of a quiet residential neighborhood even though the noise level at the surface was much higher due to constant operation of three heavy lift cranes, air hammers, and dozens of rescuers workers.

New flat motor can drive shape shifters, movers and shakers

engineers have developed a low- cost, high-torque rotary motor, based on “smart” materials, that can be configured in a wide range of formats, including one as flat and thin as a CD case. The inventors say that, in the flat format, the motor could be used to drive changes in the camber of airplane wings or fins, essentially shape-shifting the curvature of the wing or fin surface. In other formats, the motor could work in tightly integrated spaces where other motors can’t fit. For example, the “smart” material motor could serve as the drive element in thinner, lighter, laptop computers or other compact, portable consumer products or in manufacturing equipment that processes things by moving or shaking them.

Prototype Developed for Ultrasonic Patch to Deliver Insulin

MiniMed has made its fortune with an insulin pump that diabetics wear around their waist and that automatically delivers controlled doses of the sugar-regulating substance to the wearer’s bloodstream. It’s a terrific product because it eliminates the need for regular syringe-based injections (though a catheter remains stuck in the patient’s belly all day long.) Combined with the company’s glucose monitor, the product works like a sort of artificial pancreas. As cool as the system is, it still involves a needle breaking skin, which can on occasion lead to infections, not to mention being a real pain. Engineers at Penn State say they’re on the road to a needle-free insulin delivery method that uses a small, ultrasonic patch to get the drug into the wearer’s blood.