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The “God Particle?” May 4, 2008

Posted by tomography in Innovation, What tomorrow brings?.
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Researchers at Hewlett Packard have transfered a theoretical object into reality. Memristors were first theorized in the 1970s, but it took almost 20 years for them to find their way onto designers’ desks and into our PCs.

The device, a nanoscale component called a “memristor,” requires no power to retain data, which it can store more densely than a hard drive and access about as fast as a computer’s RAM memory—potentially allowing it to replace both components in the future.

We can expect memristors to show up in everyday technology in the next two to three years when they will catalyze information transfer in our personal computers. First they will act as a “catch” between the hard disc drive and the DRAM, which will allow shorter loading times of large files such as complicated applications and images. “Stan Williams, who leads the HP research team, thinks a memristor can hold scads more data than a hard drive and access about as fast as DRAM.” Their future plan is to replace both the hard drive and the RAM by one single device: the memristor.

This new technology will help ease the burden of the hard drives at work in diagnostic imaging, where large images are acquired, stored, opened and recorded many times over throughout a day. Memristors will make loading a patients full picturesque medical history a flash.

But memristors have more in store for us. Since they can function both in digital (on/off) and analogue mode, different types of tasks requiring different computational modes can be carried out by that which fits best. For example, facial recognition is best carried out in analogue mode that closely resembles the way the human brain works.

Williams proposes a CPU with multiple processing cores: Some digital for the number crunching that today’s computers do so well, and others using analog memristors.

In fact, in an article that appears on the HP Research website you may read that their goal is to develop a highly energy efficient computer with pattern recognition capabilities that closely matches that of the human brain!

For further reading on this hot topic I recommend you the following articles:

I personally cannot wait to see this technology at work. Its been a long way coming!

– Andras

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Xray goes digital February 26, 2008

Posted by tomography in CT, development, Off Topic, Radiology, What tomorrow brings?, X-ray.
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After a long break I returned to one of my beloved hobbies, photography. I was very happy when my brand new DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera arrived. Coming back wasn’t that easy, though I had years of practice with SLR and lately used more digital compacts too. The development, we went through is remarkable, let it be hardware, software, quality, ease of use or techniques. One dealing with digital photography really has to know more than the basis and should be up to date, to create the best pictures. So I ran over some wikis…

One really fundamental thing is the image sensor, as there is no film. Sensors works as film. This is a digital light sensitive flan – a photoelectric sensor, which perceives the quantity of light coming through the lens, and then forwards this essential information as pixels to the processor. So it’s obvious why companies emphasize developing better and better sensors.

cmosMaybe you heard of these, like CCD (charge-coupled device) or CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor). CCD is an analog shift register, enabling analog signals (electric charges) to be transported through successive stages (capacitors) controlled by a clock signal.

Basicaly there are two groups of image sensors (IS). CCD-CMOS and CCD-NMOS (n-channel metal-oxide-semiconductor). In weekdays we call them -not so accurately- CCD and CMOS. Each has unique strengths and weaknesses giving advantages in different applications. Neither is categorically superior to the other, although vendors selling only one technology have usually claimed otherwise. The difference between these two is in the manufacturing process. Both types of imagers convert light into electric charge and process it into electronic signals. In a CCD sensor, every pixel’s charge is transferred through a very limited number of output nodes (often just one) to be converted to voltage, buffered, and sent off-chip as an analog signal. All of the pixel can be devoted to light capture, and the output’s uniformity (a key factor in image quality) is high. In a CMOS sensor, each pixel has its own charge-to-voltage conversion, and the sensor often also includes amplifiers, noise-correction, and digitization circuits, so that the chip outputs digital bits. With each pixel doing its own conversion, uniformity is lower. But the chip can be built to require less off-chip circuitry for basic operation. Both CCD and CMOS imagers can offer excellent imaging performance when designed properly. CCD and CMOS will remain complementary. The choice continues to depend on the application and the vendor more than the technology.

The reason I wrote about ISs was the creation of The University of Sheffield, namely large and sensitive CMOS sensors for the next generation of X-ray based imaging systems.

Easier to use and faster than the imagers used in current body scanners, and with very large active pixel sensors with an imaging area of approximately 6cm square, the technology has been specifically developed to meet demanding clinical applications such as x-ray imaging and mammography. This silicon imager is about 15 times larger in area than the latest Intel processors. The next step of the project is to produce wafer-scale imagers which can produce images that approach the width of the human torso. This will eliminate the need for expensive and inefficient lenses and so enable lower-cost, more sensitive and faster medical imaging systems.

These sensors were developed by the CMOS Sensor Design Group at STFC´s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in association with the University of Sheffield and University College London.

Grab it like Tom! :-) November 12, 2007

Posted by tomography in development, Innovation, Surgery, What tomorrow brings?.
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The use of 3D imaging in the medical field has proven to be a boon to doctors when diagnosing patients, and 3D models of the human body have assisted medical manufacturers in developing better medical devices and treatments. Now researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut (HHI) in Berlin have developed a display that combines a 3-D screen with a non-contact user interface that allows images to be rotated by hand gestures much like the display Tom Cruise played with in the film Minority Report.3dskullscreen

The display was developed for medical use where traditional ways of interacting with displays through touch runs the risk of compromising the sterility of work environments. With the newly developed non-contact image control system a physician can rotate a three-dimensional CAT scan image that appears to float before their eyes with a gesture of their fingers, while with another gesture they can click onto the next image.

The system works by utilizing images from three cameras, two of which are installed above the display and a third which is integrated into the frame of the display. The two cameras above the display see the pointing finger from different angles, allowing image-processing software to identify the exact position of the finger in a three-dimensional space. The third camera scans the user’s face and eyes to identify the inclination of the user’s head and the direction in which the eyes are focused and the associated software generates the appropriate pair of stereoscopic images for each eye. The cameras record one hundred frames per minute so, even if the user moves their head, the system instantly adapts the images!!! In this way, the user always sees a high-quality three-dimensional image on the display, even while moving about. This is essential in an operating theater, and allows the physician to act naturally when carrying out routine tasks.

Source: MedGadget

Getting closer to replicators November 10, 2007

Posted by tomography in development, Future, Off Topic, What tomorrow brings?.
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The first affordable Desktop Factory 3D printer is just about to ship!, paving the way for even more sophisticated manufacturing in the future. Starting out with powdered plastic, it layers the plastic material so precisely that it exactly conforms to the software 3D model that serves as its guide. This home 3D printer brings us closer to the day when we’ll have replicators like those on Star Trek: The Next Generation, making entire meals at the touch of a button and creating complex objects from simple materials. In the meantime, soon you’ll be able to download spare parts for toys and build them in a few minutes, or even prototype your own designs, right in your home.

artif-bone

Ever since the advent of 3D printing, researchers have been trying to figure out how to replicate organs and bones for use in surgeries. Printed organs are still many years away, but researchers in Japan have already begun testing 3D-printed bones on human patients with face or skull injuries.

Someday we may be able to replicate our own skeletons on affordable 3D printers.

source: Charlie White, S.E. Kramer

Head-ready EEG systems November 5, 2007

Posted by tomography in development, EEG, Tomography, What tomorrow brings?.
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IMEC has developed a 2-channel wireless EEG (electroencephalography or monitoring of brain waves) system powered by a thermo-electric generator. It uses the body heat dissipated naturally from the forehead. The wearable EEG system operates completely autonomous and maintenance-free with no need to change or recharge the batteries.wear-eeg

The entire system is wearable and integrated into a headband. The small size, low power consumption of only 0.8mW and autonomous operation increase the patient’s autonomy and quality of life. Potential applications are detection of imbalance between the two halves of the brain, detection of certain kinds of brain trauma and monitoring of brain activity.

A low-power digital signal-processing block encodes the extracted EEG data which is sent to a PC via a 2.4GHz wireless radio. The whole system consumes only 0.8mW. The thermoelectric generator is mounted on the forehead and converts the heat flow between the skin and air into electrical power. The generator is composed of 10 thermoelectric units interconnected in a flexible way. The EEG system is operational in less than one minute after switching on the device!

The system is a tangible demonstrator of the Human++ strategic research program researching healthcare, lifestyle and sport applications of body area networks.

Human ++ research aims:

  • increase the lifetime of battery-powered devices
  • increase the lifetime between sensors and actuators
  • add intelligence to the devices
  • extend devices with chemical and biological features
  • integrate and package heterogeneous components
  • fundamentally understand measuring medical phenomena
  • develop biocompatible systems

Starfleet TRICORDER? November 1, 2007

Posted by tomography in Cancer, CT, development, Future, Tomography, What tomorrow brings?.
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Two recent scientific discoveries mark the latest steps toward the ultimate medical-diagnosis technology: the tricorder. Bones McCoy made Star Trek‘s portable black box famous by using it to diagnose ailments without ever touching a patient. Now, studies show that the tricorder is closer to becoming reality. Scientists have been trying to construct a tricorder-like device for years, but no one has managed to pack all the functions of a true tricorder — point, pull a trigger and diagnose — into one hand held unit.

tricorder

Well, it’s not just science fiction any more — we could see such a contraption, thanks to the USA army and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). This high priority program is to save lives(mainly military yet) of blood loss through the development of a portable system that will automatically locate and noninvasively treat bleeding vessels in arms and legs. The envisioned system uses advanced diagnostic ultrasound techniques with automated control to locate the bleeding and to direct the delivery of High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) energy to the target site to stop the bleed.

Combining the technologies into one compact box may take decades. But the two latest discoveries offer incremental advances in diagnostic medicine — pointing toward more portable and less invasive medical technologies.

labonchipSeveral lab-on chip technologies have brought diagnosis to hand helds, but they still require a tissue sample. Chang and his co-authors have linked visible patterns in CT scans of liver-cancer patients with cancer-gene activity. – Like if imaging the human genome in their tumor. – For example, the scientists could determine whether the gene that spurs the growth of blood vessels (VEGF-vascular endothelial growth factor), was turned on or off, by statistically analyzing a CT image. Experimental treatments such as vaccines and gene therapies attack tumors by shutting down this gene’s ability to feed cancer tumors with new blood vessels. Instead of taking an invasive biopsy that could put sick patients at risk, a noninvasive CT scan could determine the activity of VEGF and many other genes.

In the other research, scientists have developed a compact, precision-magnetic microscope based on a new state of matter. The technology, the researchers said, is as effective as current imaging devices such as MEGs (magnetoencephalography) for the brain and MCGs (magnetocardiography) for the heart, which require a hospital visit because the devices are large and expensive. It’s made possible by a state of matter called the Bose-Einstein condensate (or if you have some more time, here I liked this one). becPhysicists at UC Berkeley have developed the device by harnessing a special property of Bose-Einstein condensates: Because they are cooled close to absolute zero, they are as free of vibrations and thermal noise as a quantum system can be, and are thus like a quiet, acoustically pristine concert hall. Tiny magnetic fields that might be unobservable in other systems are easily picked up.

“As with all new technologies, unexpected vistas might open.” – Dmitry Budker

Likely to hear some news in the near future! 🙂

sources – wired.com, smarteconomy, BEC homepage

Wonderbra October 30, 2007

Posted by tomography in Cancer, Future, Tomography, What tomorrow brings?.
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A breast-screening smart bra which allows users to detect breast cancer at the earliest stage is being developed by the Center for Materials Research and Innovation (CMRI) at the University of Bolton.

smartbraThe smart bra works using a microwave antennae system device which can be easily woven into the fabric of the bra. The bra uses a microwave antennae device and embedded microchips to collect information and create an image of the breast.

The antennae picks up any abnormal temperature changes in the breast tissue, abnormalities associated with cancer cells. Information about each breast is collected and transferred via conducting polymers. A separate controller unit analyses the information and sets off an alarm if the normal breast tissue temperature is exceeded. The cancer detection is based on the principle that metabolic activity and vascular circulation in both pre-cancerous tissue and the area surrounding a developing breast cancer is almost always higher than in normal breast tissue. This process results in an increase in regional internal and external temperatures of the breast. The microwave antennae has high sensitivity and can detect these temperature variations, which are the earliest indications of the breast cancer and/or a pre-cancerous state of the breast.

It is not only very safe but also very cost effective.

said Prof Siores

What tomorrow brings? October 22, 2007

Posted by tomography in Nuclear Medicine, PET, Radiology, SPECT, Tomography, What tomorrow brings?.
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rtgwifehandThe radiologist who sits in a dark room, interpreting films and rendering a report that someone looks at hours later is becoming a thing of the past. Well, does it?
Of course, in this way, it couldn’t work nowadays, in the 2nd millenium – though we should not forget some poor parts of the world, where
some 20-30-40 year old machines are still in use . Basicly Konrad Roentgen’s X-ray was very important in past and shall be in the future, as it started a revolution many years ago, – which we still witness – diagnostic imaging.

 

 

xrayvirt

Since then, his invention went through a great evolution. Just take a look at the latest X-ray machines. They look nice, they work fine…, but they simply do not cover all the basis. As time went by, came new ideas, so we have CT and MRI in our hands (for many years fortunately). CT and MRI are sensitive in defining that disease is present, but they aren’t specific in determining what particular type of disease may be present. PET was the answer as it really brought it’s dramatic change. The increased metabolic activity not only confirms that cancer is present but it also provides evidence of staging or metastasis beyond the primary. Utilization of PET began in the 1990s. (SPECT has been around for decades, and it is preferred over PET in cardiac cases.) PET and SPECT are both basic gadgets in nuclear medicine, which combines chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer technology, and medicine in using radioactivity to diagnose and treat disease. Nuclear medicine procedures are safe, they involve little or no patient discomfort and do not require the use of anesthesia. Finally, CT-MRI and PET-SPECT found each other in a good working marriage, so one of today’s high-end stuff is PET-CT.

Can we go further? What is the next step?

Many say, that the most exciting development is the coming of molecular medicine. By understanding the molecular basis of disease and developing methods to detect and treat changes in the body at the molecular level, physicians will be able to identify diseases in the earliest possible stages. Cancer is one area experts already are seeing progress.

 

Molecular imaging is poised to become the future of nuclear medicine. The role of the nuclear imaging specialist in molecular therapy is to provide detailed information regarding the nature of biologic processes using radiopharmaceuticals in concert with positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging.

How about nanomedicine?

Nanomedicine may be defined as the monitoring, repair, construction and control of human biological systems at the molecular level, using engineered nanodevices and nanostructures. Once nanomachines are available, the ultimate dream of every healer, medicine man, and physician throughout recorded history will, at last, become a reality. Programmable and controllable microscale robots comprised of nanoscale parts fabricated to nanometer precision will allow medical doctors to execute curative and reconstructive procedures in the human body at the cellular and molecular levels. But the ability to direct events in a controlled fashion at the cellular level is the key that will unlock the indefinite extension of human health and the expansion of human abilities.

Nanomedicine FAQsnanomed

to be continued