Category Archives: Electronics

Low-cost origami 3D-printing technique could improve bone implants

Scientists at Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands have created a new way to print flat structures which self-fold into complex shapes according to a pre-planned sequence. The research has many applications, including the potential to improve bone transplants, the university said.


Essentially a combination of the Japanese paper-folding art of origami and 3D printing, the technique created by Amir Zadpoor and his team of researchers is means of creating shape-shifting constructs without the high costs or manual labour usually associated with this process.

Zadpoor’s team used an Ultimaker, one of the most popular 3D printers, and PLA, the most common printing material available. “At about 17 Euro’s per kilo, it’s dirt cheap”, said Zadpoor. “Nevertheless, we created some of the most complex shape-shifting ever reported with it.” The process is also fully automated and requires no manual labour whatsoever.

Zadpoor’s team achieved this by creating a technique in which they simultaneously printed and stretched the material in certain spots. “The stretching is stored inside the material as a memory”, PhD researcher Teunis van Manen explained. “When heated up, the memory is released and the material wants to go back to its original state.”

The researchers also alternated the thickness and the alignment of the filaments in the material.

“What makes the team’s shape-shifting objects so advanced is the fact that they self-fold according to a pre-planned sequence,” TU Delft wrote about the project.

“If the goal is to create complex shapes, and it is, some parts should fold sooner than others”, Zadpoor explained. “Therefore, we needed to program time delays into the material. This is called sequential shape-shifting.”

This approach marks an important step in the development of better bone implants for two reasons, the researchers explained. Firstly, it makes it possible to create prosthetics with a porous interior which allows a patient’s own stem cells to move into the structure of the implant and attach themselves to the interior surface area, instead of just coating the exterior. This will result in a stronger, more durable implant.

Secondly, with this technique, nanopatterns that guide cell growth can be crafted on the surface of the implant, TU Delft explained.

“We call these ‘instructive surfaces’, because they apply certain forces to the stem cells, prompting them to develop into the cells we want them to be”’, said PhD researcher Shahram Janbaz. “A pillar shape, for instance, may encourage stem cells to become bone cells.”

It is impossible to create such instructive surfaces on the inside of a 3D structure. “This is why we decided we needed to start from a flat surface,” said Zadpoor.

Other applications for the research include printed electronics (“by using this technique, it may be possible to incorporate printed, 2D-electronics into a 3D shape,” Zadpoor said) and flat-pack furniture. “Shape-shifting could definitely turn many of our existing 2D worlds into 3D worlds’, he said. “We are already being contacted by people who are interested in working with it.”


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Pokémon a go go

Since the launch of Pokémon GO on the 6th July, Japan’s Nintendo Co has seen a 14% jump in share value, with its market capitalisation rocketing to 4.5 trillion yen ($42.5 billion, €38 billion) by Tuesday, Reuters has reported.

Much to the frustration of fans around the world, the release of this smartphone game was staggered, initially being limited to just the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Now, however, Pokémon GO is available to download on iPhones and Android phones in a total of 35, mostly European, countries, and has become a worldwide smash hit.

According to data collected by app analytics firm SimilarWeb, on the 7th July, one day after it’s official release in the United States, the game had already been installed onto more US Android phones than Tinder.

Moreover, the figures for app usage have also been astonishing. SimilarWeb reported on the 10th July that over 60 percent of those who downloaded the Android app in the US were daily users, which means roughly 3 percent of the entire US population were playing Pokémon GO on a daily basis.

The firm also reported that daily usage among players averaged 43 minutes 23 seconds, which puts its daily user activity higher than those of Whatsapp, Instagram, Snapchat or Messenger.

Meanwhile BBC News reported that in its initial week, Pokémon Go was more heavily tweeted than Brexit in the first week of the referendum (15.3 million tweets in comparison to 11.7) and twice as popular as the Euro 2016 football championships in its first week.

Even on the day of the UK referendum vote, there were almost as many Google searches for the game as there were for Brexit, and after it’s release, searches for the game even overtook those for that internet staple, pornography, reported the BBC.

For Nintendo, the runaway success of this game has provoked immense buying of their shares, on a scale that has surprised many.

Takashi Oba, senior strategist at Okasan Securities, said, “I’ve never seen the trend of such a big company’s shares changing so quickly in such a short period of time.” 

In fact, on Tuesday, trading in shares in Nintendo accounted for almost a quarter of all trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s main board, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile Nintendo shares turnover reached 703.6 billion yen ($6.6 billion, €5.9 billion) by the end of Tuesday, thereby surpassing the 476 billion yen ($4.5 billion, €4 billion) record it set on Friday for trading turnover in individual shares.

Until now Nintendo has not been a contender in the virtual reality and augmented reality market, yet there has been speculation that the company may seek to capitalise on the success of Pokémon GO, for example with other popular characters such as Super Mario and Zelda following down the same path.

Sources include: Reuters, BBC News, SimilarWeb


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CEATEC 2014 showcases Japan’s cutting edge technology

CEATEC Japan 2014, showcases the most innovative new technology breakthroughs. Some of the highlights from this year’s current exhibition include a new concept in wearable tech from Toshiba Glass, an intriguing ‘Tempescope’  and the CEATEC 2014 award winner an 8K Super high vision television from Sharp.

Toshiba Corp. is looking in the same direction as Google Glass, but the prototype it unveiled at CREATEC takes a slightly more conventional approach to wearable tech.

While other eyewear tech, including Google Glass, have futuristic designs, the Japanese company Toshiba is banking that people will feel more at ease when facing someone with conventional glasses rather than techy ones.

Unlike other glasses-type wearables, which feature a device in front of the lens, the hardware of Toshiba Glass is positioned less obtrusively to the side of the right lens.

The Toshiba Glass device itself is a mini-projection system using small prisms. At CEATEC the company demoed it projecting information — such as weather forecasts, recipe ingredients or step-by-step manuals — into the user’s field of vision.

Toshiba Glass is light at 43g and does not feel that different from conventional glasses. In order to keep the glasses lightweight, the device must be connected via a wire to an external battery when in use.

Unlike Google Glass, the Toshiba Glass does not have a camera. Toshiba also said it will not be possible to detach the small projection device and attach to ordinary glasses since the projection requires a special lens.

Toshiba appears to be focusing on the corporate market and aims to make the glasses available for business use from 2015. Toshiba sees the fields of security, health care and maintenance inspection, as possible industries where the glasses may find an application.

Another interesting gadget showcased at CEATEC was the Tempescope. The team behind it call it “an ambient physical display that visualizes the weather, inside your living room” — basically an elaborate lit-up box that shows you tomorrow’s weather in a very classy, oddly relaxing, way.

To work out exact what kind of weather it should produce, the Tempescope pulls hourly forecasts through a wireless connection from a PC. Once the Tempescope has the forecast, it creates those meteorological conditions inside its tall, sealed glass cuboid. A combination of water and ultrasonics creates the cloudy vapor inside the box, while water can also be gathered at the top, and dripped down to create rain. LED lights at the top attempt offer up an estimation of either thunder or sunshine, depending on the next day’s forecast.

The 2014 CEATEC AWARD presented to the most innovative technologies, products, and services expected to contribute to the advancement of lifestyle, society, and economic activities, this year was awarded to Sharp.

Sharp’s prize winning LCD display is the world’s first 8K Super Hi-Vision full-spec LCD display. The display offers 3D pictures with overwhelming realism and without the need for special glasses providing a thrilling and sensational viewing experience.

The research and development of 8K Super Hi-Vision broadcast was started by the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (Nippon Hoso Kyokai in Japanese, hereafter “NHK”) in 1995, and the 8K broadcast service is planned to start by 2018. The 8K Super Hi-Vision broadcast, with four times the number of pixels compared to 4K broadcast, will be able to provide super-high-quality picture reproduction.

Source: Tha Japan Times,,,

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