Welcome to Innovation Friday. Each week we surf the World Wide Web in search of what’s hot in the world of innovation and technology and share our finds here with you.
We can’t cover it all, so we invite you to share links to your favorite innovative finds in the comment section, and don’t forget to check out the previous edition of Innovation Friday.
A team of electrical engineers at the University of Washington has figured out how to use the body as a medium for transmitting small bits of data, like passwords — a method they say is more secure than sending information over the air using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth signals.
The researchers invented an app that works with the low-frequency signals that travel through your body every time you use your fingerprint to unlock your phone or computer. The app uses those signals to create its own code. The signals are so low they’re not felt by the body and pose no risk to your health, yet the researchers found they are also strong enough to be picked up by a custom receiver if it’s also touching your body.
The engineers imagine that the technology will one day not only open apartment or car doors, but also, for example, allow people to send identifying data from their phone or a wearable directly to a medical device—no Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection required.
Robotic exoskeletons tend to be associated with warfare or industrial use, but Swiss researchers have created soft robotics and artificial muscles that could be used in physical rehabilitation.
The Reconfigurable Robotics Lab at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne is working on the technology, specifically a tubular muscle made of elastic materials, the motion of which can be tightly controlled. They can stretch and bend when activated by air pumps.
The team is working with physical therapists from the University Hospital of Lausanne who are treating stroke victims. Several of the robotic muscles are arranged on a belt and stretch up the lower back. The researchers say the belt is designed to support the patient’s torso and restore some motor sensitivity.
Grown-up fans of the Little Tykes “Cozy Coupe” red and yellow car can now get their own version.
Brothers John and Geof Bitmead created the “Toytown Coupe” in their U.K. mechanic shop, Attitude Autos. It’s a motorized, road-legal, adult-sized version of the toy car.
According to a BBC report, the car can reach speeds of up to 70 mph and sells on eBay for about US$33,000.
Disclosure: Lexmark is not endorsing any products or features shared in this Innovation Friday blog post. It’s just stuff we think is really, really cool and innovative.