“Bright colors in the natural world often result from tiny structures in feathers or wings that change the way light behaves when it’s reflected. This structural color is respon­sible for the vivid hues of birds and butter­flies. Arti­ficially harnessing this effect could allow us to engineer new materials for appli­cations such as solar cells and chame­leon-like adap­tive camou­flage. Inspired by the deep blue colora­tion of a native North American bird, Stellar’s jay, a team at Nagoya Uni­versity reproduced the color in their lab, giving rise to a new type of arti­ficial pigment. “The Stellar’s jay’s feathers provide an excellent example of angle-inde­pendent structural color,” says Yukikazu Takeoka, “This color is enhanced by dark materials, which in this case can be attri­buted to black melanin particles in the feathers.”

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The evolution to bipedalism forced humans to develop suitable strategies for dynamically controlling their balance, ensuring stability, and preventing falling. The natural aging process and traumatic events such as lower-limb loss can alter the human ability to control stability significantly increasing the risk of fall and reducing the overall autonomy. Accordingly, there is an urgent need, from both end-users and society, for novel solutions that can counteract the lack of balance, thus preventing falls among older and fragile citizens.
 
In a recent study, the researchers show a novel ecological approach relying on a wearable robotic device (the Active Pelvis Orthosis, APO) aimed at facilitating balance recovery after unexpected slippages. Specifically, if the APO detects signs of balance loss, then it supplies counteracting torques at the hips to assist balance recovery. Experimental tests conducted on eight elderly persons and two transfemoral amputees revealed that stability against falls improved due to the “assisting when needed” behavior of the APO. Interestingly, this approach required a very limited personalization for each subject, and this makes it promising for real-life applications. These findings demonstrate the potential of closed-loop controlled wearable robots to assist elderly and disabled subjects and to improve their quality of life.

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Lee applauds as participant Dalia Ali shares her take-home from the three-day programme. Acquiring design thinking enables individuals to do their jobs better and be more productive.With this in mind, executives from several organisations came together for a three-day Design Thinking Re-bootcamp — a training programme for decision-makers and leaders who drive an organisation’s culture…

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