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.
Sleep science is evolving and finding new ways to help patients with obstructive sleep apnea. Apnea, which involves pauses in breathing caused by a collapsed or blocked airway, is one of a number of disorders that rob sufferers of recuperative sleep and, left untreated, can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, obesity and diabetes.
One new treatment involves an airway stimulating device, similar to a pacemaker, implanted in a patient’s chest. The patient turns on the device when he or she goes to bed, and it delivers a mild pulse to the tongue and throat muscles to keep air flowing. The device has been called a “breakthrough” for sleep apnea patients for whom other treatments have failed.
When battling fires outdoors, firefighters can use GPS to track one another, and radios to stay in communication. But when they move into a steel and concrete building, these technologies become unreliable.
A research team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has developed a tracking system that could be a game-changer for firefighter safety. The system, called POINTER (Precision Outdoor and Indoor Navigation and Tracking for Emergency Responders), uses electromagnetic fields. These “quasi-static” fields have short ranges — just a few hundred meters — but they offer increased non-line-of-sight capabilities.
A tracking device emitting a quasi-static field can tell a receiver where it is in space, plus which way it is facing. It could tell a team commander whether a firefighter is crawling along the ground or is stationary, facing down on the floor — suggesting that person may have stopped moving.
Besides first responders, the need for this technology spans industrial, military and space applications.
A breakthrough has been made in the quest to turn harmful CO2 emissions into something useful. New technology that captures planet-warming carbon dioxide and converts it into baking powder has been launched at a thermal power station in southern India.
Tuticorin Alkali Chemicals, which runs the power plant, plans to turn 60,000 tons of CO2 a year into soda ash, or baking powder. It will do this using a process that captures the emissions from the plant boiler’s chimney and mixes them with rock salt to make ash soda — a chemical that forms a key ingredient in glass, sweeteners, detergents and paper products as well as food.
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.