Home' Technology Review : March April 2007 Contents 54 TR10
TECHNOLOGY REVIEW /
FINDING YOUR WAY around a new city
can be exasperating: juggling maps and
guidebooks, trying to figure out where
you are on roads with no street signs,
talking with locals who give directions
by referring to unfamiliar landmarks. If
you re driving, a car with a GPS naviga-
tion system can make things easier, but
it still won t help you decide, say, which
restaurant suits both your palate and
your budget. Engineers at the Nokia
Research Center in Helsinki, Finland,
hope that a project called Mobile Aug-
mented Reality Applications will help
you get where you re going---and decide
what to do once you re there.
Last October, a team led by Markus
Kähäri unveiled a prototype of the sys-
tem at the International Symposium on
Mixed and Augmented Reality. The team
added a GPS sensor, a compass, and
accelerometers to a Nokia smart phone.
Using data from these sensors, the
phone can calculate the location of just
about any object its camera is aimed at.
Each time the phone changes location,
it retrieves the names and geographical
coördinates of nearby landmarks from
an external database. The user can then
download additional information about
a chosen location from the Web---say,
the names of businesses in the Empire
State Building, the cost of visiting the
building s observatories, or hours and
menus for its five eateries.
The Nokia project builds on more
than a decade of academic research
into mobile augmented reality. Steven
thetic material also has a long shelf life,
which could make it particularly useful
in rst-aid kits.
The material s rst application will
probably come in the operating room.
Not only would it stop the bleeding
caused by surgical incisions, but it
could also for m a protective layer over
wounds. And since the new material
is transparent, surgeons should be able
to apply a layer of it and then operate
through it. "When you perfor m sur-
gery, you are constantly suctioning and
cleaning the site to be able to see it,"
says Ram Chuttani, a gastroenterolo-
gist and professor at Harvard Medi-
cal School. "But if you can seal it, you
can continue to perform the surgery
with much clearer vision." The hope
is that surgeons will be able to oper-
ate faster, thus reducing complications.
The material may also make it possible
to perform more procedures in a mini-
BLEEDING STOPS after a solution of engi-
neered peptides is applied to a wound in a rat s
liver. The arrow (top right) points to a deep cut. It
bleeds (bottom left) until the solution is poured
onto the wound. The solution forms a transpar-
ent gel (bottom right) that prevents the blood
from flowing. The bleeding stops completely just
8.6 seconds after the wound is made.
Markus Kähäri wants to
information on the real
world. By Erika Jonietz
COURTESY OF RUTLEDGE ELLIS-BEHNKE (BLEEDING); PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY JEAN PROBERT (REALITY)
mally invasive way by allowing a sur-
geon to quickly stop bleeding at the
end of an endoscope.
Chuttani, who was not involved with
the research, cautions that the work is
still "very preliminary," with no tests yet
on large animals or humans. But if such
tests go well, Ellis-Behnke estimates,
the material could be approved for use
in humans in three to ve years. "I don t
know what the impact is going to be,"
he says. "But if we can stop bleeding, we
can save a lot of people." Ellis-Behnke
and his colleagues are also continuing
to explore the material s ner ve regen-
eration capabilities. They re looking for
ways to increase the rate of neuronal
growth so that doctors can treat larger
brain injuries, such as those that can
result from stroke. But such a treat-
ment will take at least ve to ten years
to reach humans, Ellis-Behnke says.
Even without regenerating nerves,
the material could save countless lives
in surgery or at accident sites. And
already, the material s performance is
encouraging research by demonstrat-
ing how engineering nanostr uctures to
self-assemble in the body could pro-
foundly improve medicine.
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