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A smart glove to save babies

One of the main causes of maternal mortality during childbirth is that the baby cannot be delivered vaginally, most likely because it isn’t positioned correctly in the womb. Without a plethora of medical equipment and training to check the baby’s position, midwives and doctors in developing countries struggle to reposition the baby safely. Scientists at UCL have developed a smart glove that links to an app, which in lab tests appears to be able to correctly identify the position of a baby’s head and how much pressure is being applied to it. The glove costs a $1 making it an affordable solution in developing countries. Dr Shireen Jaufuraully and Carmen Salvadores Fernandez of University College London, lead authors on the study, explain their work so far.

Photometric-stereo 3D imaging reveals secrets of the past
At the Bodleian Library in Oxford in England, a series of previously little studied copper plates is now, finally, giving up its secrets after three hundred years. The shallow engravings on the copper have become worn and difficult to read after more than three centuries. So, researchers are picking out relief on the metals surface by moving a light around, to draw out the shadows and give contrast. Except, this is a moveable virtual lamp, thanks to some clever 3D imaging. Hannah Fisher has been to the library to find out more about the ARCHiOx project.

WiFi seeing through walls
Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University are able to detect the 3D shape and movements of human bodies in a room, using only WiFi routers. The WiFi method overcomes problems with cameras e.g. poor light. The tech could be used to monitor elderly people at home or check on intruders. Professor Fernando De La Torre Frade and Dr Dong Huang from Carnegie Mellon University tell Gareth more.

The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.

Studio Manager: Tim Heffer
Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

(Image: Smart glove embedded with a sensor on the fingertip of the index finger.
Credit: Wellcome/EPSRC Centre for Interventional and Surgical Sciences (WEISS))

What happens when the Bitcoin miners leave?

In the summer of 2021 Kazakhstan was the second biggest producer of Bitcoin in the world, but what has happened since the crypto currency crash? Tech reporter Peter Guest is on the show to tell us about his trip to the country and how mega warehouses that once contained the computing power to make crypto millions now stand empty in the country’s rust belt. He tells us the story of the rise and fall of the bitcoin miners in this remote part of the world.

Wearable tech, AI and potential new treatments for rare diseases
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and Friedreich's ataxia (FA) are very rare genetic diseases neither of which has a cure. Now scientists and engineers in the UK have used motion sensors to capture the way patients move. They processed this data through new AI medical technology that they say can predict disease progression and significantly increase the efficiency of clinical trials in these conditions. Treatments are desperately needed as both diseases can lead to paralysis and currently there are often not enough patients for clinical trials. Dr. Valeria Ricotti, honorary clinical lecturer at the UCL GOS ICH and lead author of the studies is on the show to tell us more.

Sony’s new game controller for disabled gamers
Our gaming correspondent Chris Berrow reports on Sony’s new “Project Leonardo”, its PlayStation 5 controller for disabled gamers. The company teamed up with accessibility experts and charities to design the modular controller which can be adapted in many different ways to allow as many people as possible to use it. Launched at CES it still doesn’t have a release date or price though.

The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.

Studio Manager: Duncan Hannant
Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

(Image: Huge transformers and high tension cable to power bitcoin mines in Kazakhstan. Credit:

Self-driving cars could be a massive source of global carbon emissions

MIT researchers have concluded in a new study that computers that power self-driving cars could generate as many greenhouse gas emissions as the total of the world’s data centres do today. We’ve reported many times on the huge carbon footprint of data centres as well as the massive amounts of electricity needed to run them. They currently account for 0.3% of global greenhouse gas emissions – a similar level to Argentina - according to the International Energy Agency. The models created show that 1 billion autonomous vehicles, driving for one hour a day each, need a computer consuming 840 watts. These would consume enough energy to generate similar emissions as data centres currently do. Lead author Soumya Sudhakar joins us on the show to explain how hardware efficiency will need to advance rapidly to avoid these high levels of emissions.

Brazil’s antisocial media
Following last week’s events in Brasilia we look at the role social media played in the violence by far-right protestors. Angelica Mari, and activist and researcher Bruna Martins dos Santos who specialises in the Politics of Digitalization discuss if President Lula’s new government can reclaim the social media space and curb the spread of far right disinformation.

Getting South Africa connected – a new initiative
Last week we heard from one of our listeners about how he tries to stay online during power shortages in Ukraine following Russian air strikes. Another country that is significantly affected by energy shortages is South Africa. In addition, getting a reliable internet connection is also very hard. The government has announced that it’s going to spend over 160 million dollars over the next three years creating 33,000 community Wi-Fi hotspots as well as investing in improving IT skills across the population. Our reporter Rani Singh has been looking at how this might be achieved…

The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.

Studio Manager: Michael Millham
Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

(Image: Stylised car icon. Credit: Smartboy10/Getty Images)

3 episodes