on May 1st, 2017

Welcome back to another month of quirky and exciting occurrences in the Engineering world. From the invention of dissolvable batteries, to cooking dinner in your washing machine, this month’s April roundup has got you covered for an interesting read…

Engineering the perfect Easter egg

Have you ever wondered why chocolate melts in your mouth but not your hand? The explanation to this is with precision melting, according to chemical engineer Professor Ray Dagastine (University of Melbourne).

“Cocoa butter is a critical ingredient, it’s what gives chocolate its nice creamy taste,” he says.

“It is also the key to why chocolate melts in your mouth and not in your hands, as cocoa butter is a complex, mostly saturated fat that is a solid at room temperature, but melts at just below the temperature inside the human body.”

Image courtesy of Maxpixel

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Your phone’s fingerprint sensor is not fool-proof!

Recent fingerprint technology on smartphones has taken convenience to the next level, with just one touch being able to unlock the device. With the same touch of a finger, you can buy a bag of groceries, a new fridge, or even a new car. However, the fingerprint revolution bears major security holes.

New York University and Michigan State University researchers propose that smartphones can easily be tricked by fake fingerprints that are digitally composed of many common features found in human fingerprints.

Image: Sample fingerprints that the researchers at NYU and Michigan State University compared against the MasterPrints. Solid black lines around a print indicate a match (New York Times).

From computer simulations, scientists developed artificial “MasterPrints” that resemble a close match to prints similar to 65 per cent of phone users.

So, it seems that our fingerprints are not so fool-proof after all.

Dissolvable batteries made out of silk

Biodegradable batteries have been developed to produce enough voltage to power temporary medical implants. These flexible batteries are made of gauzy silk films, and harmlessly dissolve away into the body after a specified number of days.

The image below shows a thin battery made of metal-coated silk electrodes (top left). The bottom right shows a silk-ionic liquid electrolyte completely dissolved in saline buffer solution after 45 days.

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Air-powered wheelchair to help every kid enjoy a day at the waterpark

Engineers at the University of Pittsburgh created a powered wheelchair that runs on compressed air. This allows those with limited mobility to safely participate in a day at the water park. Check out the below video to see how it works.


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Smart 5G Bandaids able to communicate with doctors

Researchers at the Institute of Life Science (ILS), Swansea University, have developed smart bandages that can detect how a patient’s wound is healing and communicate with the doctor this information over a 5G network. The bandaid can communicate any treatment needed and monitor patient activity levels.

Image courtesy of wonderfulengineering.com

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Forget buying an oven – cook dinner in your washing machine…

It’s time to forget the kitchen and instead head on down to the laundry for a good feed. Israeli design student Iftach Gazit has designed a new concept that combines cooking and laundry together in the same household machine. The energy-conserving concept allows for your food to be spinning in the washing machine, whilst doing laundry and cooking at the same time. Gazit created steam-bag meals that you can drop in your laundry – whether it is pre-packaged foods, steak, or fresh salmon. These waterproof bags are also an idea for the homeless to be able to utilise free cooking services at the Laundromat.

Image courtesy of wonderfulengineering.com

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Works cited

Thomas, Jennifer. “Engineering the Perfect Easter Egg”. 13 April 2017. University of Melbourne. https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/engineering-the-perfect-easter-egg 

Goel, Vindu.” Your phone’s fingerprint sensor can be fooled”. April 12, 2017. Financial Review. https://www.afr.com/technology/mobiles-and-tablets/your-phones-fingerprint-sensor-can-be-fooled-20170412-gvj8nb#ixzz4e71dGGNj
Patel, Prachi. “Dissolvable batteries made of silk”. April 12, 2017. Chemical and Engineering News. https://cen.acs.org/articles/95/web/2017/04/Dissolvable-batteries-made-silk.html

Liszewski, Andrew. “Every Kid Can Enjoy A Day At The Waterpark With This Air-Powered Wheelchair”. Gizmodo, AU. Apr 13, 2017. https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2017/04/every-kid-can-enjoy-a-day-at-the-waterpark-with-this-air-powered-wheelchair/  

Arif, Aayesha. “This Smart Bandage Will Communicate Your Wound Condition To The Doctor Using 5G”. 19 April 2017. Wonderful Engineering. https://wonderfulengineering.com/this-smart-bandage-will-communicate-your-wound-condition-to-the-doctor-using-5g/

Arif, Aayesha. “You Can Now Cook With Your Dinner In A Washing Machine With This New Invention”. 18 April 2017. Wonderful Engineering.  https://wonderfulengineering.com/can-now-cook-dinner-washing-machine-new-invention/





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