Artificial Joints That Talk

Smart technology could reduce risks of hip and knee replacement surgery

4 min read

8 November 2007—Today’s artificial knees and hips let people walk, run, and go about their normal daily lives within months. But they are certainly not perfect. For one thing, they are not as durable as real joints—knee and hip implants typically last 10 to 15 years. And in about 2 percent of patients, the area gets infected and the implants are removed soon after they are put in.

There is no quick, effective way to find out whether an implant is infected or working well, says Thomas Webster, associate professor of engineering and orthopedic surgery at Brown University, in Providence, R.I. Bone-density scans and X-rays are not sensitive enough to pick up the first signs of success or failure.

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Are You Ready for Workplace Brain Scanning?

Extracting and using brain data will make workers happier and more productive, backers say

11 min read
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A photo collage showing a man wearing a eeg headset while looking at a computer screen.
Nadia Radic
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Get ready: Neurotechnology is coming to the workplace. Neural sensors are now reliable and affordable enough to support commercial pilot projects that extract productivity-enhancing data from workers’ brains. These projects aren’t confined to specialized workplaces; they’re also happening in offices, factories, farms, and airports. The companies and people behind these neurotech devices are certain that they will improve our lives. But there are serious questions about whether work should be organized around certain functions of the brain, rather than the person as a whole.

To be clear, the kind of neurotech that’s currently available is nowhere close to reading minds. Sensors detect electrical activity across different areas of the brain, and the patterns in that activity can be broadly correlated with different feelings or physiological responses, such as stress, focus, or a reaction to external stimuli. These data can be exploited to make workers more efficient—and, proponents of the technology say, to make them happier. Two of the most interesting innovators in this field are the Israel-based startup InnerEye, which aims to give workers superhuman abilities, and Emotiv, a Silicon Valley neurotech company that’s bringing a brain-tracking wearable to office workers, including those working remotely.

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