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Psychiatry’s Shocking New Tools

Electronic implants and electromagnetic pulses are picking up where psychoactive drugs have failed

19 min read
Illustration: Matt Mahurin
Illustration: Matt Mahurin

Imagine a crushing sadness so severe it keeps you from eating, sleeping, or socializing. Though you can’t sleep, you lack the energy and the will to get out of bed. Everyday decisions, like which clothes to wear, leave you paralyzed. You’ve no desire to do the things you once thought were fun; in fact, you can’t bring yourself to do much of anything. Now, add to all that the realization that you’ve tried everything known to medicine, it hasn’t worked, and there’s a good chance you won’t feel any different. Ever.

“I had nothing to lose,” says Karmen McGuffee, who suffered from severe depression for a decade and was hospitalized five times for it. So she had surgeons cut open her neck, gently wrap an electrode around one of the nerves there, and plug the electrode into a pulse generator, which they slipped under the skin of her chest. About every 5 minutes, the pocket-watch-size device sends a buzz of current through the nerve and into her brain.

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Rory Cooper’s Wheelchair Tech Makes the World More Accessible

He has introduced customized controls and builds wheelchairs for rough terrain

6 min read
portrait of a man in a navy blue polo with greenery in the background
Abigail Albright

For more than 25 years, Rory Cooper has been developing technology to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Cooper began his work after a spinal cord injury in 1980 left him paralyzed from the waist down. First he modified the back brace he was required to wear. He then turned to building a better wheelchair and came up with an electric-powered version that helped its user stand up. He eventually discovered biomedical engineering and was inspired to focus his career on developing assistive technology. His inventions have helped countless wheelchair users get around with more ease and comfort.

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Intel’s Take on the Next Wave of Moore’s Law

Ann B. Kelleher explains what's new 75 years after the transistor's invention

4 min read
image of a black and gold computer chip against a black background

Intel's Ponte Vecchio processor

Intel

The next wave of Moore’s Law will rely on a developing concept called system technology co-optimization, Ann B. Kelleher, general manager of technology development at Intel told IEEE Spectrum in an interview ahead of her plenary talk at the 2022 IEEE Electron Device Meeting.

“Moore’s Law is about increasing the integration of functions,” says Kelleher. “As we look forward into the next 10 to 20 years, there’s a pipeline full of innovation” that will continue the cadence of improved products every two years. That path includes the usual continued improvements in semiconductor processes and design, but system technology co-optimization (STCO) will make the biggest difference.

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Tools and Strategies for 3D EM Modeling and Design of Microwave Imaging Systems for Medical Applications

Learn how WiPL-D software suite can be efficiently used for biomedical applications

1 min read

Microwave Imaging (MWI) has attracted massive attention in the medical research field over the last decade due to its standout qualities of utilizing harmless non-ionizing radiation and affordable components. At present, conventional technologies (CT and MRI) which provide high-resolution images, still have several limitations such as their long examination time, non-portability, high cost, and also ionizing radiation.

MWI has several potential applications and one of the promising areas is malignant tissue detection as a contrast of permittivity with respect to healthy tissues inside the human body. In order to detect malignancy using MWI at different organs, particular imaging scenarios need to be considered.

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