• A Remote Control For The Body

    Students at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) showed off an array of innovative media projects this week at their annual Spring show. But one project in particular caught my eye: an API that allows you to control another person’s arm over the internet.

    Will Canine, Carl Jamilkowski, and Andy Sigler, all graduate students at ITP, created an open API platform that bypasses the nervous system and triggers muscle movement in a person hooked up with muscles sensors. They did so by hacking an “off-the-shelf” neuro stimulator unit and splitting its output so that it could be controlled with any interface, such as a keyboard, joystick or LEAP sensor.

    In order to demonstrate their innovation for the show, the students fitted a fake skeleton’s arm with sensors that, when curled, also curled the arm of a person attached with electric muscle pads.

    “We’ve been really interested in non-autonomous body control, so other people controlling your body,” explained Canine, who allowed

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  • Is this Fake Chicken the New Chicken?

    Fake meat isn’t a new thing, but good fake meat that is almost indistinguishable from real meat could be very big in cleaning up your diet and helping the planet.

    Beyond Meat, a Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based food company that specializes in making “chicken” from plant-based protein, claims it is 80 percent of the way toward making real-tasting fake chicken. And you can find out for yourself as their products are now in Whole Foods markets and the Tropical Smoothie restaurants in New York City, where you can substitute its fake chicken for real chicken in burritos.

    “What we offer the market is the cleanest form of protein that money can buy,” says Ethan Brown, Beyond Meat’s founder and CEO. “You don’t have any concerns about antibiotics, avian flu, mad cow disease. You have no hormones or steroid use.”

    Brown noted that meat consumption has been linked to cancer and heart disease, and that it takes a toll on the environment, too.

    “If you look at climate, 51 percent of greenhouse gas

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  • Glowing Plants: Street Lights of the Future?

    Imagine you’re walking down a well-lighted street at night. Now imagine that there aren’t any street lamps alongside you. Instead, glowing trees illuminate your path.

    Crazy as that may sound, a team of three scientists in San Francisco are working on making glowing plants a reality through synthetic biology. By taking some genes from luminescent marine bacteria and engineering the bacteria’s DNA so that it’s compatible with a plant’s, the team believes it is possible to eventually make plants and trees of all sizes glow without using electricity.

    “The plant that we’re working on to make glow is called Arabidopsis,” explained Antony Evans, the team’s project manager. “It’s got the shortest genomes in the plant world. And it has a reasonably slow life span, so you can do experiments quickly.”

    Evans and his two colleagues, synthetic biologist Omri Amirav-Drory and scientist Kyle Taylor, haven’t made their plant glow just yet in their DIY lab, but they say they are close. Still, the team

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