AI-driven trees and revolutionising fluorescent lights – IMPRESSO #39

In this IMPRESSO: AI-driven trees, revolutionising fluorescent lights, and how to get to “I know how you feel”.


AI-driven trees

While trees are mainly utilized as a building material, much of their value is found on a cellular level. So-called plant metabolites have therapeutic and mechanic properties which are applied in pharmaceutics, or for natural rubber and biofuel. To gain access to the metabolites, trees are usually cut down, shredded, and mixed with chemical solvents. Much material is unnecessarily destroyed in the process and the cut-down trees no longer act as a carbon sink. But now, there’s a solution on the horizon! Through microscopic AI, researchers at the Technical University of Denmark have developed a way to harvest on a cell level, leaving the plant itself alive and intact! The relevant chemicals are detected by AI, targeted, and extracted using a microrobot with a needle measuring 10 microns. Given the needed scalability of the technology, this method could become a novel method of biofuel or natural rubber production! Read here


Revolutionising fluorescent lights

Conventional computing devices use electricity to store data. But the property that makes fluorescent lights buzz could revolutionize this approach, by powering a new generation of devices that store data with magnetic fields instead. Magnetostriction, the functional basis of this approach, occurs when a material’s shape and magnetic field are linked. The previous reliance on pricey rare-earth elements for manufacturing has limited real-world application. A team of researchers lead by the University of Michigan and Intel’s MESO program, however, have found a way to use inexpensive iron and gallium to get the same results. Magnetoelectric chips stand out due to their energy efficiency as they do not need a steady stream of electricity like current chips do. While functioning magnetoelectrics is likely decades away, the team is already developing ways to reduce the size of the device! Bring on the fluorescent lights! Read more


How to get to “I know how you feel”

Healthcare workers perform better and make fewer mistakes when they are feeling empathy towards their patients. But effective means of eliciting empathetic behavior remain a challenge. A novel approach using VR as a pedagogical tool may prove to become a viable solution. The approach has been tested in an academic environment, but research in the field is scattered. To synthesize findings, a team from Dalhousie University has evaluated studies investigating both immersive VR environments, simulating the perspective of a care recipient, and non-immersive VR environments simulating the role of a care provider in a care setting. And…. the approach looks promising and may bring healthcare to the next level! Read more