Tag Archives: Feature

Making motorcycle clothing safer

Most motorcycle clothing is not as protective as you might think. But from next year it will be easier to identify the safest gloves and garments thanks to a rating system developed by Deakin University researchers.

Keen biker Dr Chris Hurren and his colleague Dr Liz de Rome, of the university’s Institute for Frontier Materials, tested fabrics used in biker clothing— such as denim and synthetic protective liners—to measure breathability and durability. More than 60 per cent performed poorly. Continue reading Making motorcycle clothing safer

A scarce Sarah: new blood group making transfusions safer

Further research into a rare blood type first recorded in Australia 20 years ago will continue to make transfusions and pregnancies safer for others.

“Now families with the SARA blood type can be tested for the gene and this will help safely manage future pregnancies,” says Associate Professor Catherine Hyland of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.

“This genetic testing has implications for others, particularly since similar problems can occur during transfusion or pregnancy for people with similar rare blood types.”

Blood types are more complex than simply combinations of ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ with A, B, O, or Rh—there are hundreds of different antigens (proteins and sugars on the surface of our cells) across the 36-plus blood groups.

In the 1990s, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service realised the antigens on a special donor named Sarah’s red blood cells weren’t like any previously recorded. But it wasn’t until 2010 that the unusual antigen was investigated again: the Canadian Blood Service reported that a pregnant woman’s immune system had begun attacking her foetus, which they suspected had inherited the same rare blood type recorded in Australia. Continue reading A scarce Sarah: new blood group making transfusions safer

Robotic arm to help stroke patients regain movement

A robotic arm is the key to a radical new stroke treatment, helping patients regain upper body movement.

Melbourne researchers have developed a device that helps stroke patients learn to use their bodies again by tracking their movements while performing exercises. The arm movements can be displayed on a computer screen, and the activities turned into a game.

“The patients enjoy using the robot because it’s like playing computer games,” says Associate Professors Denny Oetomo, who is working with Ying Tan, and a team at The University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital.

“It also improves the ratio of patients to clinician time as the clinicians can handle multiple patients at one time.” Continue reading Robotic arm to help stroke patients regain movement

The right juice for your heart

Beetroot juice and exercise are being investigated as a treatment for cardiovascular problems. And understanding the workings of the combination could lead to other, more sophisticated therapies.

That’s the hope of Professor Jason Allen and his PhD student Mary Woessner from the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL) at Victoria University in western Melbourne. Continue reading The right juice for your heart

Mobile games are for paws, too

It turns out that Aussie pets love playing mobile games and watching TV,  just as we do.

In a three-year study of mobile gaming and digital media in Australian households, researchers were surprised to find animals frequently joining in on the fun with technology.

“We have observed cats playing with iPads and keyboards, dogs watching television or participating in Skype calls,” says Distinguished Professor Larissa Hjorth, Director of the Enabling Capability Platform for Design and Creative Practice at RMIT.

She co-leads the research with Associate Professor Ingrid Richardson from Murdoch University. Continue reading Mobile games are for paws, too

Teaching search engines to know what you need

Information scientists are figuring out how to make search engines better at listening, so they can give us search results before we even ask.

Quizzing Siri or Alexa on the weather forecast or latest football results is common these days. But if we’re going to have fluent and intuitive conversations with future search engines, they will need to be built differently.

This challenge has captivated Professor Mark Sanderson, Director of the Enabling Capability Platform for Information and Systems (Engineering), and his team at RMIT University. Continue reading Teaching search engines to know what you need

Sharpening vision in bionic eyes

A PhD student at The University of Melbourne has discovered a technique that can improve the resolution of bionic eyes for people who suffer from retinal conditions such age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.

“Implants are really limited in how much resolution they can provide. I’m trying to improve that,” says Kerry Halupka, who works with the Bionics Institute. Continue reading Sharpening vision in bionic eyes

Improving carbon fibre production

Making higher quality carbon fibre will be easier thanks to infrared analysis being used at the Australian Synchrotron.

The tough fibre, which is 10 times stronger and five times lighter than steel, is made by heating a synthetic product called polyacrylonitrile (PAN) in temperatures up to 600°C.

Some aircraft, high performance cars and the new electric BMW i3 are partly made with it. But slow and costly manufacturing methods currently deter the mass use of carbon fibre in automotive and aeronautical industries.

Continue reading Improving carbon fibre production

The sweet side of sulphur: cheap mercury clean-up

A cheap and simple material, using sulphur from petroleum industry waste and plant oils from the food industry, is being tested to clean up mercury pollution from soil and water.

The rubbery material will undergo field tests in 2017 in Australian mining and sugarcane sites, the latter of which use fungicides that contain mercury.  The work is supported by funding from the National Environmental Science Programme’s emerging priorities funding.

“Our technology is about as simple as it can get: mix sulphur with plant oils and heat, then add the resulting material into the contaminated area,” says lead researcher Dr Justin Chalker, of Flinders University. Continue reading The sweet side of sulphur: cheap mercury clean-up