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MM: Graphene Not-So-Silly Putty; Star Trek Inspired Medical Device

In this episode of Manufacturing Minute, a Star Trek inspired medical device and graphene putty that isn’t so silly.

Star Trek has inspired much of the technology we have today from our smartphones to iPads. Now two teams are racing to bring another Star Trek marvel—the medical tricorder. 

The Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE competition was launched in 2012 for competitors to develop a portable medical diagnostic device to give people unprecedented access to information about their health. The contest requires the device to diagnose and interpret 13 health conditions, monitor five vital health metrics and weight less than 5 lbs. for portability. 

Two teams, one from Dynamical Biomarkers Group and one from Final Frontier Medical Devices, have succeeded in creating such devices and will now advance to consumer testing. The final testing phase will consist of a clinical coordinator training consumers to use the devices, after which they will have a 90-minute session in which to generate a diagnosis using the devices. 

A total of 29 teams from nine countries competed in the competition, with 10 teams remaining by the end of 2014. The final testing will be carried out in early 2017, with the competition expected to be completed within the first quarter.


Will these devices this lead to better diagnostic technology? Tell us what you think by leaving your comments below. 

Graphene Not-So-Silly Putty

In one hand you have graphene — the world’s strongest material. Chemically stable and electrically conductive. In the other is Silly Putty — a stretchable, flexible, bouncy substance any elementary school kid is familiar with. 

Who knew that by combining the two, sensors — capable of unprecedented sensitivity — would be the result? That’s just what researchers at AMBER, an Irish materials research center, have discovered.

Just a small amount of graphene added to the silly putty (also known as polysilicone) makes the substance extremely sensitive to even the slightest deformation or impact. 

According to researchers, the putty is hundreds of times more sensitive than traditional sensors. When the G-Putty was placed on a person’s chest or neck, it was able to measure breathing, pulse and blood pressure which means it could be used as part of a wearable medical device.

The stuff is even sensitive enough to detect the footsteps of spiders crawling across the surface.

Researchers say the discovery could open major possibilities in sensor manufacturing worldwide.


In what ways can you see the G-Putty being utilized? Is this the future of wearable health technology? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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