Thursday, February 19, 2015

Multi Organ-on-a-chip

So-called organs-on-a-chip have become an important way to test the effects of chemicals or radiation on different kinds of cells. The military, in particular, has been interested to use them to study how poisonous agents like ricin, botulinum toxin, or anthrax attack different organs. Ideally, there would be a way to integrate individual subunits into a single body-on-a-chip where all the different elements could interact in a more realistic way.
Researchers in the field (and the various funding bodies that support them), got together last week at a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in DC to discuss how this might best be done. Several concepts have previously been fleshed out for devices thatmimic the biological particulars of everything from liver, gut, or lung, to more refined tissues like the brain. The key now is to integrate some of the other intangibles that make the body work as a whole — the more nebulously distributed organs like the vasculature, skeleton, or skin.

Donald Ingber, an FDA-supported researcher from Harvard’s Wyss Institute, has developed a “bone marrow on a chip” device. Bone marrow, among other things, is where blood cells get made. The effects of radiation, and many toxic chemicals, are most acutely absorbed there. These kinds of nasties often lead to the “liquid tumor” class of cancers — the leukemias and lymphomas where out of control cells proliferate and then circulate as single entities in the blood or lymph. Many viruses which go on to infect individual organs to various degrees, hang out in white blood cell reservoirs where they can continually gain infective passage to the entire body.

A recent article mentioned that the EPA is planning to announce a new $18 million war chest to combine livers on chips with other devices that simulate fetal membranes, mammary glands, and developing limbs. These regions have been shown to be particularly susceptible to environmental pollutants like dioxin and bisphenol A. Like many harmful chemicals, their metabolite products generated by the action of various enzymatic systems of the liver are often what does the real damage.

Sometimes the fastest way to find out what chemical, bacteria, virus could be causing your problem is not to try to positively ID the invader but rather to analyse their metabolic effects on the body. As it happens, different organs have come to exert their wills upon each other in many idiosyncratic ways. Gross physiologic observables like heart rate, blood pressure, and blood composition are in part controlled by rare peptides or hormones often made by just a single organ. In quirky yet predictable feats of evolution, via myriad migrations from salt water to fresh water and back, ultimately through mud to air, our lungs, kidneys and guts have had their mutual allegiances repurposed and honed for the benefit of the whole.

The plan for the integrated organ on a chip is to have working devices in researchers hands in five years. On the other diagnostic front, there are new gene or antigen array chips that can potentially sequence or otherwise capture any villian as fast as you can feel it. No doubt both approaches with by of value in keeping our military, and hopefully our civilians healthy.

Whole organs on a chip coming to diagnostic centers near you

New vanadium-flow battery

Imergy Power Systems announced a new, mega-sized version of their vanadium flow battery technology today. The EPS250 series will deliver up to 250kW of power with a 1MWh capacity. We’ve talked about a number of different battery chemistries and designs at ET, from nanobatteries to metal-air, to various lithium-ion approaches, but we’ve not said much about flow batteries — and since this new announcement is a major expansion for the company (their previous battery was a 30kW unit) it’s an opportunity to take a look at the underlying technology.

Feel the flow

A flow battery can be thought of as a type of rechargeable fuel cell. The electrolyte fuel, in this case, is kept in large external tanks that can be pumped through a reactor. One of the characteristics of a flow battery is that the energy storage can be decoupled from the energy output. The size of the reactor determines how much power can be released at once, while the size of the storage tanks determines how much total power can be stored.

This, in turn, makes it theoretically much easier to expand the size of a flow battery installation as compared to a lithium-ion battery. Doubling your battery life is theoretically as simple as doubling the size of the storage tank. Flow batteries can charge and discharge rapidly — refilling the tank with “charged” electrolyte can be as simple as opening a nozzle and pumping in the replacement fluid while the original electrolyte is recharged in a separate container.

There are different types of flow batteries and multiple compatible battery chemistries, but Imergy’s designs all use vanadium for both electroactive elements. The ability to fill both ‘sides’ of the equation is an unusual property of vanadium and it simplifies certain aspects of the reactor design. Vanadium flow batteries are extremely stable — leaving the battery in a discharged state causes no damage, and the battery has an estimated lifespan of 30-50 years and supports thousands to tens of thousands of discharge cycles — far more than lithium-ion can manage.

The disadvantage of flow batteries is that the total energy density of the solution is rather low energy density and the complexity of the storage and pumping mechanisms. Research into improving vanadium’s energy density is underway, a team at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has found a way to boost the energy density of vanadium batteries by up to 70% by switching to a different electrolyte formulation.
The long-term market

Much of the debate over the long-term usefulness of battery technology in the US centers around whether or not batteries can be combined with solar and wind power while still matching the cost of our existing natural gas, coal, and nuclear plants. What’s often ignored is that these equations look very different in other parts of the world, particularly in Africa or Indonesia where import costs are high, infrastructure limited (or nonexistent) and natural deposits of fossil fuels are low.

Africa also has enormous renewable energy potential — it receives huge amounts of solar power, its hydropower generating capability is largely untapped, and its geothermal and wave power are both abundant. The East African Rift in particular has high potential as a long-term geothermal power source.

Vanadium flow batteries could potentially augment renewable power in many areas across the continent, and Imergy is focusing its efforts on both the developing and the developed world. The company claims it can deliver power for a levelized cost as low as $300 per kWh, which would put it in competition with lithium-ion costs — including, possibly, in competition with Tesla as that company scales up its own industrial battery efforts.

New vanadium-flow battery delivers 250kW of liquid energy storage

Smart businesses know that social media is a power to be reckoned with: social media channels create a direct line of communication between your company and consumers and give anyone with an Internet connection instant access to the latest buzz around your products or services. Not to mention, they can help you to generate revenue, while building your brand presence.
Let that marinate for a second. This potential for a triple treat is no task to walk into empty handed or unprepared. Unless you want to turn your social media endeavors into a triple threat, you should develop a strategy, based on as much knowledge as possible about your audience and their behavior.
The 16 tools below will help you and your social media manager take on the complexity of the job.
Those who have Google Analytics installed on their website can use Visually’s Google Analytics Report: an app that creates a custom infographic of your website’s activity and performance. This free report tells your website’s story for the week loud and clear. It highlights where your wins came from, giving you that push to make next week even better! You can opt to have these reports delivered straight to your inbox every week.
Pricing: Free
This free, easy-to-use Twitter management tool allows you to oversee all aspects of your Twitter account(s) in one interface. TweetDeck gives each user the freedom to customize their display by showing or hiding various columns presenting everything from your home screen to search terms. Considering TweetDeck is specifically tailored for Twitter, it may not be the best tool for those looking to simultaneously manage various social networks in one place. Nevertheless, it gives great deal of control over the intricacies of your Twitter profile without the hassle of navigating across profiles.
Pricing: Free
Hootsuite takes it a step further and allows you to manage multiple social streams like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare and many more in one place. Working across multiple networks with a social team can be difficult, and Hootsuite makes it possible for you and your team to delegate between responses to fans and followers, eliminating the stress of coordinating responses and potentially overlooking valued fans. While Hootsuite remains one of the most used social media management tools, though, it lacks a basic function: the ability to have images appear as image previews in the Twitter feed as opposed to collapsed links. Still, Hootsuite is a top contender in the space.
Free – Up to 5 social profiles, up to 2 RSS
$8.99/month – Up to 100 social profiles, up to 9 team members, advanced message scheduling and more
Enterprise (custom pricing) – Unlimited
Like Hootsuite, Sprout Social is a social media dashboard that monitors and manages multiple social networks. It has a clean interface and user-friendly dashboard built around 6 tabs: Home, Messages, Feeds, Publishing, Discovery and Reports. Connecting your Facebook, Google+ (Pages only), LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts, Sprout Social suggests new people to follow or unfollow, and offers many ways to schedule updates in advance. Although Sprout Social still has much to improve on, like offering a wider range of social networks, it is paving the way towards fruitful social media managing.
$39 per user/month – Manage up to 10 profiles, real-time brand monitoring, comprehensive reporting tools, and more
$59 per user/month – Manage up to 20 profiles, Helpdesk and Google Analytics integration, deluxe reporting and more
$99 per user/month – Manage up to 50 profiles, ViralPost time optimization, custom interface, and more
If your main focus is Twitter and Facebook, then this is the tool for you. Crowdbooster helps streamline your social media activity so you pay attention to what matters. Aside from scheduling posts for both Twitter and Facebook, it allows you to easily keep track of new fans and followers by reminding you of followers you have not yet responded to and listing recently acquired influential followers. Although there seems to be a lag time between the syncing of Crowdbooster with Facebook and Twitter API data, it presents a dynamic tool that helps direct growth and engagement metrics.
$9/month – 1 Facebook page, 1 Twitter, 1 User and more
$49/month – 10 social media accounts, 8 users and more
$119/month – 30 social media accounts, 30 users and more
To complement your Twitter tools, in Visually’s app center you will also find Twitter Showdown, which compares any two Twitter accounts head-to-head. The app is meant to be a light-hearted, fun way to see who rules the Twittersphere, but it can actually produce some insightful information on different Twitter accounts in your industry, or when comparing yourself to your competitors. Twitter Showdown gives you insight on follower-to-following ratio, level of tweet engagement, mentions per tweet, tweet timing and, overall, how two accounts compare.
Pricing: Free
Although Facebook pages comes equipped with Insights and provides significant data on Likes, Reach, People Talking About This, etc., sorting through the data and making sense of it can be a hassle. One must keep in mind the algorithm Facebook uses to determine what posts even make an appearance in newsfeeds. Edgerank Checker helps admins understand how their followers interact with each post by assigning it an Edgerank score and makes recommendations to assist with future posts. With this tool, admins can even monitor each post in real time.
Free – EdgeRank score, EdgeRank score over time graph
$15 per page/month – Real-time analysis, post grades, recommendations, negative feedback analyzer
If you’re already using great Facebook tools and have an understanding of your data, it’s time to take it to the next level. Visually has a great tool for admins to up their social game by visualizing the last 30 days of theirFacebook Insights. Facebook Insights is impressive because your page’s performance literally materializes before your eyes. You can also download and print this report and share it with the rest of your team.
Pricing: Free
9. Buffer
Buffer is a simple and effective tool for sharing content through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. It’s particularly useful for small businesses that don’t have the time or resources to update their social media channels regularly, but would still like to maintain a social presence. With Buffer, you can schedule bulk posts ahead of time in a queue. It also offers a number of extensions through Chrome, Firefox and Safari that make sharing what you find on the web that much easier. On the downside, Buffer falls short when it comes to monitoring discussions.
Free service – allows for 2 profiles and 10 updates in the queue for each profile
$10/month – unlimited updates and up to 12 profiles
10. SocialBro
Specific to Twitter, SocialBro provides insights to your analytics, suggestions for targeting and engagement, and also helps keep tabs on your key influencers and competitors. It works best when coupled with a scheduling tool like Buffer or Hootsuite, because it is geared less towards publishing content and more towards offering reports for marketers. With SocialBro’s integration of both Buffer and Hootsuite, you can import the optimized schedule to sync with your queue and use the results to adjust your engagement.
Free 15-day trial
$13.95/month – Up to 20,000 social contacts across 5 Twitter accounts and more
$39/month – Up to 50,000 social contacts across 15 Twitter accounts and more
$149/month – Up to 200,000 social contacts across 40 Twitter accounts and more
Enterprise – On demand
11. Postling
Postling is perfect for businesses looking to expand their reach across social networks. Keeping track of responses, brands and people, this tool sends a daily digest of your recent activity across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, Yelp, YouTube and Flickr. One cool feature is tracking news every time your business or brand is mentioned on the web. With a click, you’ll be able to share that tweet or review.
$1 first 30 days – unlimited usage
$10/month after 30 days – manage up to 5 social media accounts/ additional accounts cost $3/month each
12. Tailwind
Previously known as Pinreach, Tailwind tracks activity across Pinterest about your company, products and competitors. Pinterest is often overlooked when discussing tools for social media management, but depending on your business, it might be the driving force in traffic, branding and revenue. In addition to the general reporting of growth and engagement, you can connect Google Analytics to track conversions and see which activity is most profitable.
Free – Limited profile and domain trends
$29/month – 90-day history archive, track 2 competitors, invite 2 collaborators, basic audience IQ and more
$99/month – 1-year history archive, track 5 competitors, invite 5 collaborators, advanced audience IQ and more
Enterprise (custom pricing) – Unlimited history archive, track unlimited competitors and more
Social Mention is a real-time social media search and analysis tool that scrapes user generated content across the internet for any given company, product, or search term. In a single stream, this tool will give you the most recent relevant results, metrics on unique authors, reach, frequency of mentions, sentiment and top keywords. This tool should be on every social media manager’s shortlist.
Pricing: Free
14. BuzzSumo
BuzzSumo is a tool that gives you social data on top performing content and influencers based on your search queries. By entering a topic, domain or specific keyword, your results will be nothing short of relevant. Filtering your search by time frame will show you the most shared content over time, which can give you insight to trends or help with generating ideas for your own content! With this tool, you can view who has shared a specific piece of content and create a list of influencers based on your interest. The pro plans allow you to closely monitor keywords, domains or authors by setting up alerts when new content is published. With great data readily available, this tool is one you’ll want to use frequently to stay on top of the latest buzz in your field.
$99/month – Ideal for small teams and content campaigns
$299/month – Designed for Agency teams to support multiple SEO and content marketing campaigns
$499+/month – Bespoke plans for brands and large agencies
15. Shoutlet
Shoutlet is enterprise-level social marketing software that aims to help companies understand their market, grow their social database and drive their business by creating a seamless platform that guides targeted campaigns through analytics. In addition to publishing and scheduling content, the streamlined community management platform makes it easy to create custom workflows to make sure the needs of all customers and fans are being addressed. The advance features in this social management tool are every marketer’s dream come true.
Pricing: Request a demo
16. Oktopost
Oktopost focuses on building your brand’s online presence by delivering your content to targeted audiences. It helps you establish and manage your most valuable content, making sure your efforts add value to your marketing strategy. Used by B2B businesses, Oktopost places emphasis on tracking conversions and identifying which channels and messaging drive results. With the recent shutdown of Argyle Social, many of its B2B clients have flocked to Oktopost. Underscoring their focus on B2B engagement, Oktopost integrates with Marketo, Salesforce, Act-On and others, directly linking social media actions to the impact on sales. One thing that places Oktopost above other tools is its ability to monitor LinkedIn Groups as well as company pages. As a whole package, Oktopost qualifies and quantifies better leads for you and your business.
$9/month – Getting started with social marketing
$49/month – All the basics for social media marketing
$119/month – A comprehensive tool for social media marketers
$249/month – The definitive tool for social businesses

16 Tools Every Social Media Manager Should Use

This updated protocol will use new techniques to make pages load faster.–PC Pitstop.

By Damien for MakeTechEasier

Almost everything you visit on the web at one point or another uses a special protocol known as the Hyptertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). Ever since the year 1999, you’ve been using HTTP version 1.1. This has been the ongoing standard for many years until Google made an announcement on February 10, 2015 that its browser will be adding full support of what is now known as HTTP/2. This sounds like utter gibberish to some, but that’s because there’s no description of what HTTP/2 does differently. To understand this, we need to explore exactly what this new protocol version does, and how it is similar to the version of HTTP we’ve been using for nearly two decades.

What Does HTTP/2 Achieve?

Whenever a new protocol version is developed, it needs actual concrete goals. The most obvious goal is backward compatible with its predecessor, HTTP 1.1. Without that ability, every server in the world will have to switch to HTTP/2 for you to be able to browse their websites.

While maintaining compatibility with the older version, this new protocol will make use of advanced techniques as measures against latency, making pages load faster. This is the primary goal, the problem that HTTP/2 plans to address most aggressively.

Other improvements include added security and compatibility with reverse proxies.

In the big scheme of things, HTTP/2 is not going to be that much different from HTTP 1.1. As you surf the internet, the strongest effect you will feel is that webpages will load significantly faster as long as they support the new version.

How HTTP 2.0 Will Speed Up the Internet

Rumors of Samsung launching their own mobile payments system have finally been confirmed. Well, for the most part. Instead of developing their own system, the South Korean company announced today that they’ve reached a deal to acquire contactless mobile payments company LoopPay. Competing with both Google Wallet and Apple Pay, LoopPay uses existing magnetic strip readers on pay terminals via Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) — not NFC.

This ensures that, even if a retailer hasn’t yet upgraded their terminals to accept NFC-based payments, you can almost always pay using your smartphone with just a tap. Samsung EVP of Global Innovation Center David Eun had this to say about the deal:

“We are excited to take our relationship with LoopPay to the next level, by bringing consumers a mobile wallet solution that is not just safe and reliable, but also widely accepted at more locations than any competing service.”

A specific dollar amount wasn’t disclosed, but you can expect LoopPay’s technology — which currently requires a bulky case or key fob — to come bundled inside the upcoming 

Samsung acquires LoopPay for contactless mobile payments without NFC

Hi-Tech Talk © 2015 - Designed by