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Doctors: Apple Watch EKG Users Could Burden the Healthcare System

Posted: 08 Jan 2019 10:05 AM PST

The Apple Watch EKG could flag a potentially-dangerous heart condition. But it's more likely to waste everyone's time, doctors argue.

The Promise

Last year, Apple revealed that its Apple Watch Series 4 would come with a built-in heart rate monitor, known as an EKG or ECG. According to Apple, the device would be able to flag abnormal heart rhythms like atrial fibrillation in people without other heart diseases — but now doctors have started to question whether or not the device will actually do anyone good.

The watch does stand to help people who wouldn’t have otherwise learned about their heart problems. But the risk of false positives — healthy people whose heart rates still get flagged — could become a burden on the already-strained healthcare industry, The Verge reports.

The Complication

“The individuals that tend to purchase these Apple watches may be those who are already health conscious, tend to be fit, tend to probably be quite healthy,” Dr. Gregory Marcus, a cardiologist at University of California San Francisco, told The Verge. “Whereas the people that really probably have the most to benefit from atrial fibrillation screening tend to be the older individuals who may be less tech-savvy, those who aren't as concerned about their health.”

Ultimately, doctors who spoke to The Verge shared concerns that there isn’t enough evidence to justify this new technology against the risks of false positives that would cause Apple’s core healthy and wealthy demographic to take up the time and resources of doctors and hospitals that don't have much to spare.

The Verdict

“There’s no evidence there that the benefits outweigh the harms, so therefore, we recommend against using ECG screening for people at low risk for cardiovascular disease,” Dr. C. Seth Landefeld, chair of the department of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and member of the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, told The Verge.

For people who do have other heart conditions or symptoms, the Apple Watch’s EKG could serve as a good tool for detecting when something has gone wrong and a doctor’s visit is necessary. Without those other symptoms, Dr. Marcus suggests ignoring the wearable EKG altogether.

These are early days for wearable EKGs, and the doctors’ recommendations could change as time goes on and we learn more — especially if the Apple Watch has a surge of popularity among the elderly or those with heart conditions. But for now, most Apple Watch users can probably ignore the alerts and trust that they’re just fine.

READ MORE: Why doctors are worried about the Apple Watch EKG [The Verge]


The post Doctors: Apple Watch EKG Users Could Burden the Healthcare System appeared first on Futurism.

Ultra-Detailed New Image of Nearby Galaxy Shows Stars Being Born

Posted: 08 Jan 2019 09:33 AM PST

Scientists working at the Hubble Telescope just pieced together a massive survey of the Triangulum Galaxy. Now they may be able to watch new stars from.

Star Bright

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) just released a breathtaking new Hubble image of the Triangulum Galaxy, one of our galaxy’s nearest cosmic neighbors.

The full 665-million-pixel image, composed of 54 different photos, shows between 10 and 15 million of the galaxy’s 40 billion stars. Hubble scientists say that the extraordinarily detailed new image could help them learn more about how new stars form.

Baby Shower

Vast regions of the Triangulum Galaxy are full of gas and dust clouds which hold the raw materials for new stars. Past research by the Hubble team found that a new star the size of our sun is formed in these clouds roughly once every two years — a dizzying frequency on cosmic timescales.

The odds of watching a star form are stacked against scientists, but this new survey highlighting hotbeds of celestial activity give NASA and ESA researchers a much better shot at watching and understanding the process than ever before.

Growing Up

Stars live for a long time — often billions of years. Many of the stars we can observe are well into their lifespans, so having a readily-available way to watch and study celestial newborns is useful to astronomers and astrophysicists who want to fill the blanks.

It’s questions like these that inspired the recent Hubble survey of the Triangulum Galaxy. As scientists go through the data they collected, we may learn a lot more about how stars like our Sun came to be.

READ MORE: Hubble takes gigantic image of the Triangulum Galaxy [Hubble Telescope News]


The post Ultra-Detailed New Image of Nearby Galaxy Shows Stars Being Born appeared first on Futurism.

Here’s How Simple Tin Foil Can Protect Your Car From Being Stolen

Posted: 08 Jan 2019 09:24 AM PST

Keys wrapped in tin foil can help protect your car from a sophisticated hack attack.

High-tech hackers can amplify your key fobs signal, allowing them to steal your car without you even being near it. But there is one simple product you can use to protect your car.

The post Here’s How Simple Tin Foil Can Protect Your Car From Being Stolen appeared first on Futurism.

Impossible Burger 2.0: “I Couldn’t Tell It Wasn’t The Real Thing”

Posted: 08 Jan 2019 09:21 AM PST

California-based meat substitute company Impossible Foods plans to sell raw "meat" in grocery stores by the end of the year.

Perfecting a Substitute

Slightly pink on the inside, a lightly flame-charred exterior, and plenty of runny juices — the perfect hamburger is a marvel to behold. But does a cow have to suffer for you to enjoy one?

California-based plant-based meat substitute company Impossible Foods has a definitive answer to that: absolutely not. The company is inching closer to becoming indistinguishable from the real thing with its brand-new 2.0 burger revealed today at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

“I couldn’t tell it wasn’t the real thing,” wrote CNET‘s Dara Kerr, who tasted the new burger.

Raw Fake Meat

Impossible Foods’ technology is called “heme,” an iron-carrying molecule that the company claims is what gives meat its distinctive flavor. Its Impossible Burger is now on sale at over 5,000 restaurants, including chains like White Castle, just over two years after the company’s founding.

Alongside its new burger, Impossible Foods announced today it is planning to sell its plant-based meat substitute “meat” in grocery stores across the country by the end of 2019 — a big step for the burgeoning industry.

And Impossible isn’t the only player in the high tech meat substitute game. Other companies, like Beyond Meat, have also extended offerings to grocery stores, like Beyond’s plant-protein-isolates-based Beyond Meat burger.

For a Price

But as with most things in life, it all comes down to the price. According to CNET, the price of Impossible Food’s new 2.0 burger will “be about the same as USDA premium ground beef.”

Nonetheless, the better the options, the more likely it is that the trend will actually catch on. And that’s inherently a good thing: there’s plenty of evidence that the industrial meat industry is terrible for our planet.

READ MORE: Impossible Burger 2.0 tastes like beef. Really [CNET]

More on fake meat: McDonald's Exec: "We're Keeping Our Eye" on Meatless Burgers

The post Impossible Burger 2.0: “I Couldn’t Tell It Wasn’t The Real Thing” appeared first on Futurism.

Biotech Firm to Launch Pay-As-You-Go Gene Therapy

Posted: 08 Jan 2019 09:15 AM PST

Biotech company Bluebird Bio Inc. wants to sell its genetic replacement therapy for beta thalessemia over a five-year subscription model.

Subscription Service

The people with rare diseases best treated by gene-replacement therapy sometimes struggle to pay the millions of dollars these treatments can cost.

To help make things easier for people, biotech company Bluebird Bio Inc. wants to sell its genetic therapy through a five-year pay-as-you-go model within the next few years. Customers would pay annual installments instead of an unsurmountable lump sum, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The plan would also give people option to cancel if the gene replacement therapy didn’t work, signaling that biotech companies are aware of how expensive their treatments are and feel incentivized to help make them more accessible and accountable.

“We only get paid if we do what we said we'd do,” Bluebird executive Nick Leschly told the WSJ.

Donor Waitlist

Specifically, Bluebird plans to launch a gene-replacement therapy to treat a genetic condition called beta thalassemia, in which a faulty gene prevents a patient’s body from making enough hemoglobin to shuttle oxygen throughout their bloodstream.

Bluebird’s technology can replace the faulty gene through annual transfusions. The disease can also be cured through a bone marrow transplant, but the odds of finding a suitable donor are notoriously low.

In some small clinical trials, people who received Bluebird’s gene replacement therapy — which Leschly hinted could cost as much as $2.1 million total — no longer needed regular blood transfusions. As of yet, there are no long-term data on the treatment, The WSJ reports.

Red Tape

Bluebird hopes to begin offering its gene-replacement therapy in the European Union later this year, pending government approval, The WSJ reports. But in the U.S., things are a bit more complicated.

If all goes well, the government could approve the treatment as soon as 2020 in the U.S., according to the WSJ.

READ MORE: Biotech Proposes Paying for Pricey Drugs by Installment [The Wall Street Journal]

More on gene therapy costs: A New Gene Therapy Cure Just Treated Its First-Ever Patient

The post Biotech Firm to Launch Pay-As-You-Go Gene Therapy appeared first on Futurism.

Watch Video of Hyundai’s Walking Car Concept in Action

Posted: 08 Jan 2019 08:41 AM PST

At CES 2019, automaker Hyundai unveiled a concept video and 1:8 scale version of Elevate, a walking car designed to navigate rough terrain.

Car for Ants

On Wednesday, Hyundai released a teaser image of Elevate, an electric vehicle with four robotic legs designed to allow the car to walk or climb over rough terrain.

The company promised to reveal a design concept and prototype of the walking car on Monday at CES 2019, and it delivered — albeit on a small scale.

Elevated Expectations

During a press conference at the annual electronics convention, Hyundai shared a video in which a CGI version of an Elevate climbs over rocks and rubble, looking all kinds of badass.

It also revealed a decidedly less badass 1:8 scale model of an Elevate — no doubt disappointing those hoping to see a full-scale version of the vehicle crawl across the stage.

Still, the video showcasing the tiny robotic car’s capabilities is impressive. The robot crawls along the floor on its four legs and even climbs (slowly) onto a platform — all while the body of the vehicle remains fairly level.

In Action

Hyundai might not have a drivable Elevate, but it certainly has plenty of ideas for how one might be useful.

As anticipated from the initial concept image, the company believes Elevate could be a boon in emergency situations.

“When a tsunami or earthquake hits, current rescue vehicles can only deliver first responders to the edge of the debris field. They have to go the rest of the way by foot,” John Suh, Hyundai vice president, said in a news release. “Elevate can drive to the scene and climb right over flood debris or crumbled concrete.”

Hyundai also believes Elevates could one day provide transportation services to people with mobility issues.

“This technology goes well beyond emergency situations,” Suh said. “People living with disabilities worldwide that don't have access to an ADA ramp could hail an autonomous Hyundai Elevate that could walk up to their front door, level itself, and allow their wheelchair to roll right in — the possibilities are limitless.”

READ MORE: Hyundai Walking Car Concept Is the Future of the First Responder Industry [Hyundai]

More on Elevate: Hyundai Debuts a Walking Car With Four Legs

The post Watch Video of Hyundai's Walking Car Concept in Action appeared first on Futurism.

Harley-Davidson’s Electric Motorcycle Will Go on Sale in August

Posted: 07 Jan 2019 02:12 PM PST

Harley-Davidson announced its long-awaited LiveWire electric motorcycle will go on sale in August for a cool $29,799.

Electric Makeover

Cars aren’t the only modes of transport getting an all-electric makeover.

Back in 2014, legendary motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson made headlines when it announced Project LiveWire — a concept all-electric motorcycle with a range of 60 miles. The catch: it wouldn’t come out until 2021.

But battery technology has advanced in leaps and bounds. Today, Harley-Davidson announced that its long-awaited LiveWire motorcycle will go on sale in August — two years ahead of schedule.

Image Credit: Harley-Davidson

No Clutch No Gear

We got our first look at the final designs back in November: a battery-powered bike that can go from zero to 60 mph in under 3.5 seconds. The Verge reported it will cover 110 “city miles” on a single charge — almost twice as much as 2016 estimates. Regenerative breaking could also extend that number.

Since the LiveWire is electric, there’s no clutch or gears, making it extremely easy for those who are looking to get into riding a motorcycle. But that also means no trademark Harley engine rumble. Luckily, the company’s engineers thought of that, too.

“The LiveWire model is designed to produce a new signature Harley-Davidson sound as it accelerates and gains speed,” reads an official press release. The new sound is more of a futuristic motor whine, not the deep rumble Harleys are usually known for.

Owners will also be able to check how much juice is left in the battery and the exact GPS location of their internet-connected Harley via a smartphone app.

Will it convince even the most grizzled and bearded motorcycle gang members? We’ll soon find out.

READ MORE: Harley-Davidson's first all-electric motorcycle is coming August 2019, will cost $29,799 [The Verge]

More on the LiveWire: Harley-Davidson is Making Its First Electric Motorcycle

The post Harley-Davidson’s Electric Motorcycle Will Go on Sale in August appeared first on Futurism.

New Nanotech Drives Healing by “Talking” to Wounds

Posted: 07 Jan 2019 01:21 PM PST

Researchers have created molecules called TrAPs that can promote wound healing by "talking" to the cells found near the site of the injury.

Time to Heal

Researchers from Imperial College London have created a new molecule that can “talk” to the cells in the area near injured tissues to encourage wound healing.

“This intelligent healing is useful during every phase of the healing process, has the potential to increase the body's chance to recover, and has far-reaching uses on many different types of wounds,” lead researcher Ben Almquist said in a news release.

Setting a TrAP

The Imperial team describes the wound-healing molecules, which it calls traction force-activated payloads (TrAPs), in a study published Monday in the journal Advanced Materials.

The first step to creating TrAPs was folding segments of DNA into aptamers, which are three-dimensional shapes that latch tightly to proteins. The researchers then added a “handle” to one end of the aptamer.

As cells navigated the area near a wound during lab testing, they would pull on this handle, causing the aptamer to open and release proteins that encouraged wound healing. By changing the handle, the researchers found they could control which cells activated the TrAPs.

According to Almquist, “TrAPs provide a flexible method of actively communicating with wounds, as well as key instructions when and where they are needed.”

To the Clinic

It can take a long time for research to move from the laboratory to the clinical trial stage, but the TrAPs team might be able to speed along the path. That’s because aptamers are already used for drug delivery, meaning they’re already considered safe for human use.

TrAPs are also fairly straightforward to create, meaning it wouldn’t be difficult to scale the technology to industrial levels. According to the researchers’ paper, doctors could then deliver the TrAPs via anything from collagen sponges to polyacrylamide gels. So if future testing goes well, the molecules could soon change how we heal a variety of wounds.

READ MORE: New Material Could 'Drive Wound Healing' Using the Body’s Inbuilt Healing System [Imperial College London]

More on aptamers: New Nanobots Kill Cancerous Tumors by Cutting off Their Blood Supply

The post New Nanotech Drives Healing by “Talking” to Wounds appeared first on Futurism.

New Drug Trial Could Halt Alzheimer’s Memory Loss

Posted: 07 Jan 2019 12:21 PM PST

A new clinical trial is recruiting patients to see if a drug that stops ALS-related neuron death can also help people with Alzheimer's Disease.

Treatment Plan

A new nationwide clinical trial is currently recruiting people with Alzheimer’s disease to see if a new drug can halt or slow down memory loss and other symptoms.

The trial, called “T2 Protect AD,” involves 48 weeks of treatment and monitoring. Subjects will receive either a placebo or a drug called troriluzole, which has been shown to slow down the rate at which brain cells die off, according to WGME — and if it’s successful, the trial could chart a new course for dementia treatment.

Branching Out

Riluzole, the active ingredient of troriluzole and other similar drugs, is a neuroprotectant — it alters chemical pathways in the brain to prevent the buildup of glutamate, a neurotransmitter that’s been implicated in the cellular dysfunction associated with neurodegenerative diseases. It’s been available as a treatment for amyotophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) since 1995, according to WGME. But a new version of the drug, developed by Biohaven Pharmaceuticals, just received FDA approval as a new treatment mechanism for ALS.

There’s good reason to suspect that troriluzole may benefit people with Alzheimer’s in a similar way to how it’s used to treat ALS, as the mechanisms of cellular breakdown by the two diseases share similarities.

Treatment Mechanism

While a great deal of Alzheimer’s research focuses on detection and prevention, T2 Protect AD may instead help doctors develop a new treatment — the findings of the study could give people a new way to manage and lessen their Alzheimer’s symptoms, even if they can’t be reversed.

“There are a lot of trials out there trying to prevent Alzheimer’s disease… and very few for those who have already established dementia,” principal investigator Judith Heidebrink told Detroit Free Press. “We need to really have therapies for folks already showing symptoms, as well as prevent the following generation from showing symptoms.”

READ MORE: New Alzheimer’s drug seeks to slow or stop memory loss [WGME]


The post New Drug Trial Could Halt Alzheimer’s Memory Loss appeared first on Futurism.

Wireless Charging Tech Lets Drones Stay Aloft Indefinitely

Posted: 07 Jan 2019 11:18 AM PST

Wireless tech company Global Energy Transmission (GET) has created a new drone charging system that can power the crafts while they are mid-flight.

Never Coming Down

The days of landing a drone to recharge it could be coming to an end.

On Sunday, entertainment vlogger David Fordham published an interview with William Kallman, co-founder of wireless tech company Global Energy Transmission (GET). In the video, recorded from the floor of the 2019 Consumer Electronics Showcase, Kallman describes how his company has found a way to use an electromagnetic field to keep drones in the air indefinitely — and the potential impact of the tech is hard to overstate.

Power Cloud

According to Kallman, GET has found a way to create a “power cloud” that can charge a drone while it’s in flight.

The system comprises a ground-based power station with a frame of wires positioned in a roughly circular shape. When turned on, this creates an electromagnetic field in the air near the station. A drone equipped with a special antennae charges by flying into the range of the power cloud.

Eight minutes of charge time translates to 30 minutes of flight. One of GET’s power stations and two customized drones, each capable of carrying 7 kilograms (15.4 pounds), currently costs $120,000.

For Better or Worse

It’s hard to overstate the potential for drones to change our world, but for seemingly every positive use for the machines (package delivery, search and rescue operations), there’s a negative one to consider (military weaponry, citizen surveillance).

So, sure, a drone that never needs to land would be amazingly beneficial for moviemaking and sports coverage — two uses Kallman notes in the interview — but it’s hard to imagine military or government officials wouldn’t be highly interested in GET’s drone charging tech as well.

READ MORE: In-Flight Charging Gives Drones Unlimited Autonomous Range [New Atlas]

More on drone charging: Shoot This Military Drone With a Laser, and It'll Stay in the Air Indefinitely

The post Wireless Charging Tech Lets Drones Stay Aloft Indefinitely appeared first on Futurism.

The Chinese Moon Rover Could Be Scouting for Interplanetary Fuel

Posted: 07 Jan 2019 11:01 AM PST

The Chinese moon rover could be scoping out whether the Moon could be a source for helium-3, a fuel that could make it a gateway to interplanetary missions.

Interplanetary Fuel

Futurism has been closely following the progress of Chang’e-4, the Chinese Moon lander that touched down on the far side of the Moon last week and released a rover called Yutu 2.

As the first soft landing on the far side of the Moon in history, the mission was a coup for the Chinese space program. But new reporting by the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong newspaper, suggests that the Chinese government could have an ulterior motive: scoping out whether the Moon contains an isotope the nation could used to fuel interplanetary missions.

Moon Unit

The fuel in question is helium-3, the non-radioactive isotope featured in the 2009 Duncan Jones film “Moon.” Lunar regolith may be rich in helium-3, which could theoretically be a compelling source of fusion energy — or even power next-generation fusion rockets.

That’s all far in the future, but that doesn’t mean space pioneers in China don’t have their eyes on the prize.

“China thinks in decades,” Clive Neal, a lunar expert at the University of Notre Dame, told SCMP. “The U.S. thinks in presidential terms.”

The post The Chinese Moon Rover Could Be Scouting for Interplanetary Fuel appeared first on Futurism.