Atacama uses microfluidic technology to create moisture-control fabric that actually stays dry

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Imagine sportswear that not only stays dry through the most sweat-inducing workouts, but also turns perspiration into a design element. Named after the driest desert in the world, Atacama uses microfluidic technology to create textiles that can do just that. The recipient of a grant from the National Science Foundation, Atacama is also exploring how its technology can be applied in a diverse range of industries, including apparel, auto manufacturing, and healthcare.

The medical industry started using microfluidics in the 1980s for “lab-on-a-chip” devices that allow researchers to use very small samples of blood and other fluids. By figuring out how to integrate microfluidics into textiles, Atacama can create activewear that feels more comfortable because almost all of the fabric remains dry. While most moisture-wicking fabrics currently on the market draw sweat to the surface of clothing so it evaporates more quickly, microfluidics directs moisture into tiny three-dimensional channels and then controls the direction of the fluid so it collects or drips off textiles exactly where manufacturers wants it to.

Atacama’s tech was created by a group of UC Davis researchers including Siyuan (Alex) Xing, who is now the startup’s chief scientist. Xing tells TechCrunch that the biggest challenge they faced was that most microfabrication processes used to make microfluidic devices, including photolithography and laser cutting, were developed for rigid substrates such as silicon wafers and glass. This made it hard to create channels on fabric. Finally, they realized that “the solution needs to come from the fabric side.”

The team studied textile manufacturing methods and figured out which ones can be used to create microfluidic channels in a cost-effective way. They took a close look at embroidery, weaving, textile printing, and knitting, as well as the latest state-of-the-art machinery used for those techniques.

“For example, in knitting, people have been using jacquard knitting to create different patterns on the front and back of fabrics. The resolution of the pattern is actually as fine as one loop, which can be around 100 micrometers and is 3D,” Xing says. “In embroidery, the needle is manipulating a single strand of yarn through a fabric substrate, similar to a ‘through hole’ on a microfluidic chip. Once we understood how textile manufacturing methods could serve as an alternative to microfabrication, we became confident in our ability to create and pattern microstructures in textiles.”

After a paper Xing co-authored about his findings caught the attention of several manufacturers in the military, healthcare, and automotive sectors, a friend introduced him to Susan Neal, who had previously served in leadership roles at Men’s Wearhouse and Gymboree. He asked her to join Atacama’s board to help him talk to companies. Neal decided to take on Atacama’s CEO position after seeing Xing demonstrate its technology.

“It was at a board meeting where I saw the prototype, a shirt, that they had developed. Seeing it work and in action, it had that wow factor,” says Neal.

She adds, “He was able to directionally control moisture as it moves through the surface of fabric. First of all, I’d never seen that before. I run and do Bikram yoga and we’re all used to moisture-wicking fabric that just pulls sweat and spreads it. Alex demonstrated how he could directionally control moisture, move it from the skin to the outside of the shirt, and then have it drip off. The shirt remains absolutely dry, and it’s something you’ve just never seen.”

While Atacama’s tech has been applied mostly to synthetics like polyester and nylon, the company is also testing it on natural fibers like cotton and merino wool. Consumer products using the technology aren’t on the market yet, but Neal says Atacama is developing prototypes with several companies. Being able to manipulate how fluid travels over the surface of fabric in channels means Atacama’s technology can be incorporated into apparel design and shown off, a potential selling point for sportswear labels.

While its most obvious use is for workout gear and other apparel (in dress shirts, for instance, Atacama’s tech can prevent underarm stains), it also has a whole host of other potential applications. For example, it can be used in protective clothing or to create better diapers, bandages, casts, and hospital linen.

“We’ve been asked to look at car seats. What we’re finding is that there is a lot of interest in this technology to keep moisture and spilled drinks away from electronics in autonomous cars,” says Neal.

“Because the technology is so new, there has been some great dialogue with the scientists,” she adds. “They’ve been asked, ‘can it do this or that,’ and they go back into the lab to figure out more ideas where it can be useful.”

Featured Image: Henrik Sorensen/Getty Images

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Stephen Colbert thought things couldn’t get worse, then Trump tweeted about Mika Brzezinski

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When they go low, we go to Late Night television for help.

Stephen Colbert delivered a healthy dose of outrage Thursday in a piercing monologue that lambasted the President for his tweets earlier in the day. Trump had attempted to humiliate Morning Joe host Mika Brzezinski on Twitter for getting plastic surgery, and Colbert had plenty to say about it on the Late Show.

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Bitcoin’s ‘bubble’ is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before

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There are still some question marks about whether bitcoin is in a bubble. But the speed of its price growth is already nearly unmatched.

The cryptocurrency has surged 162% in very volatile trading this year amid continued demand. But as the chart below illustrates, bitcoin’s longer-term rally by as much as 1,000% was swifter than homebuilder stocks in the lead up to the housing crash. 

Jeffrey Kleintop, the chief global investment strategist at Charles Schwab, said that "the 10-year buildup is important to how embedded the bubble becomes and how much impact the bursting has on the economy and markets."

In other words, this is simply unprecedented. But arguably, a bitcoin crash probably won’t have the same ripple effect on the economy as some other assets would. 

Billionaire Marc Cuban is among those who have said bitcoin prices are in a bubble. "When everyone is bragging about how easy they are making $=bubble," he tweeted

Ethereum, another cryptocurrency, is up by more than 3,000% this year

 

SEE ALSO: Millennials are flocking towards some of the most speculative ways to invest

DON’T MISS: PRESENTING: The most important charts in the world from the brightest minds on Wall Street

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: An economist explains the key issues that Trump needs to address to boost the economy

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How to Improve Your Marketing ROI With Google AdWords [Infographic]

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Your marketing mix probably consists of a variety of channels: print, email, social, maybe even television and radio. With varying returns on investment across all those methods, a savvy marketer is always looking at which channels bring down costs and increase revenues.

Google AdWords can be a great way to achieve those ROI goals, and this infographic by digital marketing agency SMBclix explains the details.

With an average cost per thousand impressions (CPM) of $1.44, Google AdWords came in lower than other marketing channels, including social media ($2.50), newspaper ($16.00), and direct mail ($57.00), according to data cited in the infographic.

The top three paid ad spots get 41% of clicks on a Google search results page, the infographic says, and Google’s display campaigns reach 80% of global Internet users.

To see how Google AdWords might help your ROI, check out the infographic. Just tap or click to see a larger version.

Laura Forer is the manager of MarketingProfs: Made to Order, Original Content Services, which helps clients generate leads, drive site traffic, and build their brands through useful, well-designed content.

LinkedIn: Laura Forer

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The remote island where Tinder has a sneaky new use

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Tinder in a big city often feels like a bottomless pit of unfamiliar faces, making it prime swiping territory for singles. But what happens when the majority of profiles you see are familiar faces? 

In the Shetland Islands, which has a population of around 23,000, people who aren’t in the market for a date join Tinder just to be nosy and see what everyone else is doing. 

In the Shetland Islands — an archipelago 300 miles to the north of Scotland — swiping on Tinder feels much like scrolling through your Facebook feed. You’ll see familiar face upon familiar face, be they friends, family members, colleagues, ex-partners, and neighbours. 

Marjolein Robertson — who’s lived on her family’s croft in Shetland her whole life — says that Tinder is pretty popular on the islands, but she’s fairly certain no one’s using it right.

An aerial view of the Shetland islands, Scotland, United Kingdom.

An aerial view of the Shetland islands, Scotland, United Kingdom.

Image: Getty Images/DeAgostini

Many Shetlanders — even those in committed relationships — join Tinder just to be nosy and find out who’s looking for love. Much like your curtain-twitching neighbours snooping on you as you return home from a date. 

“Like most other Shetlanders, I got Tinder to see who else is on Tinder,” says Robertson. “I don’t think we’re using it right.” 

“They’re not there to swing, they’re there to see who else is there.”

She says that Tinder in Shetland “makes no sense” because you’re likely to know half the people — sometimes more — you swipe through. She says if you decide to swipe right on someone you know, it’ll be perceived as “pretty serious” from the get-go. “Because you probably already know them really well and are going to their sister’s wedding that weekend,” she adds. 

“Many folks in relationships, even married, are all on Tinder. I’m talking both halves of the couple,” says Robertson. “They’re not there to swing, they’re there to see who else is there. It’s just a lot of people hanging around looking at other people.”

Simon, a Shetlander on Tinder who prefers to just use his first name, also says that being on Tinder in Shetland doesn’t necessarily mean you’re looking for a date. “In London, if a friend says ‘I saw your BF on Tinder’ it means he’s cheating,” Simon said over a Tinder chat.

A view of the Shetland Islands, outlined in red.

A view of the Shetland Islands, outlined in red.

“But here, it can mean anything. It’s such a small community that cheating is harder. We all know each other, all recognise each other’s cars,” Simon adds. 

He said that it can be “kind of boring” in Shetland, so Tinder is a good way to see if there are any new additions to the community. 

“When people are new to the island, Tinder becomes one giant swipe party.”

“With so few people, Tinder is an amazing way to quickly find out who is new to the island.” In fact, Simon says that if he doesn’t know someone who’s popped up on his Tinder, then they must be new to the island. 

And, when people are new to the island, Tinder becomes one giant swipe party. “There was a brief period when there was a large construction going on in Shetland and there was an influx of about 2,000 workers on the plant. Maybe more. Tinder exploded. Many new men,” says Robertson. 

An Atlantic puffin in Hermaness National Nature Reserve, Unst, Shetland Islands.

An Atlantic puffin in Hermaness National Nature Reserve, Unst, Shetland Islands.

Adam, who’s only ever matched with seven people on Tinder, says that the community on Shetland can be nosy when it comes to other people’s affairs. He says they’re probably on Tinder “just to get something to talk about.”

Robertson says that dating online in Shetland is “weird” given that you already know everyone. But, broadening one’s search perimeters isn’t really an option, as travelling to Scotland is costly and time-consuming. “Madness. 28 hours return trip on a boat or £200+ pound on a flight. That’s immediately grounds for a proposal,” says Robertson. 

Matt Holmes, a friend of Robertson, met his girlfriend on Tinder three months ago. But, it wasn’t exactly easy. He says he knew most of the people on Tinder, either personally or through mutual friends. But, once he’d established that they weren’t interested in him romantically, it was strange seeing them around the island. 

The Shetland Islands are best known for Shetland Ponies, which originate from the archipelago.

The Shetland Islands are best known for Shetland Ponies, which originate from the archipelago.

He says that because of the close-knit community in Shetland, it would be impossible to use Tinder for casual sex. “I think with the way news travels around here then if you used Tinder for a few hookups people would start talking or something,” says Holmes.

Singletons frustrated with the limited pool of new faces should take heart: meeting a partner on Tinder DOES happen. (Rarely.) 

Shetland swipers are hitting up Tinder for sexy and non-sexy reasons. It’s prime territory for nosy neighbours to snoop on singles. But, much like a social network, Tinder is useful in signalling new additions to the community. When swiping right doesn’t lead to a hookup or date, it may bring a new friend instead. 

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New algorithm lets you make anything in origami

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They say if you fold 1,000 origami cranes out of individual sheets of paper your deepest wishes will be granted. I tried it once – I was a lonely college kid – and I ended up with pink eye. However, a new paper out of MIT describes a way to possibly make 1,000 origami cranes out of one piece of paper, a unique feat that is now a possibility thanks to a new origami algorithm.

Computer science has long struggled with computational origami. In 2008 Tomohiro Tachi first piece of software that can create folding patterns, usually out of long strips of paper. The new algorithm, however, uses a simpler, large sheet of paper and is more “watertight,” meaning it has more folds and fewer joints.

“The new algorithm is supposed to give you much better, more practical foldings,” said one of the researchers, Erik Demaine. “We don’t know how to quantify that mathematically, exactly, other than it seems to work much better in practice. But we do have one mathematical property that nicely distinguishes the two methods. The new method keeps the boundary of the original piece of paper on the boundary of the surface you’re trying to make. We call this watertightness.”

The algorithm, which will be added to the folding software to improve the system, means you can fold nearly anything – including the 1,000 simple cranes – with a big enough piece of paper.

“What was known before was either ‘cheating’ — winding the polyhedron with a thin strip — or not guaranteed to succeed,” said math professor Joseph O’Rourke. “Their new algorithm is guaranteed to produce a folding, and it is the opposite of cheating in that every facet of the polyhedron is covered by a ‘seamless’ facet of the paper, and the boundary of the paper maps to the boundary of the polyhedral manifold — their ‘watertight’ property. Finally, the extra structural ‘flash’ needed to achieve their folding can all be hidden on the inside and so is invisible.”

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This Electric Airplane Has a 600-Mile Range

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This Electric Airplane Has a 600-Mile Range

The “Alice” aircraft from Eviation is a nine-passenger electric-powered plane with a range of up to 600 miles on a single charge. Designed from the ground-up for efficiency & constructed with composites, Alice weighs roughly 300 times less than a normal plane of the same size. One main rear propeller and 2 smaller wingtip props drive the plane, and it’s powered by a 980 kWh Li-Ion battery.

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A Well-balanced Work Chair

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That trend of sitting on exercise balls at work sure seems to have fizzled. Perhaps it’s because it made offices look like jungle gyms! Now you can get the same core-building benefits in a more compact, handsome package thanks to Muista.

The design allows for interchangeable saddle and bench seating positions, balance exercise, muscle stimulation – important factors that can boost creativity and health at work. Composed of a single piece of bent plywood and topped with a cozy pad in customizable colors, it’s as sturdy as it is comfy. As an added bonus, an integrated soft rope connects the lower supports and is a perfect place to prop your feet and perfect your balance!

Designer: Aurimas Lazinskas & Saulius Sestavickas

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Xiaomi is bringing cinema tech to a living room projector

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When it comes to home theater setups, high-quality projectors have traditionally been the pricier way to enjoy your movies. Now, however, Chinese tech company Xiaomi is hoping to change that with its new cinema-quality Mi Laser Projector. Priced at a reasonable 9999RMb (around $1470), Xiaomi’s latest offering boasts a 150inch display and custom laser tech straight out of movie theaters.

The Mi Laser Projector utilizes ALPD 3.0 laser light source tech developed by Appotronics, the company behind the laser tech in 90 percent of China’s movie theaters. Yet, Xiaomi doesn’t end its cross-company projector collaboration there, as it also features its own custom digital light processing (or DLP) solution created by Texas Instruments.

In a bid to make the Mi Laser Projector a fully integrated home theater setup, Xiamoi has also included a built in a speaker system and integrated the interface from its recent TV streaming box – Mi TV.

While laser projectors aren’t new, Xiaomi’s proposition of bringing the same tech used in cinemas to the home at such a cheap price is definitely tantalizing. Lasers offer the benefit of increased energy efficiency, longer life, faster startup times, better brightness and a wider color gamut.

With its RRP undercutting a lot of the competition, if it can live up to its lofty promises, Xiaomi’s latest could certainly turn a few heads. Pre-orders for the Mi Laser Projector go live on July 4th at Xiaomi Mall, and on the company’s MIJIA app.

from Engadget http://engt.co/2toxIWS
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