March/April 2020

Feature March/April 2020
Detecting Faces, Saving Lives
How facial recognition software is changing health care
Your phone scans your face to unlock its screen. A social media app offers suggestions of friends to tag in photos. Airline check-in systems verify who you are as you stare into a camera. These are just a few examples of how facial recognition technology (FRT) is now ubiquitous in everyday lives. The industries of law enforcement, Internet search engines, marketing, and security have long harnessed FRT, but the technology is becoming increasingly explored in the health care setting, where its potential benefit—and risks—are much greater... Read more
Feature March/April 2020
Updating Diagnoses for Speed and Accuracy: Using AI, Cameras, Assays, and More
When it comes to their health, people want answers right now. But clinicians cannot always make snap judgments about ailments or injuries. One way to help both general practitioners and patients is to introduce technologies that deliver quick and accurate diagnoses in a standard clinical setting... Read more
Feature March/April 2020
Restoring the Sense of Touch: From “Sci-Fi Dream” to Reality
A range of remarkable prostheses are now available to give function back to people who have had hands, arms, feet, or legs amputated, but for all their capabilities, these devices are missing a critical feature: a real sense of touch. Without it, a patient has no tactile sensory feedback on whether they have stepped off a curb or onto a misplaced child’s toy, or are gripping a Styrofoam coffee cup or a toddler’s hand too tightly or too loosely... Read more
Feature March/April 2020
The Unknown Human Health Legacy of Nuclear Weapons Testing
For nearly half a century, the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a fierce battle although no shots were actually fired. Starting in the 1940s, both started developing their arsenal of nuclear weapons, in preparation for an all-out nuclear war. The U.S. government primarily used a patch of land in Nye, NV, that was formerly a military base, to conduct their tests... Read more
Feature March/April 2020
How Precision Medicine Might Better Serve Downwinders
Despite the advances in developing nuclear weapons and other technologies, not much is known about the long-term effects of radiation on human health. In a world where nuclear energy could help curb carbon emissions, it almost seems paradoxical that its possible long-term risks and impacts to human health are still poorly understood... Read more
COVID-19 Crisis Response, March/April 2020
Quick-Thinking Turns Out Low-Cost Ventilators
As the number of coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID–19) cases in the United States began mounting in the early weeks of March, healthcare workers raised the alarm about a looming shortage of ventilators to treat patients. On March 30, Ford Motor... Read more
State of the Art March/April 2020
Consciousness in Animals
Are humans the only species with a sense of consciousness? This question has intrigued me for most of my life. Having kept pets and livestock animals, and observed wild animals from both near and far, I have often wondered just how much they know about their surroundings and their place in it. Do they know how to reason out answers to questions important to them? Are they aware of the consequences of their actions? Can they anticipate what other animals, including those of close kin and other, more remote species, are likely to do in certain situations? Can they see themselves inside their minds, if they do, indeed, have minds? Do they dream?... Read more
Retrospectroscope March/April 2020
Tuberculosis, Cholera, Anthrax: Dreadful Culprits
This article aims at describing the sagas painfully trodden by researchers to uncover the origins and possible therapeutical means to fight and prevent the fearful culprits mentioned in the title. Moreover, some side historical comments are also included, a few based on misconceptions and sheer ignorance of the past. Mention is made, too, of great epidemics that devastated humanity. Romantic fashionable ideas of those days are also recalled with a condescending smile... Read more
Book Reviews March/April 2020
Applied Human Factors in Medical Device Design, 1st ed.
If you aspire to be involved in the proper design, development, testing, documentation, sales, or manufacture of (improved) medical devices, this text offers a comprehensive overview of the many standards and methodologies involved in the process of applying human factors analysis in the medical device design process. To a large extent, its many chapters offer guidelines and examples of various aspects specific to recommended U.S. and European design documentation standards and requirements... Read more
Book Reviews March/April 2020
This text is an interesting and useful overview of the general field of biomechatronics, representing the contributions of the primary author and 27 coauthors to what appears to be a significant expansion of Dr. Popovic’s earlier textbook Biomechatronics and Robotics (CRC Press, 2013). It is one of the few textbooks available currently covering this entire field of endeavor... Read more