Portable Tents For Homeless Are Just Cardboard

For street-dwellers, a single blanket or free meal often goes a long way. What often makes the greatest impact is an occasional resting place, be it in a shelter or elsewhere. Still, this remains unlikely for most, but do-gooder Xavier Van der Stappen is revising that statistic. With the help of local factories, Van der Stappen designed portable origami tents for the homeless in Brussels.

“There are homeless people everywhere. When I saw them, it made me remember refugee camps in Africa,” said Van der Stappen, the man behind the ORIG-AMI project.

“It is a shame that in the 21st century there are still people living in streets in a very rich country like Belgium.”

The cardboard creations (ORIG-AMI), easy to dismantle, combat a ban against canvas tents and city camping. They will also provide temporary shelter to those rejected by overbooked hostels. Despite their early success, Van der Stappen continues to vie for a long-term solution to homelessness.

“I‘m not the person who is trying to solve it. I just try to find a solution for today, not for tomorrow,” he said.

For those not quite anticipating a tomorrow, ORIG-AMI makes a good contender for an interim home.

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Artificial Muscles Can Lift Massive Amounts Of Weight

Current technology such as implantable batteries are opening doors for enhancing the human body. On the other end of the spectrum, engineers are working on artificial intelligences capable of honing skills humans aren’t. To practice building more human-like robots, scientists at Harvard and MIT created a soft muscle that can lift 1,000 times its own weight.

The simple objects are constructed out of metal or plastic “skeletons” that are covered in either a liquid or air, and then sealed in plastic or fabric “skins.” The muscle pulls taught when a vacuum is created inside the skin, and goes slack when the vacuum is released.

The invention, inspired by traditional Japanese origami, are highly durable and easy to make. In fact, developers claim it takes only 10 minutes and less than a dollar to produce a single muscle. The secret to their resilience lies in a simple concept: folding and pressure.

“Vacuum-based muscles have a lower risk of rupture, failure, and damage, and they don’t expand when they’re operating, so you can integrate them into closer-fitting robots on the human body,” [said] Daniel Vogt, a research engineer at the Wyss Institute.

Looks like muscular robots may be a lot less squishy that we pictured.

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Origami Organs: A Medical Breakthrough?

Organs are pretty versatile. We can 3D print them or grow them in labs, either way replicating functional body parts. Now, scientists have found a way to make them flexible enough to fold. In other words, origami organs exist.

“This new class of biomaterials has potential for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine as well as drug discovery and therapeutics,”

The team stumbled upon the idea for making organ-based paper after a lucky accident during their research on 3D-printed mice ovaries.

A chance spill of the hydrogel-based gelatin ink used to make the ovaries ended up pooling into a dry sheet in the bench lab, and from one strange innovation, another was born.

A mishap gone right, the bioactive “tissue paper” can potentially be used to heal wounds or supplement hormone production.

It’s a bit like papier-mâché… but what’s important is that the paper retains residual biochemicals from its protein-based origins, holding on to cellular properties from the specific organ it comes from.

As with all clinical experiments, origami organs need to undergo a lot of testing. However, a sterling sign of prospective success is the fact that the paper supports human stem cell growth. I guess paper cranes are now more than just an art form.

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