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Maths mat helps young pupils jump and learn

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CSIR researchers have developed a game that enables pupils to practise their multiplication tables and counting in a fun and interactive way. The Maths Mat system is designed for early primary school pupils, from Grade 1 to Grade 4.

The Maths Mat consists of a mat with colourful numbers that are designed to be jumped on by participants to enter the correct numbers for the desired multiplication table. The numbers on the mat are electronically connected to an external box that displays the number that was jumped on as well as whether the answer was correct or incorrect. Colourful, flashing lights make up an abacus that also displays the numbers in a different format to assist in the learning process.

In addition to the flashing lights and number displays, the Maths Mat also produces sounds to indicate whether the answer was correct (happy tune), or incorrect (sad tune). Once the pupil completes the whole multiplication table correctly, the Maths Mat plays a happy tune with flashing lights. The teacher is able to control the Maths Mat either through the mat itself (in configure mode), through the external box with displays, or through a small portable wireless device with a screen. Teachers can select the multiplication table to be carried out, and the pupil jumps from number to number to practise their multiplication tables. The Maths Mat gives feedback to the pupil each time by displaying the number that they jumped on and also letting them know whether their answer was correct or not through visual and audio feedback. “I think this will be a great way to encourage kids to learn maths,” remarked Elmarie Fourie, a headmaster at the New Horizon Private School near Groblersdal, Limpopo.

Background of the Maths mat
In keeping with the mandate of the CSIR, the mechatronics and micro manufacturing research group did not hesitate to act when Johan du Toit, a maths teacher at the New Horizon Private School approached them with this concept. He had the idea to develop a mat for children to learn maths in a fun way, and needed someone to develop this concept into a working system. The project started in August 2014 and has been successfully developed into a first functional system. The first version of the Maths Mat was shown to Du Toit and the headmaster of the school early this year, with a number of pupils from Grade 1 to Grade 3 experimenting with the Maths Mat. The system worked well and the teachers were impressed by the functionality and potential of the system. The pupils enjoyed the experience and quickly gained confidence in their abilities and coordination while carrying out their multiplication tables using the Maths Mat.

Future of the Maths Mat
CSIR project leader, Mariette Conning, says illiteracy and its costs to individuals and society have long been a focus of concern in South Africa. A corresponding illiteracy in mathematics – innumeracy – has received increasing attention in the last few decades. She says endeavours like these are a crucial part of an integral process of teaching and learning to close the innumeracy gap in the country.

The group of researchers has approached different schools about the Maths Mat and received positive feedback. “The interest in the Maths Mat by teachers at various schools has been substantial and we are confident that Maths Mat has the potential to be a great success and be high in demand in the public domain,” says Conning. The team is working on advancing the system and adding more functionality.

– Source News24

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry

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Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time. 

Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable. 

We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks. 

So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility? 

Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly. 

The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.  

Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.

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