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A KAIST Research Team Develops a Novel “Bone Bandage” Material for Cracked Bones
Bone regeneration is a complex process, and existing methods to aid regeneration including transplants and growth factor transmissions face limitations such as the high cost. But recently, a piezoelectric material that can promote the growth of bone tissue has been developed. A KAIST research team led by Professor Seungbum Hong from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE) announced on January 25 the development of a biomimetic scaffold that generates electrical signals upon the application of pressure by utilizing the unique osteogenic ability of hydroxyapatite (HAp). This research was conducted in collaboration with a team led by Professor Jangho Kim from the Department of Convergence Biosystems Engineering at Chonnam National University. HAp is a basic calcium phosphate material found in bones and teeth. This biocompatible mineral substance is also known to prevent tooth decay and is often used in toothpaste. Previous studies on piezoelectric scaffolds confirmed the effects of piezoelectricity on promoting bone regeneration and improving bone fusion in various polymer-based materials, but were limited in simulating the complex cellular environment required for optimal bone tissue regeneration. However, this research suggests a new method for utilizing the unique osteogenic abilities of HAp to develop a material that mimics the environment for bone tissue in a living body. < Figure 1. Design and characterization of piezoelectrically and topographically originated biomimetic scaffolds. (a) Schematic representation of the enhanced bone regeneration mechanism through electrical and topographical cues provided by HAp-incorporated P(VDF-TrFE) scaffolds. (b) Schematic diagram of the fabrication process. > The research team developed a manufacturing process that fuses HAp with a polymer film. The flexible and free-standing scaffold developed through this process demonstrated its remarkable potential for promoting bone regeneration through in-vitro and in-vivo experiments in rats. The team also identified the principles of bone regeneration that their scaffold is based on. Using atomic force microscopy (AFM), they analysed the electrical properties of the scaffold and evaluated the detailed surface properties related to cell shape and cell skeletal protein formation. They also investigated the effects of piezoelectricity and surface properties on the expression of growth factors. Professor Hong from KAIST’s DMSE said, “We have developed a HAp-based piezoelectric composite material that can act like a ‘bone bandage’ through its ability to accelerate bone regeneration.” He added, “This research not only suggests a new direction for designing biomaterials, but is also significant in having explored the effects of piezoelectricity and surface properties on bone regeneration.” This research, conducted by co-first authors Soyun Joo and Soyeon Kim from Professor Hong’s group, was published on ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces on January 4 under the title “Piezoelectrically and Topographically Engineered Scaffolds for Accelerating Bone Regeneration”. From Professor Kim’s group, Ph.D. candidate Yonghyun Gwon also participated as co-first author, and Professor Kim himself as a corresponding author. < Figure 2. Analysis of piezoelectric and surface properties of the biomimetic scaffolds using atomic force microscopy. (a) PFM amplitude and phase images of box-poled composite scaffolds. The white bar represents 2 μm. (b) 3D representations of composite scaffolds paired with typical 2D line sections. (c) In vivo bone regeneration micro-CT analysis, (d) schematic representation of filler-derived electrical origins in bone regeneration. > This research was supported by the KAIST Research and Development Team, the KUSTAR-KAIST Joint Research Center, the KAIST Global Singularity Project, and the government-funded Basic Research Project by the National Research Foundation of Korea.
KAIST Research Team Develops Sweat-Resistant Wearable Robot Sensor
New electromyography (EMG) sensor technology that allows the long-term stable control of wearable robots and is not affected by the wearer’s sweat and dead skin has gained attention recently. Wearable robots are devices used across a variety of rehabilitation treatments for the elderly and patients recovering from stroke or trauma. A joint research team led by Professor Jae-Woong Jung from the KAIST School of Electrical Engineering (EE) and Professor Jung Kim from the KAIST Department of Mechanical Engineering (ME) announced on January 23rd that they have successfully developed a stretchable and adhesive microneedle sensor that can electrically sense physiological signals at a high level without being affected by the state of the user’s skin. For wearable robots to recognize the intentions behind human movement for their use in rehabilitation treatment, they require a wearable electrophysiological sensor that gives precise EMG measurements. However, existing sensors often show deteriorating signal quality over time and are greatly affected by the user’s skin conditions. Furthermore, the sensor’s higher mechanical hardness causes noise since the contact surface is unable to keep up with the deformation of the skin. These shortcomings limit the reliable, long-term control of wearable robots. < Figure 1. Design and working concept of the Stretchable microNeedle Adhesive Patch (SNAP). (A) Schematic illustration showing the overall system configuration and application of SNAP. (B) Exploded view schematic diagram of a SNAP, consisting of stretchable serpentine interconnects, Au-coated Si microneedle, and ECA made of Ag flakes–silicone composite. (C) Optical images showing high mechanical compliance of SNAP. > However, the recently developed technology is expected to allow long-term and high-quality EMG measurements as it uses a stretchable and adhesive conducting substrate integrated with microneedle arrays that can easily penetrate the stratum corneum without causing discomfort. Through its excellent performance, the sensor is anticipated to be able to stably control wearable robots over a long period of time regardless of the wearer’s changing skin conditions and without the need for a preparation step that removes sweat and dead cells from the surface of their skin. The research team created a stretchable and adhesive microneedle sensor by integrating microneedles into a soft silicon polymer substrate. The hard microneedles penetrate through the stratum corneum, which has high electrical resistance. As a result, the sensor can effectively lower contact resistance with the skin and obtain high-quality electrophysiological signals regardless of contamination. At the same time, the soft and adhesive conducting substrate can adapt to the skin’s surface that stretches with the wearer’s movement, providing a comfortable fit and minimizing noise caused by movement. < Figure 2. Demonstration of the wireless Stretchable microNeedle Adhesive Patch (SNAP) system as an Human-machine interfaces (HMI) for closed-loop control of an exoskeleton robot. (A) Illustration depicting the system architecture and control strategy of an exoskeleton robot. (B) The hardware configuration of the pneumatic back support exoskeleton system. (C) Comparison of root mean square (RMS) of electromyography (EMG) with and without robotic assistance of pretreated skin and non-pretreated skin. > To verify the usability of the new patch, the research team conducted a motion assistance experiment using a wearable robot. They attached the microneedle patch on a user’s leg, where it could sense the electrical signals generated by the muscle. The sensor then sent the detected intention to a wearable robot, allowing the robot to help the wearer lift a heavy object more easily. Professor Jae-Woong Jung, who led the research, said, “The developed stretchable and adhesive microneedle sensor can stability detect EMG signals without being affected by the state of a user’s skin. Through this, we will be able to control wearable robots with higher precision and stability, which will help the rehabilitation of patients who use robots.” The results of this research, written by co-first authors Heesoo Kim and Juhyun Lee, who are both Ph.D. candidates in the KAIST School of EE, were published in Science Advances on January 17th under the title “Skin-preparation-free, stretchable microneedle adhesive patches for reliable electrophysiological sensing and exoskeleton robot control”. This research was supported by the Bio-signal Sensor Integrated Technology Development Project by the National Research Foundation of Korea, the Electronic Medicinal Technology Development Project, and the Step 4 BK21 Project.
KAIST develops an artificial muscle device that produces force 34 times its weight
- Professor IlKwon Oh’s research team in KAIST’s Department of Mechanical Engineering developed a soft fluidic switch using an ionic polymer artificial muscle that runs with ultra-low power to lift objects 34 times greater than its weight. - Its light weight and small size make it applicable to various industrial fields such as soft electronics, smart textiles, and biomedical devices by controlling fluid flow with high precision, even in narrow spaces. Soft robots, medical devices, and wearable devices have permeated our daily lives. KAIST researchers have developed a fluid switch using ionic polymer artificial muscles that operates at ultra-low power and produces a force 34 times greater than its weight. Fluid switches control fluid flow, causing the fluid to flow in a specific direction to invoke various movements. KAIST (President Kwang-Hyung Lee) announced on the 4th of January that a research team under Professor IlKwon Oh from the Department of Mechanical Engineering has developed a soft fluidic switch that operates at ultra-low voltage and can be used in narrow spaces. Artificial muscles imitate human muscles and provide flexible and natural movements compared to traditional motors, making them one of the basic elements used in soft robots, medical devices, and wearable devices. These artificial muscles create movements in response to external stimuli such as electricity, air pressure, and temperature changes, and in order to utilize artificial muscles, it is important to control these movements precisely. Switches based on existing motors were difficult to use within limited spaces due to their rigidity and large size. In order to address these issues, the research team developed an electro-ionic soft actuator that can control fluid flow while producing large amounts of force, even in a narrow pipe, and used it as a soft fluidic switch. < Figure 1. The separation of fluid droplets using a soft fluid switch at ultra-low voltage. > The ionic polymer artificial muscle developed by the research team is composed of metal electrodes and ionic polymers, and it generates force and movement in response to electricity. A polysulfonated covalent organic framework (pS-COF) made by combining organic molecules on the surface of the artificial muscle electrode was used to generate an impressive amount of force relative to its weight with ultra-low power (~0.01V). As a result, the artificial muscle, which was manufactured to be as thin as a hair with a thickness of 180 µm, produced a force more than 34 times greater than its light weight of 10 mg to initiate smooth movement. Through this, the research team was able to precisely control the direction of fluid flow with low power. < Figure 2. The synthesis and use of pS-COF as a common electrode-electrolyte host for electroactive soft fluid switches. A) The synthesis schematic of pS-COF. B) The schematic diagram of the operating principle of the electrochemical soft switch. C) The schematic diagram of using a pS-COF-based electrochemical soft switch to control fluid flow in dynamic operation. > Professor IlKwon Oh, who led this research, said, “The electrochemical soft fluidic switch that operate at ultra-low power can open up many possibilities in the fields of soft robots, soft electronics, and microfluidics based on fluid control.” He added, “From smart fibers to biomedical devices, this technology has the potential to be immediately put to use in a variety of industrial settings as it can be easily applied to ultra-small electronic systems in our daily lives.” The results of this study, in which Dr. Manmatha Mahato, a research professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at KAIST, participated as the first author, were published in the international academic journal Science Advances on December 13, 2023. (Paper title: Polysulfonated Covalent Organic Framework as Active Electrode Host for Mobile Cation Guests in Electrochemical Soft Actuator) This research was conducted with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea's Leader Scientist Support Project (Creative Research Group) and Future Convergence Pioneer Project. * Paper DOI: https://www.science.org/doi/abs/10.1126/sciadv.adk9752
KAIST Demonstrates AI and sustainable technologies at CES 2024
On January 2, KAIST announced it will be participating in the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2024, held between January 9 and 12. CES 2024 is one of the world’s largest tech conferences to take place in Las Vegas. Under the slogan “KAIST, the Global Value Creator” for its exhibition, KAIST has submitted technologies falling under one of following themes: “Expansion of Human Intelligence, Mobility, and Reality”, and “Pursuit of Human Security and Sustainable Development”. 24 startups and pre-startups whose technologies stand out in various fields including artificial intelligence (AI), mobility, virtual reality, healthcare and human security, and sustainable development, will welcome their visitors at an exclusive booth of 232 m2 prepared for KAIST at Eureka Park in Las Vegas. 12 businesses will participate in the first category, “Expansion of Human Intelligence, Mobility, and Reality”, including MicroPix, Panmnesia, DeepAuto, MGL, Reports, Narnia Labs, EL FACTORY, Korea Position Technology, AudAi, Planby Technologies, Movin, and Studio Lab. In the “Pursuit of Human Security and Sustainable Development” category, 12 businesses including Aldaver, ADNC, Solve, Iris, Blue Device, Barreleye, TR, A2US, Greeners, Iron Boys, Shard Partners and Kingbot, will be introduced. In particular, Aldaver is a startup that received the Korean Business Award 2023 as well as the presidential award at the Challenge K-Startup with its biomimetic material and printing technology. It has attracted 4.5 billion KRW of investment thus far. Narnia Labs, with its AI design solution for manufacturing, won the grand prize for K-tech Startups 2022, and has so far attracted 3.5 billion KRW of investments. Panmnesia is a startup that won the 2024 CES Innovation Award, recognized for their fab-less AI semiconductor technology. They attracted 16 billion KRW of investment through seed round alone. Meanwhile, student startups will also be presented during the exhibition. Studio Lab received a CES 2024 Best of Innovation Award in the AI category. The team developed the software Seller Canvas, which automatically generates a page for product details when a user uploads an image of a product. The central stage at the KAIST exhibition booth will be used to interview members of the participating startups between Jan 9 to 11, as well as a networking site for businesses and invited investors during KAIST NIGHT on the evening of 10th, between 5 and 7 PM. Director Sung-Yool Choi of the KAIST Institute of Technology Value Creation said, “Through CES 2024, KAIST will overcome the limits of human intelligence, mobility, and space with the deep-tech based technologies developed by its startups, and will demonstrate its achievements for realizing its vision as a global value-creating university through the solutions for human security and sustainable development.”
A KAIST Research Team Develops High-Performance Stretchable Solar Cells
With the market for wearable electric devices growing rapidly, stretchable solar cells that can function under strain have received considerable attention as an energy source. To build such solar cells, it is necessary that their photoactive layer, which converts light into electricity, shows high electrical performance while possessing mechanical elasticity. However, satisfying both of these two requirements is challenging, making stretchable solar cells difficult to develop. On December 26, a KAIST research team from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE) led by Professor Bumjoon Kim announced the development of a new conductive polymer material that achieved both high electrical performance and elasticity while introducing the world’s highest-performing stretchable organic solar cell. Organic solar cells are devices whose photoactive layer, which is responsible for the conversion of light into electricity, is composed of organic materials. Compared to existing non-organic material-based solar cells, they are lighter and flexible, making them highly applicable for wearable electrical devices. Solar cells as an energy source are particularly important for building electrical devices, but high-efficiency solar cells often lack flexibility, and their application in wearable devices have therefore been limited to this point. The team led by Professor Kim conjugated a highly stretchable polymer to an electrically conductive polymer with excellent electrical properties through chemical bonding, and developed a new conductive polymer with both electrical conductivity and mechanical stretchability. This polymer meets the highest reported level of photovoltaic conversion efficiency (19%) using organic solar cells, while also showing 10 times the stretchability of existing devices. The team thereby built the world’s highest performing stretchable solar cell that can be stretched up to 40% during operation, and demonstrated its applicability for wearable devices. < Figure 1. Chemical structure of the newly developed conductive polymer and performance of stretchable organic solar cells using the material. > Professor Kim said, “Through this research, we not only developed the world’s best performing stretchable organic solar cell, but it is also significant that we developed a new polymer that can be applicable as a base material for various electronic devices that needs to be malleable and/or elastic.” < Figure 2. Photovoltaic efficiency and mechanical stretchability of newly developed polymers compared to existing polymers. > This research, conducted by KAIST researchers Jin-Woo Lee and Heung-Goo Lee as first co-authors in cooperation with teams led by Professor Taek-Soo Kim from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Professor Sheng Li from the Department of CBE, was published in Joule on December 1 (Paper Title: Rigid and Soft Block-Copolymerized Conjugated Polymers Enable High-Performance Intrinsically-Stretchable Organic Solar Cells). This research was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea.
2023 Global Entrepreneurship Summer School in Silicon Valley Successfully Concluded
< 2023 Silicon Valley Global Entrepreneurship Summer School Participants > The 2023 KAIST Global Entrepreneurship Summer School (GESS) was successfully held. Co-hosted by the Center for Global Strategies and Planning (GSP) (Director Man-Sung Yim) and the Startup KAIST (Director Hyeonmin Bae), the 2023 KAIST GESS was the second one of the summer programs, repeating the Silicon Valley global entrepreneurship bootcamp of 2022 (2022 GESC), based on industry-academia collaboration. This program was designed to provide students with the opportunity to visit Silicon Valley, the global hub of entrepreneurship, and personally experience the Silicon Valley culture while developing human networks that would serve as a foundation for their overseas startup development. A total of 20 participants were selected earlier this year, including potential KAISTian entrepreneurs and early-stage entrepreneurs from KAIST within one year of incorporation. In particular, a number of foreign students of various nationalities such as Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Honduras, Indonesia, Philippines, and Kazakhstan, increased significantly, demonstrating the enthusiasm for entrepreneurship across national boundaries along with the program's growing international status. This year's event was also open to 20 Impact MBA and Social Entrepreneur (SE) students from KAIST's College of Business for the Silicon Valley program. For the past two months, the participants have trained on business model development and pitching at KAIST's main campus in Daejeon. From June 21st to the 30th, they visited the campuses of leading universities, such as, Stanford University, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Berkeley, as well as KOTRA Silicon Valley Trade Center (Manager Hyoung il Kim), and local alumni companies and Apple company to experience the global technology startups. The start-ups by KAIST alums including B Garage (CEO Aiden Kim), ImpriMed (CEO Sungwon Lim), Medic Life Sciences (CEO Kyuho Han), and VESSL AI (CEO Jaeman Ahn) participated in the program and gave lectures and company tours to inspire the participants to have passion to take on the entrepreneurial endeavors and challenges. On the last day, the participants gave presentations on their team’s business items in front of local venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. After receiving continuous coaching from Silicon Valley's professional accelerators through remote video conferencing and face-to-face mentoring for the last two months, the participants developed their business models and presented their creative and innovative ideas, revealing their potential as future global entrepreneurs. At the final competition, Team Sparky that developed “Snoove” won the first prize. Snoove is a scientifically-proven mattress accessory that applies mild vibration to the mattress to aid users in achieving better sleep, a method previously used to soothe infants. < GESS Pitching Day Presentation > Kevin Choi from the Team Sparky said, "Seeing and experiencing the realities of entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley, a global startup scene, made me think about the importance of unlearning, challenging, and failing to be a global entrepreneur who contributes to our society." Man-Sung Yim, the Associate Vice President of the International Office, who organized the event added, "Through this experience, we expect KAIST students to grow to become global leaders who would create global values and enhance the international reputation of our university." Meanwhile, the GSP and Startup KAIST commented that they will to continue to develop the KAIST GESS program to foster prospective entrepreneurs who can compete in the global market based on the success of this program.
Prof. Austin Givens of KAIST Language Center receives Ministerial Commendation
< Professor Austin Givens posing with the Letter of Commendation by the Miniser Hwang-Keun Chung of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs at the Language Center > Professor Austin Givens of our Language Center received a Ministerial Commendation from the Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs dated December 21st, 2022 for his contribution for the development of the Korean Foodservices Industry through his active and prominent media presence. Professor Austin Givens has been working with the KAIST Language Center since 2017, and has shown his passion for Korean food through his YouTube channel "Austin! Eating What is Given", introducing not only the food but also the culture of Korea and KAIST to his international viewers through the videos he shares of his candid reviews of the food and restaurants around town on the popular video streaming platform. < Thumbnail introductions of Professor Givens' videos on his YouTube channel, "Austin! Eating What is Given" > - KAIST Language Center
KAIST’s unmanned racing car to race in the Indy Autonomous Challenge @ CES 2023 as the only contender representing Asia
- Professor David Hyunchul Shim of the School of Electrical Engineering, is at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nevada with his students of the Unmanned Systems Research Group (USRG), participating in the Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) @ CES as the only Asian team in the race. Photo 1. Nine teams that competed at the first Indy Autonomous Challenge on October 23, 2021. (KAIST team is the right most team in the front row) - The EE USRG team won the slot to race in the IAC @ CES 2023 rightly as the semifinals entree of the IAC @ CES 2022’ held in January of last year - Through the partnership with Hyundai Motor Company, USRG received support to participate in the competition, and is to share the latest developments and trends of the technology with the company researchers - With upgrades from last year, USRG is to race with a high-speed Indy racing car capable of driving up to 300 km/h and the technology developed in the process is to be used in further advancement of the high-speed autonomous vehicle technology of the future. KAIST (President Kwang Hyung Lee) announced on the 5th that it will participate in the “Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) @ CES 2023”, an official event of the world's largest electronics and information technology exhibition held every year in Las Vegas, Nevada, of the United States from January 5th to 8th. Photo 2. KAIST Racing Team participating in the Indy Autonomous Challenge @ CES 2023 (Team Leader: Sungwon Na, Team Members: Seongwoo Moon, Hyunwoo Nam, Chanhoe Ryu, Jaeyoung Kang) “IAC @ CES 2023”, which is to be held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) on January 7, seeks to advance technology developed as the result of last year's competition to share the results of such advanced high-speed autonomous vehicle technology with the public. This competition is the 4th competition following the “Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC)” held for the first time in Indianapolis, USA on October 23, 2021. At the IAC @ CES 2022 following the first IAC competition, the Unmmaned Systems Research Group (USRG) team led by Professor David Hyunchul Shim advanced to the semifinals out of a total of nine teams and won a spot to participate in CES 2023. As a result, the USRG comes into the challenge as the only Asian team to compete with other teams comprised of students and researchers of American and European backgrounds where the culture of motorsports is more deep-rooted. For CES 2022, Professor David Hyunchul Shim’s research team was able to successfully develop a software that controlled the racing car to comply with the race flags and regulations while going up to 240 km/h all on its on. Photo 3. KAIST Team’s vehicle on Las Vegas Motor Speedway during the IAC @ CES 2022 In the IAC @ CES 2023, the official racing vehicle AV-23, is a converted version of IL-15, the official racing car for Indy 500, fully automated while maintaining the optimal design for high-speed racing, and was upgraded from the last year’s competition taking up the highest speed up to 300 km/h. This year’s competition, will develop on last year’s head-to-head autonomous racing and take the form of the single elimination tournament to have the cars overtake the others without any restrictions on the driving course, which would have the team that constantly drives at the fastest speed will win the competition. Photo 4. KAIST Team’s vehicle overtaking the Italian team, PoliMOVE’s vehicle during one of the race in the IAC @ CES 2022 Professor Shim's team further developed on the CES 2022 certified software to fine tune the external recognition mechanisms and is now focused on precise positioning and driving control technology that factors into maintaining stability even when driving at high speed. Professor Shim's research team won the Autonomous Driving Competition hosted by Hyundai Motor Company in 2021. Starting with this CES 2023 competition, they signed a partnership contract with Hyundai to receive financial support to participate in the CES competition and share the latest developments and trends of autonomous driving technology with Hyundai Motor's research team. During CES 2023, the research team will also participate in other events such as the exhibition by the KAIST racing team at the IAC’s official booth located in the West Hall. Professor David Hyunchul Shim said, “With these competitions being held overseas, there were many difficulties having to keep coming back, but the students took part in it diligently, for which I am deeply grateful. Thanks to their efforts, we were able to continue in this competition, which will be a way to verify the autonomous driving technology that we developed ourselves over the past 13 years, and I highly appreciate that.” “While high-speed autonomous driving technology is a technology that is not yet sought out in Korea, but it can be applied most effectively for long-distance travel in the Korea,” he went on to add. “It has huge advantages in that it does not require constructions for massive infrastructure that costs enormous amount of money such as high-speed rail or urban aviation and with our design, it is minimally affected by weather conditions.” he emphasized. On a different note, the IAC @ CES 2023 is co-hosted by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and Energy Systems Network (ESN), the organizers of CES. Last year’s IAC winner, Technische Universität München of Germany, and MIT-PITT-RW, a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Massachusetts), University of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania), Rochester Institute of Technology (New York), University of Waterloo (Canada), with and the University of Waterloo, along with TII EuroRacing - University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Italy), Technology Innovation Institute (United Arab Emirates), and five other teams are in the race for the win against KAIST. Photo 5. KAIST Team’s vehicle on the track during the IAC @ CES 2022 The Indy Autonomous Challenge is scheduled to hold its fifth competition at the Monza track in Italy in June 2023 and the sixth competition at CES 2024.
KAIST to showcase a pack of KAIST Start-ups at CES 2023
- KAIST is to run an Exclusive Booth at the Venetian Expo (Hall G) in Eureka Park, at CES 2023, to be held in Las Vegas from Thursday, January 5th through Sunday, the 8th. - Twelve businesses recently put together by KAIST faculty, alumni, and the start-ups given legal usage of KAIST technologies will be showcased. - Out of the participating start-ups, the products by Fluiz and Hills Robotics were selected as the “CES Innovation Award 2023 Honoree”, scoring top in their respective categories. On January 3, KAIST announced that there will be a KAIST booth at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2023, the most influential tech event in the world, to be held in Las Vegas from January 3 to 8. At this exclusive corner, KAIST will introduce the technologies of KAIST start-ups over the exhibition period. KAIST first started holding its exclusive booth in CES 2019 with five start-up businesses, following up at CES 2020 with 12 start-ups and at CES 2022 with 10 start-ups. At CES 2023, which would be KAIST’s fourth conference, KAIST will be accompanying 12 businesses including start-ups by the faculty members, alumni, and technology transfer companies that just began their businesses with technologies from their research findings that stands a head above others. To maximize the publicity opportunity, KAIST will support each company’s marketing strategies through cooperation with the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), and provide an opportunity for the school and each startup to create global identity and exhibit the excellence of their technologies at the convention. The following companies will be at the KAIST Booth in Eureka Park: The twelve startups mentioned above aim to achieve global technology commecialization in their respective fields of expertise spanning from eXtended Reality (XR) and gaming, to AI and robotics, vehicle and transport, mobile platform, smart city, autonomous driving, healthcare, internet of thing (IoT), through joint research and development, technology transfer and investment attraction from world’s leading institutions and enterprises. In particular, Fluiz and Hills Robotics won the CES Innovation Award as 2023 Honorees and is expected to attain greater achievements in the future. A staff member from the KAIST Institute of Technology Value Creation said, “The KAIST Showcase for CES 2023 has prepared a new pitching space for each of the companies for their own IR efforts, and we hope that KAIST startups will actively and effectively market their products and technologies while they are at the convention. We hope it will help them utilize their time here to establish their name in presence here which will eventually serve as a good foothold for them and their predecessors to further global commercialization goals.”
KAIST Offers Hope to Musicians with Dystonia
< Photo 1. Conductor and Pianist João Carlos Martins before the Recital at the Carnegie Hall preparing with his bionic gloves > KAIST’s neuroscientist and professor, Dr. Daesoo Kim attended the “Conference for Musicians with Dystonia” supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Carnegie Hall concert of legendary pianist João Carlos Martins, who is also a dystonia patient, to announce his team’s recent advancements toward finding a cure for dystonia. On November 19, 2022, a “miracle concert” was held in Carnegie Hall. João Carlos Martins was a renowned world-class pianist in the 70s and 80s, but he had to put an end to his musical career due to focal dystonia in his fingers. But in 2020, he began using a bionic glove developed by industrial designer Ubiratã Bizarro Costa and after years of hard work he was back in Carnegie Hall as an 82-year-old man. During the concert, he conducted the NOVUS NY orchestra in a performance of Bach, and later even played the piano himself. In particular, between his performances, he gave shout-outs to scientists studying dystonia including KAIST Professor Daesoo Kim, asking them to continue working towards curing rare diseases for musicians. < Photo 2. Professor Daesoo Kim with Conductor and Pianist João Carlos Martins > Musician’s dystonia affects 1-3% of musicians around the world and musicians make up approximately 5% of the total number of dystonia patients. Musicians who are no longer able to practice music due to the disease often experience stress and depression, which may even lead to suicide in extreme cases. Musicians are known to be particularly prone to such diseases due to excessive practice regimens, perfectionism, and even genetics. Currently, botulinum toxin (Botox) is used to suppress abnormal muscles, but muscle function suppression ultimately means that the musician is no longer able to play the instrument. João Carlos Martins himself underwent several Botox procedures and three brain surgeries, but saw no therapeutic results. This is why a new treatment was necessary. Professor Daesoo Kim’s research team at KAIST took note of the fact that abnormal muscle tension is caused by excessive stress, and developed NT-1, a treatment that blocks the development of the symptoms of dystonia from the brain, allowing patients to use their muscles as they normally would. The research team published their findings in Science Advances in 2021, and João Carlos Martins invited Professor Daesoo Kim to the UN conference and his concert after reading this paper. < Photo 3. Professor Daesoo Kim (3rd from the left) photographed with other guests at the recital including Dr. Dévora Kestel, the Director of the Mental Health and Substance Use at WHO, sharing the center with Conductor and Pianist João Carlos Martins > During the UN conference held the day prior to the Carnegie Hall concert, Dr. Dévora Kestel, Director of the Mental Health and Substance Use at WHO, said, “Although dystonia is not as well-known, it is a common disease around the world, and needs our society’s attention and the devotion of many researchers.” Professor Daesoo Kim said, “NT-1 is a drug that blocks the cause of dystonia in the brain, and will allow musicians to continue practicing music. We aim to attain clinical approval in Korea by 2024.” NT-1 is currently under development by NeuroTobe, a faculty-led start-up company at KAIST, headed by Professor Daesoo Kim as the CEO. The synthesis of the drug for clinical testing has been successfully completed, and it has shown excellent efficacy and safety through various rounds of animal testing. Unlike Botox, which takes a few days to show its therapeutic effects after receiving the procedure from a hospital, NT-1 shows its therapeutic effects within an hour after taking it. As a so-called “edible Botox”, it is expected to help treat various muscular diseases and ailments.
See-through exhibitions using smartphones: KAIST develops the AR magic lens, WonderScope
WonderScope shows what’s underneath the surface of an object through an augmented reality technology. < Photo 1. Demonstration at ACM SIGGRAPH > - A KAIST research team led by Professor Woohun Lee from the Department of Industrial Design and Professor Geehyuk Lee from the School of Computing have developed a smartphone “appcessory” called WonderScope that can easily add an augmented reality (AR) perspective to the surface of exhibits - The research won an Honorable Mention for Emerging Technologies Best in Show at ACM SIGGRAPH, one of the largest international conferences on computer graphics and interactions - The technology was improved and validated through real-life applications in three special exhibitions including one at the Geological Museum at the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM) held in 2020, and two at the National Science Museum each in 2021 and 2022 - The technology is expected to be used for public science exhibitions and museums as well as for interactive teaching materials to stimulate children’s curiosity A KAIST research team led by Professor Woohun Lee from the Department of Industrial Design and Professor Geehyuk Lee from the School of Computing developed a novel augmented reality (AR) device, WonderScope, which displays the insides of an object directly from its surface. By installing and connecting WonderScope to a mobile device through Bluetooth, users can see through exhibits as if looking through a magic lens. Many science museums nowadays have incorporated the use of AR apps for mobile devices. Such apps add digital information to the exhibition, providing a unique experience. However, visitors must watch the screen from a certain distance away from the exhibited items, often causing them to focus more on the digital contents rather than the exhibits themselves. In other words, the distance and distractions that exist between the exhibit and the mobile device may actually cause the visitors to feel detached from the exhibition. To solve this problem, museums needed a magic AR lens that could be used directly from the surface of the item. To accomplish this, smartphones must know exactly where on the surface of an object it is placed. Generally, this would require an additional recognition device either on the inside or on the surface of the item, or a special pattern printed on its surface. Realistically speaking, these are impractical solutions, as exhibits would either appear overly complex or face spatial restrictions. WonderScope, on the other hand, uses a much more practical method to identify the location of a smartphone on the surface of an exhibit. First, it reads a small RFID tag attached to the surface of an object, and calculates the location of the moving smartphone by adding its relative movements based on the readings from an optical displacement sensor and an acceleration sensor. The research team also took into consideration the height of the smartphone, and the characteristics of the surface profile in order to calculate the device’s position more accurately. By attaching or embedding RFID tags on exhibits, visitors can easily experience the effects of a magic AR lens through their smartphones. For its wider use, WonderScope must be able to locate itself from various types of exhibit surfaces. To this end, WoderScope uses readings from an optical displacement sensor and an acceleration sensor with complementary characteristics, allowing stable locating capacities on various textures including paper, stone, wood, plastic, acrylic, and glass, as well as surfaces with physical patterns or irregularities. As a result, WonderScope can identify its location from a distance as close as 4 centimeters from an object, also enabling simple three-dimensional interactions near the surface of the exhibits. The research team developed various case project templates and WonderScope support tools to allow the facile production of smartphone apps that use general-purpose virtual reality (VR) and the game engine Unity. WonderScope is also compatible with various types of devices that run on the Android operating system, including smartwatches, smartphones, and tablets, allowing it to be applied to exhibitions in many forms. < Photo 2. Human body model showing demonstration > < Photo 3. Demonstration of the underground mineral exploration game > < Photo 4. Demonstration of Apollo 11 moon exploration experience > The research team developed WonderScope with funding from the science and culture exhibition enhancement support project by the Ministry of Science and ICT. Between October 27, 2020 and February 28, 2021, WonderScope was used to observe underground volcanic activity and the insides of volcanic rocks at “There Once was a Volcano”, a special exhibition held at the Geological Museum in the Korea institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM). From September 28 to October 3, 2021, it was used to observe the surface of Jung-moon-kyung (a bronze mirror with fine linear design) at the special exhibition “A Bronze Mirror Shines on Science” at the National Science Museum. And from August 2 to October 3, 2022 it was applied to a moon landing simulation at “The Special Exhibition on Moon Exploration”, also at the National Science Museum. Through various field demonstrations over the years, the research team has improved the performance and usability of WonderScope. < Photo 5. Observation of surface corrosion of the main gate > The research team demonstrated WonderScope at the Emerging Technologies forum during ACM SIGGRAPH 2022, a computer graphics and interaction technology conference that was held in Vancouver, Canada between August 8 and 11 this year. At this conference, where the latest interactive technologies are introduced, the team won an Honorable Mention for Best in Show. The judges commented that “WonderScope will be a new technology that provides the audience with a unique joy of participation during their visits to exhibitions and museums.” < Photo 6. Cover of Digital Creativity > WonderScope is a cylindrical “appcessory” module, 5cm in diameter and 4.5cm in height. It is small enough to be easily attached to a smartphone and embedded on most exhibits. Professor Woohun Lee from the KAIST Department of Industrial Design, who supervised the research, said, “WonderScope can be applied to various applications including not only educational, but also industrial exhibitions, in many ways.” He added, “We also expect for it to be used as an interactive teaching tool that stimulates children’s curiosity.” Introductory video of WonderScope: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2MyAXRt7h4&t=7s
Phage resistant Escherichia coli strains developed to reduce fermentation failure
A genome engineering-based systematic strategy for developing phage resistant Escherichia coli strains has been successfully developed through the collaborative efforts of a team led by Professor Sang Yup Lee, Professor Shi Chen, and Professor Lianrong Wang. This study by Xuan Zou et al. was published in Nature Communications in August 2022 and featured in Nature Communications Editors’ Highlights. The collaboration by the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Wuhan University, the First Affiliated Hospital of Shenzhen University, and the KAIST Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering has made an important advance in the metabolic engineering and fermentation industry as it solves a big problem of phage infection causing fermentation failure. Systems metabolic engineering is a highly interdisciplinary field that has made the development of microbial cell factories to produce various bioproducts including chemicals, fuels, and materials possible in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way, mitigating the impact of worldwide resource depletion and climate change. Escherichia coli is one of the most important chassis microbial strains, given its wide applications in the bio-based production of a diverse range of chemicals and materials. With the development of tools and strategies for systems metabolic engineering using E. coli, a highly optimized and well-characterized cell factory will play a crucial role in converting cheap and readily available raw materials into products of great economic and industrial value. However, the consistent problem of phage contamination in fermentation imposes a devastating impact on host cells and threatens the productivity of bacterial bioprocesses in biotechnology facilities, which can lead to widespread fermentation failure and immeasurable economic loss. Host-controlled defense systems can be developed into effective genetic engineering solutions to address bacteriophage contamination in industrial-scale fermentation; however, most of the resistance mechanisms only narrowly restrict phages and their effect on phage contamination will be limited. There have been attempts to develop diverse abilities/systems for environmental adaptation or antiviral defense. The team’s collaborative efforts developed a new type II single-stranded DNA phosphorothioation (Ssp) defense system derived from E. coli 3234/A, which can be used in multiple industrial E. coli strains (e.g., E. coli K-12, B and W) to provide broad protection against various types of dsDNA coliphages. Furthermore, they developed a systematic genome engineering strategy involving the simultaneous genomic integration of the Ssp defense module and mutations in components that are essential to the phage life cycle. This strategy can be used to transform E. coli hosts that are highly susceptible to phage attack into strains with powerful restriction effects on the tested bacteriophages. This endows hosts with strong resistance against a wide spectrum of phage infections without affecting bacterial growth and normal physiological function. More importantly, the resulting engineered phage-resistant strains maintained the capabilities of producing the desired chemicals and recombinant proteins even under high levels of phage cocktail challenge, which provides crucial protection against phage attacks. This is a major step forward, as it provides a systematic solution for engineering phage-resistant bacterial strains, especially industrial bioproduction strains, to protect cells from a wide range of bacteriophages. Considering the functionality of this engineering strategy with diverse E. coli strains, the strategy reported in this study can be widely extended to other bacterial species and industrial applications, which will be of great interest to researchers in academia and industry alike. Fig. A schematic model of the systematic strategy for engineering phage-sensitive industrial E. coli strains into strains with broad antiphage activities. Through the simultaneous genomic integration of a DNA phosphorothioation-based Ssp defense module and mutations of components essential for the phage life cycle, the engineered E. coli strains show strong resistance against diverse phages tested and maintain the capabilities of producing example recombinant proteins, even under high levels of phage cocktail challenge.
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