SRI scientist explores how to tame and leverage the human immune system to prevent allergies and fight disease

Author: Mary Premenko-Lanier, SRI International

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Four years ago, as I paced the halls of a Peruvian hospital and anxiously awaited updates about my 13-year-old son’s food allergy-related health crisis, my immunology training kicked in. I mentally traced the steps of the out-of-control immune response that had brought him to this point, and what needed to happen to bring his body back to normal.

We were lucky. My son survived. But for so many frantic parents, this situation ends in tragedy.

I have long believed that in order to create something that will have a real impact, you have to be deeply passionate about it. My 2016 experience on the Amazon River was a catalyst for me. In addition to my background in immunology, I have the good fortune to run a lab at SRI International, a national research organization, where I typically focus on virology and vaccine research with projects ranging from influenza to herpes simplex virus. I am grateful to work for an organization that gives its researchers great latitude in pursuing discoveries that will have real impact for improving and even saving lives. …


A plastic that overtook Kevlar in the 1980s as the world’s strongest polymer

The 75 Years of Innovation series highlights the groundbreaking innovations spanning from SRI’s founding in 1946 to today. Each week, SRI will release an innovation, leading up to its 75th anniversary in November 2021.

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Strong stuff: How SRI International gave the world the strongest plastic

In chemistry classrooms worldwide, teachers demonstrate chemical reactions to make their lectures more engaging and exciting. One demonstration that never ceases to amaze students is the reaction that creates polymers. Two chemical solutions — adipoyl chloride and hexamethylenediamine — are combined in a beaker. A reaction occurs. The teacher inserts a glass rod into the mixture and pulls out a long string of plastic, specifically Nylon polymer. Nylon was first developed in the 1930s. Fifty years later, SRI International developed a new polymer that was given the name Zylon. …


The director of SRI International’s Robotics Laboratory has built a career filled with breakthroughs and world-firsts

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Thomas Low, director of SRI International’s world-renowned Robotics Laboratory, has been spearheading advancements in automation, machine learning and related fields for more than 35 years, but he still approaches his work with the energy and enthusiasm of an eager scientist just starting out.

Low doesn’t even think of it as work. For him, it’s a passion.

“This is what I do for fun,” Low says.

This passion that powers him has been essential to his long and successful career. He has been a driving force behind incredible advancements in robotics and holds 47 U.S. patents. …


How SRI opened the world’s eyes to the power of eye-tracking

The 75 Years of Innovation series highlights the groundbreaking innovations spanning from SRI’s founding in 1946 to today. Each week, SRI will release an innovation, leading up to its 75th anniversary in November 2021.

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If you stare deeply into someone’s eyes, you won’t see an unmoving object. Instead, the eyelid flickers, the pupil gets larger or smaller in response to light changes, and the eyeball moves as it focuses and tracks your gaze. Eyes are continually moving. These movements are both voluntary and involuntary and offer data that can be used in medicine, biometrics and even web design. Beginning in the 1960s and over the following two decades, SRI and NASA collaborated to develop an eye-movement tracking method that opened up many varied applications. …


Encryption technology allows organizations to safeguard their private information

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Collaboration is crucial during times of disaster. Maintaining privacy while collaborating, however, presents a challenge. SRI International is working to solve this problem through DARPA Brandeis PRIME (privacy-preserving information mediation for enterprises). In this project, SRI employs state-of-the-art encryption technology to enable organizations to use private information without sharing it. In this way, teams can effectively collaborate while preserving confidentiality.

Disaster relief — how to enable a team effort?

When disaster strikes, organizations often work together to provide relief. Coalitions are formed that may include local, regional and national governments, along with humanitarian aid organizations and other NGOs (non-government organizations). Emergency-response coordinators must deal with countless variables when distributing people, equipment and supplies. They need to consider such questions as: Which organizations have air transport? Are the local runways long enough for that type of plane? Which organizations can provide trucks and other transportation? Who has fuel for the trucks? Can the roads handle heavy trucks, or are smaller ones needed? …


A computer-based communications network accessed by either a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDDs) or standard computer terminals

The 75 Years of Innovation series highlights the groundbreaking innovations spanning from SRI’s founding in 1946 to today. Each week, SRI will release an innovation, leading up to its 75th anniversary in November 2021.

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The DEAFNET communication network for people with hearing loss

If anything can be said about humans, it is that we value communication. As technology has become a part of our lives, we have used it to communicate with family, friends and the broader world of business. From Morse code to the telephone to Zoom, communication is crucial to our well-being, health and wealth.

But imagine if one of the most important communication tools, the telephone, was useless to you? People with hearing loss have challenges with communication devices like the telephone, which were designed for those with full hearing capability. It is possible to read messages, however. Email, for example, has been a transformative force in communication and is now ubiquitous. …


Innovation, AI and dynamic startups take on this year’s challenges

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2020 posed never-seen-before challenges for the world. COVID-19 had an impact on companies, industries and innovation. These challenges highlight more than ever the need for new ideas and technical innovation. SRI spinout and technology startups rose to the challenge, continuing their long record of successful innovation in many fields, including bioscience, healthcare, education and more.

This year, we brought you closer to SRI’s innovations and the innovators that make them possible. …


How did pandemic isolation and pandemic-related changes affect individuals around the globe?

Author: Elisabet Rodriguez Alzueta, Postdoctoral Researcher
SRI Biosciences, Center for Health Sciences

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For nearly nine months, the physical toll of the COVID-19 pandemic has been tracked, analyzed and then communicated to millions of people around the world. In most countries, updates on infection, hospitalization and death rates have become a regular part of daily life.

But how has the pandemic impacted the mental health of people around the world? And what can be done about it?

Shortly after quarantines and confinements began in March 2020, I was speaking with several scientific colleagues and we all expressed a similar and growing concern: that the world was confronting not only a physical health emergency, but an unprecedented global mental health threat as well. Our worries were based not only on common sense and our own scientific learnings, but also on research conducted among individuals confined during preceding outbreaks, such as SARS and MERS. …


The wide aperture radar facility (WARF) was used for decades of over-the-horizon (OTH) research

The 75 Years of Innovation series highlights the groundbreaking innovations spanning from SRI’s founding in 1946 to today. Each week, SRI will release an innovation, leading up to its 75th anniversary in November 2021.

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Over the horizon radar: how to see the OTHR side

Imagine being able to see around corners or over the horizon. This would undoubtedly be a useful skill if only to preempt an embarrassing meeting with a person you want to avoid. In this story, however, the horizon isn’t the one we see with our eyes. Instead, this is about the radar horizon, the furthest distance from an emitter that radar can detect.

Stanford University laid the groundwork for developing radar that can see over the horizon with its wide aperture research facility. SRI took over this development from Stanford in the late 1960s and, over the decade following, transformed the use of radio waves to detect faraway objects. …


SRI spin-out Passio powers the tool, which offers patented scanning technology for real-time food recognition and nutrition intelligence

Originally published at https://blog.myfitnesspal.com on December 1, 2020.

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Phones have come a long way. They’ve come so far that actually talking on them isn’t why your phone is at your side 24/7. Could we ever go back to not having a camera at our fingertips? We don’t think so. That’s why, if someone tells you that you can log your food on MyFitnessPal just by hovering your phone camera over it, you should believe them.

Chances are, you use your smartphone to log meals on the MyFitnessPal app multiple times a day. In fact, our data shows users log more than 6,000 meals a minute! So, you probably log without thinking too much about it. Simply type in your food and select a match or tap your favorite foods and go on with your day — like it’s second nature. …

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