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Your home's online gadgets could be hacked by ultrasound

New Scientist

This may have happened to you. You idly browse a pair of shoes online one morning, and for the rest of the week, those shoes follow you across the Internet, appearing in adverts across the websites you visit. But what if those ads could pop out of your browser and hound you across different devices? This is the power of ultrasound technology, says Vasilios Mavroudis at University College London – and it offers a whole new way in for hacking attacks and privacy invasions. He and his colleagues will spell out their concerns at next week's Black Hat cybersecurity conference in London.

Researchers use ultrasound to push helpful RNA inside cells


Scientists at MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital have been able to push strands of RNA (ribonucleic acid) into colon cells using bursts of ultrasound waves. The treatment, thanks to how RNA can reprogram the production of proteins, dramatically reduced levels of a protein that's found only in colon cells during inflammatory bowel diseases. It caused inflammation inside mice test subjects to almost disappear -- and without any side effects. Carl Schoellhammer, the study's lead author, said that the team "saw tremendous knockdown of those proteins." Parts of RNA, short-interfering RNA, can turn off specific genes.

Ultrasound can levitate large objects


Scientists have long dreamed of using acoustic levitation to float objects, but there has been one big catch: you couldn't lift an object larger than the wavelength without being picky about what you're lifting. However, it might not be a problem going forward. Researchers in Brazil and the UK have successfully levitated a polystyrene ball 3.6 times larger than the ultrasonic waves holding it up. The trick was to create a standing wave in the gap between the transducers and the object, instead of the usual pressure node between the transducer and a reflector. You can change the angle and number of transducers without messing with the effect, and it finally creates both horizontal and vertical lift -- you don't need physical support to prevent the object from drifting sideways.

Novel Ultrasound Sensor invented at UCL shortlisted for IET Innovation Award


Tom Robbins, final-year PhD student in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, has been shortlisted for an IET Innovation Award for his invention of a low-cost ultrasound sensor.

Why Fujifilm SonoSite is betting the future of ultrasound on artificial intelligence


Decades of technological advances have led to a revolution in ultrasound machines that has given rise to modern devices that weigh less than a pound and can display images on smartphones. But they still require an expert to make sense of the resulting images. "It's not as easy as it looks," said Richard Fabian, CEO of Fujifilm SonoSite, a pioneer of ultrasound technologies. "A slight movement of your hand means all the difference in the world." That's why SonoSite is focused on a future in which artificial intelligence helps healthcare workers to make sense of ultrasounds in real-time.