What is Biomedical Engineering?

For the few people who are equally interested in Biology and Engineering, what should they pursue their career in? Should they give up Biology and become an engineer, or give up Engineering and become a medical professional? Neither. Biomedical Engineering is the perfect combination of the two intriguing subjects.

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“Biomedical engineering – the application of engineering principles and design concepts to medicine and biology for healthcare purposes (e.g. diagnostic or therapeutic). This field seeks to close the gap between engineering and medicine, combining the design and problem solving skills of engineering with medical and biological sciences to advance health care treatment, including diagnosis, monitoring, and therapy.”

All technological discoveries in the field of biology fall under this subject. A few ingenious examples of bioengineering in the past include the x-ray, electroencephalogram (I made a project about the EEG), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The first application of biomedical engineering occurred in World War II. This is because there were constant technological developments, and scientists harvested this advanced technology into their medical devices. This new branch of science became famous because biomedical engineering provided more efficient medical treatment.

Biomedical Equipment Technology - BET Lab Photos 06-04

Although biomedical engineering sounds specific, there are many fields within this subject that are even interesting. Specifically, Bioinformatics, Biomechanics, Tissue Engineering, Genetic Engineering, Neural Engineering, and Pharmaceutical Engineering have had a huge explosion of growth over the past decade.

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Why am I even writing this? To get myself interested in pursuing a career. What better way to do research than to write about it?!

AAR Final Wrap-Up

Several months ago, I decided to take a class that would change my perception on technology and the human brain. If you did not already see my research proposal, then click here to read it first. After months of hard work and dedication, I finally finished my project. The ability to display brainwave data on a smartphone.

My Initial Plan.

aar8I first created a plan with my mentor Matt Yun. In the AAR program, every student is paired up with their own mentor in that specific field. Lucky for me, my mentor already had previous experience with brainwaves and EEG headsets.

My plan was to find a way to extract the data from the Emotiv headset. After doing so, I would devise a way to send the brainwave data to a server and receive that data on a smartphone. But for any high schooler, this was not an easy task to do with the amount of work given to students in school.

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I had an idea to go with my friend to a Treehacks, Stanford University’s official 36-hour hackathon. A hackathon, or an event in which a large number of people meet to make all sorts of creative projects out of code, would be the perfect place to work on this project. Unfortunately due to age restriction, we were not even allowed to attend.

After being kicked out of the hackathon, we got some Jamba Juice, ordered a pizza and started hacking in a Starbucks on the Stanford campus. What only felt like a few minutes, was a few hours. It was 10pm. Starbucks was closing and I still was finding a way to hack the Emotiv headset. I needed to come up with another plan.

Plan B.

After asking my mentor for some advice, I tried playing with the Emotiv headset a few weeks later. My main challenge was to find a way to decrypt the data being sent from the Emotiv. After a few days of playing with Python and bash scripts I finally was successful enough to see the raw stream of data being sent to the computer. I had just conquered my biggest challenge of all.

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Completing half of the project gave me the inspiration I needed to finish this project. I texted my friend to meet me at the library and we moved on to the next phase of the project. All I needed to do was find a simple way to send the data from the computer to an iOS device. I used ngrok, or a service that creates secure tunnels to localhost. Then an iOS app was created so that the user could open it and receive the information sent from the computer. After receiving the data on the iOS device, I parsed it into JSON using Alamofire. Lastly, I formatted the data into the app.

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The Final Steps.

After finishing the app, I did some more research to give the raw data some purpose. The few months of hard work was worth it. I had done it. I finished it. If you want to read my complete project, click here.

Logitech MX Master Review

A few months ago, Logitech added a new mouse to their MX series. The Logitech MX Master. This advanced mouse packs several new features that makes this one of the best mice on the market.

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The Feel.

Starting on the outside, this mouse looks amazing at first glance. The raised body feels nice to the hand and I haven’t felt uncomfortable yet. Coming from the Apple Magic Mouse, this mouse has been a game changer. Now it’s not as awkward to left or right click the mouse. This is a perfect mouse for working long hours on the computer and it helps prevent hand pain.

The Outside.

With the MX Master, Logitech added an awesome mosaic pattern on the gesture button. They also have a nice brass-looking finish on the edges of the mouse. Next to the gesture button is a 3-light battery indicator that shows the status of the rechargeable battery. Above the gesture button, are 2 buttons as well as a horizontal scrolling wheel. Using the Logitech Options Free software that they offer, it is possible to customize the buttons and scroll wheel to do different things. On top of the mouse, is a “speed-adaptive” scroll wheel that can shift from a ratchet scroll, to a hyper-fast scroll. Next to the scroll wheel are the left and right click buttons.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Back.

The back of the mouse is also packed it some awesome features. At the top, there is the on-and-off switch and the connect button. Below that, there is the “Darkfield Laser Sensor” that tracks on any surface including glass. And the last button on the back of the mouse is called the “easy-switch”. The button allows a user to pair the mouse with up to three devices and switch between each device with a press of this button.

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Features and Feedback.

logitech-mx-master-button-for-wheelThe first unique feature on the mouse is the speed-adaptive scroll wheel. The ratchet mode, which is when the wheel moves in a click-to-click scroll, is very useful for scrolling through a document in detail. The hyper-fast scroll, which is when a flick of the finger spins the scroll wheel freely until it loses momentum, is very useful for browsing through long documents or web pages.

Unlike most other mice, the MX Master also features a unique thumb wheel for side-scrolling. However my favorite feature of this mouse is the ability to program all of the buttons of the mouse. Logitech includes software for the Master MX that, in my opinion, goes well with the mouse.

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This allows the user to modify all buttons on the mouse including the adaptive scroll wheel and the thumb wheel on the side. Using the Logitech Options software, the buttons can be programmed to perform a variety of actions. And best of all, some of the programmable actions are native to the operating system.

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However, before buying this mouse there are some downsides. First of all, this is not a gaming mouse. It does not have the features of a gaming mouse. If you want a gaming mouse, then go for something like the G900 Chaos Spectrum also by Logitech. Another downside is the price. At $100, this is one of the most expensive mice out there.

Overall, I think that the Logitech MX Master is the best mouse from a productivity/work standpoint. It feels great in the hand and definetely helps with my workflow.

Research Proposal – Measuring Brainwaves and Monitoring Behavior

Hey everyone! I will be starting a new project for a my Advanced Authentic Research class in school. I am going to be sharing updates as I continue working on this project.

Research Question

How can an application that measures emitted brain waves give feedback based on a person’s behavior?

Background and Significance

Hans Berger
Hans Berger

Brain waves, or neural oscillations, were first observed by German psychiatrist Hans Berger in 1924. Brainwaves are vibrations emitted from the brain when neurons communicate with each other.

There are several types of brain waves, and each type of wave is used in different circumstances. When we are tired, slow, sleeping, or dreaming, we are emitting oscillations with low frequencies. When we are awake or alert, we emit oscillations with higher frequencies. According to Brainworks Neurotherapy, the different types of brain waves can be categorized according to their frequencies into four groups: delta (.5 to 3 Hz), theta (3 to 8 Hz), alpha (8 to 12 Hz), beta (12 to 38 Hz), and gamma waves (38 to 42 Hz).

Brain Wave Patterns
According to Brainwave College, these waves are very important because they represent the activity that is occurring in the brain. But the waves don’t only represent brain activity, they can also determine the brain’s behavior. Brain stimulation can alter the patterns of brain waves thus changing the state of mind. An alarm clock is an example of brain stimulation because it is changing delta waves into beta waves (an asleep to awake state). Medications or recreational drugs are the most common methods to alter brain function.

Developed by Hans Berger, Electroencephalography (EEG) is a human-made method to track brain activity without affecting the subject. By placing several electrodes nodes on the scalp of a person, the EEG is able to detect voltage fluctuations of the person’s brain. According to WebMD, this is commonly used by medical professionals to monitor the depth of anesthesia and diagnose epilepsy, catatonia, and seizures. This method of detecting brain waves is extremely uninvasive unlike Electrocorticography, which requires electrodes to be placed on the surface of the brain instead of the scalp.

The device that I will be using to measure brain waves is the Emotiv EPOC. According to Emotive EPOC Product Specifications, the device is a scientific contextual wireless EEG system that has 14 EEG channels and 2 references. Using this device, I will be able to receive brain wave data from the Emotiv which can then be parsed through the server.

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Emotiv EPOC headset

Research Methodology

The first step of the research will be to establish a way to attain access to the raw stream data from the Emotiv EPOC headset. For this task, I will be using “EmoKit”, which is an open source driver created by the OpenYou Organization.

Emotiv Wave Graph
Emotiv’s data visualization software.

Next, I will need to create a mechanism that can parse the data received from the Emotiv to the server. For this I will use Node.js, which is a Javascript Runtime for developing server-side web applications. With Node.js I will be able to receive data on any device, whether it is a browser on a computer, or an app on an iPhone.

After the Emotiv data is synchronized on another device, the data can then be used to construct a graph for the front-end user to visualize. To construct graphs, I will use a third-party library (not decided yet). Another feature that this project will incorporate is to be able to analyze the data and trends, so that the application give feedback based on the data. The app will also have an appealing user interface and experience for the website and iOS app. Finally, this project will be published on a website, uploaded to the App Store, and open-sourced.

Human Subjects

Humans subjects will be used in this project. With human trails, I can get the data of different individuals to test the application. I will be filling out the HASRC application form to ask for permission to use human subjects in my project.

Citations

“What Are Brainwaves?” Brainworks Neurotherapy, n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2015.

“Why Are Brainwaves Important?” Brainwave College, n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2015.

“Electroencephalogram (EEG) Test to Measure Brain Electrical Activity.” WebMD, n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2015.

Brain Computer Interface & Scientific Contextual Eeg. Emotiv EPOC (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

India Trip 2015: Day 4

Today I woke up and ate some cereal. After writing some blog posts, I got kind of bored of seeing buildings and roads, so I decided to go with my friend to a city named Lolavala. This natural city is between Pune and Mumbai. Basically the reason why this place is so green is because of the humidity and rain. As of right now, the humidity is 99%.

Wada Pav

The drive from Mumbai was around an hour and we stopped in the middle to eat some street food. The food was called “wada pav”, which is vegetarian fast food dish made from fried potato in a bread bun. It originated as cheap street food in Mumbai, but is now offered in restaurants throughout India. You can eat this food like a falafel, where you put the fried potato in the bread. This was super spicy (for me) and on top of that, they were offering chilis if it wasn’t spicy enough. The food was probably not very healthy, but it was some really good junk food.

Red Soil

After burning my tongue, we drove a little more and finally arrived at our destination. Oh and I forgot to mention, it was raining the whole way there. When we got out the car, we could see green nature all around us. The soil had a reddish color that developed in the warm, temperate, moist climate.

In front of us there was a lake and above us, gray clouds. This city was very different from the places that I have been previously in India because it was actually peaceful. No honking, no trash, no pollution, no poverty… The air was clean and it was a great place to relax for a few hours. Here are a few pictures that I took.

Lolavala Pictures

Take Back:   Today was a relaxing day more than a tourism day. Tomorrow will be a busy day because I am going to the city.

Lesson of the Day: Explore more food and cuisines.

India Trip 2015: Day 3

I am really sorry I have not been able to post these daily experiences. It turns out I have reached my data limit. I have been writing my experiences offline so everything will be back to normal by tomorrow. If you haven’t read Day 2, click here.

A picture of the lunch that I ate at my friend’s house.

The Experience: This time I depended on my alarm to wake me up… that’s a good sign meaning I am almost done with jet lag. After I woke up, I had a shower  and got ready for Day 3. I left around 11:00 to have lunch with my friend at his house. The food was very tasty and unique. I was eating out of a big plate called a “thali”, where there is roti and/or rice in the middle, and many small dishes on surrounding. The idea behind the thali is to eat the roti or rice with all of the different small dishes and offer all the 6 different flavors of sweet, salt, bitter, sour, astringent and spicy on one single plate.

A picture of the monsoon.

After lunch, we were going crazy with the heat. It was about 40ºC  (about 105ºF). The craziest thing was that it was raining super hard. The weather forecast has been saying that there were thunderstorms everyday, but I haven’t really seen a lot of rain. Luckily they were only giant passing showers. A few weeks before I came to India, there were monsoons and floods. Now you see why I was skeptical about coming to India?

A picture of a building after a few years.

Another thing that I have noticed while exploring India is that almost all buildings look dirty and old. And it isn’t really their fault. When it rains that much, there are obviously going to be side effects. If a new building is constructed, it will have a blackish color in a few years. That is why the buildings have to be painted so often.

There are big differences in the way parts of the city looks like. For example, in most of the suburban areas it is more dirty and unorganized. This is where auto-rickshaws are mostly operated. In the city, it is much more organized. There are lanes, more rules, and tolls. This is where you will only see cars, buses, and motorcycles (no auto-rickshaws allowed).

Take Back: The environment and location is so different than what I am used to in California. After a while, you step back and realize how many changes have occurred from your daily lifestyle in such a short amount of time. I think that I am beginning to get used to everything, and I am almost done with my jet lag.

Lesson of the Day: Bring rain gear everywhere and wear short clothes.

India Trip 2015: Day 2

Sorry I could not get this posted on time… I had a lot of wifi problems. If you haven’t read Day 1, click here.

The Experience: Fighting jet lag can be super frustrating sometimes. I feel like falling asleep in the day and I am wide awake at night (that’s how I am writing these blog posts 😃). Anyways… I woke up early today, ate a giant breakfast, and got ready for Day 2. I tried to get some work done, and I found out that my wifi really sucks because I have this “dongle” that barely creates a hotspot with a speed of 2G.

An auto-rickshaw

There are really three options to go from place to place. The first option is to take an Uber, which can get expensive quickly. Second is to take a taxi, and third is to take an auto-rickshaw. The “auto-rickshaw” is a small, three-wheeled motorized vehicle that works basically like a taxi. It’s actually really helpful but it pollutes like crazy.

Street shop selling coconuts.

Around almost every internal street, there are small stores that sell clothes or “street food” like chips, soft drinks, or fruits. So I decided I would buy a coconut and share the experience. To buy a coconut, all you do is tell the shop owner you want a coconut. Then, he takes the coconut of your choice,  cuts it open, and gives it to you with a straw. The coconut water tastes refreshing and is very healthy. After you finish all the coconut water, you give the coconut back to the shop owner, he will cut it more open, and give you a part of the shell to scoop out the jello-like fruit inside the coconut.

The Alphonso mango.

Another very famous fruit in India is the mango. There are over 400 types of mango in India and the “king” is the alphonso mango. Unfortunately, the alphonso mango is only available around March-April because of the monsoon season (June-August). Luckily, I managed to get one alphonso mango and I could immediately understand why this mango is so famous. The inside has an orangish color and the taste is extremely sweet. So far I have tasted the Totapuri, Neelam, Dasheri, Langra, Chaunsa, and Alphanso mangoes.

For dinner, I went to this place called Hometown Cafe – China Gate. The cuisine was and Indian and Chinese food mix that gave the food a awesome spicy flavor. I think the service was too good (I mean almost in a negative way too). Literally there was a person standing next to me whose only job was to serve me food.

Take back: Something negative that I have noticed about this place is that there are a lot of servants. This creates the concept that there are levels in society and that people are “ranked” higher or lower than each other. At the bottom of the social system there are beggars and servants. Then there is the middle and upper class that are basically normal people. Does there really need to be someone that brings you water and the TV remote across the room? I think this is not good at all but occurred because of the extremely high population.

Lesson of the Day: Let the driver do the driving and don’t focus on the road (I actually got a headache 😂).

India Trip 2015: Day 1

My flight Turkish Airlines (Boeing 777-300) landing in Istanbul, Turkey.

The Experience: The flight was confusing. Two red-eye flights to India back-to-back. I didn’t know if I should’ve been watching more movies or sleeping to fight the jet lag. My first flight was from San Francisco to Istanbul and the second from Istanbul to Mumbai. Turkish Airlines is pretty good. Their food was not bad and they had a ton of great movies. But when I arrived in India it felt like I had just walked into a sauna. The weather is very different. The air is very humid, warm, and there is a high chance of a monsoon.

I was actually very impressed with the airport. Everything was modern and the bathrooms were impressive and clean. Driving from the airport was crazy… First of all the driver sits on the right. Everything is opposite from the US. You would drive on the left side of the road instead of the right. But the craziest part is that I am not sure if most people are not following laws or that there are not enough laws. You don’t need to wear your seatbelt if you are not driving. There are no “lanes”. Pedestrians can walk anywhere on the street. What’s  really funny is that it is actually very impressive. The presence of mind that a driver needs to have on the road is 10x more than a driver in the US. In spite of the freedom on the streets, there are not a lot of accidents on the road. Almost every road is super loud and obnoxious with honking.

Take-back: Aside from the poverty, trash, and pollution, everyone here has an awesome lifestyle. There are some interesting qualities that we need to learn from these people. Something that I began to appreciate is the freedom that everyone has. For example, the friends that kids make playing on the street. Everyone “knows” each other and are easily socially accepted. There are many people here that don’t have as many luxuries and things as some people in the US but they are way more happy.

Lesson of the Day: Look at Indian people’s lifestyles from a different perspective.

Winning the WWDC Scholarship

WWDC 15As Apple’s Annual World-Wide Developer Conference approaches next week, many developers are excited to come together to learn about the future of iOS and OS X. At WWDC, Apple features more than 100 technical sessions, over 1,000 Apple engineers, hands-on labs, and the Apple Design Awards. 

How do you attend WWDC? First of all you need to join the Apple Developer Program. To get a ticket for attending this conference you need to apply in a random selection. If you are chosen, then you need to pay $1,600 for a ticket. If you are not chosen, better luck next time!

Luckily, I was able to win a WWDC scholarship. My dream since I was a little kid was to attend an Apple Conference. My passion for designing and coding has pushed my ability to make awesome things. To win a WWDC Scholarship, you need to apply by building an app and sending it to Apple. Apple will then select 350 scholarship winners world-wide if they like your app. The process is pretty simple. Build an app that is creative and talks about yourself. Submit the app to Apple and fill out some information. And finally receive the email!WWDC 15 Acceptance Full

Receiving this scholarship was not enough for some scholars including myself. A group of about 20 scholars and I decided to build a Scholars of WWDC App that would display the works of the scholarship winners and how you can connect with us. With this app, we are able to showcase our talents and inspire future generation to build things, to make a difference and to change the world. You can check this out at the WWDC Scholars website or download from the App Store.

WWDC is definitely a great place to learn new technologies and take previous knowledge to the next level. I am going to be post another blog post with my experiences soon.

Swift Review

swifticonIt has been almost been one year since Apple released Swift, their new developing language for iOS developers. Swift has had a big impact on iOS and OS X Developers and many people tried out Swift when they announced in the beginning of June last year at WWDC 14. But why did Apple switch from Objective-C to Swift? How has Swift changed the way developers make their apps? Is it better for a beginner to learn Swift or Objective-C first?

Apple has not really “switched” from Objective-C to Swift. They added Swift because it allows the transitions for developers from different backgrounds to start developing for iOS and OS X much easier. Swift is very similar to other modern developing languages and Apple did not want to confuse developers. The second reason why Apple came with Swift was for convincing more developers to make apps. With a language with easier syntax, more developers would want to make apps for iOS and OS X devices which is beneficial for Apple.

Aside from the reasons why Apple created Swift, why is this language easier to use? For a beginner, Swift is easier to use because:

  1. Less files. Only one swift file per view controller instead of two confusing .m and .h files.

    One swift file per view controller
    One swift file per view controller
  2. Easier syntax. There is cleaner code which helps to debug, read, and maintain. For example the optional semi-colon means that developers don’t have to put a semi-colon after every statement. And the less problems that a developer has to face, the better.
  3. Playgrounds. A feature that Apple has released in Xcode 6 along with Swift.playground
    • Can be used to design a new algorithm, watching its results every step of the way.
    • Can be used to Experiment with new APIs.
    • Can be used to be more familiar with the Swift language.
  4. LLVM Compiler. Using the high-performance LLVM compiler, Swift code is transformed into optimized native code. This means that Objective-C code can be compiled with Swift code by using a bridging header.
  5. Safe. Variables need to be initialized before use, arrays and integers are checked if they are overflowing, and memory is managed automatically. This helps preventing problems which can be a headache for the developer.
  6. Better Performance. According to Apple, Swift is up to 2.6x faster than Objective-C and up to 8.7x faster than Python 2.7.
  7. Easy to learn. Apple has released their own book that teaches the syntax of Swift and there are many online tutorials that teach how to make apps with Swift.

Back to the big question: “Is it better to learn Objective-C or Swift?”. For a beginner in iOS development, I highly recommend learning Swift first because it is easy to learn, the syntax is easy, and it is not any less powerful than Objective-C. A reason why learning Swift could not be the best decision is because not everyone has adapted from Objective-C to Swift. I would say that Apple is very successful in making iOS and OS X development easier with their new powerful language.