SciTech Now Episode 204

In this episode of SciTech Now, go trackside at a Trans Am road race to learn how racers make their cars aerodynamic; Jon Schull, co-founder of e-Nable, discusses how his organization is making low-cost 3-D printed prosthetics available to children around the world; TripExpert co-founder Emily Hughes explains how the site aims to be a definitive statement of the overall quality based on professional reviews, instead of user reviews; the Financial Times investigates whether mass-market sport-related technologies can help mitigate some of the risks associated with contact sports; as the number of social media users continues to grow, some universities have incorporated the communication tool into their curriculum.

TRANSCRIPT

♪♪

COMING UP... THE SCIENCE OF SPEED.

A ONE-DEGREE CHANGE IN REAR WING ANGLE CAN BE SEVERAL HUNDRED POUNDS OF DOWNFORCE ON THE REAR OF THE CAR, AND IF THAT DOWNFORCE IS PROVIDING MORE GRIP, THEN THAT COULD BE A HUGE ADVANTAGE.

3-D PRINTING LENDS A HELPING HAND.

THE REALLY BIG BENEFIT HAS BEEN THE PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL.

THE KIDS ARE OFTEN TRANSFORMED FROM THAT SHY, AWKWARD KID THAT OTHER KIDS MAKE FUN OF TO BEING THE COOLEST KID IN THE CLASSROOM.

TECHNOLOGY TACKLES HEALTH HAZARDS IN SPORTS.

BACK IN THE OLD DAYS, IF YOU TOOK A CONCUSSION, YOUR COACH TENDED TO TELL YOU TO JUST SHAKE IT OFF.

IF YOU WERE ABLE TO SKATE, THEN YOU WERE BACK ON THE ICE.

AND SOCIAL MEDIA AS A MAJOR.

I THINK TEACHING SOCIAL MEDIA, BOTH IN TERMS OF ITS IMPACT ON THE WORLD WE LIVE IN AND ON THE SKILLS REQUIRED TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS, IS ABSOLUTELY MANDATORY.

IT'S ALL AHEAD.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM IS MADE POSSIBLE BY THE CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING...

HELLO, I'M HARI SREENIVASAN.

WELCOME TO OUR WEEKLY PROGRAM BRINGING YOU THE LATEST BREAKTHROUGHS IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND INNOVATION.

LET'S GET STARTED.

AUTOMAKERS TOUT THE SPEED, ENGINEERING, AND PERFORMANCE OF THEIR CARS, BUT THE RULES CHANGE ON THE RACETRACK.

PROFESSIONAL ROAD RACERS TWEAK AND TINKER WITH THE AERODYNAMICS OF THEIR CARS TO CUT THROUGH WIND AND FLY PAST THE COMPETITION.

REPORTER ANDREA VASQUEZ TAKES US TRACKSIDE FOR THE STORY.

♪♪

FOR THESE TRANS AM ROAD RACERS AT NEW JERSEY MOTORSPORTS PARK IN MILLVILLE, NEW JERSEY, RACING IS ABOUT MORE THAN COOL CARS AND BIG HORSEPOWER.

IT HAS A LOT TO DO WITH AERODYNAMICS -- THE SCIENCE OF SPEED AND WIND RESISTANCE.

IF YOU'RE GOING DOWN THE INTERSTATE AT 55 MILES AN HOUR AND STICK YOUR HAND OUT THE WINDOW AND DO SOME THINGS WITH YOUR HAND, YOU'LL GET THE IDEA OF WHAT THESE CARS GO THROUGH.

THESE RACECARS ARE DESIGNED TO USE THE POWER OF THE WIND IN TWO WAYS -- TO MAKE A CAR AERODYNAMIC AND TO CREATE DOWNFORCE.

SLEEK DESIGNS WITH THE LEAST WIND RESISTANCE MAKE THE CAR AERODYNAMIC SO IT CAN GO FASTER.

ON THE OTHER HAND, SOME RESISTANCE, CALLED DOWNFORCE, OR, AS THEY CALL IT ON THE TRACK, GRIP, HELPS KEEP THE CAR ON THE GROUND SO IT DOESN'T GO TOO FAST AND LOSE CONTROL.

THE RIGHT RATIO OF AERODYNAMICS AND GRIP CAN BE A WINNING COMBINATION.

WELL, THE BIGGEST THING THAT WE'VE LEARNED IN THE LAST, LET'S SAY, 10 YEARS, 12 YEARS, THE AERODYNAMICS PLAY A REALLY BIG ROLE.

THAT MAKES A MUCH BIGGER DIFFERENCE THAN REALLY ANYTHING ELSE -- EVEN HORSEPOWER -- THAT YOU CAN DO TO YOUR CAR.

AERODYNAMICS AND GRIP ARE TAILORED TO EACH RACE.

WHILE GRIP IS VITAL TO KEEP CARS FROM SLIDING AND SKIDDING ON TURNS, THERE'S A TRADEOFF.

THAT FRICTION CREATES DRAG, WHICH SLOWS THE CAR'S SPEED.

IT'S THE OLD SAYING WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD.

YOU KNOW, THE TIRE HAS TO BE PRESSED INTO THE ASPHALT TO BE ABLE TO GET GRIP.

SLIDE YOUR HAND ACROSS YOUR HAND, AND IF YOU PUSH REALLY HARD, IT WON'T DO THAT.

RACERS HAVE TO CONSIDER THINGS LIKE THE SHAPE OF A COURSE AND THE WEATHER ON RACE DAY WHEN THEY'RE STRIKING A BALANCE BETWEEN AERODYNAMICS AND GRIP.

AERODYNAMICS WILL HELP THEM CUT THROUGH THE AIR AND GIVE THEM SPEED ON STRAIGHTAWAYS, WHILE GRIP WILL GIVE THEM THE FRICTION TO HUG TIGHT TURNS.

AS SOON AS THE WIND HITS IT, THE FRONT OF THE CAR JUST PINCHES DOWN.

SO THAT HELPS ON ALL THE TURNS.

IT HELPS MAINTAIN THE FRONT END ON THE CAR LOW.

AT THE TRANS AM RACING LEVEL, TEAMS TAKE STREET CARS LIKE CORVETTES, MUSTANGS, AND BMWs AND TRICK THEM OUT WITH ATTACHMENTS THAT DIRECT THE AIRFLOW AROUND THE CAR.

THE FURTHER BACK THE WING IS, THE MORE DOWNFORCE YOU'RE GOING TO GET IN THE BACK OF THE CAR.

THE WIND MAKES IT OVER THE TOP OF THE CAR, COMES RIGHT OVER THE WING, AND THIS HERE JUST PUSHES THE CAR DOWN, MAINTAINING THE CAR SYNCHED IN THE BACK.

SO THE FRONT SPLITTER ALSO ACTS AS A WING IN THAT THE AIR FLOWING ONTO THE FRONT OF THE CAR, THE SPLITTER WILL SEPARATE THE AIR INTO A BOUNDARY LAYER THAT GOES UNDERNEATH THE CAR, AND ANOTHER AREA OF AIR THAT TRIES TO FLOW UP OVER THE HOOD.

SO BY EXTENDING THAT SPLITTER FORWARD, WE CREATE MORE DOWNFORCE ON THE FRONT OF THE CAR.

THE FASTER A CAR IS MOVING, THE STRONGER THE FORCE OF THE WIND PUSHING AGAINST IT.

SO AS THESE RACECARS FLY DOWN THE TRACK AT MORE THAN 100 MILES PER HOUR, EVEN SMALL ADJUSTMENTS CAN HAVE A BIG EFFECT.

THAT'S WHY CARS HAVE TO MEET STRICT REGULATIONS TO COMPETE.

A ONE-DEGREE CHANGE IN A REAR WING ANGLE CAN BE SEVERAL HUNDRED POUNDS OF DOWNFORCE ON THE REAR OF THE CAR, AND IF THAT DOWNFORCE IS PROVIDING MORE GRIP, THEN THAT COULD BE A HUGE ADVANTAGE.

AERODYNAMICS IS THE FINEST ADJUSTMENT YOU CAN MAKE.

SO YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT, IN SOME CASES, 30,000ths OF AN INCH IS ACTUALLY A DIFFERENCE THAT YOU CAN MEASURE.

RACING TEAMS TODAY HAVE MORE SOPHISTICATED TOOLS TO COLLECT AND ANALYZE DATA FROM TEST-DRIVES BEFORE RACE DAY SO DRIVERS CAN PINPOINT WHERE THEY'RE LOSING SPEED ON THE TRACK.

FOR TEAMS WITH BIGGER BUDGETS, ENCLOSED WIND-TUNNEL TESTS USE SMOKE TO VISUALIZE HOW AIR FLOWS AROUND THE CAR.

THE FIRST THING THAT THEY WOULD LOOK AT WITH THEIR ENGINEER OR THEIR CREW CHIEF IS DATA.

IF YOU'RE NOT COLLECTING DATA AND THEN USING THAT DATA TO FIND OUT WHERE YOU CAN BRAKE LATER, ACCELERATE SOONER, YOU'RE PROBABLY BEHIND THE CURVE.

MANY OF THE TOP DRIVERS, THEY'RE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR A 10th OF A SECOND HERE, A 10th OF A SECOND THERE.

IF YOU'RE RACING AGAINST REALLY GOOD DRIVERS, THAT DATA IS ALWAYS GONNA MAKE THE DIFFERENCE, RIGHT?

SO YOU CAN GET YOURSELF 90% OF THE WAY THERE, BUT THE CHANGES ARE SO SUBTLE, ESPECIALLY WITH AERODYNAMICS, THAT WITHOUT THE DATA, YOU'RE REALLY GONNA STRUGGLE.

FOR ALL THEIR FINE-TUNING, DRIVERS CAN FACE ANY NUMBER OF VARIABLES ON RACE DAY, BUT HAVING THE RIGHT CAR WITH THE RIGHT AERODYNAMIC IS THE FIRST STEP TO THE FINISH LINE.

IN VARIOUS FORMS OF RACING, A GOOD CAR WILL, YOU KNOW -- WILL PREVAIL.

I'VE ALWAYS SAID YOU WILL NEVER WIN THE KENTUCKY DERBY ON A DONKEY.

IT'S JUST NOT GONNA HAPPEN.

[ ENGINES ACCELERATING ]

IT'S ESTIMATED THAT ONE IN 2,000 CHILDREN ARE BORN WITH A HAND OR ARM ABNORMALITY, BUT THE COST OF A MECHANICAL HAND OR ARM CAN BE PROHIBITIVE FOR CHILDREN WHO WILL QUICKLY OUTGROW THEM.

NOW WITH JUST $10 TO $20 WORTH OF PLASTIC, 3-D PRINTERS ARE BEING USED TO CREATE FULLY FUNCTIONING MECHANICAL HANDS OR ARMS FOR CHILDREN.

e-NABLE IS AN ORGANIZATION DEDICATED TO CONNECTING 3-D PRINTERS AROUND THE GLOBE TO THOSE IN NEED OF A HAND, LITERALLY.

JON SCHULL, THE CO-FOUNDER OF e-NABLE, JOINS US NOW TO DISCUSS HOW THIS NEW TECHNOLOGY IS TRANSFORMING LIVES.

SO, WHY START e-NABLE?

BECAUSE WE COULD.

WE WEREN'T SURE WE COULD, BUT THE POSSIBILITY AROSE THAT WE COULD HARNESS WHAT HAS TURNED OUT TO BE A GLOBAL COMMUNITY OF 5,000 TO 50,0000 TO 100,000 DIGITAL HUMANITARIANS.

WE HAVE 5,300 MEMBERS TODAY, BUT WE GROW BY 1% TO 3% EVERY SINGLE WEEK, SO WE'RE OPTIMISTIC TO HARNESS THIS GLOBAL COMMUNITY OF HUMANITARIANS TO START DEVELOPING NEW SOLUTIONS FOR UNDERSERVED POPULATIONS, AND WE'VE STARTED WITH THESE 3-D PRINTED PROSTHETIC HANDS, BECAUSE THEY'RE SORT OF THE SWEET SPOT FOR MANY OF THESE EMERGING TRENDS -- 3-D PRINTING, DISTRIBUTED MANUFACTURER, MASS CUSTOMIZATION, DIGITAL PHILANTHROPY, AND SO ON.

I MEAN, IT USED TO BE THE 3-D PRINTER USED TO COST SEVERAL THOUSAND DOLLARS.

I MEAN, THEY USED TO BE THE SIZE OF A WASHING MACHINE, AND IT WAS IN A LAB FAR AWAY -- JUST AN IDEA.

NOW, WHAT'S THE COST NOW?

WELL, YOU CAN STILL SPEND A FEW THOUSAND DOLLARS, BUT YOU CAN ALSO SPEND $400 OR $500, AND THAT'S ENOUGH TO GET INTO THE GAME.

AND YOU'LL REMEMBER THAT LASER PRINTERS USED TO COST THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS, SO IN A FEW YEARS, THESE THINGS ARE GONNA BE JUST COMMODITIES THAT EVERYONE HAS, AND, MEANWHILE, THERE'S ALREADY A DISTRIBUTED FACTORY SMEARED ALL OVER THE GLOBE THAT CAN BEGIN MAKING DEVICES FOR ALL SORTS OF PEOPLE.

SO HOW DOES IT WORK?

HOW DOES YOUR TEAM OF DIGITAL PHILANTHROPISTS GET FROM AN IDEA -- OR LET'S SAY A SMALL CHILD COMES TO THEM IN SOME COUNTRY NOT IN THE UNITED STATES AND SAYS -- IT'S EVIDENT THAT THEY NEED A HAND?

HOW DOES e-NABLE JUMP IN?

WELL, YOU KNOW, NEWS REPORTS CROP UP ALL OVER THE PLACE THESE DAYS ABOUT A 3-D PRINTED HAND GIVEN TO A CHILD BY A VOLUNTEER ON THE INTERNET.

THEY REACH OUT TO US.

THEY CAN GO TO OUR WEBSITE, enablingthefuture.org.

THEY CAN SEND AN E-MAIL TO letsgetstarted@enablingthefuture .org, AND THEY SAY, 'I HAVE A PRINTER AND I WANT TO HELP,' OR THEY SAY, 'I NEED A HAND.

CAN YOU HOOK ME UP WITH SOMEONE?'

RIGHT.

AND WE HAVE HUMAN BEINGS, ALSO VOLUNTEERS, WHO WILL DO THAT MATCHMAKING, AND THEY WILL ASSIGN A MAKER TO A RECIPIENT, OFTEN A CHILD WITH A FAMILY, AND THEY WILL WORK TOGETHER TO TAKE THE MEASUREMENTS, CUSTOMIZE THE DESIGN -- IN SOME CASES USING SOME FREE SOFTWARE WE CALL HANDOMATIC THAT WILL PRODUCE A SCALED MODEL THAT'S RIGHT FOR THE PARTICULAR PERSON.

MM-HMM.

THE VOLUNTEERS WILL ASSEMBLE IT -- WILL PRINT IT, THEY WILL ASSEMBLE IT, AND THEY WILL THEN PROVIDE IT TO THE KID.

THE KID WILL TYPICALLY PUT IT ON, AND WITHOUT QUITE KNOWING WHAT THEY'RE DOING, THEY WILL BEND THEIR WRIST, AND THEY'LL MAKE A FIST, AND THE KID SMILES, THE PARENTS WEEP, AND THE NERDS REJOICE.

THAT'S SORT OF OUR FORMULA.

[ LAUGHS ] SO, HOW TRANSFORMATIVE IS THIS -- JUST THE ABILITY TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT?

YOU KNOW, THESE THINGS ARE QUITE FUNCTIONAL.

I'VE GOT A VIDEO THAT I LIKE TO SHOW OF A KID USING HIS HAND TO THROW A TENNIS BALL, AND THEN HE USES HIS OTHER ARM TO HIT.

THE KIDS CAN RIDE BIKES, THEY CAN PICK UP CUPS, AND THEY CAN DRINK FROM THEM AND SO ON, BUT THE REALLY BIG AND SOMEWHAT SURPRISING BENEFIT HAS BEEN THE PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL BENEFITS OF THIS.

THESE HANDS INCREASINGLY ARE BEING GIVEN SUPERHERO COLOR SCHEMES, AND THE KIDS TOTALLY GET IT.

YOU KNOW, EVERY SUPERHERO HAS GOT A FLAW, WHICH TURNS OUT TO BE THE BASIS OF THEIR SUPERPOWER, AND THIS IS NOT A METAPHOR.

THIS IS THE REAL DEAL HERE.

MM-HMM.

AND THE KIDS ARE OFTEN TRANSFORMED FROM THAT SHY, AWKWARD KID THAT OTHER KIDS MAKE FUN OF TO BEING THE COOLEST KID IN THE CLASSROOM.

MM.

AND THESE KIDS ARE IN A POSITION TO START DESIGNING, AND WE WELCOME AND SUPPORT THAT KIND OF CONTRIBUTION TO START DESIGNING BETTER HANDS FOR THEMSELVES AND FOR OTHER KIDS.

'CAUSE ALMOST EVERYTHING YOU'RE HOLDING THERE, EXCEPT FOR THE SCREWS AND THE STRING...

YEAH.

...IS PRINTED.

THAT'S RIGHT.

THAT'S RIGHT.

THE 3-D PRINTER THAT MADE THIS HAND WAS ACTUALLY BUILT -- NOT PURCHASED, BUT BUILT BY A VOLUNTEER, AND WHAT IT DOES IS IT LAYS DOWN THIN THREADS OF MELTED PLASTIC BACK AND FORTH, BACK AND FORTH, BACK AND FORTH, LAYER BY LAYER IN ORDER TO PRODUCE AN OBJECT AND THEN BE, IN THIS CASE, SNAPPED TOGETHER AND GIVEN TO A SUPERHERO.

SO GIVE ME AN IDEA OF THE NUMBER OF REQUESTS YOU GET, HOW MANY VOLUNTEERS DO YOU HAVE?

[ CHUCKLES ] IT'S NOT OBVIOUS HOW TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION.

WE HAVE, THIS WEEK, ABOUT 5,350 VOLUNTEERS IN OUR GOOGLE+ COMMUNITY.

NOW, THERE ARE A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE WHO AREN'T IN THE GOOGLE+ COMMUNITY AND WHO, FOR EXAMPLE, DOWNLOAD OUR FREELY SHARED DESIGN FILES AND MAKE PRINTS, AND THEN WE ONLY FIND OUT ABOUT IT LATER.

SO WE CURRENTLY ESTIMATE THAT WE'VE DISTRIBUTED ABOUT 800 HANDS THAT WE KNOW ABOUT, PROBABLY AN EQUAL NUMBER THAT WE DON'T KNOW ABOUT.

WE HAVE 5,300 KNOWN PEOPLE WHO'VE SAID I WOULD LIKE TO HELP A FRACTION OF THEM, BUT A SUBSTANTIAL FRACTION, I THINK, HAVE ACTUALLY BEGUN DOING THIS KIND OF THING.

AND OUR CHALLENGE, BY THE WAY, IS HOW DO WE CONTINUE TO SUPPORT AND MOBILIZE AND INCREASE THE EFFICACY OF ALL OF THESE VOLUNTEERS, ALL OF THESE RECIPIENTS -- WE HAVE HUNDREDS IN THE QUEUES -- IN AN EFFECTIVE FASHION?

SO HOW DO YOU SCALE THIS LIST, ESPECIALLY TO PLACES AROUND THE WORLD WHERE THERE MIGHT BE GREATER RATES OF HAND DEFORMITY OR ABNORMALITY?

THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT I WANT TO KNOW.

WE FORMED THE ENABLE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION ABOUT SIX MONTHS AGO.

WE'RE NOW A NOT-FOR-PROFIT ORGANIZATION, AND WE ARE APPROACHED ON A WEEKLY BASIS BY REFUGEE CAMPS AND INTERNATIONAL AID GROUPS AND DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATIONS SAYING INEXPENSIVE 3-D PRINTED PROSTHETICS WOULD BE A BOOM.

WE JUST DON'T HAVE THEM.

AND WE SAY WE ARE HERE TO HELP, BUT WE'RE TRYING TO BUILD UP THE ORGANIZATIONAL MATURITY TO BE ABLE TO PARTNER WITH EXISTING ORGANIZATIONS.

SO WE'RE NOW GOING ABOUT THIS IN A BACKWARDS FASHION.

HAVING CREATED A GLOBAL MOVEMENT AND ALREADY MADE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT, WE'RE NOW BUILDING AN ORGANIZATION THAT CAN NEGOTIATE RELATIONSHIPS WITH COLLABORATORS.

AND WE'RE LOOKING FOR HELP.

AND HOW MANY HANDS HAVE YOU ALREADY HANDED OUT?

800 THAT WE CAN NAME AND COUNT, PROBABLY ANOTHER 800 THAT WE CAN'T.

ALL RIGHT.

JON SCHULL, CO-FOUNDER OF e-NABLE, THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU.

I'M EMILY, CO-FOUNDER AT TripExpert, WHERE WE RATE AND RANK HOTELS BASED ON EXPERT REVIEWS FROM TOP TRAVEL GUIDES, MAGAZINES, AND NEWSPAPERS.

MY BACKGROUND INCLUDES TIME AT THE GRAMERCY PARK HOTEL, WHERE I WORKED IN RESERVATIONS AND LEARNED HOW EASY IT WAS TO MANIPULATE USER REVIEWS ON VARIOUS TRAVEL SITES.

IF SOMEONE DIDN'T GET INTO THE BAR, AND THEY WERE UNHAPPY, WE WOULD GET A ONE-STAR REVIEW FOR THE ENTIRE HOTEL.

THAT DOESN'T REFLECT THE QUALITY OF THE HOTEL.

WE BELIEVE USER-GENERATED REVIEW SITES ARE EASILY MANIPULATED BECAUSE ANYBODY CAN SUBMIT A REVIEW.

OUR REVIEWS ARE ONLY FROM PROFESSIONALS -- PLACES THAT YOU KNOW AND TRUST AND CONSULT BEFORE YOU GO ON VACATION ANYWAY.

NOW WE PUT THEM ALL IN ONE NICE PLACE ONLINE, AND WE HAVE A SCORE THAT IS BASED OFF OF THOSE REVIEWS, WHICH WE CALL THE TripExpert SCORE.

THIS IS THE DEFINITIVE STATEMENT OF THE OVERALL QUALITY OF A VENUE, BECAUSE IT IS BASED ON PROFESSIONAL REVIEWS, NOT AMATEUR REVIEWS.

IN ADDITION TO COVERING HOTELS, WE ALSO COVER RESTAURANTS AND TOURIST ATTRACTIONS.

WHETHER YOU WANT TO KNOW THE BEST PLACE TO STAY, DINE, OR VISIT, TripExpert's DONE ALL THE WORK FOR YOU.

COMPANIES ARE DEVELOPING NEW TECHNOLOGIES TO MITIGATE SOME OF THE RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH CONTACT SPORTS, BUT DO MASS-MARKET SPORT-RELATED TECHNOLOGIES PROMISE MORE THAN THE PRODUCTS CAN DELIVER?

OUR PARTNER, TACKLES THIS TOPIC.

♪♪

I'VE BEEN CONCUSSED FIVE OR SIX TIMES THAT ARE MEMORABLE.

SO THE MOST SERIOUS ONE WAS A COMPLETE BLACKOUT.

I MEAN, I WOKE UP ON THE BENCH, AND, YOU KNOW, DIDN'T REALLY REMEMBER MUCH ABOUT THE HIT -- JUST WOKE UP ON THE BENCH AND HAD A REALLY BAD HEADACHE FOR, I'D SAY, ABOUT A WEEK AFTERWARDS.

BACK IN THE OLD DAYS, IF YOU TOOK A CONCUSSION, YOUR COACH TENDED TO TELL YOU TO JUST SHAKE IT OFF AND GET BACK OUT THERE.

IF YOU WERE ABLE TO SKATE, THEN YOU WERE BACK ON THE ICE.

I ALSO STARTED PLAYING ICE HOCKEY IN THE LATE '70s AND EARLY '80s, AND I CAN'T RECALL MUCH DISCUSSION OF HEAD INJURIES, EITHER.

BUT IN THE YEARS SINCE I STRAPPED ON MY FIRST SKATES, MANY COACHES IN MANY CONTACT SPORTS HAVE CHANGED HOW THEY DEAL WITH CONCUSSION.

FROM HOCKEY TO AMERICAN FOOTBALL AND RUGBY, PUBLIC AWARENESS HAS GROWN IN HOW SUCH INCIDENTS CAN HAVE LONG-TERM HEALTH CONSEQUENCES, AND SOME COMPANIES ARE WORKING TO DEVELOP TECHNOLOGIES TO HELP DEAL WITH THOSE RISKS, PARTICULARLY FOR KIDS WHO PLAY THE SPORTS.

THE REEBOK CheckLight IS ONE SUCH EFFORT.

REEBOK SAYS THAT THE DEVICE DOESN'T DIAGNOSE CONCUSSION, BUT IS AN IMPACT INDICATOR AND PITCHES IT AS AN EXTRA TOOL TO HELP COACHES IDENTIFY WHEN A BLOW TO THE HEAD COULD BE DANGEROUS.

THE WAY THE DEVICE WORKS IS IT HAS A NUMBER OF LIGHTS, AND THE COLOR OF THE LIGHT INDICATES THE SEVERITY OF THE IMPACT.

AMBER MEANS MORE OR LESS A MODERATE HIT, BUT RED SUGGESTS THAT IT'S THE KIND OF IMPACT THAT COULD LEAD TO CONCUSSION.

I'M GONNA TEST IT OUT BY JUST HITTING IT ON MY HAND TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS.

RED.

SO THAT'S A SEVERE IMPACT, AND THE IDEA BEING, THIS IS AN INDICATION TO COACHES, TRAINERS, PARENTS THAT MAYBE THE PLAYER NEEDS TO BE CHECKED OUT.

IT'S NOT JUST IN CONTACT SPORTS THAT NEW TAKES ON OLD DEVICES ARE TRYING TO HELP MINIMIZE RISK IN SPORT.

LONDON-BASED START-UP BLAZE IS BRINGING INGENUITY TO URBAN CYCLING.

CO-FOUNDER EMILY BROOKE TURNED HER UNIVERSITY PROJECT INTO THE LASERLIGHT, A BIKE LIGHT THAT USES A LASER TO PROJECT THE SYMBOL OF A BICYCLE 6 METERS IN FRONT OF THE RIDER.

I WANTED TO FIND THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE TO CITY CYCLISTS, WHATEVER IT WAS, AND TACKLE IT.

I DIDN'T CARE IF IT WAS GETTING WET OR GETTING LOST, BUT IT HAD TO BE THE BIGGEST PROBLEM.

AND STRAIGHTAWAY, SPEAKING TO CYCLISTS -- PERSONAL SAFETY.

PERSONAL SAFETY WAS THE BIGGEST BARRIER.

79% OF BIKES THAT ARE HIT ARE TRAVELING STRAIGHT AHEAD, AND SOMEBODY ELSE TURNS INTO THEM.

IT HAS A NORMAL LIGHT, IT HAS A WHITE L.E.D., BUT THEN IT ALSO HAS A GREEN LASER.

WE USE LASER BECAUSE LASER'S VERY GOOD FOR PROJECTION, SO WE USE THESE VERY ECOLOGICAL DIRECT DIODES, WHICH WAS ACTUALLY DEVELOPED FOR PICO PROJECTORS AND MOBILE PHONES, BUT IT REALLY IS A KIND OF CUTTING EDGE OF LASER DIODE TECHNOLOGY.

WHILE REEBOK AND BLAZE ARE CLEAR ABOUT WHAT THEIR TECHNOLOGY CAN AND CAN'T DO, SOME WORRY THAT MANY PRODUCTS DON'T MATCH THE MARKETING HYPE BEHIND THEM.

PROBABLY A BIT OVERSOLD.

IT'S GREAT FOR SOME OF THE INSTANT FEEDBACK IN TERMS OF LOOKING AT YOUR LAP, YOUR SPLIT TIME WHEN YOU RUN OR LOOKING AT A GPS MAP OF THE DISTANCE THAT YOU'VE COVERED, POTENTIALLY EVEN YOUR HEART RATE, BUT, ACTUALLY, DO REAL WEEKEND WARRIORS KNOW WHAT THEIR HEART RATE REALLY MEANS, OR IS IT REALLY GONNA CHANGE THEIR PERFORMANCE?

THEY DON'T HAVE A SPORT SCIENTIST ANALYZING THEM AND HELPING THEM AND TELLING THEM, AND ULTIMATELY CONSUMERS NEED INSTANT GRATIFICATION.

DR. DE MEDICI SAYS THAT THE REALLY BIG STEP WILL BE IN DATA.

AS WE GET BETTER AT ANALYZING THE REAMS OF INFORMATION BEING COLLECTED BY ALL THESE SENSORS AND APPS, IT WILL BECOME INCREASINGLY POSSIBLE TO USE TECHNOLOGY TO MANAGE SAFETY IN SPORT.

THESE HEALTH AND FITNESS APPS, THE ONES THAT ARE PROBABLY USEFUL ARE THE ONES THAT TELL YOU WHAT TO DO -- SO IF YOU WANT TO LOOK AT A PARTICULAR EXERCISE OR A PARTICULAR WAY OF TRAINING, AND A LOT OF THE OTHER THING I THINK IS STILL A LOT OF HYPE, BUT POTENTIALLY, I THINK REALLY WHERE THE BIG CHANGES MAY COME IS ONCE WE START TO GATHER A LOT MORE OF THIS DATA, THE VALUE'S IN THE DATA.

IF WE CAN COLLECT -- IF MORE PEOPLE CAN START TO FEED IN THEIR DATA, WE CAN ANALYZE THAT, THEN WE CAN START TO GIVE PEOPLE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT HOW TO USE THE DATA THEY COLLECT AND HOW THAT DATA CAN INFLUENCE THEIR TRAINING OR THEIR PERFORMANCE.

THE ONLY SUREFIRE WAY TO GET RID OF EVERY HEALTH HAZARD IN SPORT IS TO EITHER CHANGE BEHAVIOR OR CHANGE THE RULES OF THE GAME.

UNTIL THAT HAPPENS, NEW TECHNOLOGIES ARE EMERGING THAT AT LEAST HELP US TO IDENTIFY AND MITIGATE AGAINST SOME OF THE RISKS.

AND WHILE IT WOULD BE DANGEROUS TO THINK THAT ANY DEVICE WILL PREVENT US FROM EVER GETTING INJURED, IT WON'T HURT TO LOOK AT NEW INNOVATIONS COMING DOWN THE LINE.

EVERY YEAR THE NUMBER OF SOCIAL MEDIA USERS CONTINUE TO GROW.

FACEBOOK, FOR EXAMPLE, RECENTLY ANNOUNCED THAT IT HAS MORE THAN 1.35 BILLION MONTHLY ACTIVE USERS -- A NUMBER THAT ROUGHLY EQUALS THE POPULATION OF CHINA.

AS THE NUMBER OF SOCIAL MEDIA USERS CONTINUE TO GROW, MANY BELIEVE SO, TOO, DOES THE NEED TO UNDERSTAND AND MASTER THIS COMMUNICATIONS TOOL.

SOME UNIVERSITIES HAVE EVEN GONE SO FAR AS TO INCORPORATE IT INTO THEIR CURRICULUM.

REPORTER LAUREN WANKO HAS THE STORY.

AMONG ALL U.S. ADULTS, NEARLY THREE-QUARTERS USE SOCIAL MEDIA IN THEIR PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL LIVES.

IT'S BECOME SO INHERENT IN DAILY LIFE, SOME UNIVERSITIES ARE NOW OFFERING IT AS A MAJOR.

THE MORE POPULAR THESE WEBSITES GET, THE MORE RELEVANT IT BECOMES TO ACTUALLY BECOME A COLLEGE CLASS.

WHILE NEW JERSEY SCHOOLS HAVEN'T HOPPED ON BOARD AND DEVOTED AN ENTIRE UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE TO THE TOPIC JUST YET, ALMOST ALL COLLEGES NOW OFFER SOME FORM OF IT OR INCORPORATE COURSES AS PART OF A LARGER CONCENTRATION.

THERE'S BEEN ENORMOUS GROWTH IN TEACHING VARIOUS SOCIAL MEDIA SKILLS.

OUR VIEW IS THAT IT'S A CORE PART OF EVERYTHING STUDENTS LEARN, ESPECIALLY IN THE COMMUNICATIONS SCHOOL, BUT ALSO IN OTHER PROGRAMS.

IF YOU'RE GOING INTO BUSINESS, YOU'RE GOING TO NEED SOCIAL MEDIA SKILLS.

AS THE DIRECTOR OF MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY'S SCHOOL OF COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA, MERRILL BROWN SAYS NO MATTER YOUR MAJOR, SOCIAL MEDIA IS A DRIVING FORCE IN JUST ABOUT EVERY CAREER.

EVERYBODY NEEDS TO HAVE A BIT OF THIS IN ORDER TO GET INTERNSHIPS THESE DAYS.

IT'S A CORE QUESTION WHEN THEY'RE APPLYING FOR INTERNSHIPS OR FULL-TIME POSITIONS.

BUT HOW DO YOU TEACH SOCIAL NETWORKING AS A PLATFORM?

UNDERSTANDING IT AS A MARKETING TOOL, AS A WAY OF BRANDING -- THAT'S REALLY WHAT'S CRUCIAL, I THINK.

DREW UNIVERSITY ALSO OFFERS A DIGITAL MEDIA MAJOR.

PROFESSOR SANDRA JAMIESON TEACHES A COURSE CALLED BLOGS, TWEETS, & SOCIAL MEDIA.

WHAT WE DO IN THAT COURSE IS THINK ABOUT HOW YOU CREATE A MESSAGE FOR A PARTICULAR AUDIENCE TO ACHIEVE A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, AND THEN HOW WOULD YOU CRAFT THAT MESSAGE IN A DIFFERENT WAY IF YOU WERE, SAY, TWEETING RATHER THAN WRITING A BLOG OR WRITING A NEWSPAPER ARTICLE?

THE KEY TO MAKING THAT MAJOR SUCCESSFUL, SHE SAYS, IS INCORPORATING GRAPHIC DESIGN, MARKETING, BASIC COMMUNICATION, AND WRITING COURSES.

EVERY SINGLE DAY, YOU HEAR MORE ABOUT WHAT THIS PERSON DID ON FACEBOOK.

NOW FACEBOOK SEEMS TO BE LIKE A SOURCE FOR NEWS, AND IT JUST SHOWS HOW MANY PEOPLE ACTUALLY GO ON THE WEBSITE.

BUT THOSE IN THE EDUCATION FIELD CAUTION NOT TO GET DRAWN IN JUST BY THE FLASHY NAME.

I DON'T THINK WE'RE AT A POINT IN TIME WHERE A SOCIAL MEDIA MAJOR IS A REQUIREMENT FOR AN IMPORTANT UNIVERSITY PROGRAM.

I THINK TEACHING SOCIAL MEDIA, BOTH IN TERMS OF ITS IMPACT ON THE WORLD WE LIVE IN AND ON THE SKILLS REQUIRED TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS, IS ABSOLUTELY MANDATORY.

IT'S CHANGING SO FAST.

I CAN'T IMAGINE TEACHING SOMETHING NOW THAT THE STUDENTS WOULD STILL BE USING IN FIVE YEARS' TIME.

AND JAMIESON ADDS, DON'T DISCOUNT THOSE HASHTAGS AND LIKES.

THEY COULD ONE DAY BE VITAL TO LANDING A JOB.

AND THAT WRAPS IT UP FOR THIS TIME.

FOR MORE ON SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND INNOVATION, VISIT OUR WEBSITE, CHECK US OUT ON FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM, AND JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON TWITTER.

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UNTIL NEXT TIME, I'M HARI SREENIVASAN.

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