Courtesy Binghamton University

A team of researchers from the State University of New York at Binghamton, led by computer science assistant professor Seokheun Choi, have developed a paper-based battery that is activated by saliva. To build the battery, the team used microbial fuel cells—which use microorganisms to transform chemical energy into electricity—created from “inactive, freeze-dried exoelectrogenic cells," that activate within minutes of contacting saliva, according to a university press release. Choi, who has worked on this project for the past five years, believes that this battery would be advantageous in areas in need, and especially for use with diagnostic technologies. In a recent test, the team was able to connect 16 microbial fuel cells on a sheet of paper to power a single LED. Choi says that the current prototype reaches a power density of only “a few microwatts per centimeter square,” but he is optimistic that the team will soon be able to increase the battery’s power density to accommodate a wider range of applications. [Binghamton University]

IoT ICYMI: A bipartisan group of U.S. senators including Mark Warner (D-VA), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Steve Daines (R-MT) have announced plans to introduce the Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2017, which calls for improved security through increased regulation of internet-connected devices—the number of which could exceed 20 billion by 2020. [ARCHITECT]

An interdisciplinary team of researchers from Northwestern University have developed a new nanomanufacturing technique to create an optimal light-managing material for solar cells. According to a press release, the new production method could replace "trial-and-error nanomanufacturing and design methods," which can require extensive resources. “We have bridged the gap between design and nanomanufacturing,” said Wei Chen, a professor of mechanical engineering in Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering, in the release. “Instead of designing a structure element by element, we are now designing and optimizing it with a simple mathematic function and fabricating it at the same time.” The team has tested their new method on ultra-thin, flexible solar cells, which are optimized when the nanostructure is made up of quasi-random structures that "appear random but do have a pattern," and plan to apply this method to other materials, such as polymers, metals, and oxides. [Northwestern McCormick School of Engineering]

London-based industrial designer Emilios Farrington-Arnas has developed a wearable navigation device for the visually impaired to detect physical obstacles and provide navigation assistance to users. Called Maptic, the system is comprised of a central unit that can be worn as a pendant, bracelet, or clip-on. It is equipped with a long-range, time-of-flight sensor that detects obstacles at or above it, as well as two more feedback units worn on the right and left sides of the body that translate the gathered data into vibrations. Its tactile design does not require any voice-assistant technology, but instead relies on a turn-by-turn navigation system presented in the form of ticking vibrations that transmit through "mini vibration motors and specialized haptic microchips," Farrington-Arnas says . Using smartphones with GPS capabilities, the units connect to an application that features high-contrast colors for an easier user experience. Maptic uses a simple 3.3-volt headphone jack that connects to a charging station designed solely for the product. [Emilios]

ICYMI: 2017 R+D Award recipient Re: Lamp Lighting System is a mobile streetlighting system made with minimal—and, whenever possible, locally available—resources to bring electricity to India's poor communities. [ARCHITECT]

Swedish furniture manufacturer IKEA has updated its Tradfri smart bulb range to wirelessly connect the fixtures to Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home. Users with existing fixtures need only perform a firmware update in order to reap the new benefits of the smart bulb. Tradfri currently only offers white light smart bulbs, featuring E12, E26, and GU10 sizes in standard white LED bulbs and dimmable LEDs. However, the company has announced that it will segue into the multicolor-changing-bulb market starting in October. [9to5Mac]

Willem Westerhof, a security engineer at ITsec Security Services in Amsterdam, warns that internet-connected solar energy inverters in Europe—which convert gathered solar energy so that it can be used in the electricity grid—are susceptible to being targeted by hackers who could alter the flow of the grid's power, leading to potential power cuts. Westerhof came across the issue in German solar company SMA Solar Technologies' inverters, but according to a Next Web article, SMA told journalists that "the vulnerabilities only affect a limited range of products and that they’re working on technical corrections." [The Next Web]