Bones are changing in surprising ways: Phone Use is To Blame, Research Suggests

New research in biomechanics suggests that young people are developing hornlike spikes at the back of their skulls — bone spurs caused by the forward tilt of the head, which shifts weight from the spine to the muscles at the back of the head, causing bone growth in the connecting tendons and ligaments. The weight transfer that causes the buildup can be compared to the way the skin thickens into a callus as a response to pressure or abrasion.

The result is a hook or hornlike feature jutting out from the skull, just above the neck. In academic papers, a pair of researchers at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, argues that the prevalence of the bone growth in younger adults points to shifting body posture brought about by the use of modern technology. They say smartphones and other handheld devices are contorting the human form, requiring users to bend their heads forward to make sense of what’s happening on the miniature screens.

Of course, bad posture was not invented in the 21st Century – people have always found something to hunch over. So why didn’t we get the skull protuberances from books? One possibility is down to the sheer amount of time that we currently spend on our phones, versus how long a person would previously have spent reading. For example, even in 1973, well before most modern hand-held distractions were invented, the average American typically read for about two hours each day. In contrast, today people are spending nearly double that time on their phones.

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Tooth-mounted trackers could be the next fitness wearables

Tooth-mounted trackers that keep a tally on how much food and calories people consume could be the next frontier in fitness monitoring. A research team is already experimenting with the tooth sensors at the Tufts University Biomedical Engineering Department.

“We have extended common RFID [radiofrequency ID] technology to a sensor package that can dynamically read and transmit information on its environment, whether it is affixed to a tooth, to skin, or any other surface,” Fiorenzo Omenetto, Ph.D., corresponding author and the Frank C. Doble Professor of Engineering at Tufts said in a statement.

The sensors looks like custom microchips stuck to the tooth. They are flexible, tiny squares — ranging from 4 mm by 4 mm to an even smaller size of about 2 mm by 2 mm — that are applied directly to human teeth. Each one has three active layers made of titanium and gold, with a middle layer of either silk fibers or water-based gels.

In small-scale studies, four human volunteers wore sensors, which had silk as the middle “detector” layer, on their teeth and swished liquids around in their mouths to see if the sensors would function. The researchers were testing for sugar and for alcohol.

The tiny squares successfully sent wireless signals to tablets and cell phone devices.

In one of their first experiments, the chip could tell the difference between solutions of purified water, artificial saliva, 50 percent alcohol and wood alcohol. It would then wirelessly signal to a nearby receiver via radiofrequency, similar to how EZ Passes work…