Weekly News Bites: Ant maps, electronic tattoo ink, and a new super-Earth

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are a treasure map for tracking ant biodiversity, tattoo ink that can monitor your health, and a newly discovered super-Earth.

An international team led by the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) has created a “treasure” map that estimates the global diversity of ants. The team combined expert knowledge with machine learning to help predict biodiversity hotspots across the globe. East Asia and the Mediterranean have shown up as “diversity centers” for ants. 

Microrobots have the potential to be used in many applications, including healthcare. New technology has been developed by Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST), Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital of the Catholic University of Korea, and ETH Zurich that allows mass-production of biodegradable microrobots. These bots contain magnetic nanoparticles and have stem cells attached to them to enable targeted delivery in the human body.

In more health technology news, a tattoo could be used to monitor your health. Researchers at  the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed electronic ink that can interact with biosensors, such as electrocardiograms (ECG), to give readouts on heart rate, glucose and other vital signs. 

Eating ultra-processed foods often or in high amounts could lead to an increased risk of dementia according to research by Tianjin Medical University. The research team followed around 70,000 patients over 10 years and observed a higher risk of developing dementia in participants who ate high levels of ultra-processed foods. 

An artificial vision system inspired by crab eyes has been developed by Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), Seoul National University and MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. This new “eye” has a 360 degree view and can see both when it’s dry and when it’s underwater. The applications of this technology include motion detection, augmented and virtual reality. 

An exoplanet has been observed by the Subaru telescope using a new infrared monitoring technique, says a statement by the Astrobiology Center, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), and Tokyo Institute of Technology. This super-Earth orbits the habitable zone of a red dwarf star, which means that the surface temperatures could allow for the existence of liquid water.