WUWM: Innovation Reporting

It seems like every day there are breakthroughs in science, medicine and technology. But what do those advancements mean for you? WUWM’s Innovation Reporter Chuck Quirmbach will answer your questions, and make the difficult easier to grasp.

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Chuck Quirmbach

A Mequon company which makes a robotic cart that has a British accent has won this year's Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin contest, which is run by the state business group Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. 

Another finalist was a mother and daughter who make adaptive clothing for kids with health problems.

The Mequon firm is MuL Technologies. In a back warehouse, company officials demonstrated the MARC 2470, a four-wheeled black plastic cart that can be quickly programmed to tell it where to move.

Chuck Quirmbach

There have been more than 140 homicides in Milwaukee this year, about double the number last year at this time. It's possible that in 2020, the city will set a new record for killings, most of which involve fatal shootings.

Creators of a new online tool at the Medical College of Wisconsin hope to eventually reduce the violence.

Courtesy of UW-Madison

The U.S. Army is giving UW-Madison $11.4 million to help develop a new type of airplane engine that could someday power everything from drones to commercial air taxis.

Hybrid-electric engines already exist in some cars. But scientists say despite aircraft engines being much different, hybrids hold promise in the skies as well.

UW-Madison mechanical engineering professor David Rothamer is principal investigator for the project. He says there are multiple fuels that could work in a modified airplane engine.

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to speak in Janesville Monday. His campaign appearance comes a few days after a Trump administration appointee, Department of Energy Deputy Secretary Mark Menezes, traveled to the Janesville-Beloit area. Menezes’ visit highlighted the potential of more federal funding for two companies involving in making radioisotopes used in diagnosing medical problems. 

Петр Смагин

Many medical centers use a radiation-releasing element called a radioisotope to help diagnose and treat health problems. Friday, a high-ranking member of the U.S. Department of Energy will visit two southern Wisconsin companies involved in making the radioactive isotopes.  The Trump administration official is expected to highlight support of a program to reduce dependence on foreign imports. 

Chuck Quirmbach

The telecommunications industry continues to promise faster wireless service with a technology known as 5G. Cables and antenna towers related to 5G are now being installed in neighborhoods in part of the Milwaukee area. But a Milwaukee alderperson says she's getting  many complaints about how the work is being done — complaints that an analyst says should worry a lot of communities.

One place the cable is going in, is along S. Delaware Avenue in Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhood. 

Courtesy of Healthy Minds Innovations

Local medical experts say they're worried about the mental health of people in the Milwaukee area after dealing with months of COVID-19 and economic challenges related to the pandemic.  

Counselors are recommending various ways to positively cope with additional stress. Some Wisconsin researchers have even developed a free app, designed to help through meditation.

Rendering supplied by Independence First

Thousands of people with disabilities are hoping to vote in Wisconsin on Aug. 11, in November, and in many other elections in the years ahead. But advocates say people in wheelchairs, the visually impaired, and people with other concerns have a more difficult time exercising their right to vote. Technology is helping ease some problems, but not all.

Chuck Quirmbach

Thirty years ago this summer, the landscape slowly started to change for people with disabilities in the U.S. The change in 1990 came through the passage of major legislation known as The Americans With Disabilities Act, or ADA.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says one in four adults in this country has some type of disability. Those include people with vision or hearing impairment, loss of movement, mental health concerns, speech and memory loss. 

Courtesy of Katarina Braun and Gage Moreno / University of Wisconsin-Madison

Many in the university research community say science will eventually help find a vaccine for the coronavirus. But across Wisconsin, it's an uncertain time for the thousands of scientists — young and older — studying and working at universities. The COVID-19 pandemic has already brought some changes, and it's expected to bring more.

Chuck Quirmbach

The Milwaukee Brewers start their coronavirus-shortened 60-game baseball season Friday evening in Chicago against the Cubs. For now, there won't be any fans in the stands, either at away games or July 31, when home games start at Miller Park. 

But baseball will try to make it sound like fans are at the stadiums.

The Brewers just wrapped up a few weeks of what would normally be called spring training, except this year it was summer camp. The team webcast some of its intrasquad games at Miller Park, complete with announcers describing the action.

Screenshot / UW Health

On Thursday, Milwaukee will join Shorewood and Dane County in requiring masks to be worn in some outdoor and indoor locations. It's an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. But as face masks become more common, experts in speech impediments and hearing loss are asking people to be aware that mask wearing can affect communication.

Meanwhile, engineers and designers are working on potential solutions.

Courtesy of Medical College of Wisconsin

A federal program trying to recruit 1 million people for medical research is launching an effort to learn more about COVID-19. The Medical College of Wisconsin and some other health care outlets in the state are part of the program called All of Us

All of Us began during the Obama administration and could cost $1.5 billion nationally over a 10-year period.

Chuck Quirmbach

COVID-19 has triggered a sharp economic slowdown. Separately, some of the Black Lives Matter protests have focused on African Americans and other non-white groups trailing Caucasians in average household income. 

Can more business innovation be a partial solution to both issues?  Some people think so.

Ann-Elise Henzl

The state of Wisconsin says the number of active COVID-19 investigations at nursing homes continues to increase. The Department of Health Services (DHS) website indicates 58 active public health probes, up from 38 when the state first released its list two weeks ago.

There are 15 active probes at skilled care facilities in Milwaukee County. Total investigations (active and closed) at nursing homes statewide has gone from 46 to 74. An investigation gets underway when at least one home resident or staff member tests positive for COVID-19.

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