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X Marks the Spot: A wristband that detects seizures, plus this week’s TEDx Talks

18-year-old Rick Housley is developing a wristband for people with epilepsy that is capable of detecting seizures and alerting a list of contacts. In this talk from TEDxHoboken, he shares the innocuous moment that sparked his interest in this subject — on a stalled train in 2010.

Housley was annoyed when his train suddenly jerked to a stop. He was carrying heavy bags and was ready to get where he was going. But when he heard that the train had stopped so that a woman who’d had a seizure in another car could get medical attention, his anger fled and concern kicked in. He thought: What if this woman had been on her own?

An engineering student, Housley set out to create a device that would help some of the 65 million people worldwide who are affected by epilepsy — a third of whom have uncontrolled seizures. His wristband, which is in development, is designed to monitor its wearer’s movements and text-message a list of contacts if it detects suspect shaking.

This is the kind of idea you hear about at TEDx events, dozens of which take place all across the globe every week. From these events, the TEDx team chooses their four favorite talks a week to showcase a few of the inspiring ideas from the TEDx community. Below, watch this week’s featured talks.

Lessons from ancient social media: Tom Standage at TEDxOxbridge
Social media isn’t the just sign of modern times but, says Tom Standage, of ancient ones, too. At TEDxOxbridge, he tours the history of how news and ideas were spread and discussed — from the letters of Cicero to the coffeehouses of Elizabethan England — and shows that social media is not that new after all. (Filmed at TEDxOxbridge)

The truth needs better marketing: Eli Pariser at TEDxPoynterInstitute
Right now, people have access to more news sources than ever before, but do we really know what’s going on in the world? Eli Parser, founder of Upworthy, believes that serious news needs a serious makeover, and at TEDxPoynterInstitute, he explains his ideas to make reading meaningful news more appealing. (Filmed at TEDxPoynterInstitute)

Let’s talk about death: Stephen Cave at TEDxBratislava
Death. It’s kind of a heavy subject. And, according to Stephen Cave, we fear it so much that we avoid thinking about it at all costs — even when death is exactly what we think we’re talking about. At TEDxBratislava, he outlines the four common narratives that cultures throughout history have used to dodge thinking about dying, and gives us a reason to stop getting caught up on dying and start focusing on living. (Filmed at TEDxBratislava)

A better democracy will need a better press: Lord David Puttnam at TEDxHousesofParliament
Bad journalism, with its cynical storytelling, damages democracy; at best, disengaging citizens from active politics and, at worst, leaving them haplessly misinformed. With an understated and clear voice, Lord David Puttnam calls on us to challenge a culture of negligence, and reconsider our notions about how to balance freedom of expression (and the freedom to chase profit) with the press’s moral imperative to serve democracy. (Filmed at TEDxHousesofParliament)

Also great this week on the TEDx Blog: