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University of Arizona Researchers Experiment with Self-Healing Gadgets: Welcome to the Future

Have you ever stopped to think about how cool it would be if your gadgets fixed themselves? Of course you haven't, because that would be CRAZY.

Crazy or not, self-healing machines are exactly what several University of Arizona professors and graduate students have been researching for the past two years. Crazier still, they actually work.

The project, which started in 2007 and is funded by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, aims to create devices that can "heal" malfunctions in their own operating systems without having to rely on bulky multiple backup systems.

"We had to jump through several hoops to get the prototype working," said Professor Ali Akoglu, who heads the project. "We spent two years, with eight undergrads and grads working on it. One day it decided to operate, and it was a dream come true."

The technology is still pretty cutting-edge, and won't be ready for consumer products for at least another 10 years, Akoglu says. But when it is, the possibilities are practically limitless.

Just think: Self-healing cell phones, airplanes, spacecrafts, planet rovers, computers, DVD players -- basically anything with an operating system.

Akoglu says researchers are currently focusing on how to cut self-repair speed from it's current 3-4 seconds to under a millisecond.

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