Archive for June, 2019

Vegebot Pickings

Harvesting vegetables and fruit is much more time consuming than harvesting field crops such as wheat. They are also more manpower consuming. Think about the sheer number of people required to harvest grapes from a vineyard during season. In order to make harvesting an easier task, scientists at Cambridge have been working with a robot prototype.

This vegetable picking robot uses Artificial Intelligence to identify which common agricultural crop is ready to be harvested. It was initially designed by the scientists at the University of Cambridge to recognize and harvest iceberg lettuce in a lab setting. Since then it has been tested in a number of field conditions at a local fruit and vegetable co-operative .

It’s performance has been improving gradually as the robot automatically learns from previous experience. Naturally the “Vegebot”, as it has been nicknamed, is not as fast or efficient as a human worker as of now. Still the paper in the Journal of Field Robotics hopes that it will be improved enough to be put to use in actual field conditions.

Though it may be while, this science project may end up creating a robot that is used to pick your salad in the future. It would work out more economical than hiring human labor for the same task.

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Why Older Americans Need More Energy

A study was conducted at Harvard Medical School on the consumption of energy in households by Hossein Estiri. The computational demographer authored a paper in which he found that energy consumption rose in the age group of 30 to 54 years when people got married, moved to larger homes and raised children. Then the use of energy stabilized for people in their 60s, while surprisingly the use of energy increased in the 70s and continued to go up.

Despite changes in income groups and housing styles, the trend of increased energy consumption in the 70s seemed to apply across the board. Energy consumption in warmer regions was really elevated for older age group people. This could be attributed to more need for air conditioning. Also older people may not be able to maintain their homes well enough to conserve energy.

Another possible factor would be that the appliances they use may be older and less efficient compared to the technology being used by their younger counterparts. Think of old refrigerators, toasters and microwave ovens. There may not be actual need for more energy, but a science project may prove that if the gadgets being used by the people are changed, they may need less energy in the future.

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Waste Food to Replace Fossil Fuel?

If you have cringed at the amount of food that gets wasted each time at a large gathering of humanity, you may now be able to salve your conscience. Yes, while you may not be able to deliver the food to people who are starving in other parts of the world, you can still help put this wasted food to good use by converting it into a source of energy.

At the University of Waterloo in Canada, scientists feel that wasted food can be converted into a clean substitute for fossil fuels, at an economically viable rate. They used the natural fermentation process of the food to produce a biodegradable chemical which may be used as a source of alternative energy.

Hyung Sool Lee is an engineering professor at the University of Waterloo who wanted to find a better way to utilize wasted food to mitigate the damage caused by fossil fuels. This is what led to the development of this new technology which allows scientists to extract numerous useful chemicals and potential fuel from the waste food.

The science experiment collects and recirculates leachate through food waste in tanks. This is a microbial cocktail of microorganisms and nutrients. It stimulates bio-degradation by intensive mixing. Chemicals are then extracted from this mixture.

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Sitting is Bad for Your Heart

A sedentary lifestyle at work is quite common for most office employees. They usually have to sit in one place for a number of hours in front of their computers. What was once uncommon for mankind, has now become the norm for most people. The only movement is made for a couple of short breaks in the day and is hardly enough to meet the daily exercise requirements for the human body.

Getting exercise is very important for a person to stay healthy, as researchers conducting a new scientific study in Columbia University found out. Keith M Diaz, one of the authors of the study said that their findings showed that how you spent time outside of work may matter more when it comes to heart health. This means that even if you are stuck at a desk during work, you need to make the rest of the hours more active.

The study was conducted over eight and a half years on 3592 people. It found that leisure time sitting, such as for watching television, was a major contributor to poor heart health. Moderate to vigorous exercise was much more likely to show a positive health for the heart. Those who exercised were also seen to be at less risk for death due to heart disease.

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Tell Your Watch Your Mood

Wristwatches have been the natural selection for wearable tech. Fitness bands are able to calculate your step count and monitor your heart rate simply by having the sensor in the base read the electric impulse on your skin. They have become a necessary tool in athlete training and now researchers are hoping to take wearable tech into areas beyond physical fitness. 

At the Lancaster University in the United Kingdom researchers are working with smart materials to create prototypes of wrist watches that can aid people with emotionally affective disorders. The strap may change color or the watch may begin to vibrate as emotions get heightened in the wearer. The low cost prototypes provide a large variety of possible emotion readers.

Knowing what your emotions are is the beginning to mastering them, says one of the lead authors of the scientific study. It is a complex skill that people with depression, anxiety disorder, or bi-polar disorder are unable to handle. Using this wearable tech may help them create real time changes in handling emotional out bursts in an easier manner. 

While there is no prototype ready to market as on now, it is easy to see how a device like this would be a game changer in the mental health industry. Maybe one day soon care givers to mental disorder patients will be able to use the advantage of these smart wrist watches to help their patients.

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