After a year of trying, a lab from the University of California that is led by the Australian Geneticist Van Eenennaam, had just used the gene-editing tool CRISPR to add a gene called SRY to some bovine skin cells.
What does it mean?
CRISPR: gene editing tool that enables scientist to make changes on the DNA in the embryo phase, so they can remove or edit bad genes or just make animals more profitable. It has been used to create pigs that are immune to viruses and sheep whose wool grows longer.
SRY: a bit of DNA that can make a female turn out to be essentially male—with bigger muscles, a penis, and testicles (but unable to make sperm).
It means that the industry will be able to have only male animals and in this case, male cattle – Van Eenennaam likes to call this the “ Boys only” project.
But, why would the industry take advantage of that? Basically, males grow bigger and faster, which means…more steak.
Why it’s hot: This is scary. Of course, we can discuss the positive effects that editing bad parts of DNA can have on animals and people. But do we need that? What are the risks of it? How can it change the way we live together?
The next generation of powerful telescopes will scan millions of stars and generate massive amounts of data that astronomers will be tasked with analyzing. That’s way too much data for people to sift through and model themselves — so astronomers are turning to AI to help them do it.
How they’re using it:
1) Coordinate telescopes.The large telescopes that will survey the sky will be looking for transient events — new signals or sources that “go bump in the night,” says Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Tom Vestrand.
2) Analyze data.Every 30 minutes for two years, NASA’s new Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite will send back full frame photos of almost half the sky, giving astronomers some 20 million stars to analyze. Over 10 years there will be 50 million gigabytes of raw data collected.
3) Mine data. “Most astronomy data is thrown away but some can hold deep physical information that we don’t know how to extract,” says Joshua Peek from the Space Telescope Science Institute.
Why it’s hot:
Algorithms have helped astronomers for a while, but recent advances in AI — especially image recognition and faster, more inexpensive computing power —mean the techniques can be used by more researchers. The new AI will automate the process and be able to understand and identify things that humans may not even know exists or begin to understand.
“How do you write software to discover things that you don’t know how to describe?There are normal unusual events, but what about the ones we don’t even know about? How do you handle those? That will be where real discoveries happen because by definition you don’t know what they are.” – Tom Vestrand National Laboratory
Ikea creates products for your everyday life. But as we know life comes at you fast. Sometimes it can all change in an instant and rather than just acknowledging these moments, IKEA took action.
In their latest ad in Amelia magazine, which is hailed as one of Sweden’s most influential magazines for women the call to action is not “visit our store or website” but asks the female reader to pee on the ad, as it could change their life.
The IKEA Crib that is prominently featured has a strip along the bottom where the woman can apply urine. With a next level “pregnancy strip” embedded into the paper a positive test will reveal a new and discounted price for the crib – offering the holder the IKEA family discount.
Why It’s Hot
With the attitude that “print is dead” this ad literally and figuratively brings new life into the medium. By engaging with their consumers, and offering a reason to shop – IKEA may achieve what all marketers want: a connection with the consumer that drives them to purchase.
Why some people become addicted to oopiods and some do not has become somewhat of a mystery in the medical community. But the story is familiar; patient gets prescribed an opioid pain killer, and by the end of their course of treatment, they have developed a dependency (knowingly or not). But what if a genetic test could signal whether a person is more likely to develop an addiction, and therefore at higher risk from the moment they enter the doctor’s office?
That’s exactly what the medical analytics company Prescient Medicine has set out to do with their LifeKit Test- a genetic test that determines within 97% sensitivity how addictive your genetic response to opioids will be. Using an algorithm they developed based on genes that signal addiction in neural pathways, they give each test subject a score out of 100, with anything 52 or higher showing an elevated risk of addiction.
WHY IT’S HOT
Perhaps LifeKit and advancements in genetic testing could be the preventative measure needed to stop this national health crisis, and even aid with substance abuse of all kinds. As genetic testing becomes cheaper and more ubiquitous, it may arm doctors with the knowledge to offer alternatives that could saves millions of lives.
As of 1/1 Germany’s new anti-hate-speech law has come into effect. The new law promises fines of up to 50 million euros ($60 million, £44 million) for non compliance.
The law requires social networks to remove hate speech in under 24 hours from when it’s flagged by a user. Networks are given one week to deal with less clear cases.
Hate speech has seen a recent up tick online. YouTube stars accused of anti-Semitism; Trumps tweets against immigrants and Muslims.
Why it’s hot?
The real question is whether this has a positive effect on the rest of the internet. With geolocation, it’s possible to keep the hate speech ban specific to Germany and German citizens. Depending on how tight the laws were written….the rest of us just might be in luck….
Also, fun fact. There’s a word in german for this kind of speech Volksverhetzung, in English “incitement of the masses”, “instigation of the people”
FoldiMate debuted a prototype of its laundry-folding machine at CES 2017, but it has yet to actually deliver a product to market, though it has an updated the design that will be unveiled at CES 2018 (a few days from today).
The product video below is all style, no substance with no actual images of laundry being folded but it’s meant to be a teaser.
Why It’s Hot
If the concept works, it will probably excite the average Joe so much more than another bulky VR headset because it is practical.
The worst thing about being in a band is waiting for the guitarist to set up and adjust—and re-adjust, and then re-re-adjust—his collection of effects boxes and pedals. But it seems the biggest name in guitars is out to fix that. The Fender Tone app for iOS and Android manages thousands of pre-set guitar effects and delivers them via Bluetooth or WiFi to Fender’s new line of Mustang GT guitar amps.
Why It’s Hot:
Similar to other consumer technologies, Fender has built the amp so that it does not get outdated. Fender has built around an ARM computer processor system, and can use Bluetooth and wifi to send updates in the form of presets, hardware tweaks, and features whenever Fender has updates. The amp will continuously update as other sounds, new amps, and features roll-out through Fender’s offering creating a one size fits all system.
“If we release a new amp, we can do a simulation of it on this amp,” Kaplan said. The Mustang models come in three sizes, ranging from a small $250 tabletop practice amp, up to a $600 model that can fill a venue with sound. In testing out the Mustang, Kaplan said the team created simulations that the average player would be “hard pressed to tell apart” from the amps they were copying the tone of.
Billboard is reporting that music titan Jimmy Iovine will exit his role at Apple Music this August. When the founder of the most lucrative brands in music fires himself, predictions start running wild.
Iovine joined Apple Music in 2014, at the same time of the Beats Electronics acquisition, which Iovine was a founder. For the past two years, Iovine has been responsible for negotiating many of the streaming deals for the service which has grown to 30 million subscribers.
To say Iovine is a visionary is an understatement. He pitched an online music subscription service to Steve Jobs back in 2003! In the 70s he earned his chops as a recording engineer for John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. Then, in 1990 he co-founded Interscope, where he was personally responsible for signing Tupac Shakur, Eminem, Gwen Stefani, Lady Gaga and more.
Why It’s Hot
The timing of Iovine’s departure aligns with the vesting of stock he acquired when he first joined Apple. He could just be taking his hard earned money and riding off into the sunset. Or, at 64 years young, this titan may be investing in the next music frontier. He’s done it twice already.
An animal shelter in San Francisco has been criticized for using a robot security guard to scare off homeless people.
The San Francisco branch of the SPCA (the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) hired a K5 robot built by Knightscope to patrol the sidewalks outside its facilities as a “way to try dealing with the growing number of needles, car break-ins and crime that seemed to emanate from nearby tent encampments of homeless people.”
Jennifer Scarlett, president of the SF SPCA told the Business Times last week: “We weren’t able to use the sidewalks at all when there’s needles and tents and bikes, so from a walking standpoint I find the robot much easier to navigate than an encampment.”
The robot in question is equipped with four cameras, moves at a pace of three miles per hour, and is cheaper than a human security guard — costing around $6 an hour to rent. The same model of robot previously knocked over a toddler in a mall and fell into a fountain in DC. Knightscope says its robots are intended as deterrents, and for providing mobile surveillance.
Reaction to the news on social media has been overwhelming negative, with people shaming the SPCA for deploying the machine, and encouraging others to vandalize or destroy it. Within a week of the robot starting its duties, some people “put a tarp over it, knocked it over and put barbecue sauce on all the sensors.” One Twitter user reported seeing the robot with feces smeared on it.
“Contrary to sensationalized reports, Knightscope was not brought in to clear the area around the SF SPCA of homeless individuals,” a spokesperson told The Verge. “Knightscope was deployed, however, to serve and protect the SPCA. The SCPA has the right to protect its property, employees and visitors, and Knightscope is dedicated to helping them achieve this goal. The SPCA has reported fewer car break-ins and overall improved safety and quality of the surrounding area.”
In any case, the SPCA K5 might have a limited shelf life in San Francisco. The city recently passed new legislation limiting the use of robots in city streets. Although the rules were aimed primarily at delivery bots, the SPCA has been ordered to keep the K5 off sidewalks or face a $1,000 daily fine. Knightscope is currently negotiating with the city over future deployments.
Why It’s Hot:
Knightscope’s response raises questions about how society will respond to robots like these in the future.
Seems that because these robots are semi-autonomous, Knightscope, and those who hire them, can shift the blame for its actions.
While most people are getting nervous about the physical takeover of robots, no one is worried about the more imminent threat of AI, which is what the majority of industry leaders, such as Elon Musk, are warning us about.
Everyone knows the role of photosynthesis in absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2). While there isn’t any doubt that plants are doing their job, there’s simply just too much CO2 for the plants to absorb and “fix.” Plus a main enzyme involved in the process doesn’t work that fast.
But researchers have managed to make a synthetic pathway that converts CO2 into organic compounds faster than plants. With more than 20% of our rainforests depleted and urban pollution at an all-time high, relying on our planet’s resources has taken a backseat to technological innovation.
Once the technology is successfully transplanted into living plants, we could be in for faster, less energy-intensive CO2 fixation. Its applications include developing systems to create carbon-based feed for cattle, and perhaps even designing more desirable chemical products.
Why It’s Hot
While I’m still not a believer in “don’t worry about global warming – we’ll innovate our way out of it”, I still hold hope that advances like this can be combined with more sustainable living to help us deal with this massive problem.
In early October of this year, a new discovery was announced in the Pyramid of Giza. “Scientists had discovered a previously undetected open space in Egypt’s 4,500-year-old Great Pyramid of Giza.” [Kotaku]
The discovery was made possible through the unlikely intersection of archaeology and particle physics. By making meticulous measurements of muons—elementary particles that rain down on Earth from deep space and are capable of traveling through solid objects—researchers were able to characterize the densities within the pyramid, revealing the presence of an empty space that measures at least 100 feet (30 meters) in length. [Gizmodo]
The void in the Pyramid of Giza as featured in Assassin’s Creed Origins
But before November, this space–which researchers specifically avoid referring to as a “chamber” or other architectural-sounding term, preferring instead to call it a “void”–was merely a “disputed theory by French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin about how the entire pyramid was built.” [Kotaku]
So how did it get into a video game that released the same month? Assassin’s Creed developers worked closely with historian Maxime Durand to create the latest iteration of the popular franchise. According to Durand:
“We have long believed that Jean-Pierre Houdin’s theories about the inner ramps and royal circuit with two antechambers inside the Great Pyramid are probably the most credible, which is why we decided to use them in the game, […] We were betting on the fact that these secret locations inside of the Great Pyramid would probably be discovered in the near future, so we wanted to allow players the chance to visit them in advance.”
“Origins’ depiction of a room that would have been used for turning the heavy blocks as they were dragged up long straight internal ramps and stacked to continue building the pyramid from the inside out.” – Kotaku
Why it’s hot
Including the void in the game experience allows users to explore speculative history. While the entering the pyramid is optional, the developers put an tempting side challenge inside, encouraging players to explore and learn more about what the interior might have looked like. Most importantly, perhaps, this fortunate inclusion has given the news of the discovery a second audience in players eager to explore the latest discovery in a way that would otherwise be impossible.
Learn more about the feature in Assassin’s Creed Origins at Kotaku.com, and read more about the discovery of the void at Gizmodo.com
Millennials seem to be the toughest demographic to crack, as they’re viewed as narcissistic, entitled, superficial, and several more descriptive adjectives. So Mastercard Australia made it their mission to understand what millennials really wanted from their new debit rewards program. The “Millennials Demystified” experiment was conducted by researchers at the University of South Wales and the purpose was simple, to find out what millennials really desire. Participants of the study were given 2 choices in which they had to choose which one they desired the most, the catch was that their neurological impulses let the researchers know exactly what they truly desired out of the two choices. The results? Simple. Millennials are human after all and they want to do more good than harm the world, contrary to what seems to be common belief.
Why it’s hot:
Turns out millennials aren’t soulless zombies that want to watch the world burn.
ETH Zurich, a science & tech university, has announced the development of a new kind of ink that contains live bacteria. This ink has fantastic implications for several areas of science, including cleaning up environmental pollution and creating medical supplies.
For environmental pollution, the ink is key because it suspends bacteria in a polymer hydrogel, which keeps the bacteria alive and fed for a time. Once the bacteria eat all of the hydrogel, it can begin to process other materials – for example, toxins in water. ETH Zurich researchers printed a live ink grid embedded with bacteria that eat the hazardous chemical phenol, and then put the lattice in phenol-contaminated water. The water was completely purified in just a few days.
For medical supplies, this ink is important not because of the bacteria itself, but because of the strands of material that the bacteria create when they move: bacterial cellulose. Bacterial cellulose is pure, holds a lot of water, and is soothing to wounds on human flesh. And it’s a natural material, so human bodies generally don’t reject the cellulose. As a result, this material is perfect for materials like skin transplants and wound dressings. Until now, bacterial cellulose could only be grown in flat sheets, which isn’t conducive to the contours of bodies – but now with this 3D ink, researchers can print cellulose in the shape of someone’s elbow, or face, or ankle, etc.
Why It’s Hot: There are SO many possible applications of this technology. 3D printing is relatively easy to access, and there are a million kinds of bacteria (unscientific estimation) that could be used and modified to achieve a multitude of goals. For example, researchers are already eyeing bacteria that could be genetically modified to secrete medicine to speed wound healing, and before you know it we’ll all be buying bacterially enhanced Band-Aids!
Say Hi to Parker, your augmented reality bear. He’s filled with nothing but love and stuffing but he’s so much more than that. When you purchase Parker for $60 you can get the whole Parker kit that’s compatible with your iOS devices! It comes with Parker, a wooden stethoscope, wooden thermometer and a few other miscellaneous items. The idea is to promote STEAM from a young age.
It’s a great way to integrate AR with a classic toy for kids. The greatest part is that you can also purchase the $40 extension bedtime kit for more fun! Purchases aside, at least the app itself is free.
Why it’s hot:
STEAM integration is becoming more and more important and it’s an amazing way to let kids explore from the get go. But is Parker worth $100?
New York startup Finery has created an AI-powered operating system that will organize your wardrobe.
It provides an automated system that reminds women what options they have, as well as creating outfits for them – saving users a lot of time and money (as they won’t mistakenly buy another grey cashmere jumper if they know they already have three at home).
Users link The Wardrobe Operating System to their email address, so the platform can browse through their mailbox to find their shopping history. All the items they’ve purchased online are then transferred to their digital wardrobe (with 93% accuracy).
Any clothing bought from a bricks-and-mortar shop can be added as well, but that’s done manually by either searching the Finery database for the item or uploading an image (either one you’ve taken or one from the internet). Finery uses Cloud Vision to identify what the object is (skirt, dress, trousers, etc.), the color and the material – then the brand and size can be added manually.
Once your clothing is all uploaded, the platform uses algorithms to recommend outfits based on the pieces you own as well as recommending future purchases that would match with your current items.
Users can also create and save outfits within the platform. And, if they give Finery access to their shopping accounts, the startup will aggregate all their unpurchased shopping cart items into a single Wishlist and alert them when said items go on sale.
Finery will alert its users when the return window for an item they’ve purchased is closing. And it will also let them know if they already own an item that looks similar to one they are planning on buying.
Finery has currently partnered with over 500 stores, equivalent to more than 10,000 brands, to create its online catalog. ‘That covers about ninety percent of the retail market.
Next, the company will be expanding into children’s clothing, and then men’s fashion. And it’s working on developing algorithms to suggest outfit combinations based on weather, location and personal preference, as well as a personalized recommendations tool for items not yet in user’s closets.
Why It’s Hot:
This personal “stylist” gives courage to fashion-handicaps (like myself) to shop online with confidence
It helps avoid unnecessary fashion splurges – BFD considering the average woman spends $250 -$350K on clothes over their lifetime
Acts as a fashion-dream catcher that helps grant your wish list by making purchases easy
Two developments this week are putting Apple Watch front & center in the ongoing search for better atrial fibrillation (AFib) diagnostic and management tools. AFib is a condition where your heartbeat is irregular, and it often has zero symptoms and goes undiagnosed. It’s currently the leading cause of strokes, and related deaths and hospitalizations, in the US.
First, the FDA has cleared the first EKG band as a direct-to-consumer – meaning, you don’t need a prescription to purchase or use it – Apple Watch accessory. The KardiaBand, a device made by startup AliveCor, can capture your EKG in 30 seconds. The band’s algorithms can then detect whether signs of AFib are present in the EKG. The band also makes use of the Apple Watch’s heartbeat sensors and will alert you if your watch is picking up fast or irregular heartbeats, and prompt you to complete an EKG test on the spot to further analyze any symptoms you may be feeling.
Second, Stanford has launched an irregular heartbeat study using the Apple Watch and an app available on the App Store called Apple Heart Study. Users just download the app and consent to participate, and then their data is automatically collected and analyzed by Stanford. If AFib is detected, the app will send you a push notification as well as provide a free consultation with a Stanford doctor and an EKG patch for further monitoring. With Apple’s recent release of HealthKit and ResearchKit, this study is another step toward positioning the Apple Watch as a versatile, reliable health monitoring device.
Why It’s Hot: These two developments are cracking the facade of a time-honored medical tradition of keeping information about your own body behind expert oversight. The KardiaBand being direct-to-consumer indicates a big step forward in companies being able to build hardware and software that rival medical technology to a level that the FDA will approve it. And the Stanford study is working directly with Apple Watch users, not requiring any subjects to go into a medical facility for testing and data gathering. Is this the first step toward breaking down the expert oversight firewall? But of course, on the other hand, what are the ramifications of people’s health data being shared and stored on their devices?
“As the Bezos behemoth continues along its unstoppable, disruptive path, brands are increasingly requesting Amazon-tailored services. Agencies have been ramping up their capabilities on the platform and even launching dedicated practices as a response.”
“Many marketers now view Amazon as a legitimate competitor to Facebook and Google, according to 22squared vp, director of media planning Brandy Everhart. ‘What they bring to the table is an extensive data set that you can’t get anywhere else,’ she said. ‘We’ve seen a lot of successful campaigns that are focused on driving conversions on the Amazon platform.’
Even brands that don’t sell on Amazon are asking questions due to the power of its search reach and the benefits of its data sets. ‘Clients want me to increase their engagement in every possible way,’ said Matt Bijarchi, founder and CEO of digital brand studio Blend. ‘We’ve learned ecommerce is also a brand-building opportunity.'”
This is hot for 2 key reasons: data and customer engagement.
As VRT devices like Alexa and Google home start to infiltrate the home and the office, it will be increasingly important to understand what information users are asking these devices for, and what content people are consumers – making it a perfect addition to our SENSE offering.
For pharma specifically, Alexa and similar devices offer opportunities to support and engage both patients and HCPs in office and at home. Building relevant skills for these audience could help:
support physician discovery and work as a valuable sales resource
Provide guidance for patients when self-administering at home and track adherence
Help patients track symptom improvement
Improve infusion experiences at home and in-office with original and curated content tailored to patient’s interests/needs
During AWS Reinvent Conference in Las Vegas, Amazon announced Alexa for Business Platform, along with a set of initial partners that have developed specific “skills” for business customers.
Their main goal seems to be aimed at making Alexa a key component to office workers:
– The first focus for Alexa for Business is the conference room. AWS is working with the likes of Polycom and other video and audio conferencing providers to enable this.
– Other partners are Microsoft ( to enable better support for its suite of productivity services) Concur (travel expenses) and Splunk ( big data generated by your technology infrastructure, security systems, and business applications), Capital One and Wework.
But that’s just what they are planning to offer and the new platform will also let companies build out their own skills and integrations.
Why It’s hot:
We are finally seeing those technologies give a step to being actually useful and mainstream.
Since Amazon wants to integrate Alexa to other platforms, It can be an interesting tool for future innovations.
Google announced an extension Thursday for its growing library of 3D objects, the Poly API. Using the API, developers can bring in pre-baked 3D objects into their projects, making for a much faster workflow. This represents another step for Google to bring AR and VR developers to their toolset. The Poly API is not limited to games or apps, it can be used by web devs across mobile and desktop experiences. Designers are hungry for ways to quickly prototype AR and VR experiences, and perhaps this brings us one step closer. For the adventurous, here’s the Google API Documentation.
Amazon has partnered with “O, the Oprah Magazine,” on a holiday promotion that gives voice-assistant Alexa the voice of Oprah Winfrey when users shop among the iconic celebrity’s “Favorite Things.” Oprah’s voice will recommend a product and share background on why it made her list.
Yes, it’s gimmicky – but, It’s an interesting ex anploration and build off existing platform (O, The Oprah Magazine and Amazon have worked together over the past couple of years to co-promote Oprah’s Favorite Things online and on mobile through a dedicated Amazon storefront), and therefore – a great way to test and learn.
The UX is not there yet – this won’t be a very efficient way to shop. Not only does it force you to listen to items one-by-one, it’s also difficult to encourage people to shop based on product suggestions and descriptions alone. Most people want to see photos – and sometimes even videos – before making an online purchase.
BMW partnered with running apps to give runners in the Shanghai marathon an artwork based on their performance data. It created digital artworks that turned runners’ pace and speed data into colourful cylinders and waves.
BMW partnered with running apps such as CoDoon, JoyRun and Rejoice, as well as a data artist Joshua Davis, to collect runners’ data and then present it as an artwork. Runners could interact with the digital artwork, by rotating it, to reveal more information. The imagery could also be shared on social media.
Why its hot:
Applied BMW’s positioning as the Ultimate Performance Machine to running. It doesn’t feel too forced or out of place.
Applied the insight from car customers: just like car owners are curious about their car’s performance, runners have the same desire to know about their performance
What BMW said:
‘BMW aspires to earn a place in running culture while staying authentic to their brand. So we asked ourselves, if cars and running have almost nothing in common how can BMW add value to the running experience? The simple truth was performance. BMW has a rich heritage using technology to enhance performance in everything they do and we thought, what if they could do it for runners? This was leap off point our creatives took and ran with’
The FDA has approved a pill called Abilify MyCite that can digitally track whether it’s been ingested, and when. The point of the medication is to increase patient compliance, the thought being that if the patient is being held accountable by their medication, they’ll be more likely to take their pills. Non-compliance is a huge issue – not only does it decrease patient outcomes, it’s also can create drug resistance, and in the case of overdosing, can create dangerous drug dependency.
The pill works via a sensor in the actual pill made of copper and magnesium that sends out an electric signal once the sensor hits the stomach acid. The patient wears a patch on their ribcage that receives the electric signal, and sends it along to an app that records the date and time of the pill digestion. The app allows for data sharing with doctors and family members (and sharing permissions can be revoked at any time).
Though the technology is promising, there are big ethical questions raised by this new pill. First, Abilify is an antipsychotic medication prescribed primarily to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The FDA’s approving of this particular kind of medication reflects a concerning disregard for the mental wellbeing of patients – Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman told The New York Times, “there’s an irony in it being giving to people with mental disorders that can include delusions. It’s like a biomedical Big Brother.” And his colleague Dr. Paul Appelbaum, Columbia’s director of law, ethics and psychiatry, pointed out that “drugs for almost any other condition would be a better place to start than a drug for schizophrenia.”
Second, the authority figures wielding this level of surveillance could easily manipulate patients. Imagine being told that your insurance company will cover 100% of your pill costs, but only if you take it on time every day. Or that you’re on parole and your freedom is contingent on taking medication. Or that your release from a psychiatric institution is predicated on your drug adherence.
Why It’s Hot: The technology itself is exciting – and the potential implications are fascinatingly broad, from improving patient outcomes to providing a whole new way for authorities to exert control over your physical being. (Yikes.)
Why It’s Hot:
We’ve often seen experiences using VR as a way for people to have a more immersive experience when consuming content. In this case, Paterson is using VR as a way to create content in the form of animation. Instead of drawing on paper and then translating that work to a program that a computer can read, he has created a way to use VR to do the animation directly into the software while keeping his natural movements of drawing intact.
The EPA just approved the use of genetically engineered mosquitoes to fight mosquito-borne diseases. MosquitoMate, a biotech startup, has created mosquitoes with a modification that inhibits the reproductive cycle of mosquitoes in the wild. The goal is to introduce a natural (well, natural-ish) method of fighting diseases like Zika and dengue fever that are historically quite difficult to control, especially in zones where mosquito activity is high.
The GMO mosquitoes are given a bacterium to carry – Wolbachia pipienti – with the goal of spreading the bacterium to the wild populations of Asian tiger mosquitoes, the kind of mosquito that carries diseases. MosquitoMate breeds the infected bugs in their lab, and then separates the specimens into males and females. The males, who don’t bite, are released into treatment areas. When the GMO males mate with wild females, their eggs don’t hatch because of the bacterium (it prevents the paternal chromosome from forming correctly). Therefore, the mosquito circle of life is short-circuited after 30 to 40 days, the average lifespan of Asian tiger mosquitoes.
The EPA only okayed MosquitoMate to release their males into 20 states and DC, because those zones are most similar in climate to the three locations where the startup held its tests (KY, NY, and CA). MosquitoMate hopes to be able to iterate on their concept and create a different species that can be released all over the US.
Why It’s Hot: Not all biotech has to be complex or cutting-edge technologically. This startup, and the bacterium-carrying mosquito as biopesticide strategy overall, is pretty low-tech in terms of its mechanisms and functionality, but it has massive potential to improve public health and safety, not to mention general quality of life, for millions of people. Not everything has to be complicated in order to be groundbreaking!
Uber e NASA just announced a partnership that intends to provide” flying car” rides to people living in big cities until the year of 2020.
While NASA is responsible for developing air traffic systems, Uber makes their UberAIR project become a reality.
The idea is to launch the beta service in Los Angeles, Dallas and Dubai and they are expecting it to cut by more than half the travel time.
Although this is not exactly a new thing, the difference now is that we know they intend to make that option affordable and that they are now officially part of NASA’s “Space Act Agreement”, which exists to develop security measurements to air traffic while assuring its efficiency.
Why it’s hot:
– It makes us think that those movie-like future predictions are actually happening.
– Air taxis can change the way we experience and live in big cities. For example. If it shortens the commute time, then maybe we can decrease the demographic density of big cities.
The Lamborghini Terzo Millennio concept was created from a collaboration between Lamborghini and MIT. They wanted to envision a supercar not from the next generation, but the generation after that. It focuses on:
The Terzo uses super-capacitors, which can accept and deliver charge faster than batteries can instead of traditional storage batteries.
Lamborghini and MIT are researching using the car’s carbon fiber body as an energy storage medium, turning the whole body into a battery.
That technology can also be used to monitor the car’s carbon fiber structure.
For example, if small cracks develop, the charge may move through the body differently, which can kick-start a “self-repairing” process in order to prevent the cracks from growing.
In terms of propulsion, it packs four electric motors, one in each wheel, which permits more freedom in design by hiding all the motor-related stuff in the wheel wells.
Looks like a Lamborghini, but with the removal of a traditional drivetrain, the cabin is pushed forward a great deal and air channels are everywhere to help keep the car as planted as possible.
Automation is shown off as something to help the owner become a better driver instead of a solution.
It could be capable of taking a driver around a track to display the best driving line, so that drivers can enhance their own abilities without an actual coach sitting in the car with them.
Remember when it was difficult coloring inside the lines? They made “Paint-By-Number” for that. If you have trouble cooking inside the lines of deliciousness than you probably should check out IKEA’s “Cook This Page.” The yet-to-be-released cooking page literally lays it out for you. Each ingredient is drawn out so that you can place them down, roll it up, and it eat all! (Yes, even the paper.)
Why is this hot?
We live in a world where we are in a perpetual state of making everything easier. We’re working toward an era where our cars drive themselves, our phones talk to us so that we don’t have to, and so on. This innovation is for those who cannot cook; and it works.
New York used to be known for it’s incredible abundance of oysters. The native Lanape people ate oysters. Huge oyster beds ringed the harbor. As the city grew, more and people people ate oysters, rich and poor alike. Oysters were farmed, and then eventually overwhelmed by harbor pollution. Oyster farms were shut down due to outbreaks of cholera and typhoid brought on partially from eating oysters from a harbor full of waste. Eventually, the last oyster farm closed, and the harbor was almost devoid of Oysters
These days, there has been a resurgence of interest in oysters. Oyster beds act as buffers and cleaners, both building huge structures that help slow waves and filter them at the same time. Oysters can be a critical element in protecting and assisting our waterways.
Oysters and New York
The destruction of the oyster beds removed a critical ring of protection for New York, and climate change is beginning to make that protection critical. Hurricane Sandy showed that the city needs to take action to protect its citizens from rising sea levels.
Kate Orff, a landscape architect, has helped lead the construction of oyster beds. Her firm, SCAPE, has a plan to rebuild the harbor landscape to be more conducive to oysters, leading to cleaner and calmer water. Her plan, called Living Breakwaters, received $60 million in funding from the government from a design competition staged after Sandy.
Project images from the 99% Invisible article, and originally from SCAPE
From the 99% invisible article:
The plan now is to build a necklace of offshore breakwaters out of large rocks and stones, and seed them with oysters so they grow into reefs.
Much like a natural oyster reef, the Living Breakwaters are designed to break up dangerous waves before they reach the shore. These will reduce coastal erosion, build beaches, and make storms less dangerous, but they won’t keep flood water out altogether.
As the world comes to grips with the changes created by climate change, this type of integrated environmental thinking will be more and more important. As Gina Wirth of SCAPE says:
“I think our changing world really requires a new approach[.] We need to integrate ecosystem thinking into all of our engineered and infrastructural systems, all of our urban systems.”
As designers, and as citizens, “ecosystem thinking” is an important idea. How do we consider the larger environment as we move through our daily lives, and as we create work for our clients. How do we look beyond the immediate intent and effect of our projects and understand their larger impact? How do we attempt to prevent and mitigate potential harm our projects may be created? How do we responsibly create work that integrates with existing systems, whether environmental or otherwise, in order to create positive and sustainable change?
Mimica Touch, is a food label that decays at the same rate as food. The Mimica label is filled with gelatine, which decomposes in the same way as packaged foods. The gel is calibrated to each product line using shelf-life testing data, and it also takes into account the temperature at which it is stored.
When new, the label is smooth. But as time goes by and the gel decomposes, it becomes bumpy to touch, signalling that the food is no longer safe to eat.
The Mimica Touch was developed with visually impaired people in mind. It is also easy to assemble, so that manufacturers can make the label – which consists of a plastic tray, gel and a lid – on site.
Why its hot? 90% of Americans prematurely threw away food because they misinterpreted sell-by and use-by labels as indicators that food had gone rotten and become unsafe.