The buzz about entomophagy: Is eating insects more than a novelty?
Jiminy Cricket may be able to do more than guide our consciences: he, or his kin, may also provide food security solutions for a growing and hungry world. However, the notion of insects-as-food struggles to find widespread traction amid problems with standardization of food safety standards, government disinterest and only a small body of research. So is there a future for cricket sushi or fried silk worms? Insects as food has become something of a stalwart “weird” news story in the press, giving hacks plenty to buzz about (sorry). However there are many reasons to push the benefits: low environmental costs, high nutritive value, low farming costs, high value as a cash crop for poor families and a possible solution to what may be a looming food security crisis as the population grows and land for farms shrinks. These claims are all true – in fact some kinds of insects contain as much as 65 percent protein for every hundred grams, far above beef or chicken – but there are still some pretty serious roadblocks for any kind of mass cultivation. Some two billion people eat insects as part of their diets worldwide but this occurs largely in the developing world; insects as food fell out of favor completely in Europe by the mid- to late-Nineteenth Century as the march of civilization made such diets seem “primitive”. Geographers Peter Illgner and Etienne Nel argued in a 2000 paper on consumption and harvesting of the mopane worm in sub-Saharan Africa that the global food system had to a certain extent marginalized traditional or alternate forms of food in favor of a more westernized style of dining, and that entomophagy was now seen in some quarters as primitive even as the moth grubs became a more important source of cash for some families.
Certain insects, notably bees and silk worms, have been cultivated across the planet by humans for centuries, but wider scale farming of insects for food lags. There are 20,000 cricket farms in Thailand, though little legislative support or government oversight, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). (via The buzz about entomophagy: Is eating insects more than a novelty?)
telescopic contact lenses
The cute side of the robocalypse: Balancing robots from Japan
muRata manufacturing wants to cheer people up with its latest balancing machine. It’s part of a group of swarm robots, called the murata cheerleaders. But it’s not exactly clear what they’re cheering for.
Creepy first-gen japanese robot cheerleaders.
Infants’ vocalizations throughout the first year follow a set of predictable steps from crying and cooing to forming syllables and first words. However, previous research had not addressed how the amount of vocalizations may differ between hearing and deaf infants. Now, University of Missouri research shows that infant vocalizations are primarily motivated by infants’ ability to hear their own babbling. Additionally, infants with profound hearing loss who received cochlear implants to help correct their hearing soon reached the vocalization levels of their hearing peers, putting them on track for language development.
“Hearing is a critical aspect of infants’ motivation to make early sounds,” said Mary Fagan, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders in the MU School of Health Professions. “This study shows babies are interested in speech-like sounds and that they increase their babbling when they can hear.”
Fagan studied the vocalizations of 27 hearing infants and 16 infants with profound hearing loss who were candidates for cochlear implants, which are small electronic devices embedded into the bone behind the ear that replace some functions of the damaged inner ear. She found that infants with profound hearing loss vocalized significantly less than hearing infants. However, when the infants with profound hearing loss received cochlear implants, the infants’ vocalizations increased to the same levels as their hearing peers within four months of receiving the implants.
“After the infants received their cochlear implants, the significant difference in overall vocalization quantity was no longer evident,” Fagan said. “These findings support the importance of early hearing screenings and early cochlear implantation.”
Fagan found that non-speech-like sounds such as crying, laughing and raspberry sounds, were not affected by infants’ hearing ability. She says this finding highlights babies are more interested in speech-like sounds since they increase their production of those sounds such as babbling when they can hear.
“Babies learn so much through sound in the first year of their lives,” Fagan said. “We know learning from others is important to infants’ development, but hearing allows infants to explore their own vocalizations and learn through their own capacity to produce sounds.”
In future research, Fagan hopes to study whether infants explore the sounds of objects such as musical toys to the same degree they explore vocalization.
Fagan’s research, “Frequency of vocalization before and after cochlear implantation: Dynamic effect of auditory feedback on infant behavior,” was published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.
*French IoT trash compactors. Those are handsome.
*Whenever smart trash cans are used to track, and especially to tax, garbage habits, they become instant flash points for popular rage.
"Harmony Enterprises Inc. has spent decades building a great reputation in the waste compacting industry and is now the world leader in the design and manufacture of solid waste equipment.
"Exosite worked closely with Harmony to add advanced wireless monitoring capabilities to their SP20 SmartPack® compactors, routing operational sensor data over cellular networks to Exosite’s software platform where the data is captured, analyzed, and processed.
Harmony’s SP20 SmartPack® units have made their way into national fast “food chains, major shopping malls and airports, schools, hotels and were used to manage waste collection at this years 2014 French Open….”
Beware of the Octobot
Greek scientist have developed the Octobot, a small swimming robot driven by eight webbed arms.
Adding a soft silicone web to a small robotic octopus helps the machine hit the gas. The first robot shown propels itself by snapping shut rigid plastic legs. The second bot uses flexible silicone legs and moves at about the same speed. The third robot zips along faster, using silicone arms and a web that helps it push through water.
aerogel resting on a flower…
Stickers Turn Any Dumb Object Into a Smart One
Estimote stickers are small beacons that can be attached to ordinary objects and help them interact with your smartphone.
The stickers all objects to be tracked instead of people. For example, place them on individual items in a store and you’ll find out how often they’re picked up or where they are in the store — you don’t need to track the customers themselves.
Each Estimote sticker contains an accelerometer, temperature sensors, a small processor and Bluetooth connector. If an item is picked up, you might be prompted with additional product information via a nearby computer screen or your smartphone. Kinda feels like Minority Report tracking your eyes.
Stick one on a bag and you’ll know if you left behind (or if it got stolen!). Place one in the bedroom and you can see if users are still in bed….ok, a little creepy, I’ll admit.
Estimote is calling its stickers ‘nearables’, providing similar benefits to wearables without having to actually be attached to the user.
Are you ready for the Internet of Everything?
Grassroots beta app by Davy Loots to record 3D video on your PC with a Kinect - video embedded below:
With virtual reality comes the need for a new video format. We are exploring the possibilities for true 3D video, allowing you to move around, tilt your head any way you want and still feel like you’re looking at something real.
The app is in it’s very early stages - set up is just plug-in and press record, but currently only one kinect can be used at a time, and there is a limited amount of 3D spaces for playback (it only records people, not the surrounding environment) although it does look very Minority Report-esque. The recordings can also be placed within productions coded with Unity.
Planned for the immediate future is the ability to connect two Kinects for capturing more form, and the ability to livestream. Whilst it is obvious to set up on a laptop, I wonder if this would work on, say, a Microsoft Surface tablet? This could end up being a much cheaper 3D capture platform …
Whichever way you look at it, this could be an interesting direction for 3D media for all (it is currently free and functional), and many of you might find something useful from it.
The project website can be found here
The world’s first 3-D printed car took to the streets this weekend after being built in an amazingly short 44 hours. The vehicle, called Strati, was designed by Italian designer Michele Anoé, who won an international competition held by crowdsourcing carmaker Local Motors. It was printed and rapidly assembled by a Local Motors team during a manufacturing technology show held last week in Chicago, then went on a drive on Saturday.
Strati’s chassis and body were made in one piece out of a carbon fiber-impregnated plastic on a large-area 3-D printer. The machine put down layer after layer of the material at a rate of 40 pounds per hour.