Fingernail QR codes to keep track of dementia sufferers in Japan

December 9, 2016

The Japanese city of Iruma has developed a QR code tagging system for elderly dementia patients at risk of getting lost, the BBC reported.

The QR barcode stickers, 1cm (0.4in) square in size can be attached to fingers and toes. According to an official, the new method is more effective and discreet than the existing system in which sufferers put ID stickers on clothes or shoes as “dementia patients are not always wearing those items.” The new stickers are also water-resistant and remain attached for an average of two weeks.

The information held in the code includes an address, telephone number and unique identity number for each user. The service is free and will be launched this month, BBC News said.

“The initiative, which uses a system of QR codes, was set up to help reunite family members with their elderly loved ones in the event that they go missing, according to the Iruma welfare office,” the report said. “The technology allows police to obtain details of a person’s local city hall, along with contact telephone numbers and personal details, simply by scanning the code.”

More than a quarter of Japanese citizens are aged 65 or over and the number of dementia sufferers is increasing. According to a Guardian report in June, the disorder currently affects 4.6 million people in Japan. The number is expected to rise to 7 million – one in five people aged 65 or over – by 2025.

A record number of people with dementia were reported missing in Japan in 2015, according to the national police agency. Of the more than 12,000, most were found within a week, but 479 were found dead and 150 are still missing.

Last year, the Japanese government announced it planned spend 22.5bn yen (£152.3m) in 2016 to train more specialists, improve early diagnosis and expand community-based care to relieve the pressure on family members who have to give up work to become carers.

Source: BBC; The Guardian

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Amazon’s checkout-free stores to come to UK?

December 9, 2016

The first Amazon Go store opened for employees this month. The company now seems to be preparing to open its checkout-free grocery stores in Britain after registering a UK trademark for the format, the Guardian reported.

The Amazon Go store concept allows shoppers to walk out with goods without paying at a checkout. Customers must log in, and then the store uses facial recognition technology and sensors to track items taken off shelves which are then charged to the corresponding Prime account. The first such store, comprising 1,800 square feet of retail space, opened in December 2016 near the company headquarters in Seattle, Washington. It is currently only open to the company’s employees but it is expected to open to the public in early 2017. According to reports, the store sells food staples such as milk, bread and chocolate. Amazon also launched a physical bookshop in its hometown – University Village in Seattle – in 2015.

Although Amazon has remained quiet about whether it plans to launch Amazon Go outside the US, the Guardian found it registered a UK trademark for Amazon Go on 5 December, “indicating it intends to bring the format to Britain”. But this may not be good news for everyone. Concerns are that automated stores like this will put retail employees out of work.

According to The Guardian, the British Retail Consortium predicted almost a third of the UK’s 3m shop jobs would disappear by 2025 as companies use technology instead of people. “If Amazon Go catches on in the UK, established retailers would probably be forced to match its convenience to keep their customers,” the report said.

In May, Amazon chief executive, Jeff Bezos, said more stores were on the way but this week, the company said it had no grand plan and was still testing the market.

The Guardian said Amazon has made it clear that it is targeting the UK retail market. “In February it announced it would sell fresh and frozen food to UK consumers in a deal with Morrisons and in July it launched Amazon Fresh to sell fresh food to selected postcodes,” the article said. “It is also developing a clothes range, after helping ravage the books, music, home entertainment and consumer electronics sectors over the past decade.”

Source: The Guardian

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Sir James Dyson to launch engineering institute in UK

November 5, 2016

Having long lamented the dearth of skilled engineers in the UK, British inventor Sir James Dyson is to launch his own technology university to help the country compete with Asian nations, the Guardian said.

The Dyson Institute of Technology will be based at Dyson’s campus in Wiltshire and will have an initial intake of around 25 students in September 2017. Dyson plans to invest 15 million in the institute in the next five years. He also plans to double his own engineering workforce to 6000.

According to the Guardian report, the entrepreneur came up with the idea after the he complained to the UK government about the shortage of skilled engineers in the UK. He was advised to take matters into his own hands. The Institute is the result.

“We are competing globally with Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore,” he was quoted as saying. “It’s all the major technology nations and we have got to be better than them.”

He said the private sector has a duty to help alleviate the skills gap because the UK now needs 10 times more engineers than 10 years ago.

He said the problem was spreading beyond Europe and the US and was beginning to become an issue in Japan. “It seems that the fast-growing economies or emerging nations really recognise the value of engineering, but when you reach security there us less interest in what makes you successful.”

Students at the Institute will not have to pay tuition fees and will receive a salary for working alongside Dyson engineers. The degrees they receive will be awarded by the University of Warwick until the Institute gains university status from the Department of Education.

Source: The Guardian

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World’s largest marine park created in Antarctica

October 28, 2016

The EU and 24 countries have signed an agreement to protect more than 1.55 million sq km of the Ross Sea, a deep bay in the Southern Ocean in Antarctica.  

 

A map of the Ross Sea protected area released by WWF

A map of the Ross Sea protected area released by WWF

 

 

Over 1.1 million sq km of the area will become a fully-protected marine reserve with no fishing allowed. Beyond this area, designated research zones will be set up allowing for controlled fishing for krill and toothfish. In total, the sanctuary will cover more than 12 percent of the Southern Ocean.

After 5 years of negotiations (including Russia and China blocking the deal), the agreement was made in Hobert, Australia on Friday (28.10.16) at the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. It will expire in 35 years.  WWF said that in coming years, it “will continue to push for the Ross Sea to become a marine protected area (MPA), protected in perpetuity.”

The area covered by the agreement is home to a huge variety of wildlife including 95 species of fish as well as whales, dolphins, seals, penguins, and seabirds.

“The Ross Sea has been described as the one of the most pristine wilderness areas left on Earth”, said WWF-Australia Ocean Science Manager Chris Johnson, who attended the CCAMLR meeting in Hobart.

“It is home to one third of the world’s Adélie penguins, one quarter of all emperor penguins, one third of all Antarctic petrels, and over half of all South Pacific Weddell seals.

Today’s agreement is a turning point for the protection of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. Over 1.5 million km2 is to be set aside for conservation – an area the size of France, Germany and Spain combined – with over 70 per cent of it as fully protected marine reserves.

“This is important not just for the incredible diversity of life that it will protect, but also for the contribution it makes to building the resilience of the world’s ocean in the face of climate change”.

Source: WWF

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Toyota invests in US car-sharing company

October 28, 2016

Leading Japanese car-maker Toyota Motor Corp has invested a reported USD 10 million in the U.S. car-sharing company Getaround, Reuters said on Friday.

A popular carsharing service in Germany

A popular carsharing service in Germany

The deal was done through the company’s investment fund, Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership set up in 2015 to invest in startups working on Artificial Intelligence, robotics, and hydrogen power.

The car sharing service, founded in San Francisco, US, was launched to the public in 2011 and has been available in San Francisco, Chicago and other US cities since 2013. It offers drivers the opportunity to rent cars from private owners in return for payment.  Owners earn 60 per cent commission on the rental prices they set. The company says it now has around 200,000 members.

According to Reuters, Toyota’s investment comes as automakers “seek to shore up their presence in new technology sectors amid growing competition from transport start-ups”.

Automakers have been scrambling to partner with tech firms to head off competition from self-driving cars and car sharing services that threaten to eventually trim demand for car ownership,” the report said.

Other companies in the automotive sector have shown interest in similar services in recent years.  General Motors Co set up its own car-sharing service, Maven, in January this year. Around the same time, Volkswagen transferred its own service called Quicar, set up in 2011, to Dutch project Greenwheels in which it has a 60 per cent share.  Audi has recently also announced plans to launch a similar service in 2017.

Source: Reuters

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L’Oréal to develop bioprinting for hair follicles

September 30, 2016

The cosmetics company has announced a research partnership with French biotechnology company Poietis to print the small organs which produce hair. If successful, this could lead to the production of artificial hair for implant. 

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The process will utilise technology developed by Poietis which uses a type of laser printing for cell-based objects, the BBC reported. The company says it has already used the technique to create cartilage and other viable types of cell lines but never hair follicles.

According to Poietis Chief Executive, Fabien Guillemot, adapting it to create hair follicles will be challenging.
“It’s of the most complex objectives so far of all the bio-printing projects that we have created,” he told the BBC.

The technology involves successively layering micro-drops of bioinks using a quick scan by a laser beam, L’Oréal explained. “The living biological tissue created must then be matured for around 3 weeks before it can be used in tests.”

Despite the difficulties, both companies are confident the partnership will open up new opportunities in terms of both research  and for regenerative medical purposes. L’Oréal already uses 3D printed skin for research purposes, and the hair produced by the created hair follicles could also be used for product development.

“For L’Oréal, the combination of our respective areas of expertise opens up the possibility of previously unheard of achievements in the field of hair. This research partnership is very stimulating for the Advanced Research teams,”  José Cotovio, Director of Predictive Methods and Models department, L’Oréal Recherche & Innovation, said.

Fabien Guillemot, CEO and Chief Scientific Officer at Poietis, said of the venture: “We’re very proud to be working with L’Oréal. The fact that a world-renowned company is adopting our technology is a major step for Poietis.”

“Our partnership with L’Oréal should lead to the development of innovative applications in terms of tissue engineering,” added Bruno Brisson, General Manager and Chief Business Officer at the company.

According to a BBC report on the potential of the technology, the firms expect it will take at least three years to adapt the process.

Sources: L’Oréal, BBC

 


Full face transplant lets firefighter finally feel like a ‘normal guy’ again

August 25, 2016

Just one year after receiving the world’s most extensive face transplant, a firefighter in Mississippi says he feels like a ’normal guy’ for the first time since a burning building collapsed on top of him 15 years ago, the Guardian reported this week.

Speaking to reporters at NYU Langone Medical Center, Patrick Hardison, 42, said, “I’m here today because I want others to see that there is hope beyond the injury.”

As a result of the surgery performed in August, 2015, he reported that he can now see, hear, eat and breathe normally. Moreover, he no longer worries about, “people pointing and staring or kids running away crying.”

Back in 2001, Patrick Hardison was a volunteer firefighter in Senatoba, Mississippi, when a burning building came crashing down on top of him.

In the years following, he underwent 71 reconstructive surgeries before receiving the transplant. 

According to a BBC News article, the history of face transplants is very recent, only dating back eleven years.

In 2005, a French woman received a partial face transplant to replace her nose, lips and chin. Since then, there have apparently been just under 40 face transplant surgeries conducted around the world.

Yet what set’s the surgery conducted on Hardison apart is that it is said to be the first transplant to include a scalp and functioning eyelids, the Guardian informs us.

Since the transplant, doctors have also apparently removed Hardison’s breathing and feeding tubes, and made a few adjustments to his features.

In terms of his appearance, the Mississippi firefighter now looks much like he once did. There are no scars on his face, and he once again has a mop of sandy brown hair. Only now his face is rounder and his eyes smaller than before.

The transplant has also made huge practical changes on his daily life.

Prior to the surgery, his field of vision was severely restricted, he said, because doctors had partially sewn shut his eyelids to protect his eyes. 

This has changed thanks to the transplant, as he is once again able to drive and live independently. 

According to Hardison, the effect on his emotional wellbeing has also been dramatic. 

“Before the transplant, every day I had to wake up and get myself motivated to face the world,” he said. 

Now, he said, “I’m pretty much back to being a normal guy doing normal activities. My life has changed, and it has been renewed.”

Back in June, on a trip to Disney World, he said, “I swam in the pool with my children for the first time in 15 years.”

At the news conference, Hardison was joined by four of his five children. His daughter Allison, 21, also noticed a marked difference in her father.

“After the injury he wasn’t normal on the inside. He was very unhappy.” She said. “Now he’s happy with himself and happy with life.”

The Mississippi firefighter, whose donor was a 26 year old artist said to have died in a bike accident in Brooklyn, has been lucky not to have faced any issues with his body rejecting the transplant. 

Eduardo Rodriguez, chairman of the plastic surgery department at Langone, puts this down to the medication, Hardison’s children, as well as his own strength. 

Rodriguez described the man as a “remarkable individual.”

Hardison said he hopes to meet with his donor’s family in the autumn.

 

Sources include: BBC News, Guardian

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TJC offers an extensive global network of professional & experienced multilingual translators, proof-readers and interpreters. We also have academic researchers, specialists and speakers, who are all native speakers of over 100 languages. Our expert translators and interpreters are based all over the globe and can assist you with projects of all kinds.

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