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French Researchers Build Creepy Phone Case That Mimics Human Skin

A team of French and English researchers recently showcased a prototype phone case called Skin-On, which not only mimics the look and feel of human skin, but also enables interaction communication through gestures like pinching or tickling.

Developed by researchers at the University of Bristol in partnership with Telecomm ParisTech and Sorbonne University, Skin-On consists of a layer of stretchable copper wire in between two different forms of silicone layers. The materials are mass-produced, and the creators of Skin-On claim that the cost of a commercial version of the case would be around $6.5. While anyone could build it, project leader Marc Teyssier admitted that finding the right balance to create what is essentially artificial skin was challenging, considering the case was also supposed to detect touch. But why bother making a smartphone case that everyone generally agrees is “decidedly creepy”. Dr Anne Roudaut, Associate Professor in Human-Computer Interaction, explains:

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81-Year-Old Man Gets Jailed Time for Working as Gangsters’ Getaway Driver Because He Was Lonely

Ian Hemmens, an 81-year-old former burger van worker from West Sussex, in England, was recently sentenced to nine months behind bars for aiding an alleged drug dealer flee the country while allegedly working as his getaway driver.

Life as a pensioner can get pretty boring and lonely, so much so that some people will do anything for a chance to chat with another human being, even act as an accomplice in serious crimes. Ian Hemmens’ layer recently told a Portsmouth Crown Court that his client was prepared to act as a driver for drug dealers Mahamud Sami and Akeem Adebayo, because it simply gave him the chance to talk to someone. The criminals in turn were glad to have him, because a man of his age, with his unassuming physique, was less likely to draw cops’ attention. Despite hearing the explanation for Hemmens’ involvement with the known criminals, Judge Roger Hetherington convicted the 81-year-old to nine months in prison.

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Red Lady of Bosnia – Woman Has Been Surrounding Herself with the Color Red for 40 Years

Ever since she was 18 years old, Zorica Rebernik, a 67-year-old woman from Breze, a small town in Bosnia, has been surrounding herself with the color red, even getting married in a red gown, and attending funerals in red clothing.

Rebernik, a retired schoolteacher, lives in a bright red house filled with red furniture, eats from red plates, drinks from red glasses and sleeps on red bed sheets. All the clothes in her wardrobe are red and she even dyes her hair red. The only non-red appliance in Zorica’s home is a white heater, which she only agreed to after her husband, Zoran, insisted. She has been surrounding herself with the color red for the last four decades of her life, and today she is somewhat of a local celebrity because of it. Everyone knows her, and some even offer her red things as gifts, the woman said, adding that she would reject anything that wasn’t red.

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Five So-Called Hitmen Convicted After Subcontracting Deal to Assassinate Businessman To Each Other

A Chinese businessman and five would-be hitmen were recently issued prison sentences after the former reportedly hired one of the assassins to take out one of his competitors only to have the contact passed along to other hitmen until the fee got so small the last of them decided it wasn’t worth the trouble.

Six years ago,Tan Youhui, a real estate company owner in Nanning, China, decided to hire a hitman to eliminate a local competitor, surnamed Wei, who had filed a civil court case against his enterprises. The businessman was willing to pay a total of 2 million ($282,000) to have Wei taken out, and contracted the services of a man Xi Guangan to get the job done. Only Xi decided that it was easier to just subcontract the job to someone else, pay them half of the 2 million fee, and just ask the client for more money. He passed the job over to another man named Mo Tianxiang along with 1 million yuan ($141,000), and then went back to Tan to ask for another 1 million yuan. The businessman agreed, but only after getting proof that his rival had been dealt with. Then things got complicated…

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“Quantum Reading” Allegedly Helps Students Memorize 100,000 Words in Five Minutes

A student learning center in China, recently sparked controversy for claiming to have developed a “quantum speed reading” method that allegedly helps students read and memorize around 100,000 words in just five minutes.

Can you imagine reading hundreds of written pages simply by rapidly flipping through them for a few minutes, sometimes blindfolded? That’s what the Beijing Xinzhitong Qiguang Education Technology in Yancheng, Jiangsu province, is allegedly promising to teach young students, through a method advertised as “quantum speed reading”. The controversial reading technique recently garnered worldwide attention after a video showing kids seemingly “scanning” books went viral online.

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College Allegedly Makes Students Wear Cardboard Boxes on Heads to Prevent Cheating

A private college in the Indian state of Karnataka has sparked controversy after photos of its students wearing cardboard boxes during a chemistry exam went viral on social media.

After photos of the students wearing cardboard boxes on their heads to prevent cheating started doing the rounds online, regional officials in Karnataka rushed to Bhagat Pre-University College to complain about the “inhumane” treatment of students. Different version of the story started circulating online, including one that claimed the college only turned to cardboard boxes after having repeatedly caught students cheating, despite multiple warnings.

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20-Year-Old Man Claims to Have Been Living On Macaroni and Cheese for 17 Years

Austin Davis, a 20-year-old man from Keystone Heights, Florida, claims to eaten almost nothing but macaroni and cheese for the last 17 years of his life.

We’ve featured picky eaters before, people who only enjoyed things like pizza or french fries, but Austin Davis isn’t one such person. Even if he tries eating something other than macaroni and cheese, and actually enjoys it, his body will immediately reject it and he’ll start to gag. Doctors say he is suffering from a psychological condition known as avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, where new foods trigger negative physical side-effects. This condition is often linked to traumatic events, and Davis was indeed diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and removed from his home, after being physically abused by his father. This has negatively impacted his social life as well as his eating habits, but he wants to change.

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Belgian Restaurant Serves Drinking Water Recycled from Its Toilets

To highlight a new type of water purification system, a restaurant in Kuurne, Belgium, has started serving its customers free drinking water recycled from its sinks and toilets.

The water served at the Gust’eaux restaurant in Kuurne these days is the same as any other potable water – it has no smell, no taste, no color – so it’s impossible to tell that it’s source is actually the restaurant’s toilets. By using a complex, five-step purification system, Gust’eaux is able to turn its sewage into a water so pure that it has to be enriched with minerals before being served to clients.

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You Can Now License Your Face to Be Used on a Humanoid Robot

If you’re short on cash and don’t mind selling the rights to your face, you can stand to make £100,000 ($130,000) by licensing your mug to a robotics company to be used on one of their humanoid robots.

According to a recent blog post by London-based outsourcing company Geomiq, a robotics company is currently looking for a “kind and friendly” to put on a humanoid robot once it goes into production. This will potentially entail using this person’s face on thousands of robots around the world, so the company is willing to pay no less than £100,000 ($130,000) in licensing fees. The robot in question is designed to be a “virtual friend” for elderly people, and is scheduled to go into production next year.

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New Reality Show Challenges Meat Eaters to Go Vegetarian or Eat Their Pet Animal

Part extreme reality TV show, part social experiment, “Meat the Family” follows four meat-eating families for three weeks as they interact with the animal that they enjoy eating most. At the end they are forced to make a choice between going vegan or eating their pet.

The premise of Meat the Family is that the three participating families have to treat the animal that most frequently appears on their plates like a pet for three weeks, and then decided whether it goes to an animal sanctuary or into their bellies. Deciding whether the animal lives or dies is one thing, but having to choose between going vegetarian or eating the animal you got to know for three weeks is just crazy. Over the course of the show, the four UK families will have to spend time with their pet, taking it for walks and playing with it, but also travel around their country to learn about animal welfare, farming and production, food processing, as well as the impact that eating animals has on the environment.

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Vatican Launches Smart ‘eRosary’ That Brings Religion and Tech Together

The “Click to Pray eRosary” is a smart gadget shaped like a regular rosary and designed to educate young, technology-focused youths how to pray the rosary.

The smart eRosary can be worn as a bracelet and is activated by making the sign of the cross. It comes with a companion smartphone app which synchronizes with the gadget and allows access to an audio guide, exclusive images, personalized content, and also tracks the user’s progress. According to the Vatican website, the eRosary is designed “to help young people pray the Rosary for peace and to contemplate the Gospel”.

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ZBiotics – A Probiotic Drink Genetically Engineered to Prevent Hangovers

We humans have been looking for an effective way to prevent or at least treat hangovers for a long time, but one Silicone Valley startup claims to have finally found a way to ease the uncomfortable side effects of drinking.

Zbiotics is the world’s first genetically modified probiotic. It’s not marketed as an explicit cure for hangovers, because they include a wide variety of negative side effects; Downing a small bottle of Zbiotics before your first alcoholic drink of the night has a very specific purpose – to help your body break down acetaldehyde, a by-product of metabolizing ethanol. It’s this toxic compound that is associated with known hangover symptoms like headache, nausea, and heart palpitations.

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Italian Town Bans Use of Google Maps After Too Many Tourists Stranded Because of It

Baunei, an idyllic mountain village on the Italian island of Sardinia, has launched an appeal to visitors asking them to stop relying on the directions of Google Maps when driving around the area.

Salvatore Corrias, the mayor of Baunei, claims that in the last year alone the local fire service or mountain rescue team have been called 144 times to help stranded tourists who had followed the directions of Google Maps. Apparently, people are often using the GPS-powered app to reach so-called “hidden beaches” around Baunei and end up driving down lanes that are unsuitable for cars or onto off-road tracks. To stop this from happening, local police have put up signs that read “Do not follow the directions suggested by Google Maps”.

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Family of Six Allegedly Spent Nine Years Isolated on Dutch Farm “Waiting for End of Time”

Dutch police recently discovered a 58-year-old man and five young adults living in a “small, locked place” on an isolated farm in the province of Drenthe. They had allegedly never left the farm in the last nine years, and were waiting for the end of time.

The shocking discovery was made after the eldest of the five young adults, a 25-year-old man, allegedly escaped the farm and showed up at the pub in the nearby village of Ruinerwold. The pub owner told Dutch journalists that he immediately noticed the man’s long, dirty beard, old clothes and confused gaze, so after seeing him down five beers one after the other, he tried chatting with him. The young man told him that he had run away from a nearby farm after being confined there for the last nine years, because he didn’t want to go on living like that. Then he revealed that he had brothers and sisters living there as well, and that they needed help.

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Woman Unable to Fully Close Her Eyes After Botched Double Eyelid Surgery

A Chinese woman who spent 13,000 yuan ($1,850) on cosmetic double eyelid surgery has become unable to fully close her eyes, even when she sleeps.

Around 50 of Asians are born without a visible eyelid crease above their lash line, which basically means they have what is called a “monolid”. In 1896, to address this aesthetic issue, Japanese surgeon Mikamo developed a procedure called blepharoplasty or double eyelid surgery, which has since been performed millions of times. It’s the most requested plastic surgery in Asia, and in countries like South Korea, it’s been normalized as a way of becoming more attractive. But while the results of double eyelid surgery can indeed be visually appealing, in some cases it can have some really nasty consequences, like leaving patients unable to fully close their eyes.

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