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Russian Cows Wear VR Headsets to Reduce Their Anxiety, Increase Milk Production

In an attempt to reduce cows’ anxiety and hopefully increase their dairy production, a cattle farm in Moscow’s Ramensky district has equipped its herd with specially-designed virtual reality headsets.

Research has shown that there is a link between a cow’s emotional state and it’s daily milk yield. In the past, we’ve heard of dairy farms playing soothing classical music for their cows in order to lower their stress level and increase productivity, but as technology advances, new mood-altering solutions are introduced. For example, the RusMoloko farm in Moscow recently equipped its cattle with VR systems adapted for the “structural features of cow heads”.

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Chinese Researchers Create Stretchable Display Thin Enough to Be Worn as Temporary Tattoo

A team of researchers from the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Nanjing University recently unveiled an innovative display that is thin and flexible enough to be worn on skin, like a type of temporary tattoo.

Having to check a stopwatch to see your time while running, or looking at your smartphone screen to see who is calling may soon be things of the past thanks to a new and revolutionary human-machine interface that allows information to be displayed directly on human skin. Called alternating-current electroluminescent (ACEL) display, this new invention consists of an electroluminescent layer made of light-emitting microparticles sandwiched between two flexible silver nanowire electrodes. The ceramic nanoparticles embedded in stretchable polymer make this ACEL display brighter than any other, allowing it be clearly visible even in a well-lit room.

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Harry Potter Fans Eye Toyota’s New Electrically-Powered Witch’s Broom

Called an “e-broom”, Toyota’s latest mobility platform looks like a futuristic witch’s broom that users can ride to get around. Apparently, quidditch fans found the concept very intriguing.

Unfortunately, Toyota’s e-broom isn’t yet able to make quidditch players airborne, like in the popular Harry Potter books, but they are capable of propelling people on the ground, as long as they are wearing roller-skates. The e-broom is meant to be ridden like a witch’s broom, only instead of relying on magic to whisk its users towards the sky, it relies on an electrical motor and a wheel at the bottom to propel its rider forward at moderate speed. It’s not as impressive as we’d like it to be, but at least it’s a step toward a real life quidditch broom.

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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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Chinese Company Develops New Recognition System Based on Veins in the Human Hand

While most human identification technology companies choose to focus on facial recognition, one Chinese startup claims to have developed  much more accurate identification system based on micro traits of veins within human hand.

Developed by MELUX, AirWave is an incredibly efficient identification system that is said to be a million times more accurate than facial recognition technology. There are only 80 to 280 feature points on the face that artificial intelligence can asses when scanning an individual, but AirWave is able to scan more than a million micro-feature points in the palm of the hand in under 0.3 seconds, making it virtually impossible to cheat. A simple swipe of the palm over a special sensor is all that’s required to get an ultra-accurate authentication and/or authorization in real time.

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Peruvian Company Creates Wooden Laptop Designed to Last Forever

In an age when tech companies are encouraging consumers to constantly buy newer, more-expensive gadgets, one Peruvian company has just a launched a sustainable wooden laptop designed to last at least 10 to 15 years.

In an attempt to bring new and affordable technology to the most remote areas of Peru, the Carrascos —a family made up of computer specialists and marketing experts – created the Wawalaptop, an SBC (Single Board Computer) with a wooden casing that can easily be taken apart for repairs and upgrading. The 0.1-inch (25.65-centimeter) laptop is lightweigh, ultra-portable and very affordable. A Wawalaptop costs 799 Peruvian Sol ($235), and an upgrade, which basically means a better circuit board, can be bought with about $35 on the free market.

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Chinese Scientists Use Innovative Chip to Power Autonomous Bicycle

While tech giants like Tesla and Google are working hard to perfect autonomous cars, a team of scientists in China is developing a self-driving bicycle and their results are pretty impressive.

Showcased in a short video presentation, the autonomous bicycle developed by scientists at Tsinghua University, in Beijing, can balance itself while also avoiding obstacles, following certain trajectories and obeying vocal commands. It can do all these things thanks to a revolutionary type of computer chip that combines two different architectural approaches to computing that hadn’t really worked well together until now, due to communication difficulties between the two systems. However, if this self-driving bike is any indication, the Chinese seem to have solved those issues.

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Chinese Startup Creates App That Finds Lost Dogs Using Photos of Their Nose

Chinese facial-recognition startup Megvii has been making news headlines for an app that allows people to track down their lost dogs using photos of their unique noses.

The idea of using AI-powered facial recognition technology to identify pets isn’t new, but what makes Megvii’s solution special is that instead of analyzing several facial features, like the eyes or snout, it focuses solely on dogs’ noses. Apparently, the patterns on a dog’s nose are just as unique as the ones on out fingertips, allowing the company’s app to track down pooches by matching their noses against a database with 95 percent accuracy. Megvii claims that its method is both cheaper and less invasive than inserting identification chips under the animals’ skin.

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Solein – The Wonder Food Made from Electricity, Water And Air

Finnish startup Solar Foods has come up with a way to produce a protein-rich food called Solein from electricity, water and air, by using an environment-friendly process similar to brewing beer.

Described as the world’s most environmentally friendly protein, Solein is is made by applying electricity to water to release bubbles of carbon dioxide and hydrogen. Living microbes are then added to the liquid to feed on the carbon dioxide and hydrogen bubbles and produce the Solein, which is then dried to make the powder. It’a natural fermentation process similar to beer brewing, but it requires a special reactor that reportedly resembles a hurricane lantern. The dried Solein has a protein content of 50 percent and looks and tastes just like wheat flour. It can be used in all kinds of diets and can be 3D-printed for added texture.

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Meet Liam Nikuro, Japan’s First Virtual Male Influencer

1sec Inc., a Japanese technology company that specializes in blending the digital world with our reality, has created Japan’s first virtual male influencer, a young music producer named Liam Nikuro.

If you thought making it as an Instagram influencer these days was hard, we have some bad new for you: it’s about to get even harder, with perfect-looking virtual models entering the fray. Following the success of digital social media stars like Miquela and Imma, a Japanese tech start-up set out to create the Asian country’s first virtual male model. The result of their hard work is Liam Nikuro, a young heart-throb “from Los Angeles” who reportedly works in some of the coolest and most profitable industries of our time – music, fashion, and entertainment.

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12-Year-Old Boy Invents Rain-Detecting Clothes Drying Rack After Being Scolded by His Mother

A 12-year-old by from Nanning, China recently won first prize at a regional science and innovation contest for creating an automatic clothes drying rack that retracts whenever it detects rain and extends again when the sky clears. The ingenious contraption impressed a lot of people, but it was the inspiration behind it that really got people talking.

Lu Jiezhen, a sixth-grade student at North-East Women’s Education Center in, Nanning, China’s Guangdong Province, came up with the idea for the automatic rain-detecting drying rack after being yelled at by his mother. One day, she had to leave the house and asked him to look after the clothes she had hung out to dry, reminding him that he was to take them inside in case it started to rain. Needless to say, the 12-year-old started playing around the house and forgot to pick up the clothes when the rain inevitably came. When his mother returned, she found the clothes soaking wet, and scolded him for disobeying her. But instead of finding excuses, Lu started thinking about a solution that would make his forgetfulness irrelevant in the future.

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Russian Startup Plans to Launch Giant Ad Billboards in Low-Earth Orbit

Imagine looking up to gaze at the moon on a clear summer night only to see the sky full of glowing advertising billboards. That’s the future envisioned by a Russian start-up which plans to launch billboard advertisements into low-Earth orbit as early as 2021.

Russian company StartRocket announced plans to introduce orbital advertising billboards made up of a grid of tissue box-sized satellites called CubeSats. These tiny satellites will orbit 400-500 kilometers above the Earth and use reflective Mylar sails around 30 feet in diameter to catch and reflect sunlight, creating a pixelated matrix. The ads would only be visible at night but could be seen from just about anywhere on the planet. The company already has a CubeSat prototype, and could start testing its sky advertisements next year.

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Chinese Schools Track Students with GPS-Enabled “Smart Uniforms”

Eleven schools in the Chinese province of Guizhou have introduced micro-chipped uniforms that track and monitor the students even beyond school grounds.

Developed by local company Guizhou Guanyu Technology, the smart school uniforms feature two microchips embedded into the shoulder pads which allow both the school and the children’s parents to monitor their activity at all times. A GPS system tracks their movements and an alarm informs both teachers and parents whenever a student leaves the classroom or school grounds without permission, or if he falls asleep during classes. The smart uniforms also allow students’ parents to monitor their purchases at school and set spending limits via a mobile app.

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China Unveils Disturbingly Realistic AI News Anchors

China’s state news agency Xinhua unveiled two very realistic looking AI news anchors that can “tirelessly” report the news 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, from anywhere in the world.

We’ve known that robots and artificial intelligence were coming for our jobs, but somehow I never thought news anchors would be among the first to be replaced. However, if the two AI broadcasters who made their debut last week during China’s annual World Internet Conference are anything to go by, the future of human news anchors looks very bleak. The newest additions to Xinhua’s team of broadcasters not only look disturbingly realistic, but they can also move their mouths to match the audio, blink, nod their head in emphasis, or raise their eyebrows. But their most important quality is that they can work 24/7, both on the agency’s website and on social media platforms, greatly “reducing news production costs and improving efficiency”.

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This Religious Pokemon GO-Like App Lets You Catch Biblical Characters Instead of Pokemon

Follow JC Go! is a religious take on the popular mobile game Pokemon Go. Instead of using augmented reality to roam around in the real world and catch virtual Pokemon, you get to catch saints and other religious figures.

Developed by Fundación Ramón Pané, a Catholic organization with headquarters in Miami and Honduras, Follow JC Go! is an augmented reality video game that combines technology and evangelization to teach players of all ages about the Catholic faith. It features the same principles as the immensely popular Pokemon GO app, allowing users to roam around real-life locations and use the camera of their smartphones to find and catch virtual characters. Only instead of Pokemon like the adorable Pikachu, players will be looking for saints and other religious figures.

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