AI surveillance 👀 Cyborg polymer 🧬 Clothing rental 👖!

Technology News

AI surveillance study tracks criminals post release to cut recidivism

Scientists are leading a controversial new four-year study using AI-enabled surveillance to track recently released prison parolees. Half the cohort will receive a bracelet designed to measure health data – such as stress and heart rate – and a smartphone that will collect other data such as photos taken and locations visited. The other half of the cohort will not be monitored and serve as a control group. An AI system will be used to examine all the data gathered with the aim of better understanding what factors can be linked to higher rates of recidivism. The AI system will evaluate the data in intervals, suggesting this is not about demonstrating a real-time surveillance system.

ZTE plans to launch first smartphone with under-display camera next month

ZTE aims to become the first company to mass-produce and ship a phone with an under-display camera next month. The Axon 20 5G will launch in China on September 1st. ZTE notes in its press release that “all the major industry players” are working on under-display cameras, but it plans to be the first one to get a smartphone with this feature out the door. The Axon 20 5G is also said to be the “world’s first mass-produced 5G smartphone.” ZTE has yet to unveil how much the Axon 20 5G will cost or if it will arrive in other countries. Rumored specs on the phone include a 6.92-inch HD OLED display and up to 12GB of RAM.

Science News

Specialized polymers bring us one step closer to ‘cyborgs’

A new biocompatible polymer coating for electronic implants called PEDOT could be the key to better understand (and even) control our brains. These polymers would not only leave less scarring on biological tissue than inorganic-coated electronics but would also allow scientists to fine-tune the sensitivities of polymers — which could allow for the creation of early warning systems for the presence of harmful diseases. Beyond its diagnostic use, there’s also interest in how a polymer coating like this could be used in brain-machine interfaces and even in the incorporation of A.I. into the human brain.

Researchers one step closer to bomb-sniffing cyborg locusts

Researchers were able to hijack a locust’s olfactory system to both detect and discriminate between different explosive scents. They optimized a previously developed biorobotic sensing system that could detect the locusts’ firing neurons and convey that information in a way that told researchers about the smells the locusts were sensing. The researchers were able to look for similar patterns when they exposed locusts to vapors from TNT, DNT, RDX, PETN and ammonium nitrate — a chemically diverse set of explosives. “We could clearly see the neurons responded differently to TNT and DNT, as well as these other explosive chemical vapors.”

Business News

Selfridges to offer clothing rental in environmental push

High-end department store chain Selfridges will start offering clothing rental as part of a number of moves into sustainable fashion. The company is also moving into second-hand clothes, recycling and repair as customers are demanding that businesses take environmental concerns seriously. Selfridges customers will soon be able to mend clothes, bags, shoes and jewellery through what the store calls a “repairs concierge service”. The rental part of the plan will be managed by Hurr Collective, an online clothing rental company. Outfits can be rented for 4, 8, 10 or 20 days. Customers will also be able to sell used designer wear for store credits at Resellfridges.

Diageo to buy Ryan Reynolds-backed Aviation Gin as it moves upmarket

Diageo is paying up to $610 million for Aviation American Gin, co-owned by Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds, and a clutch of other spirits brands, adding to a gin portfolio which already includes Tanqueray and Gordon’s. The deal comes at a time when consumption of gin has been rising in the US. According to the Distilled Spirits Council, distillers sold nearly 10 million nine-liter cases of gin in the US in 2019, generating $918 million in revenue, a 3% rise over 2018. Aviation American Gin is the second-largest super-premium gin brand in the US, growing volumes at over 100% in 2019 and contributed 40% of super-premium gin category growth in the country.

Miscellaneous News

Death Valley temperature rises to 54.4C – possibly the hottest ever reliably recorded

A temperature of 54.4C – or 129.9F – has been recorded in Death Valley, California, in what some extreme weather watchers believe could be the hottest reading ever reliably recorded on the planet. “If verified, this will be the hottest temperature officially verified since July of 1913, also at Death Valley.” Elsewhere in California, record high temperatures led to wildfires, at least one of which was reported to have turned into a “firenado”. The heatwave in the west of the US has also given rise to lightning storms which may start further wildfires.

Gardener ‘sets speed record’ by travelling at 44mph behind a wheelbarrow

A man from Oxfordshire says he has set a speed record by travelling at 44.6mph behind a wheelbarrow. KeUsing it he recorded the speed, equivalent to 72kph, at a Straightliners event at Elvington Airfield, North Yorkshire. “Every journey on it is not just going fast in a straight line, you’re trying to avoid crashing, which is great! The adrenaline rush is unbelievable.” He will drive the Barrow of Speed again in six weeks time for Guinness World Records, where he believes it can go faster still.

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