Amazon is rolling out a new augmented reality shopping tool, Room Decorator, that will allow you to see furniture and other home décor in your own space. What makes Room Decorator different is that it’s capable of virtually adding multiple products to the room at the same time. That means you can visualize how a whole set of new products could fit together in your own space, not just a single item. Consumers will be presented with suggestions of complementary products which they can add to the same room and rearrange to get a better look. You can also use the feature when you’re away from home by saving the AR snapshots of your room for later access.
iRobot is announcing a major update that represents a shift of its overall approach to home robot autonomy. Humans are being brought back into the loop through software that tries to learn when, where, and how you clean so that your Roomba can adapt itself to your life rather than the other way around. Roombas with cameras will be able to recognize objects and features in your home where messes tend to happen so that they can focus on those areas—like around the dining room table or along the front of the couch. The app will also make scheduling recommendations that are event-based as well, integrated with other smart home devices.
Researchers have redesigned a natural enzyme that shows promise in promoting the regrowth of nerve tissue following injury. The team applied computer algorithms that mimicked the types of amino acid substitutions found in real organisms. This approach — known as consensus design — produces mutant forms of the enzyme that don’t exist in nature, but are plausibly like those that do. Their new version is more stable and could lead to new treatments for reversing nerve damage caused by traumatic injury or stroke. “The wild type chondroitinase ABC loses most of its activity within 24 hours, whereas our re-engineered enzyme is active for seven days.”
Engineers have brought surgical robotics down to the microscale by creating a origami-inspired miniature manipulator to improve precision and control. The “mini-RCM” robot is the size of a tennis ball, weighs as much as a penny and has successfully performed a difficult mock surgical task. To create the robot, materials are bonded together in layers, then laser-cut in a specific pattern that allows the desired 3D shape to “pop up,” as in a children’s pop-up picture book. The mini-RCM is controlled by three linear actuators (mini-LAs) that allow it to move in multiple dimensions and help correct hand tremors and other disturbances during teleoperation.
Foxconn and Pegatron are among companies eyeing new factories in Mexico as the U.S.-China trade war and coronavirus pandemic prompt firms to reexamine global supply chains. The plans could usher in billions of dollars in badly needed fresh investments over the next few years for Latin America’s second-largest economy, which is primed for its worst recession since the 1930s Great Depression. The plans come as the idea of “near-shoring” gains ground in Washington. The Trump administration is exploring financial incentives to encourage firms to move production facilities from Asia to the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Exxon is being kicked out of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the exclusive index it’s been a part of for 92 years. Chevron is now the Dow’s sole oil company. The energy sector comprised 16% of the S&P 500 in 2008. Today, the energy industry makes up a mere 2.5% of the S&P 500. That shift reflects the transformation of the American economy in favor of technology — and the momentum in the market in that direction. Exxon’s investments in Guyana could prove to be lucrative as that region is expected to turn into a major source of growth for the company down the line. But it will take time and money to turn those barrels into revenue.
A parachutist completed the world’s first jump from a solar-powered aircraft after the plane soared to a height of 1,520 metres (nearly 5,000 ft) over western Switzerland. The two-seater prototype plane made the test flight in good weather and to promote renewable energy. Parachutist Raphael Domjan reached a speed of 150 kilometres per hour during his jump. In 2022, the team aims to carry out a high-altitude flight powered exclusively by solar energy, seeking to reach the stratosphere with an altitude of 20,000 metres.
Africa has been declared free from wild polio, after decades of work. Four years after the last recorded cases of wild polio in northern Nigeria, the Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC) certified that the continent is now free of the virus, which can cause irreversible paralysis and in some cases death. Improved surveillance, tackling violent levels of vaccine scepticism that fuelled deadly attacks on health workers, and the inclusion of polio survivors within eradication teams were key factors in wiping out the virus.