Drone gardening 🌳, Fly VR 🦟 and FedEx partners with Microsoft 📦!

Technology News

Canadian Startup Flash Forest Will Use Drones to Plant 1 Billion Trees by 2028

Canadian startup Flash Forest, will maximize the use of drones, specially designed seed pods, and accelerated seed germination to grow 1 billion trees by 2028. Flash Forest sends a mapping drone to assess the area using software that aids in identifying which areas are best places to plant. The drones are then used to drop seed pods on the precise location. The seed pods are designed to store moisture to enable the seedlings to survive even with a prolonged drought. The drones use a pneumatic firing device that ensures that the seed pods are planted deeper into the soil. “It allows you to get into trickier areas that human planters can’t.”

Samsung spins off startup making fake windows that generate artificial sunlight

Backed by Samsung’s in-house incubator C-Labs, SunnyFive, makers of an artificial window that supposedly delivers all the benefits of natural sunlight. The SunnyFive window looks to be similar in function to light therapy lamps marketed to sufferers of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It outputs the full spectrum of natural light, and can be programmed to mimic the lighting effects of a real window. The angle of the light will change throughout the day and incorporates sunrise, dawn, dusk, and sunset. According to Samsung, the product “helps users synthesize vitamin D while they are indoors or in low-lit places without having to worry about skin aging or sunburn.”

Science News

These insects are annoying, but they might just save your life

Researchers have designed a virtual experience for common household pests: flies. To immerse these flies in the VR environment, the researchers tethered them in place using a pin and placed them in a semi-enclosed circular VR chamber. The VR chamber was designed to move in sync with the movement of the tethered flies’ wings, giving it the sensation of naturally flying through an environment of grass and trees. By placing the common apple fly, as well as other flying insects like mosquitos, in a controlled virtual environment, researchers are able to better understand how they experience and respond to different sensory stimuli such as wind or smell.

The sensory superpower that helps fish navigate

Using cutting-edge microscopy, researchers captured images of larval zebrafish brain activity whilst the fish experienced water flow in their surroundings. “We took images of the activity of individual neurons (nerve cells) across the entire brains of larval zebrafish, revealing all the responses and the location of these responses in the brain, during the water flow…We tested two directions of flow, either head to tail – as if the fish was swimming – or tail to head – as if the fish was being sucked in by a predator, and found that some neurons respond to both directions, others are specific for head-to-tail flow, while other neurons respond to a flow from tail to head.”

Business News

FedEx, Microsoft are teaming up to deliver packages, widening gap with Amazon

Microsoft and FedEx announced a joint, multiyear partnership that the pair believe could help “transform commerce” through FedEx’s logistics network and Microsoft’s cloud. Their first service, called FedEx Surround, will give real-time analytics into supply chain and delivery, so companies could potentially better ship goods. The partnership represents yet another example of Amazon rivals choosing to go with Microsoft’s cloud offering over the cloud computing market leader Amazon Web Services (AWS). Amazon and FedEx have been increasingly competitive with each other as Amazon invests heavily in building out its own shipping network.

Alibaba’s Jack Ma resigns from SoftBank board

SoftBank Group Corp said that Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma will resign from its board, in the latest departure by a high-profile ally of CEO Masayoshi Son. The departure of Ma, who retired as Alibaba’s executive chairman in September, comes as he pulls back from formal business roles to focus on philanthropy. SoftBank will propose three new appointments to the board, including group Chief Financial Officer Yoshimoto Goto, at its annual general meeting. Son’s top-down management style is under increased scrutiny with the fund expected to report its third consecutive quarterly operating loss.

Miscellaneous News

Detroit priest goes viral after using squirt gun with holy water to bless parishioners

Photos of a Roman Catholic priest in the Detroit area using a squirt gun to spray parishioners with holy water in an attempt to maintain social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic have gone viral. In the images, Pelc can be seen wearing a mask, face shield and rubber gloves and shooting water into car windows as the vehicles stop by the steps of the church. Pelc said he came up with the idea while trying to find a safe way to continue the tradition of blessing Easter baskets and ensure children had a fun memory of Easter during coronavirus shutdowns.

Waterstones plans to put its books under a 72-hour quarantine

Waterstones is preparing to put books into quarantine after they have been handled by browsing shoppers as part of plans to reopen its stores when allowed. The bookseller intends to ask shoppers to set aside any book they touch on trolleys which will be wheeled away into storage for at least 72 hours before being put back on shelves in an effort to protect customers from the spread of coronavirus. The retailer has been advised that the virus cannot survive for long on cardboard or paper but will be taking extra precautions to give them time to “self heal”.

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