A team recently came forward with an electric-nose that scans the barcode on fish, chicken, and beef. The e-nose called PEGS works by reading a barcode that reacts with gases produced by the decaying process, and the barcode’s reactivity to these gases is fairly similar to how the mammal olfactory system works. To make it a portable process, the team has developed a smartphone app that can yield results in about 30 seconds and has 98.5% accuracy. “These barcodes help consumers to save money by ensuring they do not discard products that are still fit for consumption, which also helps the environment.”
A shop in Japan has enlisted a robot to ensure customers are wearing masks, as the country prepares for a possible third wave of coronavirus infections. Robovie, developed by the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International in Kyoto, is able to pick out customers who aren’t wearing masks and politely ask them to cover up. It can also intervene when they fail to socially distance while queuing up to pay. Equipped with pre-loaded information about the shop’s layout, Robovie uses a camera and sensors to observe people’s movements, and lasers to measure the distance between them.
The new study is the first of its kind using industry data on actual play time rather than asking players. The study suggests that experiences of competence and social connection with others may contribute to people’s wellbeing. Those who derived enjoyment from playing were more likely to report experiencing positive wellbeing. These experiences during play may be more important than the amount of time a player invests in games and could play a major role in the well-being of players. Play can be an activity that relates positively to people’s mental health – and regulating video games could withhold those benefits from players.
Researchers found that the revelation of corporate accounting misconduct is linked to about a 2.3% increase in local financially motivated crimes in the following year. The increase was found even after accounting for a variety of other factors, including local unemployment rates at the time of the fraud, poverty rates, and crime rates before the accounting fraud was revealed. Corporate fraud had the strongest effect on local crimes in smaller cities with fewer job opportunities and higher income inequality. The findings were strongest when the fraud was associated with a larger drop in the company’s stock price and when it received more media attention.
Politicians from the UK, Germany and Spain have written a letter to Boris Johnson, calling for a four-day week to be implemented “now” so countries can begin the process of combatting the economic consequences of Covid-19. The letter said that reducing working hours would improve people’s mental health. It also highlighted the “opportunity” leaders had to rethink working patterns and help to reduce energy usage in a bid to tackle the climate crisis. “For the advancement of civilisation and the good society, now is the moment to seize the opportunity and move towards shorter working hours with no loss of pay.”
Japan had seen its economy shrink during 2020 as lockdowns hit its manufacturing sector and consumer spending. The world’s third biggest economy is now showing signs of recovery. Japan’s third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 5% is compared to the previous quarter, which saw its economy shrink 8.2%. This turnaround is the fastest pace on record for Japanese economic growth. Asian economies are leading the way for a global economic recovery, in what some have called a “Zoom boom”. The bounceback is welcome news for Japan’s government which has avoided the tough lockdown measures seen in some other countries.
It can’t fly and it hides during the day but a critically endangered large parrot is back in the limelight having been named New Zealand’s bird of the year for an unprecedented second time. The green and fawn kākāpō – the world’s heaviest, longest-living parrot – first won in 2008. After conservation efforts, the population of this large parrot has risen from 50 during the 1990s to 213 now. “The things that make kākāpō unique also make them vulnerable to threats. They are slow breeders, they nest on the ground and their main defence is to imitate a shrub.”
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced the first recipients of his $10 billion Earth Fund. The Earth Fund is designed to combat the effects of climate change by issuing grants to scientists, activists and other organizations in their efforts to “preserve and protect the natural world.” Bezos announced 16 initial recipients of the Earth Fund who will receive $791 million in donations. The top donations include The Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund, World Resources Institute and the World Wildlife Fund.