Hearing superpowers 👂 Fungi leather 🍄 Sustainable packaging ♻️!

Technology News

Facebook’s smart glasses could give you hearing superpowers

A technology developed by Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) lets you “zoom in” enhance the sounds you care about while dimming loud background noises that might come in the way of a clear conversation. The team hope to deliver perceptual “superpowers” on AR glasses, to integrate audio capabilities with the visual environment on a single platform. The technology could be combined with Facebook’s LiveMaps, to create a virtual map of both physical objects and sounds surrounding the user. FRL also revealed advances in “audio presence” which consists of providing users with the feeling that they are in the same room as the person they are hearing virtually.

DRDO successfully flight tests hypersonic vehicle at six times the speed of sound

In a historic mission, India successfully flight tested Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV), a giant leap in indigenous defence technologies. The hypersonic combustion took the cruise vehicle its flight path at a velocity of six times the speed of sound, nearly 2 km/s for more than 20s. The parameters of launch and cruise vehicle were monitored by multiple tracking radars, electro-optical systems and Telemetry Stations whilst the scramjet engine worked at high dynamic pressure and temperature. The DRDO demonstrated capabilities for highly complex technology that will serve as the building block for NextGen Hypersonic vehicles.

Science News

Producing leather-like materials from fungi

Leather substitutes can be produced from fungi by upcycling low-cost agricultural and forestry by-products (e.g. sawdust) which serve as a feedstock for the growth of fungal mycelium. The fungal biomass can be harvested and physically and chemically treated (e.g. pressing, cross-linking). “As a result, these sheets of fungal biomass look like leather and exhibit comparable material and tactile properties.” Fungi as a raw material for leather substitutes provide a cost-effective, socially and environmentally alternative to bovine and synthetic leather and are of particular interest to sustainability-conscious consumers and companies as well as to the vegan community.

Common cold combats influenza

Rhinovirus, the most frequent cause of common colds, can prevent the flu virus from infecting airways by jumpstarting the body’s antiviral defenses. They created human airway tissue from stem cells that give rise to epithelial cells, which line the airways of the lung and are a chief target of respiratory viruses. They found that after the tissue had been exposed to rhinovirus, the influenza virus was unable to infect the tissue. The presence of rhinovirus triggered production of the antiviral agent interferon, which is part of the early immune system response to invasion of pathogens. “The effect lasted for at least five days.”

Business News

Nestle on track to meet sustainable packaging goal

Nestle has increased the share of recyclable or reusable packaging for its products to 87%, making progress toward its 100% goal by 2025. The have recently launched a refillable system for pet food in Chile allowing deliveries to consumers without extra packaging. Nestle engineers have also developed a new kind of recyclable paper to wrap Maggi bouillon cubes that will soon be launched in France. Regularly cited by environmental groups such as Greenpeace as one of the top plastic polluters, the food giant has vowed to reduce its use of new plastics by a third by 2025 and spend up to 2 billion Swiss francs ($2.19 billion) to boost recycled plastics.

Samsung Electronics wins $6.6 billion Verizon order for network equipment

Samsung Electronics has won a $6.64 billion order to provide wireless communication solutions to Verizon in the United States, a major win for the South Korean firm in the next-generation 5G network market. The next-generation 5G wireless network is expected eventually to connect and enable high-speed video transmissions and self-driving cars, among other uses. Samsung’s global prospects for its network business have improved following U.S. sanctions on its bigger rival Huawei. “Samsung winning the order from Verizon would help the company expand its telecom equipment business abroad, potentially giving leverage to negotiate with other countries.”

Miscellaneous News

LA County records highest-ever temperature

Los Angeles County recorded its highest-ever temperature as the weekend heat fanned wildfires across California and put additional strain on the state’s power network. “We reached 121 degrees (F) in Woodland Hills, California. That is the highest-ever temperature at a station, beating 119 degrees on July 22, 2006.” The high temperatures come as firefighters battle wildfires around the state – the worst year on record in terms of the amount of land scorched. More than 2,094,955 acres have burned so far.

Africa’s Great Green Wall just 4% complete over halfway through schedule

The world’s most ambitious reforestation project, the Great Green Wall of Africa, has covered only 4% of its target area but is more than halfway towards the 2030 completion date. The Great Green Wall was conceived in 2007 by the African Union as a 4,350-mile (7,000km) cross-continental barrier stretching from Senegal to Djibouti that would hold back the deserts of the Sahara and Sahel. More funds, greater technical support and tighter oversight will be needed if the plan to plant 100m hectares of trees and other vegetation is to be realised.

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