Robot farmer 🧑‍🌾 VR Stress 😟 Holiday sales 🛍️!

Technology News


A robot that tells growers when to water crops is on the way

Researchers are developing a robotic pressure chamber that can autonomously sample leaves and immediately test them on site to provide the freshest data. The team have already created a Robot-Assisted Precision Irrigation Delivery, or RAPID, system, which travels along rows of crops adjusting irrigation flows according to sensor data that tells the robot precisely what’s needed for each plant. This project will use the same mobile base robot as in RAPID but equip it with a custom-made robotic leaf sampler and pressure chamber. and pair it with drones that can survey the fields and direct the robot to areas of interest.

Snapchat launches TikTok rival ‘Spotlight’

Snap is launching Spotlight, a new section of its app that will showcase user-created videos. Though it’s not the first time the app has highlighted videos from users, it’s the first time Snapchat will feature them prominently in the app. Spotlight doesn’t allow for comments or the kind of remixing core to TikTok. In fact, many of the snaps featured in Spotlight will be anonymous. Unless the video crater has a public profile, videos in Spotlight appear with no name or handle. That lack of context could be a bit jarring, if you’re used to following specific users. But it could also remove some of the pressure that might otherwise be associated with posting publicly.

Science News


Virtual reality helps measure vulnerability to stress

Behavioral scientists have developed a virtual reality method that measures a person’s susceptibility to psychogenic stressors. The new approach captures high-density locomotion information from a person while they explore two virtual environments in order to predict heart-rate variability when exposed to threatening or highly stressful situations. The team then then analyzed the locomotor data using machine-learning methods, and developed a model that can predict a person’s stress response. They confirmed that the model can predict stress vulnerability to a different stressful challenge when participants were put through a final VR test.

Loneliness and hunger light up brain activity in similar ways

Researchers find empirical evidence that humans crave social contact in the same way they crave food. This was the case even though isolation lasted a relatively short time and participants knew exactly when it would end. When researchers analyzed the fMRI scans, they discovered that a midbrain region called the substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area (SN/VTA) showed greater responses to social images after isolation and to food images after fasting. “It provides empirical support for the idea that loneliness acts as a signal – just like hunger – that signals to an individual that something is lacking and that it needs to take action to repair that.”

Business News


Retail trade group sees holiday sales up 3.6% to 5.2%, posting ‘strong finish’ to 2020 in spite of pandemic

The National Retail Federation said it expects holiday sales during November and Decemberto rise between 3.6% and 5.2% year over year, amounting to between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion.With spending on travel and entertainment largely sidelined, consumers have more money to spend on other items. Some shoppers may look to avoid crowded stores, which will shift more spending online. Retailers have also been urging shoppers to use services like curbside pickup to try to ease the stresses on their supply chains. “We’ve seen consumers are very engaged [and] looking for opportunities to celebrate. … We expect a strong finish to the season.”

The US economy is about to shrink, JPMorgan warns

The pandemic is intensifying and statewide curfews are back. This toxic backdrop is derailing the US economic recovery just as Joe Biden prepares to take charge – and JPMorgan is warning the economy is in fact about to shrink. JPMorgan became the first Wall Street bank to warn that GDP will turn negative by early next year as Americans wait for vaccines to get distributed. JPMorgan expects GDP to slow to 2.8% in the fourth quarter and then shrink by 1% during the first three months of 2021. The Treasury Department added to the mess by yanking $455 billion of funds the Federal Reserve was using for emergency lending programs.

Miscellaneous News


CO2 hits new record despite Covid-19 lockdowns

Climate-heating gases have reached record levels in the atmosphere despite the global lockdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization has said. There is estimated to have been a cut in emissions of between 4.2% and 7.5% in 2020 due to the shutdown of travel and other activities. But the WMO said this was a “tiny blip” in the continuous buildup of greenhouse gases and less than the natural variation seen year to year. The data shows action to cut emissions is currently far from what is needed to avoid the worst impacts of the climate emergency.

Parrots found stuffed in plastic bottles in Indonesia

Dozens of smuggled parrots stuffed in plastic bottles have been found on a ship docked in Indonesia’s eastern region of Papua. Police said the crew discovered 64 live parrots and 10 dead birds after hearing noises coming from inside a large box. Indonesia is home to the highest number of threatened bird species in Asia and a rampant illegal trade in birds. Birds are sold domestically in giant avian markets or smuggled abroad. The seized birds were identified as black-capped lories, a protected species in Indonesia that is sought-after illegally to supply the pet trade.

Share this page

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Ready to have newest tech news delivered to you?

Become a Release Bytes Insider!

Join the Release Bytes daily newsletter serving up the most interesting news stories in Technology, Science and Business straight to your inbox.

The world has changed. It’s time for the way news is distributed to change too!

Your free byte-sized daily newsletter serving up the most interesting news stories in Technology, Science and Business directly to your inbox.

We donate $1 to Annie Cannon for every 100 subscribers.
You Have Subscribed Successfully.

Thank You.