Robot senses 🤖 Alcohol addiction hormone 🍷 Ted Baker cash call 💵!

Technology News

Giving soft robots senses

Researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) came up with new tools to let robots better perceive what they’re interacting with: the ability to see and classify items, and a softer, delicate touch. The new sensors made from latex “bladders” (balloons), let the gripper not only pick up objects as delicate as potato chips, but it also classifies them —  letting the robot better understand what it’s picking up, while also exhibiting that light touch. When classifying objects, the sensors correctly identified ten objects with over 90 percent accuracy, even when an object slipped out of grip.

Gamemakers Inject AI to Develop More Lifelike Characters

A team from EA and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver is using a technique called reinforcement learning, which is loosely inspired by the way animals learn in response to positive and negative feedback, to automatically animate humanoid characters. Traditionally, characters in video games and their actions are crafted manually. Sports games, such as FIFA, make use of motion capture. By automating the animation process, as well as other elements of game design and development, AI could save game companies millions of dollars while making games more realistic and efficient, so that a complex game can run on a smartphone, for example.

Science News

Hormones may make men and women experience alcohol differently

In a new study in mice, researchers uncovered a key mechanism driving this puzzling gender imbalance: fluctuating estrogen. The sex hormone estrogen can make drinking alcohol more rewarding to female mice over males, scientists report. Meanwhile, reducing certain estrogen receptors in the brain can diminish binge drinking behavior in female — and not male — mice. “If alcohol drinking is higher during times when estrogen levels are elevated, this can contribute to both the health risks of alcohol drinking and increase the likelihood of developing severe alcohol drinking problems.”

Coatings for shoe bottoms could improve traction on slick surfaces

Inspired by the Japanese art of paper cutting, MIT engineers have designed a friction-boosting material that could be used to coat the bottom of your shoes, giving them a stronger grip on ice and other slippery surfaces. The researchers drew on kirigami, a variation of origami that involves cutting paper as well as folding it, to create the new coating. Laboratory tests showed that when people wearing kirigami-coated shoes walked on an icy surface, they generated more friction than the uncoated shoes. Incorporating this coating into shoes could help prevent dangerous falls on ice and other hazardous surfaces, especially among the elderly.

Business News

Ted Baker founder cuts stake by almost 40% in emergency funding bid

The Ted Baker founder, Ray Kelvin, has slashed his stake in the fashion retailer by nearly 40%, handing control of the company to an investor known as “the Rottweiler” as part of an emergency £105m fundraising to get the business through the coronavirus pandemic. The refinancing has so far slashed Kelvin’s stake to 15.8%. Investment firm – whose founder, Martin Hughes, is nicknamed the “Rottweiler” – nearly doubled its stake to 26.4%, making it Ted Baker’s biggest shareholder. The coronavirus pandemic has caused revenues to slump by 36% between 26 January 2020 to 2 May 2020.

Jeff Bezos reveals investment in UK digital freight firm Beacon

Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos has revealed he will invest in British startup Beacon. The startup, which is a digital freight forwarder, says it managed to raise over $15 million in recent Series A fundraising from some top-notch investors, including Bezos and venture capital firm 8VC. Based out of London, Beacon is also a supply chain finance firm that also provides real-time data of cargo delivery and a marketplace view of global shipping costs and prices. The company stated that its goal is to disrupt the trillion-dollar freight forwarder market by vastly improving the experience for importers and exporters with a more transparent and smarter shipping product.

Miscellaneous News

Japanese city aims to ban phone use while walking

Pedestrians glued to their phones while walking, causing collisions and sometimes accidents. No more, says one Japanese city. Officials in Yamato city, near Tokyo, submitted a Bill to the city assembly to stop people from using their phones while walking. There will be no punishment.”We hope the ban will raise more awareness about the dangers.” Research estimates a pedestrian’s average field of vision while staring down at a smartphone is 5 per cent of what our eyes take in normally.

Romanian cobbler keeps people apart with size 75 shoes

Grigore Lup, a Romanian shoemaker from the Transylvanian city of Cluj, noticed people were not respecting the rules of social distancing. So Lup came up with the idea of long-nosed leather shoes to help keep people apart. They come in a European size 75. “If two people wearing these shoes were facing each other, there would be almost one-and-a-half metres between them.” Lup, who said he adapted the long footwear from a model he made for actors, said he had so far received five orders for social distancing shoes.

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