Wearable exosuit 🕴️ Stoke recovery 🕹️ Drive thru delays 🍟!

Technology News

Vanderbilt wearable exosuit that lessens back muscle fatigue could redesign the future of work

Engineers have determined that their back-assist exosuit, a clothing-like device that supports human movement and posture, can reduce fatigue by an average of 29–47 percent in lower back muscles. The low-profile, elastic exosuit applies assistive forces that cooperate with the low back extensor muscles, to relieve strain on the muscles and spine, and to help reduce injury risks. This study showed that wearing the exosuit made holding a 35-pound weight (the average weight of a 4-year-old child) less tiring on the back than holding a 24-pound weight (the average weight of an 18-month-old baby) without the exosuit.

Toyota’s robot butler prototype hangs from the ceiling like a bat

Toyota’s robotics division is focused on developing mechanical helpers for the home, keeping older generations healthy and happy as they age. Toyota says the robot’s design was inspired by trips to Japanese homes, where researchers found that limited floor space would constrain a robot’s ability to help. Their solution was to imagine a future home built with robots directly integrated into the architecture. The institute’s researchers also showed how they’re using virtual reality to train these machines. Humans perform the desired actions, like wiping down a tabletop, using VR controllers, and these movements are then programmed into the robots.

Science News

Playing video games helps stroke recovery

The NeuroBall is shown to help people regain strength and movement in their arms and hands after a stroke by making dull daily rehab exercises more fun. Stroke survivors can play nine themed video games holding the Neuroball console, which uses AI to track arm and hand movements and send feedba ck to an app. Hospital stroke rehab patients move their arm and hand an average 32 times in a session. But survivors who played videogames with the Neuroball practiced an average 17 hours a week, notching up 15,000 reps over seven weeks, an earlier study showed.

Study finds yoga and meditation reduce chronic pain

A mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course was found to benefit patients with chronic pain and depression, leading to significant improvement in participant perceptions of pain, mood and functional capacity. Most of the study respondents (89%) reported the program helped them find ways to better cope with their pain. Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) scores, a standard measure of depression, dropped by 3.7 points on a 27-point scale. Some patients experience a similar drop from the use of an antidepressant. “The bottom line is that patients are seeking new ways to cope with chronic pain and effective non-pharmaceutical treatments are available.”

Business News

Pandemic stalls U.S. fast-food drive-thru times

Average drive-thru times at major fast food chains got 29.8 seconds slower in 2020, a survey showed, dragged by increased safety protocols and staff turnover during the coronavirus pandemic. A typical brand could lose $64 million annually per 2,000 stores with the slower average times this year. Across the industry, drive-thru visits grew by 26% in April, May and June, according to research firm The NPD Group. Even as more dining rooms opened in July, drive-thru visits rose by 13%. Drive-thru orders accounted for nearly 90% of McDonald’s total U.S. sales in the second quarter, versus roughly 70% in more normal times.

Playboy is going public

Playboy is merging with Mountain Crest Acquisition, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), in a $415 million deal. It will eventually trade on the Nasdaq under the symbol “PLBY.” Playboy describes itself as “one of the largest and most recognizable lifestyle brands in the world,” selling a variety of items ranging from sexual wellness products, branded clothes and even a home goods line. Notably missing is its once-influential magazine, which ceased publishing in February following a 66-year run. It’s the latest company to use a SPAC to go public, joining Virgin Galactic, sports gambling company DraftKings and Lordstown electric truck rival Nikola.

Miscellaneous News

Skyscraper plans unveiled for record-breaking $3B plot of land

A glass skyscraper inspired by a blossoming flower is set to rise on one of the most expensive plots of land ever sold. Plans unveiled for the site show an eye-catching curvilinear tower soaring 623 feet above Hong Kong’s Central district. The tower’s upper reaches will also contain a “Sky Garden” with a running track and aquaponic planting network that, its designers say, will act as a “biological air-purifying filter.” The architects plan to use AI-assisted elevator controls and biometric security systems in order to eliminate “direct contact with communal surfaces.”

Subway rolls ruled too sugary to be bread in Ireland

The rolls used in Subway sandwiches contain too much sugar to be considered bread, according to Ireland’s Supreme Court. The court ruled that because of the level of sugar, they cannot be taxed as bread, which is classed as a “staple product” with zero VAT. Under Ireland’s VAT Act of 1972, ingredients in bread such as sugar and fat should not exceed 2% of the weight of flour in the dough. The five judges concluded that in Subway sandwiches the sugar content is around 10% of the flour in the dough for both white and wholegrain rolls ruling the rolls subject to tax at 13.5%.

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