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A 6th sense for blind people

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A wristband called Sunu emits a high-frequency sound wave that bounces off objects as far as 14 feet in front before registering as a gentle, pulsing vibration. The closer the object is — whether it’s a wall, trash can or person — the more frequent the pulses become, allowing blind people to create a mental map of the world around them using echolocation. It’s like the sonar device being used in vehicles to sense nearby objects and avoid crashes. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2017/10/27/for-decades-the-blind-have-used-canes-to-get-around-now-an-special-wrist-band-helps-them-locate-hazards/?

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World’s first shopping mall for recycled goods

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This mall in Sweden contains both a recycling center and shops. Customers can donate the items that they no longer need, then shop for something else. Dropped off goods are sorted into various workshops where they are refurbished or repaired. Products are then sorted into 14 specialty shops that include furniture, computers, audio equipment, clothes, toys, bikes, and gardening and building materials. https://www.google.com.au/amp/s/makewealthhistory.org/2017/03/22/the-worlds-first-mall-for-recycled-goods/amp/

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Offshore wind farms

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Since the government ruled out new onshore wind farms in England – a promise in its 2015 manifesto – energy companies have been forced offshore, making the UK the world’s offshore leader. Allowed to develop beyond the vision of land-dwellers who see wind farms as a blot on the countryside, the turbines have grown steadily larger, as have the farms to which they belong. Over time, the diameter of the blades have enlarged. A turbine commissioned in 2002 swept 80 metres; in 2011 it was 120 metres. By 2020, it will be 180 metres. Wind energy costs less, and will go on costing less, because the turbines are growing taller and the blades longer. http://www.inkl.com/newsletters/morning-edition/news/wild-is-the-wind-the-resource-that-could-power-the-world?

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Rosie the robot to guide you through insurance

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Flamingo’s virtual assistant platform called Rosie, is a way for financial institutions to assist and retain customers or potential customers as they consider which complex financial products are right for them. It’s an artificial intelligence engine that guides customers through their financial services product purchase, onboarding or enquiries. http://www.afr.com/technology/amp-trials-fintech-flamingos-virtual-chatbot-rosie-20170123-gtwyi4#ixzz4vMgRwJR3 

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A quicker way to build a quantum computer

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Scientists at UNSW in Australia have discovered a new approach to quantum computing. They predict it will remove a hurdle that threatened to stall progress on scaling up the number of quantum computer bits-known as qubits- on silicon chips needed to make quantum computing viable. Their approach makes more room on a silicon atom to squeeze in more qubits by pulling electrons away from the nucleus. Unlike the discrete zeros and ones now used in so-called “classical” computing, qubits can be either a one, a zero or both at the same time, opening the way for an exponential increase in computing speeds using these “superpositions”. Many problems now limited by computing power, from medicine to climate modelling, would be more easily solved with quantum computing. http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/nobody-saw-it-breakthrough-claimed-by-unsws-quantum-computing-team-20170905-gybmph.html

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An internet “walkie talkie” that’s useful in an emergency

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Zello is a free internet “walkie-talkie” app that’s very useful in regional emergencies such as a hurricane, fire or flood. In a few seconds of hearing your voice, an operator can guess what part of the country you’re from, if you’ve been drinking, what mood you’re in and whether you’re afraid or in distress. www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2017/08/31/the-cajun-navys-secret-weapon-for-saving-lives-the-human-voice/?

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A rental car that’s designed to entertain kids on long trips

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Hertz has introduced the world’s first colouring-in car. It’s fully upholstered with popular colouring-in book designs to keep the kids amused for hours. Travel experts at Hertz designed the car with families in mind, especially for those ‘are we nearly there yet?’ moments. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4747078/Hertz-unveils-world-s-colouring-car.html#ixzz4rJY2wIyB

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Floating power plants

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Imagine a power generation facility that is connected to the local power grid but floating on water. Floating power plants can be designed to be easily transportable and positioned in ports, on rivers, in deep oceans or even in sheltered coastal regions to enable power to remote locations and to regions during natural calamities. It’s something that the Chinese and the Japanese energy experts have pulled off recently. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/floating-power-plants-look-future-energy-harihara-balasubramanian

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More bugs on menus

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In May this year, Switzerland revised its food safety laws to allow for the sale of insect products containing crickets, grasshoppers and mealworms — the first European country to do so. Coop, a supermarket chain in Switzerland, recently started selling edible bugs in the form of insect balls and burgers made by the startup Essento. Noma, recognised for years as the no 1 restaurant in the world, is known for its insect delicacies, including ants. The health benefits of bugs are now being promoted. https://www.essento.ch/

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Special socks for the homeless

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Bombas has created donation socks which have a reinforced seam to make them more durable. They are treated with anti-microbial technology, so they deter fungus and don’t need to be washed frequently . They only come in black, which is more stain resistant. In February Bombas created an event called “60K day,” which was based on the concept that, on any given night, 60,000 people in New York end up at a homeless shelter. The plan was to bring individuals from 60 of New York’s hottest companies to visit a shelter and hand out 60,000 socks. https://www.fastcompany.com/40445016/how-one-sock-brand-is-helping-startups-step-up-their-social-good-game?

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A crewless ship

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The first automated, crewless ship is expected to set sail next year. The Norwegian-built Yara Birkeland is expected to lower operating costs by 90% and be zero admission. Dubbed the Tesla of the seas, the 1,000-container vehicle is expected to launch with a small crew, move to remote operation in 2019, and then transition to fully autonomous by 2020. https://www.theverge.com/2017/7/24/16018652/first-autonomous-ship-launch-2018?

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