An automated warehouse of the future

Imagine a huge warehouse with groceries going in one end and shopping orders coming out the other. Humans do the unpacking and packing, while in the middle, robots sort and rearrange this vast inventory 24 hours a day. This is the latest highly automated warehouse of Ocado, a British online-only supermarket that also sells its technology to other global grocers. This algorithmically designed warehouse maximizes available space while digitizing some of the more arduous, complex and dull aspects of warehouse work. And by licensing and selling its automation technology to other companies, Ocado monetises the research and development needed to consistently disrupt itself.  https://www.theverge.com/2018/5/8/17331250/automated-warehouses-jobs-ocado-andover-amazon?

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First human-free bank branch

The China Construction Bank, China’s second-largest bank, has opened a branch in Shanghai run entirely by technology. A humanoid robot answers customers’ questions and directs traffic, and human client relationship managers remotely interact with customers via videoconference. Customers can pay to engage in small interactive augmented reality games to make the experience more of an occasion rather than just a branch visit. A virtual reality machine is also available to showcase CCB’s latest home rental offerings. This virtual reality, artificial intelligence and facial recognition technology is expected to support 90 percent of customer demand. https://m-scmp-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/m.scmp.com/business/companies/article/2141203/meet-new-face-branch-banking?

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An in-car delivery service

Amazon has partnered with GM and Volvo on its new In-Car Delivery service for Prime members, which launched this month in 37 U.S. cities. Prime members with eligible GM or Volvo cars simply select In-Car Delivery at checkout. Amazon couriers do not have direct access to the car — the unlock command is issued through the car’s connected systems (i.e. OnStar or Volvo on Call) as part of an authentication process. This service complements the Amazon in-home service launched last year.

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Nanoneedles to detect cancer

CSIRO scientists are investigating whether wearable nanoneedles could be used to analyse interstitial fluid, which is the fluid around your cells. In that fluid they’re working to detect cancer biomarkers, like tumour DNA and other intercellular signatures, through your skin – but without causing any pain. If it’s found to be do-able, this could potentially give them the ability to detect cancers much earlier and increase treatment success, in a much less invasive way. https://blog.csiro.au/nanoneedles-just-what-the-doctor-will-order/

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Sydney helps redress Wikipedia gender bias

Women are the focus of only about 15 per cent of Wikipedia profile entries and comprise only about 10 to 15 per cent contributors. Various global initiatives have been launched to redress the imbalance, and the University of Sydney joined in this month with a “Women in Wikipedia: 2018 Edit-a-thon”, where about 50 students, staff members and volunteers created and updated entries on women — particularly Australian women writers, scientists and scholars. https://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/sydney-uni-tackles-wikipedia-gender-bias/news-story/e40cecc8bfcb79953a7c1f6544dedbc2

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A smart paint that cools your home

A new high-tech paint from SolCold that cools when exposed to sunlight could provide a better way to cool buildings and perhaps even solve the long-standing problem of cooling things in space. In hot weather, electricity consumption soars as people turn on the air conditioning, pushing the grid to its limits and raising energy bills. The SolCold technology uses a double-layered coating to reduce temperatures by up to 10 degrees C below those attained with traditional white paint coating. The paint has tested well in the lab, with some caveats-so far it works better on metal roofs than concrete, and is more successful over rooms with low ceilings than high ones. Although this paint is more expensive than standard options, it’s said to offer quite substantial energy savings- a decrease in energy consumption by up to 60 percent, while lasting 10 to 15 years before needing a new coat. The first clients are thus expected to come from the business world. www.solcold.com

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Getting in early with alzheimers

An international team of scientists have just completed the first step in developing a blood test that can predict whether you have an increased likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s – working up to 20 years before symptoms develop. Two scientists from CSIRO helped validate the test… with the power of imaging and biostatistics. This research may translate into more efficient trials for treatment and prevention in coming years. https://blog.csiro.au/bloody-data-biostatistics-first-blood-test-alzheimers

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A banking app that encourages you to save

The new Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s retail banking app will allow alerts to be sent to debit card holders if they spend too much on potentially damaging products like alcohol and gaming, as the bank encourages saving. While you can turn the spending tracker off, trials showed 97 per cent of customers want to use it. CBA aims to show the customer the consequences of spending choices then encourage them to make better savings decisions. The model is the local bank manager of days past who knows your name and gives a few suggestions about what you should do. CBA is creating that sort of connection in the digital age. http://www.afr.com/business/banking-and-finance/financial-services/cba-to-redflag-destructive-spending-in-savings-push-20180127-h0pc2w?

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Vertical farming

Vertical farming allows for food production using a tiny fraction of the water and land of conventional agriculture and without the use of pesticides or fertilisers. San Francisco-headquartered Plenty, with funding from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, is building enormous indoor farms to grow fresh produce – mainly greens at this point – close to or inside cities where they will be eaten, which cuts down on the CO2 required to transport food. https://www.plenty.ag/

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