Earth’s oceans are overloaded with plastic bags and other kinds of synthetic debris, which can be deadly for aquatic animals and detrimental to the marine environment in general. According to a 2014 study, there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic weighing 269,000 tons dispersed in oceans! This pollution is estimated to harm 100,000 sea turtles and marine mammals and 1,000,000 ocean animals each year.
Fortunately, there are some people who are concerned about this problem and are going to do something about it. Remember that 19 year old inventor (now 21) that developed the brilliant “ocean cleanup array” plan that we reported about? In 2013, Boyan Slat, founder and CEO of Dutch-registered nonprofit organization The Ocean Cleanup, developed a trash collector which was promised to clean up the world’s oceans in just 5 years. Now, he announced that this ambitious project is going to be deployed in 2016.
The ocean cleanup is planned to start off the coast of Tsushima, an island located between Japan and South-Korea, suffering from a massive plastic pollution problem – it is estimated that one cubic meter of pollution per person gets to the ocean each year. The 2000-meter long system will become the longest floating structure in history and will operate for at least two years.
How does the system work? It is an anchored network of floating barriers which collect plastic debris with the help of ocean currents. Thus, the ocean will basically clean itself! After debris gets settled at these barriers, it can be removed or collected to be processed later.
The main goal of Ocean Cleanup is to develop the technological ways to extract and prevent plastic pollution of the oceans. Within five years, the company plans to launch a 100-kilometer long system in the waters between Hawaii and California. According to the Ocean Cleanup’s computer modeling, it would allow to clean up nearly half of the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a massive collection of plastic particles in the Pacific, in ten years.
“Taking care of the world’s ocean garbage problem is one of the largest environmental challenges mankind faces today. Not only will this first cleanup array contribute to cleaner waters and coasts but it simultaneously is an essential step towards our goal of cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” Slat said.
Here’s the video explaining everything you need to know about the project:
Images credit: The Ocean Cleanup
Awesome New Infrared Goggles Could Help Blind People ‘See’ Surroundings
People who are blind or deal with low vision face a unique number of challenges in their daily lives, ranging from accessing published material to holding a job or living on one’s own.
However, emerging infrared technology under research could help the blind and visually impaired navigate the world around them using a pair of innovative goggles.
In new research recently published and yet to be peer-reviewed, Manuel Zahn and Armaghan Ahmad Khan at Germany’s Technical University of Munich explored how their 3D camera and haptic feedback armband can assist people with low vision.
“Even in the present era, visually impaired people face a constant challenge of navigation,” the pair wrote. “The most common tool available to them is the cane. Although the cane allows good detection of objects in the user’s immediate vicinity, it lacks the ability to detect obstacles further away.”
The two students’ design deploys two infrared cameras placed in a 3D-printed goggles prototype to get a stereoscopic view that is transformed by a small computer into a map of the user’s surroundings. The infrared gear also works in the dark. The armband then uses 25 actuators arranged in a grid that vibrates when users come close to objects while also assisting them in their orientation. As users walk near obstacles, the vibration intensity of the actuators increases.
In tests, subjects enjoyed roughly 98 percent accuracy while getting through obstacle pathways, with all five participants completing the course in their first run. After two additional runs, the volunteers were able to navigate the obstacles more rapidly.
Zahn and Khan frequently cited Microsoft’s Kinect motion detection system for the Xbox in their study, but the pair are confident that their own setup will be far smaller, cheaper and less conspicuous than the gaming device.
The new headset could offer an interesting opportunity for blind and partially sighted people to clear the myriad obstacles they face when performing regular tasks or navigating the world around them.
Toddler Goes On $2000 Furniture-Shopping Spree On Mom’s Phone
A New Jersey mom learned that keeping your browser open may not be the best idea as children, and even infants, become increasingly tech savvy.
Madhu Kumar was browsing Walmart’s furniture selection on their website and had added some items to her shopping cart but never checked out. She was shocked and confused when she started to receive a steady stream of packages from the big-box retailer.
Madhu immediately turned to her husband and two older children to find out who ordered the packages.
“I need one or two, why would we need four?” Madhu asked.
As it turned out, her toddler Ayaansh Kumar – who, at 22 months old, was barely learning to count – had gone on a $2,000 shopping spree while playing on his mother’s phone.
“It is really hard to believe that he has done this, but that’s what happened,” Ayaansh’s dad, Pramod Kumar, told NBC New York.
Among the packages were some that could barely be squeezed through the family’s front door at their home in Monmouth Junction.
Purchases included accent chairs, flower stands and a range of other household items that arrived throughout the week.
“He’s so little, he’s so cute, we were laughing that he ordered all this stuff,” his mom remarked.
From birth, young Ayaansh had observantly watched his family members engage in a range of activities from home – including shopping, attending classes, and going to school. And as it the case for many kids of his generation, he knows the basics of operating a smartphone.
The parents are still waiting for all of the boxes to arrive so that they can return them to their local Walmart. The retailer has already told the Kumars that they are eligible for a refund, but the parents plan to save at least a few items to remind them of their son’s first e-commerce adventure.
“Moving forward, we will put tough passcodes or face recognition so when he picks up the phone he finds it in locked condition,” his father said.
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