January 1, 2002 Happy NewYear! A rainbow appears after a storm. [Photos and text by: Jennifer Thornton]
A total of 57.7% of all downstream internet traffic is video, with Netflix the number one source of this traffic globally, according to new research.Sandvine’s H1 2018 Global Internet Phenomena Report said that Netflix accounts for 15.0% of downstream traffic across the entire internet, and for 26.6% of video streaming traffic globally.YouTube came in third place with a 21.3% share of global video streaming traffic, behind HTTP media streams at 24.4% – which represents the growth in streaming services that Sandvine has not yet tracked individually.Similarly, Raw MPEG-TG, a video protocol that is commonly used by operators to stream video from broadcast channels, came fourth with an 8.0% share of video streaming traffic, followed by Amazon Prime (5.7%), Twitch (3.5%) and Facebook Video (3.4%).Pirate site Openload came eighth on the video front with 0.8% of global video traffic, ahead of Sky go at 0.5% and Hulu at 0.4%.On a regional basis, Netflix was the most popular video online service in the Americas, and was number two in Europe, the Middle East and Africa behind YouTube.In Asia Pacific, HTTP media streams were most popular, followed by Facebook in second place and Netflix in third.“It is not a surprise that streaming video is the top application type on the internet,” according to the report. “What might not have been expected is the gains that other application types have made even while video continues to drive downstream bandwidth usage. Gaming has gained in relevance, and file sharing has experienced a bit of a resurgence.”Sandvine is a provider of network intelligence solutions and its Global Internet Phenomena Report looks at how applications are consuming the world’s internet bandwidth.To access the full report click here.
“I’m delighted with the win,” said a delighted Connolly after the race. “Laura led the race for the first 5km, and then I pushed on from there to the finish line.”“I plan to run the Frank Duffy Dublin 10 mile.“And I hope to toe the line for the Dublin Marathon in October,” added Connolly who competed in the Rio 2016 Olympic marathon. Olympian Paul Pollock set a new KBC race series record to win the South Dublin 10K with a time of 29:28. This time improved on Mick Clohisey’s race series record of 29:44 ran at the 2015 Fingal 10k.Clohisey the reigning national marathon champion matched that time to finish second with Hiko Tanosa third in 30:03. Mark Kenneally was fourth in 30:30.The field ran into a headwind for the first 5km with Raheny man Clohisey taking on the early pace before Pollock made a surge of speed to break away from the leading pack.All three Olympic Marathon runners; Pollock, Clohisey and Keneally are committing to racing in the KBC Dublin Marathon on Sunday October 27.“I was thrilled with that, it was a beautiful course out there” explained Pollock. “There was a great atmosphere and buzz around.”“It was great to have a good race against Mick and Tanosa. The next goal for me is the Berlin Marathon in a few weeks, and Dublin is part of the plan too.”Clohisey is also opting to race in the KBC Dublin Marathon over the World Championships which are set to take place in Doha in October in less than favourable conditions for the distance.“My wife is expecting a baby in September so it will be a different kind of a build-up to the race. I hope to make it to the start line in good nick” explained Clohisey.Over 3,500 competitors ran the South Dublin 10k, with the start and finish at Grange Castle Business Park in Clondalkin, Co. Dublin, taking in Corkagh Park and the Grand Canal Walkway.Next in the KBC Race Series 2019, is the Frank Duffy 10 Mile on Saturday August 24th. The KBC Dublin Half Marathon will take place on Saturday September 21st.The sold-out 2019 Dublin Marathon, celebrating its 40th Anniversary with KBC, has a record entry of 22,500. The runners take the start-line on Sunday, October 27.Derry’s Breege Connolly wins South Dublin 10K was last modified: July 22nd, 2019 by John2John2 Tags: ShareTweet City of DerryDerry’s Breege Connolly Wins South Dublin 10KDublin MarathonFrank Duffy 10 MilleOlympian CITY of Derry’s Breege Connolly landed the KBC South Dublin 10K in windy conditions on Sunday morning.Olympian Connolly was first across the line in the women’s field clocking 35 minutes 19 seconds, followed by previous Dublin Marathon national titleholder Laura Graham in 35:40. Scotland’s Gemma Rankin was third in 35:46.
Source:http://www.idsociety.org/ Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Nov 1 2018Last year, a 26-year-old man receiving treatment for leukemia went to a Swiss hospital’s emergency room with a fever, a sore throat, and a cough, and was admitted. His condition worsened, and 17 days later, he died from severe complications of measles. The man’s weakened immune system was unable to fight off the disease, even though he was vaccinated against measles as a child.A new report in Open Forum Infectious Diseases describes the man’s case, highlighting the importance of maintaining high vaccination coverage in the community to help protect people with compromised immune systems from measles and other vaccine-preventable infections. “Measles is not harmless, it’s a serious disease,” said the report’s lead author, Philipp Jent, MD, of Bern University Hospital and the University of Bern in Switzerland. “There is a responsibility to vaccinate yourself to protect others, not only to protect yourself.”Following the patient’s admission in February of 2017, he developed additional symptoms over the next several days, including a progressive rash, mouth sores, and conjunctivitis, that suggested measles, although he had been fully vaccinated against the disease with the recommended two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine in the 1990s. A throat swab test confirmed the measles infection. Treatment with ribavirin (an antiviral drug), immunoglobulins (a type of antibody), and vitamin A did not improve his condition. He subsequently developed severe pneumonia and died.The case illustrates how serious measles can be, particularly for people with compromised immune systems due to cancer treatment or other causes. It also underscores the importance of herd immunity in protecting these vulnerable individuals, the report’s authors noted. When vaccination rates in a community are high enough, vaccine-preventable diseases like measles are less likely to spread, which helps protect those who cannot be vaccinated (such as newborns not old enough to be immunized) or, like the patient in this case, for whom vaccines are not as effective.Related StoriesMeasles vaccination associated with health, schooling benefits among childrenVaccination helps protect the public from measlesMeasles vaccination for all to prevent future disease outbreaksWhen the proportion of people in a community who are vaccinated drops below this threshold, however, as it has for measles immunizations in several European countries, outbreaks are more likely. More than 41,000 children and adults in Europe were infected with measles during the first half of 2018, according to the World Health Organization, exceeding the annual total of European cases reported in any previous year this decade. In the U.S., there had been 142 confirmed cases of measles in 2018 as of early October, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Data released by CDC in October also showed a gradual but concerning climb in the numbers of U.S. children who reach their second birthday without having received any recommended vaccines.”Ongoing efforts to raise confidence in vaccines and increase population immunity should be intensified,” the authors wrote in the case report’s conclusion. Physicians caring for people with compromised immune systems, the authors noted, should also ensure that those in close contact with these patients, such as family members and friends, are fully vaccinated.Fast Facts People with weakened immune systems are at risk for contracting vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, even if they have been vaccinated. In this case, a 26-year-old Swiss man undergoing treatment for leukemia contracted measles and died from severe complications of the infection, despite being fully vaccinated against measles as a child. Maintaining high enough levels of vaccination coverage in the broader community, also known as herd immunity, can limit the spread of measles and other diseases and help protect those who are especially vulnerable.
Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Nov 14 2018Ovarian cancer claims the lives of more than 14,000 in the U.S. each year, ranking fifth among cancer deaths in women. A multidisciplinary team at Washington University in St. Louis has found an innovative way to use sound and light, or photoacoustic, imaging to diagnose ovarian tumors, which may lead to a promising new diagnostic imaging technique to improve current standard of care for patients with ovarian cancer.Quing Zhu, professor of biomedical engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science and of radiology, and a team of physicians and researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis recently conducted a pilot study using co-registered photoacoustic tomography with ultrasound to evaluate ovarian tumors on 16 patients at the School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Results of the study were recently published online in Radiology.”When ovarian cancer is detected at an early, localized stage — stage 1 or 2 — the five-year survival rate after surgery and chemotherapy is 70 to 90 percent, compared with 20 percent or less when it is diagnosed at later stages, 3 or 4,” said Zhu, a pioneer of combining ultrasound and near-infrared imaging modalities for cancer diagnosis and treatment assessment. “Clearly, early detection is critical, yet due the lack of effective screening tools only 20-25 percent of ovarian cancers are diagnosed early. If detected in later stages, the survival rate is very low.”In their approach, researchers use transvaginal ultrasound to obtain information about ovarian tumors, but ultrasound lacks accuracy in diagnosis of ovarian masses, Zhu said. Photoacoustic tomography, however, gives researchers a very detailed look at the tumor’s vasculature, or tumor angiogenesis, and blood oxygen saturation (sO2) by lighting up the tumor’s vasculature bed and allowing for more accurate diagnoses of ovarian masses seen by ultrasound.Both tumor angiogenesis and tumor sO2 are related to tumor growth, metabolism and therapeutic response. The Washington University team is the only team using co-registered photoacoustic imaging and ultrasound to diagnose ovarian cancer.In the pilot study, Zhu and her team created a sheath with optical fibers that wrap around a standard transvaginal ultrasound probe. The optical fibers are connected to a laser. Once the probe is inside the patient, Zhu turns the laser on, which shines through the vaginal muscle wall. With photoacoustic tomography, the light from the laser propagates, gets absorbed by the tumor and generates sound waves, revealing information about the tumor angiogenesis and sO2 inside the ultrasound-visible ovaries. A normal ovary contains a lot of collagen, Zhu said, but an ovary with invasive cancers has extensive blood vessels and lower sO2.The team used two biomarkers to characterize the ovaries: relative total hemoglobin concentration (rHbT), which is directly related to tumor angiogenesis, and mean oxygen saturation (sO2). In this pilot study, the team found that the rHbT was 1.9 times higher for invasive epithelial cancerous ovaries, which make up 90 percent of ovarian cancers, than for normal ovaries. The mean oxygen saturation of invasive epithelial cancers was 9.1 percent lower than normal and benign ovaries. All five invasive epithelial cancerous ovaries, including two stage 1 and 2 cancers, showed extensive rHbT distribution and lower sO2.Related StoriesStudy reveals link between inflammatory diet and colorectal cancer riskUsing machine learning algorithm to accurately diagnose breast cancerNew protein target for deadly ovarian cancer”Physicians are very excited about this because it might bring significant change into current clinical practice,” Zhu said. “It is very valuable to detect and diagnose ovarian cancers at early stages. It is also important to provide information and assurance to patients that there is no worry about their ovaries, instead of removing a patient’s ovaries. This technology can also be valuable to monitor high-risk patients who have increased risk of ovarian and breast cancers due to their genetic mutations. The current standard of care for these women is performing risk reduction surgeries to remove their ovaries at some point, which affects their quality of life and causes other health problems.””We are very fortunate to participate in this research endeavor headed by Dr. Zhu,” said Cary Siegel, MD, professor of radiology and chief of gastrointestinal/genitourinary radiology at the School of Medicine. “This photoacoustic imaging study has great potential to better identify ovarian cancers and may play a valuable role in screening high-risk patients and triaging patients for follow-up imaging or surgical excision.”Zhu credits her physician collaborators, including Siegel; Matthew Powell, MD, associate professor and chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology; Ian Hagemann, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pathology & immunology; David Mutch, MD, the Ira C. and Judith Gall Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology; the radiology team and the entire gynecology group, as well as her doctoral students Sreyankar Nandy, Atahar Mostafa and Eghbal Amidi, who worked on instrumentation, control software and data processing.”I really appreciated this as a group effort to bring the study to this point,” Zhu said. “This technology may provide a means to improve early ovarian cancer detection, help avoid surgery in most patients with a normal or benign ovary, substantially reduce medical costs, and improve women’s quality of life. We look forward to bringing this study to the next level.”These initial results will need to be validated with more patients, Zhu said, and the team is applying for funding to conduct a large clinical trial.Source: https://source.wustl.edu/2018/11/hopeful-technology-could-change-detection-diagnosis-of-deadly-ovarian-cancer/
Doctor measuring blood pressure with sphygmomanometer. Image Credit: Kurhan / Shutterstock The free health tests included screening for dementia, heart diseases, kidney ailments and type 2 diabetes. The NHS said that over 15 million people were eligible to take the tests while only a minority took them. Since 2013, only 7.15 million individuals have taken these tests. Experts have added that the tests would be just 20 minutes long but help detect many conditions and save lives. A GP or a nurse would check the body weight and height and measure the blood pressure as part of the test. Irregular heartbeats, risks for strokes can all be identified with the test. Strokes and risks of vascular dementias could also be assessed say experts.They explain that dementia and Alzheimer’s kills thousands each year in England and Wales. These tests could help diagnose the conditions early. Alistair Burns, national clinical director for dementia at NHS England says, “The start of a new year is exactly the right time to commit to taking a simple, free and potentially life-saving step towards a healthier life.”Related StoriesHealthy lifestyle lowers dementia risk despite genetic predispositionResearch team to create new technology for tackling concussionArtificial intelligence can help accurately predict acute kidney injury in burn patientsThese health check-ups are offered to all individuals aged between 40 and 74 with no pre-existing health conditions. They are provided every five years. Laura Phipps, head of communications at Alzheimer’s Research UK says, “There is good evidence to suggest that what’s good for the heart is also good for the brain, but while 77% people believe they can reduce their risk of heart disease, only 34% of people know they can reduce their risk of dementia… Research shows that midlife is a crucial time to take action that will help maintain a healthy brain into later life. With dementia now the UK’s leading cause of death, we must encourage everyone to take positive steps to maintain good brain health throughout life and into older age.”These five yearly checks are part of the NHS’ effort to diagnose dementia early among the population of England. The organization is trying to ensure that least two thirds of the people with dementia are diagnosed and treated early.The programme at the Public Health England is led by Jamie Waterall who said, “The NHS health check looks at the top causes of premature death and ill health but more importantly supports people to take action of reducing their risk of preventable conditions such as dementia and heart disease.”The test is followed by advice on improving health and lifestyle that includes having a healthy balanced diet, regular exercise, quitting smoking, taking medications to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, losing excess body weight etc. By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDJan 1 2019The NHS England provided a free health check up to the population over forty years of age and has noted that more than half of them did not take the health check-ups that could detect and treat dementias and other conditions.
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 20 2019Severely impaired stroke survivors are regaining function in their arms after sometimes decades of immobility, thanks to a new video game-led training device invented by Northwestern Medicine scientists.When integrated with a customized video game, the device, called a myoelectric computer interface (MyoCI), helped retrain stroke survivors’ arm muscles into moving more normally. Most of the 32 study participants experienced increased arm mobility and reduced arm stiffness while they were using the training interface. Most participants retained their arm function a month after finishing the training.The study will be published March 19 in the journal Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair.Many stroke survivors can’t extend their arm forward with a straight elbow because the muscles act against each other in abnormal ways, called “abnormal co-activation” or “abnormal coupling.”The Northwestern device identifies which muscles are abnormally coupled and retrains the muscles into moving normally by using their electrical muscle activity (called electromyogram, or EMG) to control a cursor in a customized video game. The more the muscles decouple, the higher the person’s score. (More on how the device works below)”We gamified the therapy into an ’80s-style video game,” said senior author Dr. Marc Slutzky, associate professor of neurology and of physiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine neurologist. “It’s rather basic graphics by today’s standards but it’s entertaining enough.”Slutzky and his co-authors have paired with a company on an early version of a wearable device to study at-home use with patients. The device communicates wirelessly with a laptop or tablet and the goal is to make this a completely wireless, wearable device.”The beauty of this is even if the benefit doesn’t persist for months or years, patients with a wearable device could do a ‘tune-up’ session every couple weeks, months or whenever they need it,” said Slutzky, whose team designed the original device. “Long-term, I envision having flexible, fully wireless electrodes that an occupational therapist could quickly apply in their office, and patients could go home and train by themselves.”Slutzky also is studying this method on stroke patients in the hospital, starting within a week of their stroke.A NEW TYPE OF STROKE THERAPY:Abnormal coupling of muscles leaves many stroke patients with a bent elbow, which makes it difficult to benefit from typical task-based stroke-rehabilitation therapies, such as training on bathing, getting dressed and eating.Only about 30 percent of stroke patients in the United States receive therapy after their initial in-patient rehabilitation stay, often because their injury is too severe to benefit from standard therapy, it costs too much, or they’re too far from a therapist. This small, preliminary study lays the groundwork for inexpensive, wearable, at-home therapy options for severely impaired stroke survivors.”We’re still in the very early stages but I’m hopeful this may be an effective new type of stroke therapy,” Slutzky said. “The goal is to one day let patients buy the training device inexpensively, potentially without even needing insurance and use it wirelessly in their home.”Related StoriesMeasuring blood protein levels in diabetic patients to predict risk of strokeNew discovery may explain some forms of strokeStem cell stimulation shows promise as potential stroke treatmentHOPE FOR SEVERELY IMPAIRED STROKE SURVIVORS:Patients in the study were severely impaired – could only slightly move their arm and extend their elbow- and had had their stroke at least six months prior to beginning the study. The average patient was more than six years out from their stroke and some were decades out.After Slutzky’s intervention, study participants could, on average, extend their elbow angle by 11 degrees more than before the intervention, which was a pleasant surprise, Slutzky said.”Classically, in patients that far out from a stroke, we don’t typically expect to see any improvements, but we saw modest yet significant improvement in these patients,” Slutzky said.This type of treatment only requires a small amount of muscle activation, which is advantageous for severely impaired stroke patients who typically can’t move enough to even begin standard physical therapy. It also gives feedback to the patient if they’re activating their muscles properly.”We learn how to move by trial and error,” Slutzky said. “If you don’t have any feedback about the errors, it’s hard to learn to improve movement. This task provides patients with clear feedback about their muscle activation.”HOW THE DEVICE WORKS:To identify which muscles were abnormally coupled, study participants attempted to reach out to multiple different targets while the scientists recorded the electrical activity in eight of their arm muscles using electrodes attached to the skin. For example, the biceps and anterior deltoid muscles in the arm often activated together in stroke participants, while they normally shouldn’t.Then, to retrain the muscles into moving normally (i.e., without abnormally co-activating), the participants used their electrical muscle activity to control a cursor in a customized video game. The two abnormally coupled muscles moved the cursor in either horizontal or vertical directions, in proportion to their EMG amplitude. For example, if the biceps would contract in isolation, the cursor would move up. If the anterior muscles would contract in isolation, the cursor would move to the side. But if the muscles would contract together, the cursor would move diagonally.The goal was to move the cursor only vertically or horizontally – not diagonally – to acquire targets in the game. To get a high score, participants had to learn to decouple the abnormally coupled muscles.Muscles tend to produce more electrical muscle activity when contracting isometrically (without moving) compared to when moving the arm freely, but the ultimate goal of this training is to enable home use. One goal of this study was to see if participants could benefit without restraining the arm as much as with restraining the arm.Participants were broken into three groups: 60 minutes of training with their arm restrained; 90 minutes of training with their arm restrained; and 90 minutes of training without arm restraints. Overall, arm function improved substantially in all groups and there was no significant difference between the three groups.Source: https://news.northwestern.edu/stories/2019/03/stroke-rehab-game/
More information: Masashi Nakatani et al. TECHTILE Workshop for Creating Haptic Content, Pervasive Haptics (2016). DOI: 10.1007/978-4-431-55772-2_12 Masashi Nakatani et al. Softness sensor system for simultaneously measuring the mechanical properties of superficial skin layer and whole skin, Skin Research and Technology (2012). DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0846.2012.00648.x Srdjan Maksimovic et al. Epidermal Merkel cells are mechanosensory cells that tune mammalian touch receptors, Nature (2014). DOI: 10.1038/nature13250 Journal information: Nature Nakatani and colleagues invented the TECHTILE toolkit to promote people to appreciate the sense of touch. “I think that modern haptic devices must provide greater value for us to enjoy our daily lives,” says Nakatani. One of Nakatani’s students, Kazuki Sakurada, has developed a smartphone-based haptic chat system with audio-vibrotactile feedback to provide a sense of presence of others during text conversations. “This study may yield clues about the importance of somatic feedback in emotional attachment with other people (Fig. 2),” says Nakatani. “In the long term, I would like to enhance human abilities to extract valuable knowledge from overwhelming, excessive information in the environment.” Now, Nakatani is concentrating on developmental psychology in infants, a topic that was triggered by a chance meeting with an educator developing parenting classes for children from 0 to 6 years old, who wanted to use state-of-the-art media technology that included haptics. “This sounded like a very cool concept and I decided to collaborate to develop a parenting service for children,” explains Nakatani. “I’m studying how infants explore and ‘feel their world’ using their vision and touch before they have even acquired language skills. They are collecting information needed to survive.” Underscoring concerns about the effects of modern technology on children’s behavior, Nakatani is analyzing how current technologies such as smartphones and tablet PCs affect their visual and haptic exploratory behavior. “My working hypothesis is that some kids have less opportunities to explore with touch modality because of exposure to massive amounts of information and communications via visual modality, so that they explore environments less manually and actively,” explains Nakatani. The Keio SFC campus is also conducive for interdisciplinary research, an important factor for Nakatani to be able to pursue his studies on haptics and other research field. “I am working with a music-neuroscientist, Dr. Shinya Fujii, on the relationship between auditory and haptic feedback on subjective frisson, that is the ‘feeling of being chilled and touched’,” says Nakatani. “One of my goals is to clarify how body perception helps us acquire cognitive skills that are unique to human beings, particularly in the modern information age” (Fig.1). Provided by Keio University Scientific research has yielded deep understanding on the human senses of sight, hearing, smell, and taste. But knowledge about bodily perceptions of the sense of touch is still limited. For example, during a handshake, who is shaking whose hand? The answer to this question is just one of the multifaceted aspects of touch being studied by ‘haptics scientist’ Masashi Nakatani. “I am intrigued by human somatosensory (touch and body) perception and its utilization for positive psychological and cognitive effects in our daily lives,” says Nakatani, who commenced his research on the Shonan Fujisawa Campus (SFC), Keio University, in April 2017. “I started studying touch modality 16 years ago as an undergraduate. My doctorate was about human tactile perception for developing tactile displays that can provide information through the skin surface.” After his doctorate, Nakatani investigated touch receptors embedded in the skin in a dermatology laboratory and also worked in industry on developing tactile sensors for evaluating cosmetics. Controlling core switching in Pac-man disks Explore further Figure 2: Smartphone-based haptic text-based chat system with audio-vibrotactile feedback for sense of presence. Credit: Kazuki Sakurada, SFC TOUCH LAB Figure 1: Children from 0 to 6 years old explore their environments to collect information necessary for their survival. Credit: ISETAN SHINJUKU Citation: Uncovering the secrets of the human body’s perception of touch (2018, March 8) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-03-uncovering-secrets-human-body-perception.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
Overflowing bins are one way to spoil the amenity of public space, but sensors can now alert councils when bins need emptying. Credit: Wikimedia How are smart cities meant to meet citizen needs? Big data from a network of sensors can give managers and planners a real-time, big-picture overview of traffic flows, public transport patronage, and water and power use. However, the needs of people in the city must be met at both the meta and micro levels. To do this we need site-specific and real-time information on how people use and value public spaces. Smart technology can collect this information from public spaces. This involves asking questions such as who is using it, how, why and for how long?We are investigating these questions in collaboration with Street Furniture Australia and Georges River Council in New South Wales, with funding from the Commonwealth Smart Cities and Suburbs Program. As cities densify and apartment living becomes the norm, public outdoor spaces will be increasingly important for everyday socialisation, as well as special gatherings and celebrations. Planners and urban designers need to develop their understanding of exactly how these valuable public spaces work to maximise their social and functional amenity. What is the project about?The team will record the detailed use of two public spaces. At first, behaviour mapping will provide detailed observational information about what’s happening in both spaces. The team will then embed invisible digital sensors in and on street furniture. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. The idea of smart public space is to maximise the public uses and benefits. Georges River Council is looking at ‘healthy living hardware’ that, for example, improves outdoor cooking facilities by including preparation areas and wash stations. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. In another example, a seat or bench that is hardly being used could be broken or too exposed to weather, and so should be moved. Any lack of use by children or older people could indicate that the location is not child-friendly or not easily accessible, for example. Again, relocation might be considered.But what about the users of these spaces?Smart technology can help to transform the traditional user experience and enhance the capacity of public open space to support 21st-century city living. Think, for instance, of additions such as Wi-Fi or plugin points for laptops and phones.Cities around the world are exploring how technology can improve the management of public spaces and facilities and better connect residents with local facilities and events. In Tel Aviv, for example, residents are issued with the Digi Tel Card. The card gives live updates about:rates and discounts available at sport and recreation facilitieswhat is happening in the citypersonalised information based, for example, on cultural or music preferencesinformation about issues, such as roadworks or community events, that may disrupt streets. Tel Aviv’s DigiTel card connects residents to a personalised, interest-and-location-based digital communication network. Isn’t this technology rather intrusive?While the benefits are many, greater use of technology in parks and the public domain raises questions. Traditionally, urban parks and open spaces have been places where people go to “unwind”, so installing technological devices there may be seen as invasive. Some people may also feel uncomfortable about governments (albeit local ones) gaining data about them in a place where they want to relax. Additional questions relate to privacy, data ownership and how we can protect the technology from vandalism.As for concerns about surveillance, the world has changed and the public space realm has changed with it. Walk through any major Australian city CBD and you will be filmed on CCTV. Various smart card ticketing systems (Opal in NSW, myki in Victoria and go card in Queensland) provide a detailed record of everyone’s movements on public transport. Automatic numberplate scanners on tollways and in police cars are recording where we drive. Even in parks, devices such as mobile phones track our location. By comparison, the sensors on street furniture will be relatively non-invasive and will not identify individual people.The impetus for this research and data-gathering is to assist local government decision-making. By identifying and collecting relevant data, councils will have much-needed evidence to improve people’s lives as they use different public spaces. New scenarios can be identified, offering alternatives to provide support for different urban activities. It is hard to predict just how much will need to alter as our cities densify and we increasingly rely on public spaces to meet many of our social needs. By ensuring all the elements of the public realm are efficiently and appropriately serving residents’ needs, planning and design policies and practices will be able to shape 21st-century cities that are both smart and sociable. Citation: Sensors in public spaces can help create cities that are both smart and sociable (2018, April 10) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-sensors-spaces-cities-smart-sociable.html Explore further Provided by The Conversation Many people feel lonely in the city, but perhaps ‘third places’ can help with that In response to simple design changes, such as seating, the number of people visiting and staying in the space grew. So too did the diversity of visitors, with families and children coming into the space. This extra activity benefited nearby shops.So what can smart technology achieve?One example of smart furniture is smart bins. Street Furniture Australia already has a product with sensors that tell council maintenance crews how full the bin is and whether it needs to be emptied. This information could yield insights about how these bins are being used and when. We will target picnic tables, rubbish bins, barbecues, seats, cigarette ash receptacles, bubblers, power points and lights. The sensors will measure usage, including water and power consumption. They will also provide real-time messages to the council on whether, for example, an ash receptacle is overheating, or a street bollard is damaged.Information like this can be used to improve the amenity and user experience of public open spaces, as well as help to manage these spaces more efficiently. Our public spaces can be great social spaces, or merely places for through traffic. An experiment in Canberra’s Garema Place by Street Furniture Australia shows how such a thoroughfare can be turned around.
Alessandro Saffiotti is convinced that robots in the future will play a more prominent role in our lives. Therefore, their ability to take into consideration cultural differences will be all that more essential. Credit: Örebro Universitet Future robots will assist the elderly while adapting to the culture of the individual they are caring for. The first of this type of robots are now being tested in retirement homes within the scope of “Caresses,” an interdisciplinary project where AI researchers from Örebro University are participating. “Already today, robots are present in our lives. They’re found in our schools, hospitals, our homes and businesses, and we believe that if they are also culturally competent, they will more easily be accepted by the people they interact with,” says Alessandro Saffiotti, Professor of Computer Science at Örebro University.For two years, he has been working together with researchers from Europe and Japan to add cultural skills to a robot – a world’s first. This means that the robot may adapt the way it moves, talks, gestures and how it suggests appropriate topics of conversation depending on the individual it is interacting with.”The idea is that robots should be capable of adapting to human culture in a broad sense, defined by a person’s belonging to a particular ethnic group. At the same time, robots must be able to adapt to an individual’s personal preferences, so in that sense, it doesn’t matter if you’re Italian or Indian,” says Alessandro Saffiotti.Tested by elderly from diverse cultural backgroundsThese robots will now be tested by the elderly from diverse cultural backgrounds in retirement homes in England and Japan.”We’ll be examining if people feel more comfortable with robots that take into account their culture and if their presence increases the quality of life of the elderly,” said Alessandro Saffiotti. Provided by Örebro Universitet Teaching robots how to interact with children with autism This newly developed type of artificial intelligence, which allows robots to adapt to the culture and habits of different people, should be able to be installed in all types of robots. The particular robot being tested within the framework of Caresses can remind users to take their medication, hold a simple conversation and encourage them to stay active and to keep in touch with family and friends.”The testing of robots outside of the laboratory environment and in interaction with the elderly will without a doubt be the most interesting part of our project,” he says.A natural part of our livesAlessandro Saffiotti is convinced that robots in the future will be more complex and play a more prominent role in our lives. Therefore, their ability to take into consideration cultural differences will be all that more essential.”It will add value to robots intended to interact with people. Which is not to say that today’s robots are completely culture-neutral. Instead, they unintentionally reflect the culture of the humans who build and program them.”Culturally competent robots have other advantages too, such as the economic aspects.”Companies should also be interested in selling robots to people of different cultural backgrounds in different countries,” says Alessandro Saffiotti. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: Culturally competent robots – the future in elderly care (2018, September 25) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-09-culturally-robots-future-elderly.html Explore further