IKEA’s new augmented reality app could totally change the way we shop

September 13, 2017 by  
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Ever purchased a piece of furniture, only to find out later it didn’t fit the style or size of the room? Swedish furniture maker IKEA is tackling this problem with a free augmented reality (AR) application that utilizes Apple’s new ARKit technology . The app will let users experience how sofas, armchairs, coffee tables and other furnishing items will fit into their homes in augmented reality. According to the IKEA press release, all products experienced through the app are 3D and true to scale. This ensures “every choice is just the right size, design and function.” Said Michael Valdsgaard, Leader Digital Transformation at Inter IKEA Systems, “IKEA Place makes it easier to make buying decisions in your own place, to get inspired and try many different products, styles, and colors in real-life settings with a swipe of your finger. Augmented reality and virtual reality will be a total game changer for retail in the same way as the internet. Only this time, much faster.” Users will also have the option of capturing the setting in the app and sharing it as an image or a video with friends. Related: IKEA’s SPACE10 lab is bringing a pop-up vertical farm to London IKEA is the first home furnishing company to build on Apple’s new technology to create an AR app that ensures customers are confident with their purchases. Reportedly, the app has a 98 percent accuracy as it scales products based on room dimensions. “The AR technology is so precise that you will be able to see the texture of the fabric, as well as how light and shadows are rendered on your furnishings,” says the press release. “ARKit gives us the opportunity to help shape the development of AR as an accessible tool for real-life decision making,” added Valdsgaard. “ARKit gives us the opportunity to help shape the development of AR as an accessible tool for real-life decision making,” added Valdsgaard. Beginning late-September, users with an iOs 11 may download and enjoy the app. In total, 2,000 IKEA products will be available to experiment with. The first release will focus on larger furniture products, including all sofas, armchairs, footstools, coffee tables and top-selling “storage solutions” that can be placed on the floor.  Data collected from the application will also play a role in the launch of new product lines. “Now, technology has caught up with our ambition. AR lets us redefine the experience for furniture retail once more, in our restless quest to create a better everyday life for everyone, everywhere,” said Valdsgaard. To use the IKEA app, all one needs to do is: upgrade their device to iOS 11, download the IKEA Place app for free from the Apple store, scan the floor in your home, browse the list of available products in the app, select a chosen furniture item to experience, and move and place the product into the space. It is that simple! + IKEA  Images via IKEA

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IKEA’s new augmented reality app could totally change the way we shop

Whole Foods prices just dropped by as much as 43%

August 28, 2017 by  
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Until recently, few people could afford to shop at Whole Foods regularly. Now that Amazon has bought out the grocery chain for $13.7 billion , however, big changes are underway. On its first day, the internet giant slashed some of the store’s prices by up to 43 percent. The goal is to upend the way customers shop and ensure more people have access to affordable, healthy food. The first step to addressing the store’s reputation for being overpriced (which has led some to call it Whole Paycheck) was to mark down the prices of food. Bloomberg reports that at the Whole Foods store on East 57th Street in Manhattan , organic fuji apples were marked down to $1.99 a pound from $3.49. Similarly, organic rotisserie chicken fell to $9.99 from $13.99 and organic avocados changed from $2.79 each to $1.99. All of the marked-down items have orange signs reading, “Whole Foods + Amazon .” The sign also lists that there is “More to come.” “Price was the largest barrier to Whole Foods’ customers,” said Mark Baum, a senior vice president at the Food Marketing Institute. “Amazon has demonstrated that it is willing to invest to dominate the categories that it decides to compete in. Food retailers of all sizes need to look really hard at their pricing strategies, and maybe find some funding sources to build a war chest.” 60-year-old Simon Salamon couldn’t be more pleased by the marriage between Amazon and Whole Foods . He said, “It reminded me why I shop at Amazon. Ninety-nine percent of the time they have the best prices and their return policy is great. With the prices lower, I think we’re more likely to shop here every day.” While Walmart has invested billions into lowering prices all around, it’s Costco that might be Whole Foods’ biggest competitor. The chain has a slate of organic items that are priced about 30 percent cheaper than Whole Foods, according to Sanford Bernstein. Prices can remain low, as Costco charges membership fees and sells bulk-sized goods to customers. Related: Whole Foods reveals the bleak future of dessert without bees Now that the deal is done, only time will tell if the organic grocery chain will be successful at changing its reputation and, in the process, serving a wider clientele. Via Bloomberg Images via Whole Foods , Pixabay

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Whole Foods prices just dropped by as much as 43%

Food-starved Syrians are switching meat for mushrooms

August 10, 2017 by  
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Mushrooms are not a common crop in Syria . With government blockades creating food shortages, however, Syrians in embattled rebel strongholds like Douma are increasingly turning to mushrooms as a substitute for meat. As years of drawn-out sieges place meat and other staples of Syrian cuisine beyond most people’s reach, The Adala Foundation, a local nonprofit, began brainstorming alternatives. “We turned to cultivating mushrooms because they’re a food that has high nutritional value, similar to meat, and can be grown inside houses and basements,” Abu Nabil, an engineer who is project director of the group, told AFP . Mushrooms have proven to be a good source of protein and mineral salts, according to Muayad Mohieddin, Adala’s director. In addition, mushroom farming requires neither copious space nor deep pockets. Related: These amazing zero-waste buildings were grown from mushrooms There was just one problem: “This type of cultivation was totally unknown in Ghouta before the war,” said Mohieddin. Growing bags of mushrooms in a climate-controlled room known as the incubator, Adala has managed to distribute 1,300 kilograms (2,866 pounds) of mushrooms a week to 500 people across Douma and other parts of Eastern Ghota at no cost. “The distribution is free for the poorest families, and for those suffering malnutrition or spinal cord injuries that need lots of nutrients,” Abu Nabil said. Many of the project’s recipients were unfamiliar with mushrooms and had never eaten them before. One psychosocial center organized a workshop to teach people how to cook with mushrooms. Others turned to the Internet for tips. “On the first day, I fried them up with some onions, and on the second day I cooked them in a yoghurt sauce,” said Abu Adnan al-Sidawi, who received mushrooms through Adala. “Mushrooms are delicious cooked and we liked them in the yogurt sauce.” Via AFP Photos by Harshal Hirve and Jade Wulfraat on Unsplash

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Food-starved Syrians are switching meat for mushrooms

Former NASA chief scientist says Americans ‘under siege’ from fake climate news

June 12, 2017 by  
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The science is in on climate change – it’s real and hurting Earth right now. But not all Americans are aware of the threat, according to former NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan. She said the country’s citizens are “under siege by fake information that’s being put forward by people who have a profit motive.” Stofan said the science on climate change is unequivocal. Nevertheless there are still deniers of the phenomenon in the United States – some holding top government positions. Stofan said disinformation and half-truths designed to confuse people have been spread about climate change, and now many people in the country are unaware of the pressing consequences of carbon emissions continuing as is. Related: Americans don’t trust climate change science because of fossil fuel industry’s disinformation She said oil and coal companies have been behind the disinformation, telling The Guardian, “Fake news is so harmful because once people take on a concept it’s very hard to dislodge it.” Stofan said she saw “an erosion of people’s ability to scrutinize information” across the political spectrum, not just on the left or the right. “All of us have a responsibility. There’s this attitude of ‘I read it on the Internet therefore it must be true,” she said. Stofan said the American science community has been realizing the threat of climate change fake news during the past six months, and are working to communicate more with the public and share information with the press. During her career Stofan pointed to planetary science as important for understanding the environment here on Earth. She said planetary science has offered proof that atmospheric carbon dioxide results in a warmer climate . She finds similarities between Earth’s carbon emissions and the runaway greenhouse effect on the planet Venus . Venus once had oceans but now the volcano and lava plain-strewn planet has temperatures nearing 500 degrees Celsius – Space.com described the planet as “our solar system’s analog to hell.” Stofan told The Guardian, “We won’t go all the way to Venus, but the consequences of putting more and more CO2 into the atmosphere are really dire. There are models that suggest if we burn off all our fossil fuels , the Earth would become uninhabitable for humans.” She said our first job should be to keep Earth habitable. Via The Guardian Images via Pexels and Wikimedia Commons

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Former NASA chief scientist says Americans ‘under siege’ from fake climate news

The first smart state? The quest to link up the Land of Lincoln

March 13, 2017 by  
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Illinois is centralizing investments in technologies such as the Internet of things, while allowing cities to prioritize according to local needs. Texas may be next.

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The first smart state? The quest to link up the Land of Lincoln

More "rogue" national park Twitter accounts are popping up

January 25, 2017 by  
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Just a few days into the Trump administration, scientists are already rebelling against efforts to stifle the truth. Shortly after Badlands National Park tweets about climate change were removed, several new “rogue” Twitter accounts started popping up. One of the account claims to be run by current National Park Service (NPS) rangers working on their own time. While it’s difficult to verify the account is really run by NPS rangers, it does demonstrate how difficult it will be for the president and his posse to silence Americans guided by science. National Park Twitter accounts were briefly suspended, according to Time , after the NPS tweeted out photos comparing President Donald Trump’s inauguration with President Barack Obama’s inauguration. Then the Badlands National Park Twitter account tweeted a few climate change facts, which were swiftly removed, sparking a Twitter truth war. Related: Rogue national park tweets climate change facts in defiance of Donald Trump @AltNatParkSer , which Twitter says joined their site in May 2015, began actively tweeting yesterday, shooting out more climate change facts and saying , “Mr Trump, you may have taken us down officially. But with scientific evidence & the Internet our message will get out.” A flurry of people quickly began to question if the account was real. Again, it’s hard to 100 percent verify the account is indeed run by current NPS rangers, although they claim that’s who they are. https://twitter.com/AltNatParkSer/status/824052819003146240 https://twitter.com/AltNatParkSer/status/824061490097438720 https://twitter.com/AltNatParkSer/status/824081620240056321 Other Twitter accounts that are more clearly parody accounts popped up too, like @BadIandsNPS (using an uppercase ‘I’ to look like an ‘L’), which started this month. With a rather Orwellian vibe, @BadIandsNPS tweeted , “We apologize for our insolence, @realdonaldtrump. We have been successfully reeducated.” Since then, along with tweeting those infamous inauguration pictures, the account has also tweeted sarcastic quips such as this one: https://twitter.com/BadIandsNPS/status/824035323025981441 @BadHombreNPS also started up in January to fire off climate change facts. Neither of those two accounts have claimed in tweets that they’re run by current NPS rangers. @BadHombreNPS does claim in their account description they’re the “unofficial feed of Badlands NP” to protect “rugged scenery, fossil beds, 244,000 acres of mixed-grass prairie & wildlife from two-bit cheetoh-hued despots.” It appears people are hungry for the information these “rogue” accounts are tweeting; at time of publication, @BadIandsNPS boasted 42.7K followers, @BadHombreNPS 27.1K followers, and @AltNatParkSer 180K followers. The latter has also used their platform to publicize a scientist march on Washington, D.C, pointing to a blog, Scientists’ March on Washington . The blog includes a January 21 post announcing they are planning a march, although they have not yet picked a date. You can follow their Facebook and Twitter accounts, or sign up to receive updates here . + Scientists’ March on Washington Via The Guardian and A.V. Club Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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More "rogue" national park Twitter accounts are popping up

Is IoT the secret ingredient for tackling food waste?

January 10, 2017 by  
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Whole Foods is among the early adopters for its Grind2Energy service, now powered by the Internet of Things.

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Is IoT the secret ingredient for tackling food waste?

LEGO Hand Bag turns you into a minifigsorta

October 19, 2016 by  
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The rectangular paper bag is like regular shopping bags in many respects. It’s just the right size for hauling your LEGO store loot, and sturdy enough to stand up on its own. Inside the bag are two handles, placed on opposite long sides of the bag. However, that’s where the similarities end, because the LEGO Hand Bag has one additional amusing feature. Related: LEGO releases set with stay-at-home dad and working mom minifigures When a person is holding the bag by its built-in handles, their (human) hands are covered up by bright yellow plastic hands resembling those of a LEGO minifigure . While the illusion works best when the customer is wearing a long-sleeved shirt or jacket, the promotional bag can make anyone look like they belong in LEGOland or, at the very least, like an extra from the LEGO movie. The kooky bag has been making its way around the internet for the past several days, but there’s still no word of an official response from the folks at LEGO HQ. Surely, they’ve seen it by now, so we can only hope they are deep in discussions over what kind of check to cut for the design duo who created what LEGO’s own advertising department didn’t think to attempt. Via Junho Lee and Hyun Chul Choi Images via Hyun Chul Choi and LEGO

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LEGO Hand Bag turns you into a minifigsorta

Episode 47: Blockchain, green banks and beyond

October 7, 2016 by  
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This week on the GreenBiz 350 podcast: What blockchain has to do with sustainability, the rise of green banks and what’s next for the Internet of Things.

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Episode 47: Blockchain, green banks and beyond

Episode 47: Blockchain, green banks and beyond

October 7, 2016 by  
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This week on the GreenBiz 350 podcast: What blockchain has to do with sustainability, the rise of green banks and what’s next for the Internet of Things.

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Episode 47: Blockchain, green banks and beyond

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