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All Posts By Tania Jacquier

Body Heat Alone Could Power Wearable Tech

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Current iterations of wearable technology are largely concept designs and prototypes, as – other than watches, or smart jewelry – smart clothes need the ability to go through the wash, and not sensors need to be as light and flexible as the fabric they are part of.

Scientists have created shirts with wrist-mounted screens, and similarly futuistic designs, but currently, they are just not viable.

The main reason it hasn’t worked is the need for power; batteries which are small enough to fit are generally not big enough to do anything ‘smart’ beyond powering a watch mechanism.

There has long been a theory that, as our body temperature is higher than the temperature of our surroundings, it should be possible to generate power from that temperature difference, and finally a team in China have made some progress on making that a reality.

The new power cell is flexible and wearable, and is just capable of outputting enough power to run some basic electronics.

To do this, researchers have used gel-based electrodes, which when in contact with an electrolyte gel at different temperatures, generate a potential difference, which produces current. The prototype is mounted into a glove, with the two types of cells arranged into a chess-board pattern.

The glove, when worn in an environment of 5 degrees Celsius, can produce about 0.3 microwatts of power at 0.7 volts. That’s not a lot, but enough for a simple display such as the e-ink used in Kindles, and the team believe that the output could be boosted further.

“By optimizing this system, it should be possible to improve the power, even with smaller temperature gradients,” wrote the team that developed the system, led by Jun Zhou, from Huazhong University of Science and Technology. “This work may offer a new train of thought for the development of self-powered wearable systems.”

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Google’s Driverless Cars to Automatically Detect Police Cars

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Google are creating sensors which will enable their controversial driverless cars to automatically detect emergency service vehicles in their area. The sensors will also work out whether they are coming towards them or not, and if they are, direct the car to pull over to the side of the road to either let the vehicle pass, or to be stopped and questioned.

The internet giant have filed for a US patent for the system, which will see the sensors recognise the red or blue lights, and identify via their specific flashing sequence whether the vehicle approaching is Police, Ambulance, or Fire Brigade.

The sensor also detects whether the situation requires a response – for example, if the car is behind them and trying to get past – or whether there is no response needed, and the car is on the other side of the road, or ahead of them.

If it decides a response is necessary, the self-driving car will manoeuvre itself to ‘yield’ to the vehicle, usually by pulling over.

According to UK law, drivers must pull over and park their vehicle at the next safe opportunity if signalled to do so by a police car, and drivers can be stopped for any reason.

If emergency services vehicles are engaged in high-speed operations, Rule 219 of the Highway Code states that drivers must try not to obstruct them, and “take appropriate action to let [the vehicle] pass, but must still “comply with all traffic signs”, and not break the law (by driving through red traffic lights, or pulling into bus lanes, for example.)

The aim of Google’s driverless cars is to make traffic accidents a thing of the past, free up countless hours of commuting time to be used working or in leisure, rather than in driving, and cut congestion. The prototype autonomous vehicles have now travelled more than 1 million miles on public roads in the US since 2012, and is hoping to launch driverless car testing into the UK too.

Google aims to bring the futuristic tech to the public in 2020, in something of a slow race with Daimler, Ford, Tesla, Uber, and Apple, who have all also announced testing of driverless cars.

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New ‘6th Taste’ Could Be as Big a Deal as Umami

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Everyone knows about the primary tastes of salty, sweet, sour, and bitter, and, since 2009, umami (savoury), but there is growing evidence for a 6th addition to this list; starch.

Oregon State University scientist, Professor Juyun Lim, argues that all cultures rely on some complex carbohydrate, and so surely people must be able to taste them. The love of many for ‘comfort foods’ which are high in starch, such as pastry, pasta, chips and crisps also indicates that there must be a reason for our carbohydrate cravings.

Lim believes she has presented the first evidence which suggests that people can taste starch as its own flavour. She gave various carbohydrate solutions to volunteers, and discovered that they identified starchy tastes in the solutions which contained long or short chains of carbohydrate molecules.

She said, “Asians would say it was rice-like, while Caucasians described it as bread-like or pasta-like. It’s like eating flour.”

Previously, scientists have argued that carbohydrase enzymes in saliva break down the molecules into sugar, and this is what we taste. However, even when volunteers were given a compound to block this enzyme and the ‘sweet’ receptors on the tongue, they were still able to taste the starch.

However, Lim has yet to find starch receptors on the tongue, and it will require a lot more evidence before the scientific community universally acknowledges this particular taste.

The evidence for ‘starchy’ as a primary taste suggests that human taste is more complex than previously thought, and other preliminary evidence has suggested that people can taste fatty acids, and also ‘kokuni’, which lends another layer of richness to foods.

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Amazon Launch Free One-Hour Restaurant Delivery as Part of Prime Now in London

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Adding to their new AmazonFresh one-hour grocery delivery services, Amazon have now rolled out a free one-hour restaurant delivery service for Prime members in London.

The service is another bid by the ‘e-tailer’ giant to bring customers to its £79-a-year Prime service, which also include AmazonFresh, ultra-fast or free delivery of other Amazon items, and their Prime Video service, which bought out Netflix rival Lovefilm.

Amazon Restaurants allows Prime members in central London to order food from selected restaurants, including family favourites such as Strada, Gastronomica, and Planet Hollywood as well as Asian fusion Crazy Bear and even Michelin-starred Benares, via the Prime Now app, and have their food delivered free within the hour.

The app also allows users to view participating restaurants, browse their menus, and track their deliveries in real time.

Amazon has promised that there will be no menu mark-ups or hidden fees for the service, but that there will be a minimum order value of £15.

Al Wilkinson, UK head of Amazon Restaurants, said: “London offers some of the best cuisine from around the world, so we’re delighted that Amazon Prime customers can now enjoy food from their favourite restaurants via Amazon’s ultra-fast Prime Now service.

“Based on our own research into what is important to consumers in food delivery, our team have hand-picked a selection of the best quality local restaurants in London.

“We’re excited to be helping many of these small businesses start offering home delivery for the very first time.”

Amazon Restaurants was launched in Seattle a year ago, and has been rolled out to 14 more cities since. It seems to be working, as Prime membership grew by 51% in the last year, with Amazon now claiming to have millions of Prime members in the UK.

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Fashion Designers ‘Must Make Bigger Sample Sizes’ Say No Size Fits All Campaign

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The Women’s Equality Party, the group behind the #NoSizeFitsAll campaign has called on the British Fashion Council to lead the way in promoting a healthy body image at the London Fashion Week, which is starting on the 15th September.

They are calling for designers to show at least two sample sizes at the event, with one of them being a UK size 12 or above. A UK size 12 is considered to be ‘plus size’ by the industry, with typical sample size clothing – worn by models on the catwalk – being a UK size 4, or US size 0.

A typical size four has a waist of just 23 inches, and hips of just 33 inches, while a size 14 – the size most commonly worn by UK women – has a waist of 31 inches, and hips of 41 inches.

The WEP are aiming to tackle the growing numbers of women and girls who suffer from eating disorders by going to “the root of the problem”, sample sizes from fashion designers. “Designers churn out sample sizes so small that models have to starve themselves to fit into them,” said the WEP.

Sophie Walker, leader of the WEP, explained that 28 studies across the UK, Europe, North America, and Australia have found that images in the media showing models have a direct impact on how women view their own bodies, and that negative body image puts someone at considerably heightened risk of developing an eating disorder.

Research from the eating disorder charity Beat suggests that over 725,000 people in the UK are affected by the disorders, with a shocking 89% of these being female.

In 2009, Vogue’s editor in the UK, Alexandra Shulman, criticised fashion houses for sending sample clothes too small even for models to wear, but Ms Walker said that the fashion industry has been “very very reluctant to move on this.”

Caroline Rush, chief executive of the BFC, said: “The #NoSizeFitsAll campaign addresses three key issues around image, cost to public health and body image.

“This is something that we take very seriously and we support a campaign that raises awareness around public health and promotes a positive perception around body image and eating disorders in schools around the country.”

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M&S Join the Supermarket ‘Time Wars’

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The luxury supermarket Marks and Spencer have engaged the services of grocery delivery service Togle, to deliver their food to customers, in the latest play in the supermarket ‘time wars’.

Customers in west and south-west London, the Kensington and Chelsea areas, are now able to have M&S food delivered to their door within 40 minutes of purchasing online. Togle, who are relative newcomers to the sector of high-speed delivery, currently serve these areas, but they are hoping to use this move to expand their reach into Central London.

AmazonFresh, which delivers groceries to Prime members within the hour, and services such as Jinn, which offers anything delivered within the hour (both so far only within London), are putting pressure on more traditional retailers to compete; this news from M&S follows the recent announcement of Tesco’s one-day delivery service and same-day click-and-collect option, and Morrisons’ new delivery partnership with Ocado.

It also comes as Morrisons, Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s – known as the ‘big four’ supermarkets – launch a price war, driving food costs down. This means, perhaps coincidentally, that shoppers now have more to spend on quicker delivery, as Britain becomes more addicted to instant gratification.

We strongly believe that nowadays, people shouldn’t be waiting long for their groceries to be delivered,” Togle co-founder Abay Kuzhagaliyev said. “M&S do not offer delivery but as a top supermarket we believe delivery is something people want.”

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Two Iconic Leeds Bars to Turn Over a New Leaf This Autumn

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Arc Inspirations, a multi-brand bar and restaurant operator, has announced a £750k investment plan to rebrand its current Napa and Kobe sites into its flagship brand Banyan Bar & Kitchen. This will bring the brand’s roots to three sites across Leeds.

This follows the success of Arc’s newly refurbished Harrogate restaurant, as well as the launce of Banyan Bar & Kitchen in Leeds’ City Square. The Yorkshire-based company expects the two sites to impress visitors with a sophisticated new look, exceptional all-day dining menu and premium drinks offering, including its renowned gin copas.

Napa, in Roundhay, will be closing its doors at the start of October for a complete overhaul, reopening as Banyan Bar & Kitchen, Roundhay on 21st October. The 3000 square foot site, which includes indoor and outdoor dining areas, will accommodate 200 covers a day from 10am – midnight.

Kobe, in Horsforth, will be closing on the 31st October and re-opening as Banyan in mid-November. The restaurant, which is a 3,500 square foot site, provides ample seating with 180 covers, and will be extending its current menu to serve patrons breakfast, lunch, snacks, sharing plates, and dinner.

CEO of Arc Inspirations, Martin Wolstencroft, explained, “We have had an incredible response to our new look Banyans in Manchester, Harrogate and Leeds City Square – not only from our customers but from our staff too. It was a no-brainer to transform our Napa and Kobe sites into the stylish, genuine and beautiful Banyan, to give customers a sophisticated setting no matter the occasion – whether it’s catch ups over cocktails, a leisurely lunch, delicious dinner, or an upbeat evening out with friends.

“Our passionate, committed team will remain in place at both sites, while the rebrand will also see an additional 20 jobs created. I’m confident Banyan Roundhay and Horsforth will be the most unique renovation projects Leeds has seen, and I’m excited to hear what our customers think…watch this space!”

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Goat Meat Set To Be The Next Big Food Trend

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Known as kid, goat meat is low in fat, high in protein, and tastes like a cross between lamb and venison. It also makes up to 60% of red meat eaten worldwide, and may bring to mind fragrant Jamaican curries and Moroccan tagines. The shoulder is also particularly good slow roasted; leg steaks make great casseroles; and the chops are excellent on a BBQ.

It is set to be the next culinary revolution for meat eaters in the UK. James Whetlor, former River Cottage chef, is one of the pioneers of this new trend, and his company Cabrito – spanish for ‘young goat – rears and sells over 10,000 kids a year.

These young goats would otherwise be culled just after birth as by-products of the dairy industry, but the company, started in 2012, now sells them to seasonal and highly-regarded restaurants including St John and Quo Vadis in London, and Romy’s Kitchen in Bristol.

“In today’s world it’s becoming less and less acceptable to have waste at this scale,” says Whetlor. “All farmers have wanted to find a solution and having been a chef and working at River Cottage, I was in unique position to provide it.”

Another 40,000 male billy goats in the dairy system are wasted senselessly every year, because Britons love goats milk and cheese, but don’t eat the meat. For those who consume goat dairy products, the question of what to do with the non-milking male goats is a difficult ethical issue, but you can’t sell food on ethics alone.

Goat can have a bit of a tough reputation, as it can be associated with seven-year-old nanny goats who are used for meat when they no longer milk. However, seven-month-old kid is very different – as different as prime lamb is from old mutton.

“It tastes brilliant,” says Whetlor. “A big advantage is that because it’s eaten by many cultures there’s so many recipes for what you can do with it.”

Michelin-starred chef Matt Gillan won the BBC’s Great British Menu with a goat-meat main course last year, which was a masterclass in how to use the whole goat. The dish included slow-cooked goat shoulder, goat ragu, herders pies, and goat cheese.

This year at London’s meat festival, Meatopia, Yotam Ottolenghi cooked whole spiced goat, and Duck and Waffle served goat Cuban sandwiches.

The meat is now available from Ocado in the UK, meaning that other retailers will not be far behind.

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Morrisons to Slash Fresh Food Prices by Up to 12% in Supermarket Price Wars

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A backdrop of falling food prices across the country has led supermarket Morrisons to slash prices on nearly 160 meat, fruit and vegetable products by an average of 12%.

This is the latest round of their Price Crunch campaign, which has already seen cuts of an average of 18% of more than 1000 products last month, which included toiletries and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Some items were reduced by up to 56%.

These cuts will be reassuring for households and for the financial sector, who have worried that the Brexit vote will cause inflation to rise as imports become more expensive.

In the four weeks leading up to the 17th July, sales in the supermarket industry fell by 1.1%, the worst performance for at least 2 years, but analysts blamed the performance on damp summer weather compared with the same time last year, rather than a Brexit-related fall.

All of the ‘big four’ grocery chains – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Morrisons – suffered a decline in their sales in the period. However, food retailers believe that inflation issues on their prices will not come until the autumn, when fresh UK-grown food is less available, and they are forced to buy in food from abroad.

Manufacturing sectors have already been feeling the effects of the weaker pound, as although exports have increased, so have the material costs.

So far, Morrisons have cut prices on 4,435 products as they fight back in the so-called ‘price wars’ between supermarkets, particularly against Aldi and Lidl, which have been rapidly increasing their market share in the UK. Sainsbury’s and Tesco have also been cutting prices in a bid to retain customers seeking a bargain.

Industry analysts have also suggested that Walmart-owned Asda could be planning major price cuts, but the supermarket have stated that it remains “committed to the previously announced five-year £1.5bn price investment.”

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Record Year for Scotland’s Food and Drinks Sector

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New figures have revealed that Scotland’s food and drink sector generated a record annual turnover, and that the food manufacturing sector in Scotland has increased at nearly twice the rate of the UK average in recent years.

The sector has been identified as a growth sector, and government ministers for Scotland said that the sector is making good progress towards its 2017 target of £16.5bn.

The industry includes the activities of agriculture, fishing, and aquaculture, as well as food and drink manufacturing.

The newly-publish data reveals figures from 2014, and is contained in a briefing from the office of the chief economic adviser. It is published on the Scottish government website.

It states: “Turnover in the food and drink growth sector stood at £14.4bn in 2014, up from £14bn in 2013 – representing an increase of 2.8% over the year (nominal terms). Gross Value Added in the food and drink growth sector stood at £5.3bn in 2014, up by 5.1% on 2013 (nominal terms).”

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “The food and drink sector continues to be one of our most successful and that success shows no sign of slowing down.

“The industry is vital to Scotland – it creates jobs and wealth, impacts on health and sustainability, and helps attract people to the country by promoting our food and drink around the globe.

“This record turnover means that the sector is making good progress towards meeting the 2017 target of £16.5 billion, which has been set by Scotland Food and Drink.”

The chief executive for Scotland Food and Drink, James Withers, said, “These are great figures and testament to a transformation in food and drink activity in Scotland over the last few years.

“The sector is not without challenges and uncertainty, but for a sector whose growth was stagnant a few years ago, this has been a major turnaround.

“The Scottish industry is now being recognised internationally for how it has embraced collaboration to grow, forging a stronger global reputation for our products.”

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