The Netherlands has a lot of water near roads, and cars regularly fall into the water, something that is a fact of life.
In Barendrecht three weeks ago Raymond Heijboer jumped into the water to save a woman from drowning in a sinking car, which he did, and all was well.
However, being the hero that he was, he jumped in the water with his ‘insured’ iPhone, which got ruined and the insurance company didn’t want to give him a new phone because he “willingly” jumped into the water.
With what I’m sure was a ‘screw this’ feeling he got from the insurer, his luck turned and a radio show called him up early one morning at home and decided to give him a brand new water-resistant iPhone 7 live on the air. Of course it was a stunt, but it was a good move.
Having heard about the radio folks giving Heijboer a free phone, the insurer called Heijboer up and tried to offer him something as well. The insurer offered to pay Heijboer “for the value of his iPhone on the day of the incident”, which didn’t exactly make the hero very happy, especially after receiving a new and better phone from total strangers. In a letter, the insurer tried to make it sound like they cared, but offering a new deal after the radio stunt makes them look a bit pathetic.
In fact, it would have almost been better for the insurer not to change their stance instead of doing pseudo damage control after being nailed on Dutch radio. And giving the guy a free phone in the first place would have done wonders for their reputation, but apparently they were too busy counting their money and having no heart to care.
Dutch designer Pauline van Dongen, who designed the full solar jacket for Wadden Sea walkers and a few other items, has now introduced the FysioPal undershirt, designed to correct bad upper-body posture by alerting the wearer when they are slouching, which helps correct their posture.
The top, which contains sensors that send information to a smartphone, measures the position of the neck, shoulders and back. The measurements are then sent to an app, which visualises the data and assesses the wearer’s overall posture. If it it detects slouching, the top will softly vibrate, alerting the wearer to change their posture.
It’s the modern-day version of having your parents tell you to stop slouching, but way cooler.
Since January 2014 the Dutch Data Protection Authority has observed that snack chain Febo, through its use of the Bluetrace data tracking system, was violating its patrons’ privacy by collecting information without their permission, according to the Personal Data Protection Act. And after several warnings, nothing has changed, but the agency is pissed off enough to fine Bluetrace if they don’t clean up their act within the next six months.
According to Bluetrace’s website, they claim to “respect the privacy of persons”, since “after 24 hours, all anonimized data is being erased from our systems”. However, that “anonimizing” they carry out is apparently very easy to undo, so basically nothing at all has been done to protect people’s privacy for quite some time.
Febo also has to make sure that they don’t collect personal data of people who live nearby, make sure they tell people explicitly that their data is being collected, and tell them how long their data will be stored, etc., which they don’t. Dutch law states that “the processing of any personal data requires the data subject’s unambiguous consent,” like a sign at Febo that warns people. Bluetrace has said that they place signs, but that’s not the case in the 30 or so Dutch municipalities where their system is operational.
Febo is just an example, as many other companies and towns who use Bluetrace are also violating the law, and I’d dare say, even flaunting it, since 2014. Why the authorities are only getting serious now remains a mystery.
Together with his collaborator, engineer Arjen Beltman, they are taking deceased animals to the next level by creating something they can fly in themselves, which reminds me of the flying moths from the 1990s science-fiction series, Lexx.
“If I’m going to fly, I want to fly in something weird. So we’ve been thinking about animals that are big enough to fly in. We have a cow at the moment – it’s at the tannery right now. It’s going to be like a bovine personnel carrier, but airborne,” Jansen explains.
Started up in Finland last year and already available in Sweden and Estonia, ResQ, a successful app that offers restaurants trying to sell cheap, leftover meals to hungry patrons is launching in Amsterdam this week. Other major Dutch cities such as The Hague and Utrecht are soon to follow this fall.
Research from Wageningen University claims the Netherlands throws out 51 million tonnes of food a year and that’s waste many groups would like to put a halt to. Available for iPhone and Android, ResQ will first aim at people who come from their work and want to eat something without too much fuss, like lasagna, sandwiches, salades, soups and baked goods, which are easy to sell fast rather than throw away.
In February a Dutch supermarket chain hired a chef to cook food that otherwise according to the law still had to be thrown out, but ResQ is sure to stop some of the waste.
In the town of Ruurlo, Gelderland, pancake restaurant De Heijkamp is going to let a specialised 3D printer ‘make’ pancakes, albeit not every day. Owner Bert van Zijtvelt will be using the Pancake Bot, a successful Kickstarter project that became the world’s first 3D pancake printer that can make all kinds of cool pancakes (see video below).
Inventor Miguel Valenzuela, a Mexican-American expat living in Norway, credits one of his two daughters for the idea. He was reading an article about a guy who made a pancake stamping machine out of LEGO, when his daughter turned to her sister and yelled, “Papa’s going to build a pancake machine out of LEGO!” The prototype was actually made using LEGO, how cool is that.
Van Zijtvelt has bought two 3D printers, each costing USD 500 (450 euro). According to chef Rob Weijers, the biggest problem is getting the pancake batter just right, with not too much sugar in it, so it doesn’t jam things up.
De Heijkamp only plans on using the printers for special occasions like company events and children’s parties.
If you can get past a glaring spelling mistake and corporate dubstep with motor sounds, you can enjoy what the printer can do.
Physicists from Dutch FOM Institute AMOLF in Amsterdam and Leiden University together with colleagues from Tel Aviv University have developed a method to design patterns that can appear on any cube’s surface.
AMOLF group leader professor Martin Van Hecke explains that if pressure is applied to, for example, a 10x10x10 cube, some of the sides cave in, while others bulge out. By stacking several of these blocks researchers could make three-dimensional structures. Their research is said to pave the way for the use of ‘machine materials’ in, for example, prostheses and wearable technology, as published in ‘Nature’ today.
“Although Van Hecke’s research is fundamental in nature there are applications on the horizon. This type of programmable ‘machine materials’ could be ideal for prostheses or wearable technology in which a close fit with the body is important,” says Van Hecke. “If we can make the building blocks more complex or produce these from other materials then the possibilities are endless.”
The test was carried out with a self-driving Mercedes-Benz bus from German car company Daimler AG, some of which took place on a public road, but mostly on a closed circuit. The bus was able to communicate with traffic lights, collect data and negotiate junctions. As well, there was a driver on board in case things when wrong.
There is still a lot of testing to be done before self-driving cars become a reality, and it is cool that tests are carried out here. I don’t know about cars dealing with cyclists and pedestrians in the big cities, which still is a major source of accidents.
Tom van Oudenaaarden from Utrecht has has a public transport chip implanted in his right hand. The photos of it are nasty because the work has just been done, but the chip works fine, as this very short video proves. So far he has only used his implant to check in and out of ports, and has yet to encounter train staff who would need to check what would normally be a chip card in a handheld device to be sure he’s paid his fare.
And Van Oudenaaarden is no stranger to implants, piercings or tattoos either. He’s had a LED-lamp implanted in his arm and has implanted chips that will start his motorbike and car, open his laptop and his shop. The idea was to get rid of his wallet and a big bunch of keys and show what technology can do.
Eindhoven’s Tech United team has won the Robocup 2016 in Leipzig, Germany, a team that keeps on supplying us with stories of victory thanks to their sweet robotics.
Their match up was against the Chinese team ‘Water’, defending their 2015 title. Eindhoven was ahead 2-1, and after regulation time, it was tied 2-2. In overtime both teams made it 3-3 and much like some games in Euro 2016, it came down to penalty kicks.
However, Water missed all five shots, nicely stopped by Tech United’s goalkeeper, while Tech United putted one in for the win.