As of this holiday season people in Amsterdam will be able to give money to homeless people using their bank card and its contactless payment function. It’s an experiment that is making headlines, thought up by Amsterdam advertising agency N=5 and developed together with the ABN Amro bank.
The homeless will be wearing a special jacket with a bank card reader, allowing people to donate one euro that will be used to provide either food, a shower or a place to sleep to the homeless person in question. The accounts will be managed by the cooperating homeless shelters. The idea is to avoid seeing the money spent on alcohol and the likes, something that stops many people from giving. Once someone has donated, they will get a thank you from the homeless person on their bank account statement.
According to newspaper Het Parool, over the past years the homeless population in the Netherlands has more than doubled from 2009 to 2016, from 13,000 to 31,000 people.
The sound at the beginning of the film is of a tram in Amsterdam, although this short graduation film by Anthony van der Meer entitled ‘Fine My Phone’ had support from the institution he graduated from, the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam.
Every week in the Netherlands 300 police reports are written up for smartphone theft, explains Van der Meer. After having his phone stolen in Amsterdam, he used Find My iPhone and caught ‘a few metres’ of how far his phone went before it was turned off. He wasn’t bothered so much by having his phone stolen, but more that a stranger had access to all his photos, videos, contacts and so on. A thief just has to switch SIM cards and reset the phone for Find My iPhone to be totally useless.
To make this short film, Van der Meer installed spyware on a new phone and purposely let someone steal it. He then remotely recorded audio, photos, and videos from the phone and made a 20 minute film about the guy who stole it.
It’s in Dutch with English subtitles, and a good part of it can be understood visually thanks to many computer screenshots, including one to show us that Arabic appeared on his phone and a few other cool things you should see for yourselves.
In a few days, weather permitting, NASA’s stratospheric balloon STO2 will be launched from Antarctica to the edge of space to measure cosmic far infrared radiation in order to find out more about how stars and planets come to be.
The STO2 design has been headed by the University of Arizona, with vital contributions from SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research (Utrecht and Groningen) and Delft University of Technology.
One of the tools is a receiver at 4.7 terahertz, one of the three frequencies that help find the presence of elements in space, including electrically neutral atomic oxygen. The localisation of the latter can be achieved using a 4.7 terahertz receiver, the first time such a tool will be brought to the edge of space for an unrestricted view, for two weeks.
As well, The teams of Alexander Tielens (Leiden University) and Floris van der Tak (SRON/University of Groningen) will help analyse the observations.
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.”