“I saw you might need assistance?”

We’ve been talking about patents in some classes this week, and the patents for novel and unusual ideas that sometimes garner Nobel and Ig Nobel Prizes.

This patent seems worthy of the Ig Nobel Prize. It’s a shopping cart that can read your pulse and temperature. Read the article to find out why Walmart thinks this is a good idea.

Advertisements

Helping the needy

It felt like spring yesterday, but it’s cold again today. It’s hard to imagine having to “sleep rough” but that’s what the homeless are faced with.

In Brussels, Belgium, where (according to the video below) there are 2,600 homeless, and where canvas is illegal but cardboard shelters are not, Belgian entrepreneur Xavier Van der Steppen helps the homeless with “origami cardboard tents” that cost only $35 to make.

More about this story from the BBC

More about homelessness in Brussels (from the Brussels Times).

How about the homeless in Tokyo? According to this article from Mainichi Shimbun, “Tokyo sees 4,000 homeless sleeping in 24-hr cafes on any weeknight”.

One interesting point about the cardboard tents is that they’re made by prison inmates. One possible research project topic is to find out what prison inmates in Japan (or another country you’re learning about) are doing. Do they work? Do they make anything that contributes to society?

Another project for helping the needy (of a different kind): help the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour & Welfare with their English-language information. This is just awful: “Self-support of needy person” (PDF)

One incomprehensible sentence:

Squatting

Japan is famous for its fancy toilets, which are getting fancier all the time. But one problem with this modernization of bathrooms is that we don’t squat as much anymore. Is the increasing number of foreign tourists to blame? Even though many Westerners (well, Americans) don’t really get them?

Even if we lose the squat toilets, we still need to put squatting into our exercise routine, says this article: “What Western people stand to gain from squatting more often” (from Big Think)

Just dance around like Beyonce: