Kiwi programmers have successfully taught a computer to distinguish between a cat’s face and its rear-end in a move developers say will help improve relationships with the notoriously aloof animal.
The team of programmers who created the digital technology spent months training the computer to make the physical distinction.
The three strong team leveraged an artificial intelligence network which can identify objects within images. The developers labelled over 8,000 images showing dozens of different breeds of cats from different angles. They then trained a deep neural network by manually highlighting the unique characteristics of the cat’s features within each image until software could make the distinction by itself.
This field of machine learning technology also has applications in protecting wildlife – for example a computer can be taught to identify a poacher stalking a tiger from a real time video feed streamed from drones – using facial recognition software to identify the animal and a human face in close proximity. The software can then automatically alert authorities with the location – giving them the chance to rescue the animals.
Lead developer David Arcus said while there was a light hearted purpose behind this version of the technology, they hope that others will be inspired to use it for the benefit of animals.
“What we wanted to do was find a fun way to bring cat owners closer to their pet.
“Kiwi cat owners can upload an image of their cat to a free website set up by the developers. If the computer’s AI identifies it as the rear end of a cat, it determines that the owner needs a closer relationship with their pet and will send them a new type of food product called Creamy Treats designed to be hand-fed to cats; thereby giving them more face-to-face time with their pet.
Arcus says while cats can have a reputation for being antisocial, some experts suggest this is a myth. The reason behind this is a natural protection mechanism, where they are always alert to their surroundings and remain constantly onguard – something humans misinterpret as disinterest.
Thousands of Kiwis are set to benefit from a charitable initiative which will see $1million allocated to community organisations that help a range of health, cultural, environment, education and other causes.
An online platform has been launched which allows Kiwis to vote for the charities they feel are most deserving of funding, which will benefit their local community. Anyone can vote for the cause of their choice each day, with $5 provided by the fund for every vote cast.
More than 30 projects were chosen to receive funding from 148 charitable applicants. The applications were received from a diverse range of causes which include a counselling programme for victims of child abuse, air rescue services and an awareness campaign to reduce the number of dog bite injuries among children.
Simon Wickham CEO of ‘The Trusts’ West Auckland says the million dollar charitable initiative is an example of how the model is able to support charities while at the same time provide a model for the sale of alcohol with better community outcomes.
“Most of the profits from liquor sales around New Zealand are retained by store owners or overseas owners says Wickham. Under our model the proceeds are retained in this community owned social enterprise and returned to the community both now and in future.”
“By the end of this month the Million Dollar Mission, in its second year after launching in 2017, will have given back a total of $2million to the community it was raised in,” he says. “The Million Dollar Mission forms one of many ways we’ve been investing in our community for decades.”
The causes were chosen by a panel which included Sir Bob Harvey and former Silver Fern Linda Vagana and local board members who selected the 32 finalists.
Anyone can register one vote each day at milliondollarmission.co.nz until the end of March 2018 or until all funds have been distributed.
The 32 charities vying for donations include: Well Foundation, Royal Road School, 1st Mt Albert – St Jude’s Scout Group, Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, Auckland Land Search and Rescue, Western Quilters Circle Inc, Gecko NZ Trust, Waitakere Hindi Language and Cultural School, Zeal Education Trust – West Auckland, Piha Surf Life Saving Club, Victim Support Waitakere, Henderson High School, Child Cancer Foundation Incorporated, Fair Food Trust,YMCA of Auckland, The Order of St John Northern Region Trust Board, Ranui Primary School, Kelston Primary School Board of Trustees, StarJam Charitable Trust, Lupesina o Samoa, Family Action, VisionWest Community Trust, Sport Waitakere, Generation Ignite Trust, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Hoani Waititi Marae, Ranui 135 Leadership Team, Kelston Boys High School, The Whau River Catchment Trust, New Lynn Rugby League Football Club Inc, Kids Safe With Dogs Charitable Trust, Waitakere Arts & Cultural Development Trust, and Life Education Trust Auckland West.
Hi res image found here
Written on behalf of West Auckland Trusts Services, by Impact PR. For more information or images, please contact Mark Devlin [email protected] (021509060)
Members of the public are being treated to a unique culinary experience from So Good, in the form of an entirely man-made edible pop-up garden at Takutai Square in Auckland’s Britomart this February 8th and 9th. In a concept never before seen in New Zealand, guests will be invited to pluck some very unusual fruit and vegetables from some very special trees.
Already well known for their delicious range of dairy free almond and soy milks and healthier frozen desserts, this latest initiative from the Sanitarium So Good range showcases their latest plant-based products in the form of over 3,000 hand-crafted edible fruit and vegetable replicas, stuffed with a diverse range of ingredients and So Good nut milks, all encased in a vegan white chocolate shell.
At the pop-garden, tasters will be treated to a range of ingenious fruit and vegetable creations, filled with some surprising and delicious flavours, designed to challenge some of the more traditional concepts of what a plant-based diet can look and taste like.
The So Good edible pop-up garden of goodness will be open to the public on Thursday 8th and Friday 9th February, from 11.30am – 2.30pm.
Parents are being warned to monitor digital device use over the Christmas holiday season as the impact of loud music can cause Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) among Kiwi children, according to a leading expert.
Dr David Welch, head of Auckland University’s audiology department, says listening to loud music may be addictive in a similar way to cigarette smoking, and more needs to be done to address its impact on society and children in particular.
His warning comes following international research which shows a rise in the rate of hearing loss among youth.
Dr Welch says global studies show around 14 percent of children may have noise induced hearing loss which could be a result of prolonged exposure to personal listening devices.
Noise-induced hearing loss is hearing impairment resulting from exposure to loud sound.
“People with this condition may have a measurable loss of hearing in a range of frequencies, but may also have impaired perception of sound in noisy environments, and this may occur alongside tinnitus, or ringing in the ears,” he says.
Dr Welch says that the maximum safe level for prolonged listening is generally considered to be 85 decibels – with most smartphones capable of producing volumes of up to about 120 decibels.
“The general trend appears to be that devices like smartphones are getting louder over time – with the latest model from one of the most popular brands capable of producing 25 percent higher volume than its predecessor,” he says.
Dr Welch says if volume increases beyond 85 decibels, the threat to hearing rises and after two hours of listening to a device at 91 dB the child has incurred a similar level of exposure to working a shift in a noisy factory where hearing protection would be required by law. .
“One girl I met through a hearing health promotion programme we run in schools lives in a crowded household and she has trouble getting to sleep, so at night she plugs the phone into the wall, puts her headphones on to the highest volume and goes to sleep. With the volume at the maximum level this would be well in excess of 100 decibels and she was going to sleep each night like this,” he says.
“Parents look at ways to limit the amount of time their children spend listening to loud music, whether it is in the car, at concerts or on devices,” he says
Dr Welch has researched the psychological reasons why we listen to music at high volume and says it’s the social function music plays in bringing people together which is partly responsible for impacting hearing health.
“There is a cultural acceptance of loud music, it’s something we have come to expect whenever we celebrate or come together as a group. For kids there is a sense that listening to loud music is cool, and it makes them feel both part of a group but also they are able to lose themselves in it, it gives them a splendid isolation and a feeling of being able to cut themselves off from anything that’s bothering them,” he says.
Dr Welch says in addition to the psychological arousal, there is a strong physiological or tactile response on our bodies which occurs when listening to loud music.
“It’s almost an addictive process of conditioning which results from the repeat exposure. That’s one of the reasons why we enjoy music in a concert setting or in a dance environment, we get the bass notes running through our whole bodies,” he says.
Dr Welch says change needs to come at a societal level with better awareness of the permanent damage which is occurring in some everyday environments.
“We can draw a parallel with smoking, which is also harmful behaviour, but one that as a society we’re just not accepting anymore. We are much more tolerant of loud music even though we know it causes a permanent injury which can destroy our lives and cut us off from the people we care about. The strange thing is that even though we know this, it still it doesn’t seem to be a deterrent,” he says.
“I’ve had people tell me that losing their hearing has felt like a ‘’living death’ to them and it’s brought tears to my eyes, to hear them suffer from something which is utterly preventable,” he says.
“There no opportunity for intimacy with people because that just goes out the window when people have to shout at someone.The only time people talk to you is when they’re shouting at you,” he says.
Dr Welch says hearing is damaged through apoptosis where noise-damaged sensory cells in the inner ear will shut down and quietly kill themselves so they can’t cause further harm.
“This process causes scarring which prevents new cells growing in their place. What’s more, the nerve fibres that convey information from the ear to the brain are also thought to be threatened by exposure to loud sound.
“We are worried that this could become an epidemic of the digital generation – our children not aware of the potential impact and may be vulnerable to long term damage as a result,” he says.
Lee-Ann Verry from Puro Sound Labs, a distributor of children’s headphones which automatically restrict maximum volume began importing the product after becoming concerned about her own children’s digital device use.
“We originally started bringing in the headphones because we were worried about the high volume our kids we’re being exposed to and we have been working hard to raise awareness of this issue in schools around the country,” says Verry.
Verry says there is a growing understanding among parents and schools that there is a real health risk associated with ongoing exposure to music at loud volumes.
“One of the concerns is that schools will often buy the least expensive headphones on the market which can produce a poor quality sound – as a result of the background noise, children will often turn the volume up to the maximum setting in the classroom – we are trying to educate against this,” she says.
Thought you needed animals to get protein? Not anymore. Times are changing, and the way we consume food has a major impact on the world we live in. People are looking for the little ways they can make a positive impact in their daily lives… introducing the delicious new meat alternative that’s 100 percent plant-based – grown, not bred.
The happy choice for humans and animals alike, the Alternative Meat Co range is 100 percent meat free and 100 percent vegan friendly. All the ingredients in Alternative Meat Co Beef Chunks and Chicken Strips are ethically & Non GMO sourced, with only best quality plant based foods included.
New Alternative Meat Co Beef Free Chunks boast a delightfully subtle smokey flavour and fantastic meaty texture – the ultimate versatile foodie friend for innovative, healthful mealtimes. Try Alternative Meat Co Beef Free Chunks for Friday night fajitas with a twist – sure to become a new family favourite!
And you’ll find your new go-to for all those chicken dishes in your mealtime repertoire with new Alternative Meat Co Chicken Free Strips. They look like chicken, taste like chicken and make the perfect partner for yummy stir-fries, aromatic vegan curries and warm summer salads.
Registered with the Coeliac Society as a gluten free product, Alternative Meat Co Beef Chunks and Chicken Strips use soy proteins to deliver a tasty product that looks, cooks and taste like meat. Even better, the products offer a good source of protein in a healthy and balanced diet and have been awarded a 4.5 Star Health rating!
How to prepare Alternative Meat Co Beef Chunks and Chicken Strips:
- Lightly break up the meat
- Add to lightly oiled pan on the stove top
- Lightly brown the meat
- Add ½ cup of liquid (either water, stock or sauce) for a more tender product
- Stir for 3 minutes. Don’t let the meat dry out!
- Now you’re ready to serve.
And don’t forget – Alternative Meat Co Beef Chunks and Chicken Strips are not suitable for the microwave. This method of cooking just doesn’t give them the texture and flavour they deserve!
The Alternative Meat Co Beef Chunks and Chicken Strips (RRP $8.50) are available now from leading supermarkets nationwide.
For more information, tips and serving suggestions, visit altmeatco.com or facebook.com/altmeatco