Author: Leah Zitter

Leah Zitter is an award-winning High-Tech writer/ journalist with a PhD in Research and clients that include the Association For Advancing Automation (A3).

Food poisoning can make Danteś inferno seem like a walk in the park, which is why I was fascinated to read about a process that tests for harmful bacteria in food using a bacteriophage (phage) and portable light detection device connected to a smartphone. The Silicon Photomultiplier (SiPM) device is a sensor that zooms low-light signals down to the single-photon (light-transmitting particle) level, helping users identify microscopic issues that otherwise go unnoticed. In this case, the issues are the pernicious bacteria, also called E. coli O157:H7, a particularly harsh strain of E. coli. that kills as many as 60 people a…

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Last month we wrote about the move to smart wearable collars and VR headsets for dairy herds. Over in South Korea, livestock health care startup ULikeKorea has a different approach to delivering similar herd monitoring services. Their invention, a biofriendly non-toxic sugarcane capsule, measuring 10cm by 2.5cm is designed to be safely swallowed by a cow, thereafter residing forever inside the cow’s stomach. It provides real time data about the animal to the farmer. Globally over 70,000 cows are already being monitored this way. The capsule is an internet-of-things device, physical data from the animal is gathered on a central…

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Brazilian Entrepreneur Fabio Rezler has a dream to get the American market interested in what is ‘probably’ the world’s first fast food robot machine. America is notorious for its love of fast food after all and this autonomous fast-food counter, developed by Brazil’s Bionicook and Auttom, has seen a “1000 percent fantastic customer reaction!” as Rezler told us. “We developed a very easy and clean platform for ordering and experience.  The reaction from customers from age nine to seventy nine was really above our expectations!” KUKA’s KR 3 Agilus Small Robot A key component within the Bionicook fast food kiosk is the KR…

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Over in his lab at Utah State University, Paul Kusuma, 26-year old PhD student from Florida, scrutinizes the  progress of lettuce in its airy, LED lighted growth chamber.  Kusuma conducts research for his mentor, Professor Bruce Bugbee, in a $15 million, five-year NASA-funded program for the Centre for the Utilization of Biological Engineering in Space (CUBES) that began in 2017. Astronauts need to eat. Space shuttles fly best and are cheapest with minimal weight. So, for the last three years, Kusuma studied plant and crop physiology in the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences and tested conditions for growing plants…

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Back in 1970 Japanese agricultural manufacturer Kubota Corporation introduced the world to its first advanced tractor the ‘Dream Tractor’ (which actually looked more like a car than a tractor). It remained a concept vehicle however, never reaching production. Fast forward fifty years and at a new product exhibition in Kyoto this month, Kubota unveiled its new zero emissions concept autonomous tractor the “X tractor – cross tractor”. Thus marking the company’s 130th anniversary. With the X tractor, Kubota offers us a futuristic tractor that’s electrically-powered, with lithium-ion battery packs and solar panels. It is outfitted with tools that include GPS, on-board…

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China-based company SZ DJI Technology Co., Ltd. (DJI), is the world-leading manufacturer of unmanned vehicles and supplier of more than 70 percent of drones in the US. As staff writer for DJI who’s covered their drones before the Trump administration grounded them, I can almost guarantee their drones are used for nothing more devious than dosing your fields when they burn, helping you improve your yields, and detecting crops that need treating, among other items. Earlier this month, the US Department of the Interior (DOI) grounded its entire fleet of 810 unmanned vehicles of which 121 were manufactured by DJI. …

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Over in Thailand, Rimping Supermarket wraps its groceries in banana leaves instead of using plastic packaging. A continent away in Australia, researchers at the University of New South Wales dig further down to mesh the banana plant’s stem into ‘bioplastic’ with the potential to make a range of items, including shopping bags and packaging trays for meat. Bananas are technically berries, and are grown commercially by creating thousands of cuttings which are planted and grown, have their fruit harvested and then die back. After harvesting the bananas, the plant material is then largely discarded or composted. Only 12 percent of a…

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Today’s consumers are increasingly concerned about the conditions in which animals are raised and, in the case of dairy herds, the morality of exploiting their milk, not to mention the environmental impact (methane etc.). There are of course alternative options available that range from almond milk to coconut, rice, soy, or flax milk – all dairy-free. Still there’s the fear of losing out because milk gives you natural calcium – a mineral that’s important for healthy teeth and bones, and not everybody wants plant-based cheese. Now Singapore-based TurtleTree Labs (TTL) believe they have found the perfect solution. Today the start-up company…

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Nearly 25 percent of young hogs don’t survive to market largely due to poor heating in their pens. Their deaths cost farmers more than five hundred million dollars a year. Iowa-based FarrPro lab found its niche addressing that problem. The traditional solution is simply 125-watt light bulbs hung over the creep areas, namely where newborn piglets live. Such light-bulbs tend to be a fire hazard, are energy inefficient and give too little heat for around nine to 30 sows or more, depending on the size of these creeps. Indoor pig farms are the most vulnerable since many of these buildings are…

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Late last year, we described San Diego-based BlueNalu’s process for creating petri-dish fish. We thought you’d like to hear about New Age Meats (NEM), a Berkeley-based cultivated meat company, founded in 2018, that does precisely the same – with pork. Just yesterday (9th Jan 2020), this innovative Food Tech company won $2.7 million in seed money from investors that included Agronomics Ltd, Sand Hill Angels, Supernode Ventures, Hemisphere Ventures, and Kairos Ventures. The seed round was led by ff Venture Capital.  NEM recently moved into its own lab facilities in Berkeley and is building out its science and engineering teams, as it continues churning out…

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