TechKNOW Tomorrow – Cell-based Meat: REAL Meat Grown in a Lab

Image by Adobe via Science Focus.

Say goodbye to plant-based meat alternatives like tofu, seitan and lentils; the next evolution in ethical meat is almost here. Finally, scientists have found a way to create a “meat alternative” that actually tastes like the meats many of us enjoy.

Cell-based meat, also known as cultured meat, “is genuine animal meat (including seafood and organ meats) that is produced by cultivating animal cells directly“. How is this done exactly? More importantly, what kinds of effects could this have on various animals – including humans – as well as the environment? Let’s dive into this controversial topic.

The Origins of Cell-based Meat

For centuries, animal cruelty has been a point of contention between supporters and critics of the food, fashion, and beauty industries. While we may benefit from many of the products developed by global leaders in these industries, the animals involved in product testing and factory farming unfortunately live in abhorrent conditions before their lives end.

Image by Jo-Anne McArthur via Unsplash.

For example, “99% of animals used for food live on massive industrial “factory farms,” where they’re crammed by the thousands into wire cages, metal crates, or other extremely restrictive enclosures inside filthy, windowless sheds“. These animals never have the chance to experience the freedom of outdoor living, play, and socialization that they would otherwise be accustomed to. Even worse, many animals experience pain and suffering before they are killed and processed for their meat.

Thankfully, there might be a solution on the horizon thanks to the research into cell-based meat. Back in 2013, the world’s first cultured hamburger was created in a lab in London. Using muscle cells from a cow, as well as in-vitro regenerative tissue technology, a burger was created in a petri dish without having to slaughter an animal. Only problem – over €250,000 was spent to make it (approximately $360,500 Canadian)!

Since then, the price to produce beef patties has dropped significantly – it’s estimated that producing a beef patty this way costs about $13 Canadian! Additionally, many startups are starting to look at creating all types of meats this way, including various seafood, poultry, and red meats.

That said, it’s still going to take some time before cell-based meats can reach the market.

Benefits of Cell-based Meats

It’s estimated that the world’s population will rise to about 9.9 billion by 2050. In a world where access to food is increasingly difficult today, this estimate is alarming. Many countries are currently suffering from a food crisis; by 2050, it will only get worse without some human ingenuity supported by modern technology.

This is a great reason why cultured meat will be beneficial once it’s available on the mass market. The animals on our planet are a limited resource. Think about all of the species that go extinct due to human interference. Cell-based meat would offer an excellent substitute for the demand for animals, and it could potentially support efforts to feed countries across the world.

Image by Aaron Burden via Unsplash.

As we saw above, cultured meat will also preserve the lives of numerous animals and cut down on the need for hunting, factory farming, and potentially even poaching. This would allow endangered animal populations to recover and for ecosystems to once again flourish.

One other major benefit of cell-based meat is how it would eventually affect the climate. Cell-based meats are “expected to use less water and land and may produce fewer overall greenhouse gases, assuming the world makes the transition to clean, renewable energy sources“.

On the other hand, “cultured meat faces serious challenges with cost reduction, scale-up and regulatory approval, and no lab-grown meat product has yet reached the market“. Not to mention the fact that there may be religious concerns regarding whether meat is considered kosher or halal. In other words, whether cultured meats can be permitted under Jewish and Islamic law.

Ultimately, we’ll have to wait and see if cell-based meats eventually become an affordable and safer alternative to traditional meat products. Based on the growth of plant-based meats in recent years, as well as the focus on the environment, cultured meat definitely has a lot of potential for positive change.

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At techKNOWtutors, we realize that adapting to technology isn’t easy. Although most services have closed, we remain open – digitally – to answer your internet-related questions. If you need help with improving your digital literacy, send us an email at techknowtutors@cscnl.ca or join our Facebook group and send us a message.

Better yet, sign up for one of our online classes that we offer for FREE every week! Until then, stay in the techKNOW.

TechKNOW Tomorrow – How Technology is Improving Exercise: Smart Mirrors

If you dislike looking in the mirror while you’re working out, you might want to avoid the latest technology from Lululemon Athletica Inc. Last year, the company released prototypes of its smart mirror simply titled MIRROR, “which offers members a vast selection of customizable workouts, on-demand classes, and even one-on-one virtual personal training sessions via a super-futuristic reflective mirror-screen hybrid“.

Now that the testing process has been completed, the MIRROR will be “available for purchase in-store and online beginning on November 22” throughout Canada. That said, it might not be a good fit for everyone. Let’s take a look at some of the features of of this all-in-one workout device.

Features of the MIRROR

There is clearly more to the MIRROR than meets the eye. In fact, it’s best described as a complete home gym that’s somewhat portable. While the device is quite bulky, it can easily be moved between walls, rooms, or even houses! It’s voice controlled, and it comes with an app for smartphones or tablets for those that need to perform their workouts on the go.

Video by Lululemon Athletica Inc. via YouTube.

One of the key features of the MIRROR is the abundance of built-in instructors and personal trainers. While the workouts they teach aren’t always live – sort of like the home workout DVDs of the past – the experience they offer feels incredibly personalized and can be edited based on your needs and preferences. On the other hand, there are plenty of live classes that allow you to feel like you’re actually participating in a community class.

You’ll receive live feedback on things like your form that help correct mistakes before they become habits. Additionally, the MIRROR has a camera that allows you to workout with or compete with friends to provide that extra boost in motivation we all need sometimes.

As for the actual workouts, there’s plenty of variety with the thousands of different programs available. Over time, the MIRROR recognizes your preferences and records stats such as the number of reps and sets you’re performing each time, monitoring improvements without you having to do so.

Some other interesting features of the MIRROR include “Bluetooth-powered heart rate monitoring, WiFi-enabled music and fitness app syncing“, and a timer for sets/rest periods. Over time, this device will offer different types of workouts depending on your fitness goals, whether you’re interested in pursuing yoga, weight training, or aerobic exercise.

The MIRROR’s Cost

What’s the catch? The MIRROR costs $1,895! On top of this steep price, a monthly $49 subscription fee is required to access the content on the device. For many of us, this will likely not be affordable at any point in our lifetimes, especially seeing how you can spend about the same amount as the subscription fee for a monthly gym membership at many places across Newfoundland.

That said, the mirror isn’t exactly designed for the average person, but rather for fitness clubs and professional gym environments. If a local gym happens to purchase one of these mirrors in the near future, we may see a slight bump in the costs of a membership… a worthwhile investment for those who would like to consistently use it.

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At techKNOWtutors, we realize that adapting to technology isn’t easy. Although most services have closed, we remain open – digitally – to answer your internet-related questions. If you need help with improving your digital literacy, send us an email at techknowtutors@cscnl.ca or join our Facebook group and send us a message.

Better yet, sign up for one of our online classes that we offer for FREE every week! Until then, stay in the techKNOW.

TechKNOW Tomorrow – Smart Clothing: The Internet of Things

Image by Wearable X via Lifewire.

It started with devices in your home: smart vacuums, thermostats, televisions, and light bulbs that helped automate some of the simpler things in your home. Too tired to clean? Let your smart vacuum do all the work. Forgot to turn off the smart light in your kitchen? Use a voice command to turn it off. The point of smart devices has always been to make our lives just a little bit easier in a variety of ways.

One of the newest innovations with smart technology has been with things we can wear on the go. We’ve all seen the smart watches that allow you to monitor your steps or even type brief replies to text messages you receive. But a smart watch is just the tip of the iceberg for the current world of smart technology. All of these smart devices are tied to a concept called…

The Internet of Things (IoT)

The internet of things is a term used to describe any physical object that utilizes technology to connect to the internet. Sensors or software of some sort is added to practically any object, turning your clothing, appliances, vehicles, or even your doorbell into a “mini-computer”.

Essentially, as long as a device has an on/off switch or button of some sort, it can become a smart device. For example, connecting a FIRE stick to an old HDTV converts the TV into a smart device, or adding thousands of sensors to a jet engine to determine whether the jet is safe enough for another flight.

Today, we can make microscopic sensors that are difficult to detect, so virtually anything can be given a level of digital intelligence, “enabling [it] to communicate real-time data without involving a human being“. Items once exclusively physical are merged with digital technology, changing the ‘fabric’ of the world as we know it.

Smart Clothing

Image by Intuz via IOT Central.

With microscopic sensors, it’s not difficult to imagine smart clothing that is still surprisingly comfortable. The real question is how it would work.

Smartphone applications, primarily: smart fabrics can “communicate with smartphones to process biometric information such as heart rate, temperature, breathing, stress, movement, acceleration, or even hormone levels“. This also illustrates the primary purpose of making clothing smart in the first place – health monitoring.

That said, there are other reasons for installing sensors or software into your clothing. For example, imagine forgetting your jacket while out dancing. If you went to four or five different bars that night, you might not know where it could be. Likewise, someone could have stolen it, meaning you wouldn’t find it at these bars anyway! With several sensors, you can literally track where your jacket currently is by using an app on your phone.

There are numerous other practical applications for smart clothing including fashion (giving you ideas for matching outfits), preventing theft, detecting when it’s time to replace worn-out clothing, and even advising you when to apply sunscreen. Smart clothing also has the potential to adjust the temperature automatically when you’re too hot/cold or even charge devices like your smartphone!

Check out the video below for some examples of smart clothing.

Video by Tech District via YouTube.

One other cool feature with smart clothing is the potential to save lives. Whether you’re a parent locating a missing child or a soldier trying to “detect the existence and concentration of poisonous gases in the atmosphere“, smart clothing and apparel can prevent the loss of life.

In the coming years, we’ll start to see more of this technology employed throughout our homes: “63 million American homes will qualify as “smart” by 2022, with everything from Internet-connected light bulbs to cameras that let us spy on our pets from the office“. Many of us probably already do have “smart” homes thanks to devices such as smart speakers (with AI assistants like Alexa and Siri) and smart TVs. It’s only a matter of time before we start adding smart clothing to our wardrobes.

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At techKNOWtutors, we realize that adapting to technology isn’t easy. Although most services have closed, we remain open – digitally – to answer your internet-related questions. If you need help with improving your digital literacy, send us an email at techknowtutors@cscnl.ca or join our Facebook group and send us a message.

Better yet, sign up for one of our online classes that we offer for FREE every week! Until then, stay in the techKNOW.