Could Robots Take Warehouse Jobs?...

California startup Fetch Robotics has recently announced the creation of a pair of robots designed to make product packaging and shipping more efficient. Named Fetch and Freight, the robots are small enough to be used in warehouses that may not be able to be optimized for larger systems. While some warehouses may need to be slightly retrofitted to utilize the robots, their size removes the need for a complete technological overhaul. Fetch is approximately three and a half feet tall and features a single arm with two fingers. The arm extends to grab boxes and products from warehouse shelves. Fetch can extend its spine to stand a full four feet, 10 inches tall, and its depth camera allows it to identify boxes and the spaces between them on shelves. Once it has taken the box from the shelf, Fetch passes the product to Freight. Freight is fitted with a collection bin, and takes the products to shipping stations. While Fetch is also fitted with a wheeled base, Freight is better for distributing products, as its lower center of gravity allows it to travel at higher speeds. The Fetch robot is able to photograph and take temperature readings of objects as it picks them up, making it ideal for quality control in pharmaceutical manufacturing. During emergency room visits in 2010, over 271.4 million prescriptions were ordered by doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, so any temperature fluctuations in the manufacturing process would have an enormous impact on the public. The robots are even able to operate in the dark or in uncomfortable temperatures, saving facilities from paying high costs of operation if they switch to an all-robot staff. Both robots are able to follow humans around by focusing on their legs, and they can even move around...

Vaping Competitions Heat Up with the Help of Sponsors and Large Cash Prizes Apr27

Vaping Competitions Heat Up with the Help of Sponsors and Large Cash Prizes...

Turns out that electronic cigarettes are good for more than acting as a substitute for smoking — they also lead to what some may liken to an extreme sport. In the world of “cloud chasing,” simply using an electronic cigarette isn’t enough. Cloud chasers, as they’re called, often build their own unique vaporizers from different starter kits to create as much vapor as possible. One such event was profiled in the Wall Street Journal, which highlighted a cloud chasing contest at Metro Vapors in Plano, TX. Entrants into the competition tried to out-vape each other by producing larger and larger vapor clouds, measured by a large ruler on the wall behind them. One competitor, Elijah Seybold, defeated his opponent by blowing a six-foot vapor cloud. Spectators at the event, known as cloud gazers, watched in awe as a panel of judges declared Seybold the winner of the contest’s first round. It may seem like cloud chasing is just a game played among vaping enthusiasts, but the culture surrounding vaporizer use has turned it into much more than that. Competitions such as this one are taking place all over the world, from Raleigh, NC, to Los Angeles, CA, and even in other countries, like Canada and Indonesia. So how did these contests get started? The details are unclear, but the Huffington Post states that the cloud chasing movement got its start on the west coast before moving east about two years ago. The Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association reports that there are now around 16,000 vape shops throughout the U.S., many of which host events like these. It’s not exactly a professional sport, but vaping competitions can come with some big prize money. Winners can earn anywhere from $250 to $2,000, and some competitors are even...

For the First Time in 75 Years, the FDA May Be Able to Regulate the Cosmetics Industry Apr22

For the First Time in 75 Years, the FDA May Be Able to Regulate the Cosmetics Industry...

For about 75 years, the federal government has not updated its regulations of ingredients in cosmetic and personal-care products, but should new legislation pass, the Food and Drug Administration will be required to evaluate and report on the ingredients of such items as lipstick and deodorant. “From shampoo to lotion, the use of personal care products is widespread, however, there are very few protections in place to ensure their safety,” said a statement from Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, one of the two U.S. Senators who introduced the legislation. The new legislation would require the FDA to investigate at least five different ingredients each year, and based upon what’s found, advise companies to either discontinue the ingredient, or continue using the ingredient, and if so, at what levels of concentration. Most of the bills introduced aren’t made into law, though. In fact, there are more more than 300 bills still waiting for Senate action. However, Feinstein and Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine have the support of both industry leaders and consumer groups, including Revlon, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, and a trade association representing over 600 companies. Although it might not seem all that big of a deal, the new bill and the support it’s receiving mark a huge shift in the industry. Slate reports that when the FDA was founded, the cosmetics industry lobbied heavily and successfully to keep the agency from regulating it. “Eighty years ago, it was decided that the FDA would not look into cosmetics,” Center for Investigative Reporting’s senior correspondent Mark Schapiro told Slate. “Even if it wanted to, it would have no mechanism to do so.” Consequently, strange things can be used in cosmetics and personal-care products. According to the Environmental Working Group, the current...

Repent Ye Websites: the Mobilegeddon Has Arrived...

Monolithic search engine Google updated its algorithm on April 21, which may not sound like that big of a deal, but the change could actually wind up reshaping consumer behavior on a massive scale. That’s why many in online marketing have dubbed the update: “Mobilegeddon.” According to comScore Media Metrix, Google owns a 65% market share of U.S. Internet searchers, which means much more than half of the Internet searches made in the U.S. are performed on Google. Web traffic, however, is not distributed evenly. After this vast amount of users search Google, they typically go to the first, second, or third ranked result. According to a study by online ad network Chitika, the first ranked result on Google’s search engine results page (SERP) gets a whopping 33% of the traffic. Second gets 18%, and third gets 11%. From there, the traffic drops of exponentially. Consequently, brands fiercely compete with each other, vying for Google’s top SERP rankings. In order to get there, they employ several online marketing tactics, the most important of which is search engine optimization (SEO). The thing is, though, Google is constantly updating its algorithm in little ways in an effort to deliver users with the best, most relevant search results, which means that an SEO tactic that might have worked a week before might no longer be useful after an update. Mobilegeddon, however, was no small update. Seeing as how more than 50% of all mobile device users identify their smartphones or tablets as their primary way of accessing the Internet, Google realized it needed to reshape its algorithm to provide these users with search results that would load quickly and be easily navigable on a smartphone. Although the details are being kept secret, Mobilegeddon basically penalized any site...

Overwhelming Amount of People Searching Locally on Google...

Both retailers and consumers love local search, and there’s new evidence to prove it. According to new data released by Google, the amount of “near me” searches has surged 34 times what it was in 2011, and has almost doubled since last year. “Consumers aren’t just getting information, they’re making decisions and often heading straight to stores,” Matt Lawson, Google’s Director of Marketing, Performance Ads, said in a post for the company. Some of the findings, though, were predictable, gelling with what past research has discovered. Past studies have discovered that 65-70% of consumers visit a store after seeing a local search ad online. The new study found that about half of consumers visit a store within a day of doing a local search, and 18% of those searches lead to a purchase that same day. Unless the search is done to help them decide on a place to eat, that is, in which case they’ll visit the business within one hour of their search. Perhaps the most interesting thing the new data revealed is another important facet of local search marketing: its competitiveness. Not only are local search consumers a high-value audience — thanks to the immediacy with which they respond to local searches — but they also don’t pledge loyalty to one brand. Virtually none of the top “near me” searches were for a specific company, just a specific product or service. On Saturday mornings, people are searching for “restaurants near me,” “movie theaters near me,” or “car wash near me.” On Sunday mornings, they’re looking for “Catholic churches near me,” “breakfast near me,” or “gas station near me.” They’re not looking for a Domino’s Pizza — just a slice of ‘roni — which means that small- and medium-sized businesses can compete...