Frisk #162

Hunt the thimble, it’s Frisk #162! That’s the number of games each team plays in a season of Major League Baseball. That must be really hard to keep up with.
It was also the year that Arrian of Nicomedia wrote Indica – a book about Alexander the Great (a man who lived 450 years before Arrian) and his military exploits in India (a place Arrian never visited). Nevertheless, it was supposed to be quite good. I dunno, I haven’t read it.

Nee-naw nee-naw
Ambulance response times, in general, are pretty phenomenal. When you think about all of the processes involved – mobilising the team, getting them into the ambulance, carving their way through traffic, running to find you with their bag of tricks – it’s kind of astonishing that, should you find your heart palpitating or your fishbone going into the wrong place, a team could be there to assist in mere minutes.
That said, it could always be faster, and the principle hold-up is getting past all those other motorists. So the Swedish ambulance service have hit upon a belter of an idea: as they’re travelling on emergency callouts, they can send a signal to all the vehicles in front of them that hijacks their stereos, effectively overriding the radio or CD or iPod or whatever to broadcast a ‘Get out of the way!’ message inside the car. How clever is that? Even if you’ve got Taylor Swift cranked up to the max (what? Um, I mean, er, Metallica) you’ll still be aware that you’re in the way. Ingenious.

Wearables (that is, small technological devices you can wear, rather than, y’know, clothes and that) are so bang on trend these days that even the livestock are getting involved. Cows in Pakistan are now proudly rocking their version of the Fitbit, called a Cowlar. It’s so hot right now.
See, the reason for all this is that per-cow milk yields are far lower in Pakistan than in other countries, and the farmers are keen to a) find out why and b) do something about it. So now the animals are wearing these collars that relay information to the farmers about each cow’s temperature, activity, health and fertility, so that they can shake up their lifestyle and get them producing more milk. (Quite how one goes about acting on this information is unclear - how do you improve a cow’s fertility on demand? Chase after it with a Playboy and a turkey baster?)
The device can also send an automated telephone alert if it senses the cow’s being stolen. Which isn’t a sentence you were expecting to read today.

Slum beacons
Here’s a brilliant idea, thanks to some collective cleverness on the part of Google, the Indian Institute of Technology, the Industrial Design Centre, and Swansea University, to help the traders in one of Mumbai’s slum markets. Dharavi is a vast 535-acre slum with a market upon which many depend, and a new project has been devised to deploy beacons to make its wares more visible.
Beacons, to the uninitiated, are basically small, cheap bits of Bluetooth hardware that can send messages to smartphones and tablets in the local vicinity. Now, Dharavi is a colossal market specialising particularly in leather goods, textiles, pottery and jewellery but, like everything, it’s facing massive pressure from the likes of Amazon – but with these beacons, traders can compete with the big boys by pinging offers and product info to nearby shoppers while they’re digitally browsing. Because, as convenient as Amazon is, there’s nothing quite like buying something hand-crafted from the person who made it and taking it home there and then, is there?

Daniel Bevis, Senior Knowledge Editor

25th January 2017