Best of Newsy Pooloozi 2020 Tech Stories!

Dec 17, 2020 Episode 25

It’s that time of the year when we take stock of everything that’s happened throughout the last twelve months. This week we feature some of the best tech stories of 2020 covered on Newsy Pooloozi.

So, what’s in store for you?

From 3D dinosaurs (in your living room!), Japan’s Norimaki synthesizer “taste pop,” the super squid bot, the revolutionary Hyperloop, H&M’s magic loom and the tech power of the… pencil!

Episode Transcript

OPENING STING – LEELA: “New, new, newsy – Newsy Pooloozi!”




LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – a whirlpool of news and information. Well, folks, for the next three weeks we’re going to have to be looking deep into the Pooloozi.


MAMA: We might even turn the bubbles, Leela.


LEELA: Oh, yeah, so we can choose the best of 2020.


MAMA: This week, we’ll take a look back at the tech stories we’ve covered on the podcast since we started six months ago.


LEELA: It was a tough call, but here are our favorites. Enjoy.


MAMA: (Sings) Enjoy.


LEELA: (Sings) Enjoy!


TECH STING – LEELA/MAMA: “It’s time for…. Technology News, technology news, tech news!”


LEELA: Guess what?


MAMA: What?


LEELA: Our tech news is also our…. Odd Ball to end the show with because… this is supposed to be some odd technology…


MAMA: What? You planned this one this week… What have you got up your sleeve?


LEELA:  You all know, Jackson Hosking our tech reporter, right? He’s been on this podcast a lot! He says there’s a dinosaur in his kitchen!


MAMA: Ahhh, is he playing with his stuffed toys at the table…


LEELA: Mama, he’s our TECH reporter not Peppa Pig’s little brother!


MAMA: Ok, is he playing with his robotic dinosaur then?


LEELA: no, no, no… way cooler than that?


MAMA: Alright, let’s get him on.




LEELA: Apparently, there is a Tyrannosaurus in his kitchen, Mama! Hope it never saur-us! Get it…? Dinosaur. saw us…?


JACKSON: Hey you guys!


LEELA: Hey, Jackson!


JACKSON: Hey you guys. Are y’all up for a blast from the past? How about a T-Rex or Triceratops… stomping through your home? It can be done! Trust me!


LEELA: …I trust you… but I don’t know if I understand you…


JACKSON: Technology, my friend. Thanks to the clever people at Google who’ve added dinosaurs to their feature of 3D animals, you can have them right there in your house.


LEELA: 3D Animals? Aren’t all animals in three dimensions, Jackson?!


JACKSON: Very funny. I mean 3D – as in seeing their height and width and depth – on your smartphone or device, instead of the normal flat image we usually see. And, not just that – you can see these crazy creatures as IF they’re in your own room.


LEELA: Uhhhhh?


JACKSON: How do we combine our everyday real world… with a 3D image of an extinct dinosaur…?I’ll tell you how! Get your phone or device out.




MAMA: Here…. There you go…


JACKSON: In the search bar of the Google app, type the word dinosaur… or choose a specific dinosaur.

And if you don’t have the Google app, simply do the same search at Google.com When I type in dinosaur, I see a picture of a T-Rex in the search results and it reads: “See a Tyrannosaurus in your space”.


LEELA: Hold on a second Jackson, let me do that…


JACKSON: If a 3D result is available, you’ll see the words… ‘View in 3D’next to a picture of a mall cube or box.


LEELA: Yep, I see that…


JACKSON: Click on those words: ‘View in 3D’


LEELA: Hold on… I have to give it access to use my camera… Can we do that, Mama?


MAMA: OK, I guess we can always change it later.


LEELA: Ok Done.


JACKSON: Now wait for it to load…. wait for it… This may take a few seconds.


LEELA: OK, we got it.

JACKSON: Cool. Now, tap the screen and follow the instructions, pointing the phone’s camera

towards where you want the animal to appear… In my case, our kitchen, after lunch, with a sink full of dirty dishes. … And then BAM!!!


LEELA: Aaaahhhhh!!! Get it out…. Ahhh! It’s looking at us! Mama!


JACKSON: Watch out, Leela!


MAMA: It’s just a device its 3D augmented reality pretends


LEELA: Oh, my goodness


MAMA:  Yeah, it’s cool, it’s cool isn’t it?!


LEELA: No, it’s not!!! Ahhhhuhuhuhuhu (quivery voice)


JACKSON: This huge Tyrannosaurus appears on the scene! At first just his massive foot thuds into view, taking up most of the screen… You can make the dinosaur bigger or smaller… and move it around… by touching the screen. My tyrannosaurus stomped its way directly to the kitchen sink as if it was about to wash-up, or rather SMASH-UP, the dirty dishes! That would’ve pleased my Mum!!


LEELA: HA! Yeah, right! Whoa… it’s about to eat my Secret Seven books!


LEELA: It’s OK. I’m not looking anymore… Scaaaarry!


MAMA: That is cool. Not just that it’s in 3D which makes it look so real but that it’s appearing like it’s in our own room, you know?


LEELA: Yeah… actually it’s really kind a cool. Besides the fact it’s scary.


JACKSON: Totally… You can also access all these fun facts too. Also, it’s not just about dinosaurs… There’s a whole list of creatures that you can try by searching for Google 3D animals I’m gonna do a tiger next. What about you two?


LEELA: Jackson, I thought that no story could be better than your shocking pub story two weeks ago… But this one is the best.


JACKSON: Pretty…. Sizzling, don’t you think?!


LEELA: (laughs) Sizzling – very good very good!


MAMA: Yeah, that dino was really wired!


LEELA: Oh, no, here we go again. Thanks, Jackson. That was Jackson Hosking, our tech reporter from the south of England. And that ALMOST brings us to the end of our sixth episode of Newsy Pooloozi!!!!!


TECH STING – LEELA/MAMA: “It’s time for…. Technology News, technology news, tech news!”


LEELA: You won’t believe the tech gadget coming out of my imagination…


I mean the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory…


NO, no, no…. I mean Japan, of course!


Scientists at Meiji University – based in both Tokyo and Kawasaki, Japan – have created something I’d call a “taste pop” – but they call a “taste display” or a Norimaki Synthesizer.


It’s a tube about the size of a popsicle with five little tips at the top that can create the taste of any chosen flavor when you press your tongue against them.


How cool is that?


The researchers have created a range of flavors: from sweet (like gummy candies) to salty (hello chips!) a bitter flavor (not sure that’s for me), and, of course, sour tastes.


And by moving the little sliders around, you can even… a mix of all those (like sushi, yummm).


The only tough bit would be deciding WHICH flavor to have first!


MAMA: That is magical. Does it do smells.


LEELA: Nope –just taste. And no spicy flavors yet, so, sorry Indians friends, we’ll have to stick with our own masalas for now.


MAMA: So when can we get one?


LEELA: Good question… Right now it’s just a prototype – like this podcast. But I hope both will take off soon!


MAMA:  By the way, you’ve mentioned four of the tastes that we humans can distinguish with the hundreds of little bumps on our tongue – “receptor cells”. But did you know there’s a fifth flavor?


LEELA: Nope.


MAMA:  Yep. It’s called Umami. It wasn’t even given a name until 1908. Some people just call it “savory” – but that’s confusing because we often think savory means salty. But no… it’s a rich almost meaty taste, think of soups, gravies, cheeses, and, of course, soy sauce.


LEELA: And here I thought we were doing our tech story…


MAMA: Technology is now just a part of life, every facet of it, even taste buds.


TECH STING – LEELA/MAMA: “It’s time for…. Technology News, technology news, tech news!”


MAMA: So last week we had a story about “scare bears” these wacky Monster Wolf robots from Japan that are placed around villages and farms to scare away wild bears.


LEELA: Well, this week we have another wild robot story… And it’s not about scaring away a predator… but spying on them.


MAMA: Well, on all animals. Underwater animals to be precise.


LEELA: Enter the super duper… wait… let’s not steal our reporter’s thunder… Swimmer, surfer and ocean lover: Porter Robbins it’s over to you.


PORTER: Thanks, Leela. So, you probably know, the ocean is one of the few places on earth that hasn’t been totally explored. Because the water pressure makes it hard for humans to travel deep down. High-tech underwater cameras and robotic devices have helped in recent years.


But they’re too slow and clunky to really move around much. But not for much longer! Thanks to the super Robot Squid! You see, here in California, some clever designers decided to take their inspiration from…  wait for it…


SOUND  from a squid!


They’re one of nature’s fastest swimmers. And they’re super versatile. That means they can go easily backwards-and-forwards, changing directions and pace quickly. They use their strong muscles to draw IN water and then rapidly push it back out. That basically creates jets of water, which propels them forward at rapid speeds.


You could even say… they whoosh! So, the designers at the University of California in San Diego built a soft robot that moves like a squid. It’s kind of looks like one too. Except this one has fairy lights on its tentacles that can shine green or pink, which is pretty cool. It was first tested in a lab and then went for a swim at the San Diego Aquarium. The designers are still perfecting the Squid Bot before it heads out to sea. In Los Angeles, I’m Porter Robbins reporting for Newsy Pooloozi.


LEELA: Thanks, Porter. Let us know when the super squid bot heads to the beach. And finally… Our lucky dip story is super sweet this week…


TECH STING – LEELA/MAMA: “It’s time for…. Technology News, technology news, tech news!”



MAMA:  And when Leela says, “Whoosh” –


LEELA: Whoosh!


MAMA: She means…












MAMA: (Laughs) We have a wide variety of whooshes! And none of them are quite right… Let’s say this sound-effect is more the sentiment of our big story than the exact sound.


LEELA: Whoosh!


MAMA: By now you might know we’re talking about the Hyperloop.


LEELA: I think they should have called it the hyper-whoosh.


MAMA: OK, ok… And in case you were caught up in the US election or Diwali festivities or, you know, life and didn’t hear about the biggest advance in the transportation industry, well, we’re here to tell you all: folks, the future is upon us…  After years of development and months of test-runs


LEELA: Two people have become the world’s first passengers to ride the high-speed transport system known as the Hyperloop.


MAMA: Have a listen…




MAMA: It’s been developed by the transportation and music company, Virgin, and it looks a bit like super-sleek train carriages in a tunnel, but they aren’t on tracks.They’re levitating.


LEELA: Leva-what?


MAMA: Levitating that means hovering off the ground.


LEELA: What?! The pod is floating above the ground?


MAMA: Levitating, yes. So high-powered electromagnets push these levitating pods through a tube. At crazy fast speeds. Like 670 mph or 1000kmph!


LEELA: How fast do we go in cars?


MAMA: On highways we might get to 80 or 90 mph. Of course, race cars go faster…


LEELA: And by train?


MAMA: The fastest trains go 160 mph.


LEELA: And planes???


MAMA: Even transportation planes only go around 570mph.


LEELA: So, the Hyperloop is even faster than planes?! Whooooaaa… I mean, whoosh!


MAMA: Indeed. Now the groundbreaking test-run that we just heard, which took place in the US state of Nevada, was only on a short 500-meter track.


LEELA: What? That’s tiny! I can run a 100-meter race in less than a minute.


MAMA: Easily. Yep, it’s just third of a mile long… So, they only managed to get up to speeds of 100mph. But it’s a start. And next will be a six-mile-long tube, or should I say test-tube. And the company thinks it will get a certificate saying this is a safe form of travel in the next five years.


LEELA: So, we could be travelling across the world in these by the time I’m in high school.


MAMA: Not quite. It’ll probably be ten years before that happens. And then it’s most likely to be short jumps like there are already proposals for a Mumbai to Pune hyperloop or Bangalore Airport to the city center. Or DC to New York city. London to Manchester.


LEELA: Trips that used to take 2 to three hours, will only take half an hour!


MAMA: That’s the idea. Though some scientists think the human body can’t really handle such speeds


LEELA: Ahh… g-forces…


MAMA: Hmmmm… without a lot of training, anyway. And the average person might get a little…


SFX – queasy noises


LEELA: Get a little queasy… seasick… or loop-poop?! Get it???


MAMA: Alright, alright! I don’t know about that. Let’s hope they figure that out, because saving time isn’t the only cool thing about the Hyperloop it’s also environmentally friendly as it produces less greenhouse gas compared to cars and planes. So, at the very least, it could totally improve the way we move cargo or products like food and clothes and cars all across the world.


LEELA: I can’t wait to go whoosh! Still think they should call it the hyper whoosh though!


MAMA: I’ve given someone important a call, shall I? I’m sure someone will consider it… There are several companies one in Canada another in Spain testing this technology out…


TECH STING – LEELA/MAMA: “It’s time for…. Technology News, technology news, tech news!”


LEELA: So, have you ever wondered what happens to your old t-shirt you throw away?


MAMA: Me? I give mine and yours away. I mean I try to, mostly.


LEELA: Super-duper. But we don’t always… and what happens then?


MAMA: Hmmmm… trash can? Rubbish heap.


LEELA: Right… and even if we all only throw away a couple of items a year, well, there are almost 8 billion of us on this earth. So, ummm… that’s a lot of clothes landing up in landfills!!


MAMA: Yeah, but they’re biodegradable at least, they’ll break down and decompose over time.


LEELA: Ehh-ehhh (SFX – WRONG BUZZER) Not all of it.


MAMA: Oh…. Cotton is natural. But not polyester or nylon, which are synthetic, basically made of a type of plastic… You’re right… 60%, or more than half, of all the world’s clothes are synthetic.


LEELA: Correct. Meaning that a polyester shirt will take at least 20 years to decompose at best but could take 200 years! And worse – those micro-plastics get into our water supply!


MAMA: Eewwwww.


LEELA: Never fear… a magic recycling machine is here.


MAMA: Oh???


LEELA: Yep, the clothing giant H&M teamed up with some clever scientists from Hong Kong to turn our old synthetic clothes into new clothes.


Here’s how it works: The Loop machine first sanitizes the clothes.

Then the old clothes are shredded into tiny bits and divided into different clumps of fiber.


Then get this that fiber is pressed and pulled, this way and that way, and eventually is turned into yarn to reuse and sew brand new clothes!


Best of all Loop is pretty small, quite quiet and clean. So other shops, or even malls, can set this up to help more people recycle their clothes!


TECH STING – LEELA/MAMA: “It’s time for…. Technology News, technology news, tech news!”


LEELA: We need to cut across to Jackson Hosking, our technology correspondent, who’s gonna to tell us about, wait… ummm… “wearable devices that are drawn onto paper… with a pencil… and stuck to our skin…” Huh?


JACKSON: Hey Leela, this week we’re going back to the basics…. GOOD OLD-FASHIONED PENCIL AND PAPER!


LEELA: Wait a minute Jackson, aren’t you our tech reporter?


JACKSON: I had you there for a second, didn’t I? Well, this story is still, somewhat related to tech and health…


LEELA: Pencil and paper for tech and health? OK, so now I’m really confused!


JACKSON: Well, let me ask you this… what would you do with a piece of paper and a pencil?


LEELA: Well… I’d probably start drawing the outline for something wild and exciting… maybe next week’s Newsy-Pooloozi illustration!


JACKSON: Exactly!! That’s what MOST of us would do… But scientists in Missouri, USA, use pencils and paper for a totally different reason to draw wearable devices, like a thermometer, to monitor our bodies!


LEELA: Monitor our bodies? OK, Wait a minute… I could draw a space rocket, but that doesn’t mean it can REALLY fly into space…!


JACKSON: I hear you! It’s some pretty clever science. But, first, do you know what a pencil is made of?


LEELA: Uhhhhh… lead? And wood.


JACKSON: Aaaaaa-eeehhh (sound of a “wrong” buzzer). Don’t worry, that’s what most people think. But actually, pencils don’t contain lead. It’s just that back in the olden days they thought a similar element was lead, so they called it that. Then scientist realized it was actually graphite.


LEELA: Why, thank you for the fab fact, Jackson. But, ummm, what on earth do graphite pencils have to do with wearable technology?


JACKSON: Well, those American scientists discovered that they can use graphite pencils and draw special wavy patterns on normal office paper… stick it to a person’s skin… and then analyze it to tell things about a person’s body. Like their temperature or their heart rhythm or even their sleep patterns.


MAMA: SFX stick onto skin and friction


LEELA: Say what???


JACKSON: The overall science it is pretty complicated. But basically…   When you draw something with a pencil, pressing it onto paper… well they’re rubbing together, aren’t they, creating friction? And that friction creates energy… And pencils high in graphite encourage this flow of energy… as a conductor… to power special sensors on a person, which can be analyzed from the paper.


LEELA: Whooooaaa… So, I can do that with this… here, this… my school pencil right now???


JACKSON: Well, most writing pencils these days are usually made up of powdered graphite mixed with a binding clay. This really only works with a pencil that’s almost entirely graphite 93% to be precise.


LEELA: Wow. Never underestimate the power of a pencil-on-paper, huh!


JACKSON: Especially when teamed with scientists! And here’s the other cool thing the paper used can decompose. Which is much better than all those mechanical sensor machines ending up in landfills, right?


LEELA: Wow, Jackson. So, this could be good for people’s health and the environment….

I think I might just start scratching my own rocket drawing… Who knows? If I create enough friction on the paper, with my pencil … maybe I can conduct enough energy to get my rocket into space…!!!!


JACKSON: Ha! Ha! I think there’s a bit more to it than that, but good luck, Leela!


LEELA: And with that we are over and out this week’s episode of Newsy Pooloozi. See you next week in the whirlpool of news and information.