5 Technological Advancements That Should Be on Your Radar

With everything that happens in our world today, it is all too easy to get lost in an endless sea of information. Therefore it is only natural for more than a few news pieces to slip past our notice- no matter how amazing they are.

Here are a couple of examples -specifically in the technological field- that deserve to be highlighted on everyone’s radar:

Self-healing smartphones

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Pretty soon, the idea of dropping your cellphone on the floor won’t send you into a panic. Not a full-scale one, at the very least.

Why? Because scientists have recently developed a material that can heal itself within 24 hours after being torn apart. Pretty neat, huh?

The material, which is made of a stretchable polymer and an ionic salt, has a special type of bond called an ion-dipole interaction. Thanks to this relationship consisting of charged ions and polar molecules, whenever the material is scratched or damaged in any way, the ions and molecules attract each other to stitch it back together.

While the idea of self-healing materials isn’t exactly new -LG has already started using this technology for a few of its cellphones- this is the first time scientists have managed to create one that can conduct electricity.

Which means you can say farewell to worrying about cracked phone screens. Hurrah!

At least within three years; it’s predicted that these self-healing smartphones will only be making an appearance in the market by 2020.

Till then, hold on extra tight to your smartphone.

Smart glasses that automatically adjust according to your vision

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Can you imagine not having to get your glasses custom-made anymore? No more annoying visits to the optometrist, no more shelling out more and more money, and definitely no more waiting for your new glasses to arrive!

That dream may be closer to reality than you think.

A team spearheaded by University of Utah electrical and computer engineering professor Carlos Mastrangelo and doctoral student Nazmul Hasan have developed a pair of “smart glasses” that do just this. Be it near or far, these liquid-based lenses are filled with glycerin that automatically adjust the focus of what you’re seeing in as little as 14 milliseconds.

And as if that isn’t amazing enough, these glasses are connected to a smartphone app where wearers can input their prescription information. Changes in prescription aren’t a problem either; all you have to do is update your information and your glasses will adjust accordingly.

What a time to be alive! Be patient though. It is going to take up to three years for this baby to hit the market.

Contact lenses that could spot signs of disease

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This time, both science and technology have taken a step forward with preparations for the development of biosensor-embedded contact lenses. And if reading that alone leaves you quizzical, fret not because an explanation is about to come your way.

What are they, exactly? Biosensing contact lenses are an -at this point, theoretical- invention scientists wish to use to monitor blood glucose levels and a number of other signs of disease without resorting to invasive tests. You know the ones. They are those that involve obtaining blood, urine, stool samples and the like from patients. Those. Visits to the doctor that involve any of those aren’t exactly pleasant, are they?

The study is there, but it may take a year or more for a prototype to be ready for animal testing. Once fully developed, these contact lenses could send vital health information to your smartphone and other Wi-Fi or Bluetooth-activated gadgets.

Talk about convenience. These contact lenses could be used as an early detection system for cancer, which is, let’s face it, a huge relief for all of us.

As they say, prevention is better than cure.

Li-Fi

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Li-Fi? Isn’t it Wi-Fi? Nope, that’s not a typo, my friend. Li-Fi stands for Light Fidelity, and it claims to be 100 times faster than standard Wi-Fi.

Yet another nifty invention, Li-Fi basically offers internet connectivity through light. It makes use of common household LED lightbulbs to transfer data with a jaw dropping speed of 224 gigabits per second.

While this sounds undeniably cool, there are setbacks to the use of Li-Fi. For one thing, its exclusive use of light means that lightbulbs have to be on at all times to ensure internet connectivity. For another, since light cannot pass through walls, these lightbulbs will have to be installed throughout the house.

Talk about a bummer! Still, there are upsides to this. Along with its impressive speed, Li-Fi offers better security due to its shorter range- a definite plus for retailers and other businesses alike.

Sieve that could make seawater drinkable

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If you’re looking for a world-wide game-changer, you needn’t look much further than the graphene-based sieve developed by researchers in the United Kingdom.

With the ability to filter out salt from seawater using less energy, this creation could be the holy grail for saving lives. This is true even more so for countries where clean, drinkable water is in severely limited supply.

Thank goodness! People from these places aren’t the only ones who will benefit, however. The United Nation predicts that by 2025, 14% of the global population will suffer from water shortage. Definitely not a fate that any of us would want to be branded with.

For more information, watch this video.

Anime Review: Your Name

Genre: Supernatural, Romance

Rating: 8-8.5/10. I can’t decide because dang it, I want more

Hailed as the movie to beat Miyazaki’s famed “Spirited Away” in 2016, “Your Name” immediately impresses with its beautiful use of colours in its animation. There are few anime that can leave me in awe over its aesthetic artistry; this is one of them. You know that shit is good when you can tell the amount of love and hard work was put into the art from a single glance.

Moving away from that, the story itself is definitely worthy of appreciation. Largely removed from the usual tropes we see in anime today, this is a movie that will entertain both younger and older fans of the genre. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.

“Your Name” is centered around two protagonists; a bored girl named Mitsuha who lives in the countryside, and a boy named Taki who lives in Tokyo. It begins with a confusing start, as “Mitsuha” behaves in a way everyone can tell is odd, but this is soon explained as we are told about the body switch phenomenon. This is something that takes Mitsuha and Taki awhile to figure out, as they quickly forget about each other, like dreams, but they can tell the experiences are real thanks to the people around them.

Funnily enough, despite her initial shock and horror, becoming a handsome boy who lives in Tokyo was actually poor Mitsuha’s wish. She just couldn’t take the quietness of country life!

Unfortunately for her, these body switch experiences are not permanent, as they happen repeatedly and seemingly at random throughout the movie. Still, Taki and Mitsuha manage to create a bond despite not meeting each other. A wonderfully done part of the storytelling, as it feels sincere and exists without cliches.

The hilarity that happens each time they switch makes it all the better!

Honestly speaking, I’d love to go on and on about the movie -how could I not?- but for the sake of avoiding spoilers, I will refrain from doing so.

Really, it is something that needs to be watched on your own for better understanding.

In essence, “Your Name” is a story that is filled with friendship, sacrifice and romance- with bits of Japanese culture thrown into the mix. You’ll be given an insight into old Japanese traditions and rituals such as the making of kuchikamizake, which is a type of rice-based of alcohol produced by the main female lead. The famed red string of fate makes a few appearances as well!

With the presence of symbolism and certain plot lines, “Your Name”  is a film that makes you think about it even after it is over- which is another thing I love about it. It is no way a heavy thinker, but it does do the trick. Those who are fascinated by Japanese culture will certainly be happy with this.

That said, I do wish that there was more to be told in terms of Mitsuha and Taki’s relationship. It feels like the movie could have benefited a bit more if we were given more “interactions” between the two; just so we can root a lot harder for the pair than we already do. The lack of time the producers had is really obvious.

All in all, this is another anime I’m adding to my list of recommendations. It exceeded my expectations, and yes, it is comparable to Miyazaki’s works.

Beauty Review: Muji’s Mild Oil Cleansing

If you’ve ever heard of Muji, chances are you’re familiar with the wide range of products this no-brand company has to offer- from nifty stationery to minimalist clothes to all manner of sizes in way of containers, Muji is a definite haven for shoppers out there. And best of all? Everything’s tagged with reasonable prices! What a steal. But what about its less known beauty section?

It’s reasonably priced for sure, but is it good?

Here, we’re about to dive into my findings on this hidden gem from Muji: Mild Oil Cleansing 400ml. Priced at a hard-to-beat RM59.90, this beaut bests my previous cleansing oil buy, Philosophy’s Purity Cleansing Oil 174ml, by a solid RM45.10 and more than double the volume! I admit I experienced a bit of buyer’s remorse right after stumbling over this Muji giant, because I had just bought the Philosophy bottle less than an hour ago that day. Laughs. I could have saved so much!

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Of course, being the weak-willed person that I am, I purchased the Muji cleansing oil not too long after. What is self-control?

So imagine my elation when I finally finished off my Philosophy cleansing oil. I was quick to give this Muji version a try, and I was not disappointed.

My first impression of this product is that the oil is just the tiniest teeniest bit thick in viscosity, which concerned me a little. As in, do I need to use more to see it work? It performed without a problem though, as it was able to remove dirt and make-up from my skin with just one pump. That said, it does leave a hint of residue behind, which can be easily fixed with a foam cleanser.

Here are before and after shots for a glimpse on how well it works on melting away my foundation, eyeliner and mascara:

Products from left to right: Benefit’s Hello Flawless! Oxygen Wow Liquid Foundation, The Body Shop’s Liquid Eyeliner and IT Cosmetics’ Superhero Elastic Stretch Volumizing Mascara.

Honestly speaking, it works just as well as a pricier cleansing oil would, but if there is one thing that bothers me about this product, it has to be the smell.

Bluntly speaking, it smells like cooking oil. So much that it feels like I’m rubbing essence of fried noodles all over my face. Thank goodness it doesn’t have to stay on my skin for long, or else I wouldn’t tolerate it.

That, and I started seeing results overtime; my skin is clearer, smoother and brighter than it used to be.

The pros outweigh this tiny con, I say. For the price and benefits, I’m willing to buy this again without a second thought.

Packaging

Encased in Muji’s signature minimalist-style packaging, this product is pleasing to the eye. Really, it was partially the reason why I was immediately drawn to it in the first place, curiosity aside.

This bottle is not all about looks, though. It comes with a pump, which not only means a tinier likelihood for spillage, but that you’re able to control the amount of product used more easily. Great, huh?

It also comes with a tiny clip to clamp underneath the pump for travel purposes. This will help prevent spillage while you have the bottle neatly tucked in your luggage.

Where can I find it?

Muji.

Verdict?

  • Product rating: 4.5/5
  • Packaging rating: 5/5

Encouraged by the results, I’m definitely going to scavenge Muji’s beauty section again for another hidden gem.

Ingredients

Hydrogenated polyisobutene, peg-7 glyceryl cocoate, ethyl oleate, sorbitan oleate, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, simmondsia chinensia (jojoba) seed oil, helianthus annuus (hybrid sunflower) oil, dpg orange (citrus aurantium dulsis) flower water, water, bg, tocopherol, prunus, persica, peach leaf extract, prunus armeniaca (apricot) juice, glycerin, propylparaben, butylparaben.

Anime Review: Erased

Genre: Fantasy, mystery, thriller

Rating: 10/10 with lovely animation to boot

After the slew of disappointing anime after disappointing anime, my interest in this particular brand of animation started to dwindle for awhile there. So much that I went for months without watching one, with even a year in between viewings.

A bit sad, considering how large a part anime has had in my life. I was so obsessed I used to draw my favourite characters, even bought those little official figurines to put on display in my room.

Thankfully, Erased has restored my faith in this genre.

Which, in turn, led me to kicking myself for letting the DVD gather dust on my shelf. It’s so rare to find a series, and I mean this in the broadest way possible, from books to live action tv to anime, that is good from start to finish.

Because that is precisely what Erased is. With only 12 episodes under its belt, those who can’t stand long ongoing anime can let out a sigh of relief. It is a nicely sized anime that makes good use of its time. No fillers. No prolonged monologuing. You can easily finish this over the weekend, or within a day if you’re determined to complete it in one sitting.

But before we get on to the rest of the review, here is a quick summary of what it is all about:

Erased follows the story of Satoru Fujinuma, who possesses a unique ability called “Revival”. With Revival, he is able to travel back in time before a life-threatening incident, allowing him to prevent it from happening. When his mother is murdered by an unknown assailant, Satoru panics and transports himself back in time by 18 years whilst he’s cornered by the police- which means he has to relive his life as an 11 year old. Here, he quickly figures out that if he hopes to prevent his mother’s death, he must first prevent the deaths of two of his classmates, and of one girl from a nearby school.

Now, bear in mind that this review is based on the point of view of someone who has only watched the anime. There may be certain manga-exclusive details I’m unaware of.

Anyways.

The show starts off simply enough, with the introduction of Satoru who is a struggling manga artist working as a part-time pizza delivery man. At first glance, he gives off the classic cold, stoic vibe that is immensely popular in anime. Think Uchiha Sasuke (Naruto) and Ishida Uryuu (Bleach). However, Erased proceeds to show that Satoru is much more flexible as a character, as in he is able to warm up more easily to others. The lad can certainly be quite emotive, which is a useful tool for nudging the story along.

And not to mention essential too, to grant a well-balanced tone to Erased. One that maintains an appropriate level of sobriety whilst remembering to bring in dashes of good cheer and heartwarming moments, so as not to overwhelm the audience. Definitely a plus in my book, because it makes it easier to consume in one go.

As a murder mystery, the identity of the villain is obvious almost immediately. However, the thrill of Erased lies not in figuring out the antagonist’s identity, but in his and Satoru’s metaphorical game of chess. Even with the advantage of knowing future events, Satoru struggles to outsmart the faceless killer, mind reeling as he desperately tries all he can to save his friends.

But take heed. If what you’re looking for is a villain with a deep, tragic background, you’re definitely not going to find it here. There is no sympathy meant for him, because sometimes, as I believe this is how Erased wants us to take it, people are born infected with psychopathy. It’s simply a matter of whether or not they decide to take the right path.

Definitely a refreshing take, as this breaks away from yet another popular trope found in anime. Erased has a knack of doing that; introducing ideas that seem predictable, before proving you wrong. If it is not that, it seems to know exactly what you’re wondering about before providing you with the answer right then and there. It’s something that it does, right from the beginning till the end. It’s almost uncanny, but it’s also one of the things I love about it.

I won’t delve into the meatier parts of Erased -gotta leave you something to watch, right?- so I’ll touch on one last point.

If there is anything about this series that nags at me a little, it would have to be the existence of Satoru’s ability. In the anime at least, it seems that this is exclusive to Satoru only, which I normally wouldn’t take issue with if not for the fact that everything else seems immensely… normal. No one else exhibits supernatural abilities, nor is there an indication of there being such a thing aside from Satoru and his Revival. I’m more than accustomed to seeing supernatural powers in anime, but those are always in settings that establish it as the norm or at least acknowledge its existence.

This makes Erased stick out a little, but not enough for me to complain about it. After all, the creators have done an amazing job with the time they were given, and explaining that ability further would require more episodes they do not have. We’ll just have to take it for what it is: that Satoru is unique.

All in all though, a wonderful series, especially for older anime fans who want something that goes beyond the common tropes found in anime. This is definitely going on my Must Watch Anime List.