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Following the success of their composting pilot facility, Edama has received seed investment of $780,000 USD from the KAUST Innovation Fund. The University has also signed a contract to build a commercial-scale composting facility for the startup on its Thuwal campus. The facility will be operational in 2021 and will have a recycling capacity of 5,500 tons to help KAUST achieve its zero-waste target of recycling over 80% of the total waste that University generates.

Reducing waste and improving soil

Edama Organic Solutions team testing plant soil in their lab at KAUST. Illustration by Khulud Muath.

KAUST has committed to supporting the visionary waste management startup, as a way to lead change in the Kingdom and achieve the University’s zero-waste sustainability goals. Together, Edama and KAUST are working to change attitudes and approaches to waste management and help Saudi Arabia move toward smarter, more sustainable businesses and lower impact living.

“Here at KAUST, we produce a lot of horticulture and food waste. The Edama composting facility will allow us to reach 96% of our organic waste-management goal, so we can divert waste away from landfill and focus on recycling,” Matthew Early, vice president of facilities management at KAUST, explained.

With no other large-scale composting companies in operation specialized in desert composting, KAUST and Edama believe their collaboration is a pilot for others in the Kingdom to follow.

Founded in 2018, Edama designs, builds and operates bespoke composting facilities for communities that are committed to sustainability. The startup uses organic waste and transforms it into high-quality soil improvement products specifically designed for use in desert environments by local farmers, landscapers and home gardeners.

The new compost facility will allow Edama to manufacture and sell products, including their Edama Desert Compost—an organic soil improver that boosts soil fertility while improving water retention. Edama also produces a hydroponic growth medium made using date palm waste called Edama Palm Peat, which boosts hydroponic yields while diverting a common by-product of the date industry that is otherwise sent to landfills.

“Our innovation lies in adapting the composting process to the local hot, arid weather conditions and challenging local waste feedstocks, such as palm fronds,” Sabrina Vettori, chief executive officer of Edama stated. “The partnership with KAUST is about more than just an investment—it is a key step in creating innovative solutions for Saudi Arabia’s sustainable development.”

Currently, organic waste goes straight to landfill sites where it becomes a pollutant, adding to greenhouse gases and leaching harmful chemicals into the soil and groundwater. But organic waste contains precious resources that can help farmers grow more food with less water in desert environments, where there is limited arable land, water is scarce, and soil quality is poor – factors that make large-scale desert agriculture difficult and inefficient. Edama provides an essential closed-loop solution as food demand is on the rise in the MENA region.

Edama is focused on rapid growth and expansion. The startup graduated from the KAUST TAQADAM Startup Accelerator in 2018 and is now based in the KAUST Research and Technology Park. The new composting facility being built at KAUST will give the startup exposure and traction with external partners and potential customers.

Source: KAUST




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Vi Weekend Data Rollover Offer Extended Till April 17: All the Details

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Vi (Vodafone Idea) has extended its weekend data rollover offer till April 17 from its previous end date of January 17. The company started the data rollover system back in October last year for its prepaid customers and it allows them to carry forward their daily unused data to the weekend. The updated time frame can be spotted in the terms and conditions section on the official Vi website. The weekend data rollover offer is still available with the same plans as before.

Vi website has been updated to show that this promotional offer is applicable from October 19 2020 to April 17 2021. This gives users another three months to enjoy the benefits of weekend data rollover as the offer was initially supposed to end on January 17. The minimum recharge value to avail this offer is Rs. 249 and is valid for unlimited packs with daily data. It is valid for Rs. 249, Rs. 299, Rs. 399, Rs. 449, Rs. 595, Rs. 599, Rs. 699, Rs. 795, and Rs. 2,595 plans. Currently, all these plans are listed on the website with weekend rollover along with an additional offer such as double data, 5GB extra data, or one year subscription to Zee5.

Every plan offered by Vi comes with some amount of data limit, that may not always be completely used. This results in some data being wasted as it resets the next day. With the weekend rollover system, Vi customers will be able to make use of whatever data is unused throughout the week, over the weekend.

Customers should note that unused data between Monday 0000 hours to Friday 2400 hours will be accumulated and made available between Saturday 0000 hours and Sunday 2400 hours. Post that, any and all unused data will be forfeited. The terms and conditions also state that Vi reserves the right to discontinue, modify, or withdraw the roll over or other product features subject to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) regulations.


What will be the most exciting tech launch of 2021? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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For preschoolers and soldiers: 4 new Acer Chromebooks meet military and toy safety standards

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Two models have antimicrobial coating and a spill-resistant gutter system to keep up to 11 ounces of liquid away from internal components.

The Acer TravelMate Spin B3 meets both military durability standards as well as toy safety rules.

Image: Acer

Even after several product announcements at CES 2021, Acer has more laptop news with five new products designed for the classroom. These laptops meet durability standards designed for military use as well as safety guidelines from toy manufacturers.

Several of the products feature zero-touch enrollment which means that IT departments can drop ship the laptops and automatically enroll the devices into a school’s system as soon as a student connects to the internet.

Here are the highlights of these new products. 

SEE: Hardware inventory policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Travelmate Spin B3

This convertible laptop is built for the toughest environment with extra durability. It is certified to meet ASTM toy safety standards and military-grade durability standards. It has a keyboard with mechanically anchored keys and a moisture-resistant touchpad. The processor is an Intel Pentium Silver and the battery life is up to 12 hours. The laptop has an HD webcam and Wi-Fi 6. According to Acer, the laptop can withstand up to 132 pounds of downward force, for those times when technology is too hard to grasp. 

The device has a drainage system that can redirect up to 11 ounces of liquid away from the internal components out of a drain in the bottom of the chassis. Also, the touch display is covered with a layer of antimicrobial Corning Gorilla Glass that can reduce the growth of odor and stain-causing microorganisms, according to the company. To boost the cleanliness factor even more, there is an optional BPR and EPA-compliant antimicrobial agent in the keyboard coating, touchpad, and palm-rest surface. A Wacom AES pen and a 5MP HDR front-facing camera are other optional features.

The Acer TravelMate Spin B3 (TMB311R-32) will be available in North America in April starting at $329.99; in EMEA in Q2 starting at €409; and in China in February, starting at ¥2,499.

Chromebook Spin 512 and 511

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Image: Acer

These two new convertible Chromebooks are also for the school environment with designs that meet military and toy durability standards and the specially designed gutter system to reduce damage from accidental spills.

The Spin 512 and Spin 511 come with an 8MP MIPI world-facing camera and an HDR webcam. Both have antimicrobial Corning Gorilla Glass display, ideal for education settings in which students share devices. Both devices have 360-degree hinges and N4500 and N5100 Intel processors. The new Acer Chromebooks will be available with up to 64GB eMMC storage and up to 8GB RAM.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 512 has a 3:2 aspect ratio HD+ IPS display. It also has an antimicrobial agent in the coating on the keyboard touchpad and palm area that is proven to show a consistently high microbial reduction rate against a broad range of bacteria. The Acer Chromebook Spin 512 will be available in North America in April starting at $429.99.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 511 is smaller with an 11.6-inch HD IPS display. 

The Acer Chromebook Spin 512 (R853TA) will be available in North America in April starting at $429.99; and in EMEA in March 2021, starting at EUR 399. The Acer Chromebook Spin 511 will be available in North America in April starting at $399.99; and in EMEA in March 2021, starting at €369.

Chromebook 511 and Chromebook 311

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Image: Acer

These two new clamshell 11.6-inch laptops also feature compact designs and military durability. Both laptops meet leading toy safety standards. The 511 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Compute Platform and 4G LTE connectivity. Battery life is up to 20 hours, according to the company. It will be available in North America in April starting at $399.99.

The Chromebook 311 has a Mediatek MT8183 processor and was designed around industrial durability and toy safety standards for younger students. A touch screen is optional. It provides up to 20 hours of battery life. It will be available in North America in January starting at $299.99.

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GeoSim: Photorealistic Image Simulation with Geometry-Aware Composition

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Humans can synthesize unperceived events in their heads, for instance, to imagine how an empty street would look during rush hour. The similar capability of computers may be useful in film making or augmented reality.

A recent paper proposes GeoSim, a realistic image manipulation framework that inserts dynamic objects into existing videos.

GeoSim Photorealistic Image Simulation with Geometry Aware Composition

Image credit: Unsplash/Kimi Lee

This method uses the data captured by self-driving cars to build a 3D assets bank. Then 3D scene layout from LiDAR readings and 3D maps is used to add vehicles in plausible locations. The Intelligent Driver Model is used so that the new objects have realistic interactions with existing ones and respect the flow of traffic. Neural networks are employed to seamlessly insert an object by filling holes, adjusting color inconsistencies, and removing sharp boundaries. It is the first approach to fully consider physical realism and outperforms prior research by qualitative and quantitative measures.

Scalable sensor simulation is an important yet challenging open problem for safety-critical domains such as self-driving. Current work in image simulation either fail to be photorealistic or do not model the 3D environment and the dynamic objects within, losing high-level control and physical realism. In this paper, we present GeoSim, a geometry-aware image composition process that synthesizes novel urban driving scenes by augmenting existing images with dynamic objects extracted from other scenes and rendered at novel poses. Towards this goal, we first build a diverse bank of 3D objects with both realistic geometry and appearance from sensor data. During simulation, we perform a novel geometry-aware simulation-by-composition procedure which 1) proposes plausible and realistic object placements into a given scene, 2) renders novel views of dynamic objects from the asset bank, and 3) composes and blends the rendered image segments. The resulting synthetic images are photorealistic, traffic-aware, and geometrically consistent, allowing image simulation to scale to complex use cases. We demonstrate two such important applications: long-range realistic video simulation across multiple camera sensors, and synthetic data generation for data augmentation on downstream segmentation tasks.

Link: https://arxiv.org/abs/2101.06543




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