What’s New: City Beat

Smart ThreadsSmart Threads. Photo courtesy of Nano Lab, Tufts University.

Tufts Develops Gas-Sensing Thread

Tufts University engineers have officially nailed the balance between fashion and function. Researchers developed thread that changes color when it is exposed to certain gases, according to a press release, essentially allowing workers in medical, workplace, military, and rescue environments to use their clothing to detect volatile gases. While these threads are no substitute for the electronic equipment typically used to measure gases, gas-sensing clothing would allow the wearer to assess the atmosphere without referencing cumbersome, expensive devices and without specialized training. The textiles can even be washed and used underwater. 

Somerville High Students Join Science Journalism Program

Over the course of this school year, Somerville High’s resident science fans got to partake in a unique opportunity: multimedia science reporting alongside experts from WGBH. Somerville High was one of three Greater Boston area schools to pilot the Science Studio program, an interdisciplinary after school experience supported by WGBH’s NOVA Science Unit, the Somerville Journal reports. Participating SHS students are required to complete an article and video on any science topic of their choosing, using the new MacBook Pros, Canon 80D cameras, mics, lighting, and terabyte hard drives the program donated to the school.

Change on the Horizon for Union Square

The Somerville Redevelopment Authority granted Skanska USA, one of Boston’s biggest developers, permission to pursue a redevelopment project in Union Square, the Boston Globe reports. The project, a joint venture from Skanska USA and Union Square Station Associates, is a seven-story lab space located near Union Square’s future MBTA station. If approved, this could be one of the first phases of the long-awaited, hotly debated redevelopment of Union Square. 

Root AI Revolutionizes Farming 

Farming is changing, and local startup Root AI knows it. That’s why they’re trying to revolutionize agriculture by turning to “hyper efficient indoor farms,” where climate is controlled and the harvesting can be done by—you guessed it—robots. This spring, Root AI released its first robot, named Virgo, which is designed to pick tomatoes, the Boston Globe reports. Virgo relies on a combination of a camera, artificial intelligence, and an arm with gentle, fingerlike tongs that pluck the fruit directly from the vine. The robot has undergone testing in California, and Root AI hopes that Virgo-picked tomatoes will be available by next year. 

This article originally appeared in the What’s New section of the Voices of the City Issue of Scout Somerville, which is available for free at more than 200 locations throughout the city or by subscription.

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