Canada Grocer Testing In-Store Robotic Micro-fulfillment

Chris Albrecht wrote . . . . . . . . .

Loblaws, Canada’s largest grocery chain, announced this week that it was piloting Takeoff Technologies‘ robot-powered micro-fulfillment center in one of its stores. Supermarket News reports that the two companies have already started building out the center in Toronto and will fulfill orders for Lawlaws’ PC Express pickup service next year.

Typically built into the back of a retailer, Takeoff’s automated fulfillment centers use a series of totes, rails and conveyors to shuttle food items around. Once an online grocery order comes in, totes automatically bring the items to a human who assembles them into bags that go out to the car. According to Supermarket News, Takeoff’s system can gather grocery orders of 60 items in less than five minutes.

Ideally, micro-fulfillment technology like Takeoff’s allows retailers to convert un- or little-used space into more productive and revenue-generating areas for a store while creating a faster, more convenient online grocery shopping experience for customers. Online grocery shopping is still a small percentage of overall grocery spending, but it’s growing, and automated fulfillment (and the holidays!) could help spur more food shopping from home.

This new partnership expands Takeoff’s reach across North America and into Canada and adds another high profile partner for the startup. Here in the U.S., Takeoff already has a number of pilots going on with Sedano’s, Albertsons, Ahold Delhaize and Wakefern.

While Takeoff has a few partnerships it can point to, there are plenty of automated fulfillment players getting into the game or trying out different approaches to fulfillment. Alert Innovation also builds in-store fulfillment and has partnered with Walmart on a pilot location. Fabric just raised $110 million and moved its headquarters to the U.S. to expand its robotic fulfillment presence here. And instead of inside its stores, Kroger is building 20 standalone robot-powered smart warehouses domestically.

Despite all this, automated fulfillment is still in the early days of testing, and it remains to be seen if and how it will impact a retailer’s bottom line. As more of these systems come online in 2020, we’ll definitely see if they fulfill their robotic promise.

Source: The Spoon

Orange and Ginger Chicken

Ingredients

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp butter
1.8-2 kg whole chicken, jointed (if you have a friendly butcher, ask him to do it for you)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp ground ginger
1 heaped tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
240 ml dry white wine
400 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tsp cornstarch
salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C.
  2. Heat the oil and butter in a large deep saute pan over a medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and brown all over for about 4-5 minutes, then transfer to a large lidded casserole dish.
  3. Add the onion and garlic to the saute pan, reduce the heat and cook for about 5 minutes in the chicken-y butter and oil, or until softened.
  4. Add the ground and fresh ginger and cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the wine and bubble vigorously for 30 seconds, then add the orange juice and stir well.
  6. Mix the cornstarch in a cup with 2 tablespoons of the liquid from the pan. Stir well and then return to the pan. Let it bubble for a couple of minutes until you have a lovely orangey sauce, season, add some orange zest and then pour over the chicken pieces.
  7. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 45 minutes. Then cook for a further 30 minutes with the lid off.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: My Family Kitchen

In Pictures: Home-cooked Chicken Breast Dishes

Improved Fitness Can Mean Living Longer without Dementia

Anders Revdal wrote . . . . . . . . .

“It is important to say that it is never too late to begin exercising. The average participant in our study was around 60 years old at baseline, and improvement in cardiorespiratory fitness was strongly linked to lower dementia risk. Those who had poor fitness in the 1980s but improved it within the next decade could expect to live two years longer without dementia,” says Atefe Tari of the Cardiac Exercise Research Group (CERG) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

Tari is lead author of a new study that was recently published in Lancet Public Health, a highly ranked journal in the prestigious Lancet family.

“Persistently low fitness is an independent risk factor for dementia and death due to dementia,” the authors concluded.

The higher, the better

Dementia involves a progressive decline in cognitive functions, severe enough to interfere with the ability to function independently. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.

By 2050, it is estimated that 150 million people in the world will have dementia – a tripling of the incidence of the disease today. There is no cure. Men live on average five years after being diagnosed with dementia, while women live for seven years on average after the diagnosis.

“As there is currently no effective drug for dementia, it is important to focus on prevention. Exercise that improves fitness appears to be one of the best medicines to prevent dementia,” says Tari.

Tari’s study is far from the first to show a link between good fitness and lower risk of getting dementia. What is unique, however, is that Tari and her research colleagues have measured the fitness level of participants twice ten years apart.

Thus, they have been able to evaluate how changes in fitness over time are related to dementia risk. And the results were clear.

Exercise that improves fitness appears to be one of the best medicines to prevent dementia.

“If you increase your cardiorespiratory fitness from poor to good you almost halve the risk of getting dementia. You also reduce the risk of dying from or with dementia. In our study, each increase of 1MET was associated with a 16% lower risk of getting dementia and a 10% lower risk of dementia-related death. This is an improvement that is very achievable for most people”, says Tari.

A MET is a measurement unit used by researchers to quantify the rate at which a person expends energy relative to their body weight.

Followed for 30 years

Between 1984 and 1986, almost 75,000 Norwegians participated in the first wave of the HUNT Survey (HUNT1). Eleven years later, HUNT2 was organized, and 33,000 of the same people participated. More than 30,000 of them answered enough questions to be included in Tari’s analyses.

The researchers calculated cardiorespiratory fitness with a formula previously developed and validated by the Cardiac Exercise Research Group, called the Fitness Calculator.

Previous studies have shown that those who score poorly on this calculator have an increased risk of heart attack, atrial fibrillation, depression and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and also that they generally die younger than people who achieve a higher fitness level.

The new study links results from the Fitness Calculator to the risk of dementia and dementia-related deaths up to 30 years later. To investigate these associations, Tari has used data from two different databases, the Health and Memory Study in Nord-Trøndelag and the Norwegian Cause of Death Registry.

Almost half the risk

Between 1995 and 2011, 920 people with dementia were included in the Health and Memory Study in Nord-Trøndelag. A total of 320 of them had also participated in both HUNT1 and HUNT2 and provided enough information about their own health to be included in the analyses.

It turned out that poor cardiorespiratory fitness in both the 1980s and 1990s was significantly more common in this group than among otherwise comparable HUNT participants who had not been diagnosed with dementia.

In fact, the risk of developing dementia was 40% lower for those who were among the 80% with the best fitness in both the 1980s and 1990s. Furthermore, it was 48% lower if one had changed from poor to higher fitness levels between the two surveys.

All participants were followed until death or end of follow-up in the summer of 2016. Via the Norwegian Cause of Death Registry, the NTNU researchers found 814 women and men who had died from or with dementia during the period. This means that dementia was stated as the underlying, immediate or additional cause of death.

The risk was lowest for those who had good fitness at both HUNT surveys. However, also those who had changed from poor to better fitness over the years had a 28% reduced risk.

Cause or coincidence?

In observational studies, there will always be questions about cause-effect relationships. For example, one might ask what causes what: Is it bad fitness that weakens the brain, or do people with cognitive impairment find it more difficult to be physically active and increase their fitness?

“Our study made it easy to see which came first. We estimated the fitness of the participants for the first time in the 1980s, and looked for dementia cases and deaths from 1995 onwards. We have also done separate analyses where we excluded those who got dementia or died during the first few years of the follow-up period, and the results were the same,” says Tari.

It’s also reasonable to ask if the association is random; it might not be the poor fitness that increases the risk of dementia, but people with poor fitness might also have several of the more well-known risk factors for dementia – such as high blood pressure, low level of education and a family history of brain diseases. That is an unlikely explanation, says Tari.

“The HUNT studies give us very broad information about the health of the participants, including body composition, smoking habits, educational level, blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol levels and family history of stroke. By adjusting the analyses for these factors, we have ruled out that they fully explain the relationship between fitness and dementia risk in our study,” she says.

Physical activity vs. fitness

In other words, the study provides very good evidence that maintaining good fitness is also good for the brain. However, Tari points out that this does not necessarily mean that everyone who is physically active on a regular basis is guaranteed that a good effect on brain health.

“High-intensity exercise improves fitness faster than moderate exercise, and we recommend that everyone exercise with a high heart rate at least two days each week. Regular exercise that makes you sweaty and out of breath will ensure your fitness will be good for your age. Our study suggests that good fitness for your age can delay dementia by two years and that you can also live two to three years longer after being diagnosed with dementia,” she said.

Source: Norwegian SciTech News

Link Between Hearing and Cognition Begins Earlier Than Once Thought

Research has shown that adults with age-related hearing loss have higher rates of cognitive decline.

Now, a study from researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons has found that even the earliest stage of hearing loss—when hearing is still considered normal—is linked to cognitive decline.

The study was published online today in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

Link Between Hearing Loss and Cognitive Impairment

Age-related hearing loss is one of the most common health disorders of aging, affecting two-thirds of those over age 70. However, few adults are tested for hearing loss, and even fewer are treated. Only 14% of adults with hearing loss in the United States wear hearing aids, the standard treatment.

Because studies show people with age-related hearing loss are more likely to have impaired cognition, it is thought that hearing loss may trigger cognitive decline. But these studies have only examined people diagnosed with hearing loss, which is defined as the inability to hear sounds under 25 decibels (dB).

“Physicians in this field have used 25 dB—about the loudness of a whisper—to define the border between normal hearing and mild hearing loss in adults, but this level is arbitrary,” says Justin S. Golub, MD, MS, assistant professor of otolaryngology-head & neck surgery at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and a hearing specialist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian.

“It has been assumed that cognitive impairment wouldn’t begin until people passed this threshold. But no one actually looked at whether this was true.”

Any Hearing Loss May Be Cause for Concern

The researchers looked at data from 6,451 adults (average age 59) who were enrolled in two ethnically diverse epidemiologic studies. Participants underwent hearing and cognitive testing as part of the studies.

Golub and his colleagues found that for every 10 dB decrease in hearing, there was a significant decrease in cognitive ability, a pattern seen across the entire spectrum of hearing.

Surprisingly, the largest decrease in cognitive ability occurred in those whose hearing was just starting to become impaired, just 10 dB off the perfect mark.

“Most people with hearing loss believe they can go about their lives just fine without treatment, and maybe some can,” says Golub. “But hearing loss is not benign. It has been linked to social isolation, depression, cognitive decline, and dementia. Hearing loss should be treated. This study suggests the earlier, the better.”

Can Hearing Aids Prevent Cognitive Loss?

The current study did not address whether hearing loss causes cognitive impairment. It is possible that early declines in both hearing and cognitive performance are related to common aging-related processes, the researchers noted.

“But it’s also possible that people who don’t hear well tend to socialize less and, as a result, they have fewer stimulating conversations. Over many years, this could have a negative impact on cognition,” says Golub. “If that’s the case, preventing or treating hearing loss could reduce dementia incidence by more than 9%, according to a recent analysis published in The Lancet.”

A new study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is now testing the possibility that hearing aids can slow cognitive decline in older people with age-related hearing loss.

More studies are needed before recommending changes in hearing loss categories. “One possibility is to formally introduce a new category, such as borderline hearing loss, ranging from 16 to 25 dB of hearing ability,” says Golub.

Source: Columbia University


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