There is a new product taking nap time to a new level, and it’s the weighted blanket. Available in a range of colors, the heavy-duty blanket is fast becoming the must-have household accessory for bedtime and downtime, and is part of the U.S.’s new wave of sleep startups.
While still a somewhat of a new consumer product, one startup taking the industry by storm is Calming Blankets. The Australian-based startup tested the appetite for the market in its country, generating interest through social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. After securing 50,000 sales over the course of a year, the company has expanded to Europe and is currently contemplating a move to the U.S.
Calming Blankets are available from $ 195 in different weights, ranging from 10 to 20 pounds, recommended at 10 percent to 15 percent of your body weight. Children’s weighted blankets are also available for those over the age of 4 years old. With products weighing between 10 to 20 pounds, weighted blankets have a pouch filled with small weighted pellets; the heavier you want the blanket, the more pellets you’ll need. The blanket is machine washable and breathable to account for both summer and winter use.
The science behind the weighted blanket is simple: the brain is always sending signals to the body, and when there is insufficient feedback from these signals, it gets confused and causes restlessness and stress. The weighted blanket provides a safe feeling through a hug-like sensation: the weighted blanket offers comfort and a calming effect. Today, many consumers are using weighted blankets to cure anxiety or insomnia or just to relax and de-stress, and Calming Blankets is providing a solution.
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When space launch startup Firefly’s first planned orbital flight takes off in November, it’ll carry an experimental payload developed by engineers from Purdue University: A drag sail that’s designed to haul a rocket back to Earth once it’s fulfilled its mission and deployed its cargo. Safely de-orbiting a spent launch vehicle would mean one less large piece of flotsam circling the globe in an increasingly high-traffic orbital area.
Most launch vehicles do safely de-orbit on their own — eventually. But that can take up to a hundred years for rocket stages. Increasingly, spacecraft like satellites are also building in propulsion systems to actively de-orbit at end-of-life, but any time you put an active propellant system on a craft designed to operate in space, that means you need to make space for both the propulsion system and propellant, both of which take up space, which means added cost for launch, and less room on the satellite for instrumentation and other mission-critical payloads.
As Purdue points out, propellant-based active propulsion systems also require that a spacecraft is operational in order for them to work. A drag parachute, conversely, is effectively a passive measure that can be triggered via fail-safe to de-orbit even a disabled spacecraft.
A drag sail works by creating drag, reducing the orbital velocity of a launch vehicle or spacecraft much more quickly than would occur without any assistance. Objects orbiting Earth in space are only able to maintain those orbits because they’re moving at very high speeds, which in turn means they can counter the effect of Earth’s gravity, which is continually pulling them back down toward the surface, even beyond Earth’s atmosphere.
The experimental drag sail, called Spinnaker3, spans 194 square feet when unfurled, and is a prototype that is designed to eventually form the basis of a line of drag sail products to be commercialized by Vestigo Airspace, a startup company founded by Purdue adjunct associate professor David Spencer. Eventually, small sats and launch craft equipped with drag sails like these could help ensure that despite increased launch activity in Earth’s orbit, the existing traffic problem isn’t exacerbated anywhere near as much as it would be otherwise.
With fossil fuels being our primary fuel source for years, It’s not surprising that our environment has come under tremendous pressure. However, the amount of plastic we are pumping out is also worrying. Multiple companies are taking concrete steps to reduce their carbon footprint and plastic production. One such company is the Belgian telecom provider Orange Belgium, who has now introduced Half ID SIM cards.
Half ID SIM cards will reduce tons of plastic consumption
Orange Belgium is taking another step towards reducing the amount of plastic it consumes. The company has introduced new Half ID SIM cards and as the name suggests, these new SIMS are half the size of regular SIM cards. They are estimated to reduce Orange Belgium’s plastic consumption by more than 2 tons a year. The company will completely switch over to Half ID SIMs by early 2021, which are now available in Orange Belgium’s Smart and Concept stores.
Michaël Trabbia, CEO of Orange Belgium, says, “As a responsible telecom operator, we adopt a 360 degree approach to reduce our impact on the environment, looking at our network, our data centers, our shops, our customers’ devices, and our employees’ mobility. Reducing our plastic consumption is part of our commitment for the planet, as with these new Half ID SIM cards.”
Small cog in a big plan
Introducing Half ID SIM cards was just one part of the plan for Orange Belgium. The company is vying to further reduce its impact on the environment with the aim of remaining CO2 neutral for its operations. It is also aiming to reduce the remaining CO2 emissions related to its employees’ mobility by 30 percent, by 2023. As per the company, this will be achieved via 5G and RAN sharing implementation, increased emphasis on refurbishing and recycling of technical hardware, employees’ mobility plans, increased deployment of teleworking, efforts on paper consumption and more.
Tech giants pledge to reduce their environmental impact
Orange Belgium’s move to reduce plastic consumption is commendable. Alongside the telecom operator, there are many other companies that have similar pledges to reduce their environmental impact. Apple, for example, has largely held its pledge to power its data centers with 100% renewable energy and says all of its final assembly sites for its devices such as iPhones, Apple Watches, AirPods, iPads, Macs, and HomePods, are now certified Zero Waste to Landfill, which the company says conserves billions of gallons of water and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Similarly, Google ranked first in As You Sow’s 2019 Q1 Carbon Clean 200 list. “From a carbon emissions perspective, Google’s decision to go 100 percent renewable as compared to a business-as-usual scenario, removes five million tonnes of carbon emissions from the atmosphere every year,” Google wrote in their ranking.
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