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The invisible plant technology of the prehistoric Philippines

Fiber technology at Tabon Cave, 39-33 000 years ago. An artistic view based on the latest archaeological data. Drawing by Carole Cheval-Art’chéograph. Made for the exhibition “Trajectories and Movements of the Philippine Identity” curated by Hermine Xhauflair and Eunice Averion. Scientific advising: Hermine Xhauflair. Credit: Carole Cheval – Art’chéograph, Xhauflair & Averion, CC-BY 4.0 (

Stone tools bear microscopic evidence of ancient plant technology, according to a study published June 30, 2023 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Hermine Xhauflair of the University of the Philippines Diliman and colleagues.

Prehistoric communities likely made extensive use of plant materials for textiles and cordages, taking advantage of the flexibility and resistance of plant fibers just like modern communities do. However, plant-based materials such as baskets and ropes are rarely preserved in the archaeological record, especially in the tropics, so prehistoric plant technology is often rendered invisible to modern science. In Southeast Asia, the oldest artifacts made of plant fibers are around 8,000 years old. In this study, Xhauflair and colleagues identify indirect evidence of much older plant technology.

This evidence comes from stone tools in Tabon Cave, Palawan Philippines dating as far back as 39,000 years old. These tools exhibit microscopic damage accrued during use. Indigenous communities in this region today use tools to strip plants like bamboo and palm, turning rigid stems into supple fibers for tying or weaving. Researchers experimentally followed these plant processing techniques and found that this activity leaves a characteristic pattern of microscopic damage on stone tools. This same pattern was identified on three stone artifacts from Tabon Cave.

Fiber processing plant by members of the Pala’wan community from Brooke’s Point, Philippines. Credit: Xhauflair et al., PLOS ONE, 2023, (

This is among the oldest evidence of fiber technology in Southeast Asia, highlighting the technological skills of prehistoric communities going back 39,000 years. This research also demonstrates a method for revealing otherwise hidden signs of prehistoric plant technology. Further study will shed light on how ancient these techniques are, how widespread they were in the past, and whether modern practices in this region are the result of an uninterrupted tradition.

The authors add, “This study pushes back in time the antiquity of fiber technology in Southeast Asia. It means that the Prehistoric groups who lived at Tabon Cave had the possibility to make baskets and traps, but also ropes that could be used to build houses

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Sask Polytech looking at ways to embrace AI technology –

With the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs like ChatGPT, educational institutions are looking at how to best use the technology.

Instead of banning the technology to avoid issues like cheating, Saskatchewan Polytechnic has decided to find ways to embrace technology.

The post-secondary institute is viewing AI as an opportunity to have conversations and understand how this technology can be used responsibly.

“I know there’s been lots of conversations, not just in our sector. Should you ban it? Should you do this? Should you do that? Whereas I think we’re viewing it as an opportunity to have some conversations and help people better understand how they can use it in a responsible way,” said Associate Vice-President of Learning and Teaching Mike Gillespie.

Gillespie added that AI technology isn’t new, but it’s also not going away. It is going to evolve and become more refined.

As for students using technology, Gillespie said the school has an academic code of conduct for students that deals with plagiarism and cheating. Students at Sask Polytech are expected to function within that policy.

“Whether it’s AI or other technologies, we feel at this point this is covered by those and the conversation becomes thinking about working with students on how they can use the technology in appropriate ways, thinking about the impact on our assessment strategy and those types of things,” Gillespie said.

He added that the code of conduct will likely need to be reviewed to keep the policies up to date with evolving technology and how students can use the technology appropriately.

For example, in a program like ChatGPT, a student can have the program type out an essay on almost any topic in a matter of seconds. Gillespie feels there are way instructors and turn something like that into a learning opportunity.

“An example of a good way to flip that around on an assignment would be for an instructor to work with students and say ‘This was an essay topic I was going to give you. Here’s the response ChatGPT provided. Let’s sit down and critique and critically analyze the response to try and identify the pros and cons and the strengths and weaknesses of that relative example’,” he said.

As a post-secondary school, AI has also been forced places like Sask Polytech to also look at their curriculum as industries begin to rely more and more on artificial intelligence.


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High school students’ technology helps this man who uses a wheelchair mow his lawn again

Rob Piper says he loves cutting his grass, so much so that he even considered launching his own lawn-cutting business.

But around five years ago, the Windsor, Ont., man was injured in a cycling accident — he’s been using a wheelchair ever since.

Piper said he took to Facebook to say how much he missed it and was eventually connected to the technology program at St. Anne Catholic High School to find a solution.

“I’m so excited,” he said.

“The boys and girls did an amazing job on it. Tried it out for a couple rows and … ready to go cut the whole neighborhood.”

Rob Piper’s wheelchair now connects to a lawn mower to allow him to cut grass, something the Windsor, Ont., man loved before getting injured five years ago. (TJ Dhir/CBC)

Mike Costello, who teaches manufacturing and technology at St. Anne, said he and a group of students researched ideas online for connecting a wheelchair and lawn mower, began to engineer a couple of designs and built a few prototypes.

“We thought, ‘We’re going to build it out of a metal-based lawn mower,’ only to find out that you couldn’t buy an electric lawn mower that was metal based,” said Costello.

LISTEN | Rob Piper joins Windsor Morning

Windsor Morning7:57Lawn Mowing Aid

Some students at a Lakeshore high school are giving a local man a chance to cut his own grass. They’ve developed a device to allow him to connect his wheelchair to a lawn mower.

Eventually, said Costello, they were able to “hack away” at different ideas on paper until one worked.

“So we had to go back to the plastic … it couldn’t support the wheels and the framework … so we decided to build a frame that would support the lawn mower itself, hold up the lawn mower.”

The machine is an electric lawn mower that connects to an assistive device, enabling Rob to remain in his chair.

A St.  Anne High School student assists Rob Piper as he prepares to mow his Windsor, Ont., lawn.
A St. Anne High School student assists Piper as he prepares to mow his lawn. (TJ Dhir/CBC)

Grade 11 student Jake Polewski said designing the machine was tricky, but it made him feel a sense of accomplishment.

“Seeing him (Rob) be able to have some independence in his life and be able to do something for himself. I’m sure it makes him feel good.”

Jake said the wheels were too small on their first

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5 Surprising Facts About E-Ink Technology

Electronic ink, or E-Ink, is a versatile display technology best known for its applications in e-readers such as the Amazon Kindle. However, E-Ink delivers more than comfortable reading. Let’s explore some surprising aspects of E-Ink technology and its potential future applications.

1. E-Ink Displays Mimic Real Paper

Electronic ink technology was designed to replicate the appearance of ordinary ink on paper. Unlike traditional displays that rely on backlighting, E-Ink screens reflect ambient light, just as a physical book would. This makes E-Ink much easier on the eyes—the first of several health benefits of E-Ink devices—and more legible under direct sunlight.


The reflective nature of E-Ink displays is achieved through the use of microcapsules filled with positively charged white particles and negatively charged black particles. These particles move within the capsules in response to an electric field, creating the appearance of text or images on the screen. This technology closely mimics the ink on paper, providing a more natural reading experience. This reflective characteristic is one of the reasons E-Ink is a popular choice for devices where prolonged reading is expected.

2. The First E-Ink Device Was Not an E-Reader

Contrary to popular belief, the first commercial product to use E-Ink technology was not an e-reader but a wristwatch. The Seiko Data-2000, launched in 2004, featured a small E-Ink display that showed the time and other information. The E-Ink technology allowed for excellent readability in different lighting conditions, making it a practical choice for a wristwatch.

This early adoption demonstrated the potential of E-Ink beyond traditional display applications and sparked further research and development in the field. The success of this watch paved the way for E-Ink’s future use in various devices.

3. E-Ink Displays Can Be Flexible

E-Ink comprises millions of tiny microcapsules suspended in a liquid within a film layer. This composition allows the creation of flexible and even foldable displays. The potential applications of this property are vast, from flexible e-readers and wearable devices to digital signage and beyond.

The flexibility of E-Ink displays is made possible by the thin and lightweight nature of the microcapsule-filled film layer. The capsules can move freely within the film, allowing the display to be bent and folded without damage. Flexible e-readers, for example, can be rolled up like a scroll, making them highly portable and durable. The ability to create curved

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‘Out of this world’: New technology set to help local seniors

The lead agency is Waypoint Center for Mental Health Care which works collaboratively with partners to support frail older adults and their caregivers

“I’m out of this world, that’s for sure,” said Gloria Howe, describing her virtual reality experience at Barrie’s IOOF Seniors Homes on Tuesday afternoon.

North Simcoe Muskoka (NSM) Specialized Geriatric Services program, in collaboration with the IOOF, held an interactive presentation showing the impact of technology on the care provided to older adults in the region.

NSM hopes to help revolutionize the way older adults connect with their loved ones, ensure their safety and introduce them to immersive nostalgic experiences.

Betty Munro, 93, also an IOOF resident, like Howe, experienced virtual reality on the International Space Station with the Meta Quest 2 headset.

“I thought it was absolutely fantastic, it’s amazing,” she said. “I saw the Earth from above.

“To see something like that at my age is phenomenal,” Munro added. “I saw the space station and the clouds. Just moving slow. It was very relaxing.”

Recreation therapists, as well as residents themselves, tried some of the available technology at the Brooke Street facility to better understand how it can be integrated into their everyday lives.

As part of this initiative, older adults live in long-term care homes and in the community are being provided with devices.

They include Google Nest Hub, Google Nest Mini, Alexa Show, Apple AirTag, and Meta Quest virtual reality headsets. They could open up a world of possibilities for older adults by enabling video chats with family and friends, providing access to information through voice commands and facilitating entertainment through immersive experiences.

Jenna Davis, a recreational therapist with NSM, works with frail older adults in the community, in long-term care and retirement homes.

Also one client in her 70s who lives in a remote area where she really enjoys going out for walks.

“Now that she’s having increased cognitive impairment, her daughter is more and more concerned about her going out on her own for those walks,” Davis said. “So in order to maintain her autonomy and her independence and continue to go for those walks, because we know walking and physical activity is really good for overall well-being and physical health, but also mental health, we are giving her an Apple AirTag to put on her person.

“We’re going to make sure when she goes out for those walks, that she

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