NZ scientists research autism cause

Researchers in New Zealand have set their sights on finding the underlying causes of autism.

The project looks at genetics and also examines the link between what happens in the bowel and the brain.

Ros Hill observes the condition not just as the mother of Claude, whose development has been slowed by autism spectrum disorder, but also as a neurologist.

"He's never really learned to talk, so he's just turned 10 and that's one of his big issues, his inability to communicate," Ms Hill said.

"The technology that has developed in the last few years allows us to analyse the genetic sequencing...it has opened up a huge opportunity," Ms Hill said.

"We're absolutely convinced that we are in a position to win this race and understand what causes this condition."

It's thought about 45,000 New Zealanders have some sort of autistic disorder and the researchers want those people to register on their database and take part in the study.

One researcher is examining the potential link between autism and the gut because many autistic people suffer from bowel problems.

Microbiologist Mike Taylor says most people can relate to the feeling of butterflies in the stomach when they are nervous.

"That's essentially your brain talking to your gut," Mr Taylor said. "But it really looks like this is a two way street and the bacteria that live in the gut that are so important to us can also have an effect on the brain."

Researchers believe one possibility is that toxins from the digestive system are escaping into the body.

"They should stay in the gut basically, but if they were to get out of the gut and into the bloodstream that's a potential avenue that might affect the brain," said Mr Taylor.

For more information visit: https://www.arnnz.org/

Ambitious researchers in New Zealand have set their sights on finding the underlying causes of autism. Source: 1 NEWS



Apple reveals biggest, most expensive iPhone yet

Apple unveiled three new iPhones on today, including its biggest and most expensive model yet, as the company seeks to widen the product's appeal amid slowing sales.

CEO Tim Cook showed off the Apple XS, which has a bigger screen than the one on last year's dramatically designed model, the iPhone X. A bigger version will be called the iPhone XS Max, which looks to be about the size of the iPhone 8 Plus, though the screen size is much bigger, and has an asking price in the US of about NZ$1700.

As with the iPhone X, the new phone has a screen that runs from edge to edge, an effort to maximize the display without making the phone too awkward to hold. The screen needs no backlight, so black would appear as truly black rather than simply dark.

This even-bigger iPhone represents Apple's attempt to feed consumers' appetite for increasingly larger screens as they rely on smartphones to watch and record video, as well as take photos wherever they are.

The iPhone X also got rid of the home button to make room for more screen and introduced facial-recognition technology to unlock the device.

By making more expensive iPhones, Apple has been able to boost its profits despite waning demand as people upgrade phones less frequently. IPhones fetched an average price of NZ$1100 during the April-June period, a nearly 20 per cent increase from a year earlier.

Worldwide smartphone sales grew just 2 per cent during that period, according to the research firm Gartner Inc. During the second quarter, which is typically slow for Apple, China's Huawei Technologies surpassed Apple as the second-largest seller of smartphones, based on Gartner's calculations. Samsung remained in the lead.

Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, speaks about the Apple iPhone XS and Apple iPhone XS Max at the Steve Jobs Theater during an event to announce new Apple products Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, speaks about the Apple iPhone XS and Apple iPhone XS Max during an event to announce new Apple products. Source: Associated Press


Apple expected to unveil bigger, pricier iPhone tomorrow

Apple is expected to unveil its biggest and most expensive iPhone tomorrow as part of a lineup of three new models aimed at widening the product's appeal amid slowing sales growth.

Most of the buzz is swirling around a rumoured iPhone that is supposed to boast a 6.5-inch OLED screen, up from 5.8 inches on the existing iPhone X.

OLED is a step up from traditional LCD technology in offering a display without a backlight, so black is truly black rather than simply dark.

If the speculation pans out, the even-bigger iPhone would represent Apple's attempt to feed consumers' appetite for increasingly bigger screens as they rely on smartphones to watch and record video, as well as take photos wherever they are.

The iPhone X, a dramatically redesigned model released last fall, got rid of the home button and introduced facial-recognition technology to unlock the device. It was the first mass-market smartphone to demand a $US1,000 starting price.

Although the iPhone X didn't fulfill analysts' lofty sales expectations, it fared well enough for Apple to up the ante with the bigger model, whose price is expected to unveil Wednesday.

Apple also is expected to release an iPhone with minor updates to last year's model and another version made of cheaper materials, including a 6.1-inch LCD screen.

Even so, the cheaper iPhone is still expected to sell for $US650 to $US750. The cheaper phone also is expected to lose the home button. Price cuts for older models, with the home button, are also likely.

Names for the new devices aren't known. The company may also announce a new smartwatch. Apple didn't comment ahead of Wednesday's event, which is being held at its Cupertino, California, headquarters.

By making more expensive iPhones, Apple has been able to boost its profits despite waning demand as people upgrade phones less frequently.  

During the second quarter, which is typically slow for Apple, China's Huawei Technologies surpassed Apple as the second-largest seller of smartphones, based on Gartner's calculations. Samsung remained in the lead.

A man holds an iPhone mobile phone handset.
A man holds an iPhone mobile phone handset. Source: File Image


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Sir Ray Avery pursues media group over 'distressful' stories

Scientist and entrepreneur Sir Ray Avery has laid a complaint against a media outlet claiming stories published online have caused him severe emotional distress.

The former New Zealander of the year began a process under the Harmful Digital Communications Act, which could land online news publication Newsroom in court.

Newsroom co-editor Tim Murphy said he received an email from online safety body Netsafe, which was a first referral, involving a mediation process under the Act.

He said Sir Ray believed five of about 13 or 14 stories Newsroom had written amounted to harrassmant and digital harm.

"What he's asked for, or suggested to Netsafe, is that we should consider removing the news stories about him and his background and his products and his promises, and that we should agree to refrain from writing further stories about him," he said.

"Well we won't do that. Either of those things."

Mr Murphy said Newsroom began writing pieces about Sir Ray and his work as a matter of public interest, when he was seeking $4 million in public funds for his LifePod incubators.

The National Party's former minister of justice, Amy Adams, who introduced the Act in 2015, said the media was never the intended target.

"That's not to say of course that the media couldn't act outrageously, not that I've ever seen them do so," she said.

"But really it was intended to focus on things like revenge porn, cyber bullying, threatening communications over the internet.

"That was the sort of behaviour that was often quoted and the sort of behaviour I've seen it used to deal with to date."

Ms Adams said if it was to be extended in a way that sought to or had the effect of limiting the proper operations of the media, that would be a "very worrying development."

If Netsafe's mediation is unsuccessful between Sir Ray Avery and Newsroom, the next step is a hearing in the District Court.

rnz.co.nz

Newsroom is standing by its reporting on the former New Zealander of the Year, and questioning the method of the complaint. Source: 1 NEWS


Most read: Spark, Google release free photo recognition Māori translation app

This story was first published on Monday September 10.

New mobile app Kupu uses photo recognition technology to offer Māori translations of words.
New mobile app Kupu uses photo recognition technology to offer Māori translations of words. Source: Spark

A free mobile app that uses photo recognition to identify items in te reo has just been released, in conjunction with Māori Language Week.

Called Kupu (translation: "word"), it is available at the iOS App Store and via the Google Play Store.

"There are some amazing resources for learning Te Reo Māori, including books, websites and apps," said Auckland University of Technology Māori language expert Dean Mahuta, who served as an advisor on the project.

"However, this is the first learning tool to translate pictures in real-time. It's an evolution of the resources that are out there."

The project was funded by Spark, pairing Google's artificial intelligence technology with the Te Aka Māori Dictionary, on online resource that has more than 300,000 visitors per month.

"It would be amazing if, as a nation, we could learn together through an immersive interactive experience - one picture and translation at a time," Google's creative director, Tara McKenty, said in a statement announcing the app.

Spark has released the Kupu mobile app, which uses photo recognition technology to translate images into te reo. Source: Spark

"Just learning a single word each day can collectively have a huge and lasting impact on our collective knowledge of Te Reo Māori."

Google's artificial intelligence platform is expected to continue to learn, improving te reo translations on Kupu as it receives more feedback.