Tuesday, September 19, 2017

How Smart Are Smart Clothes?

Wearable Technology and Fitness

The fitness industry is full of wearable products for people obsessed with working out. Options like watches, rings, and earbuds that can do everything from monitor your heart rate to counting your steps to making sure you get a good nights sleep are quite popular. These  fitness trackers and smartwatches are basically like a wearable computer. Even though you don't see too many people talking into their watch like a phone, they are becoming more and more common with standalone capabilities.smart technology But how about wearable technology and clothing? It would make sense to have our shirts or pants be "smart" since they are usually something no one ever leaves home without.

Clothing That Has Your Back

This article highlights why wearable tech is a smart move:
Smart clothing started taking its first tentative baby steps in 2015 and while it's not quite gone mainstream just yet, more companies are starting to play around with the concept of connected garments. Much more than strapping gadgets to our wrists, faces, ears and feet, smart clothing can constantly track our heart rate, monitor our emotions and even pay for our Starbucks. All without grabbing a phone or even tapping a smartwatch screen. Read the full post here:  The best smart clothing: From biometric shirts to contactless payment jackets
The above article provides some of the coolest smart clothing tech, with a rundown of the features. There is everything from shirts, shorts, pants, socks, hats, swimsuits and bras that can offer typical components like tracking your fitness and playing music, but some are much more sophisticated. The swimsuit can warn you if you've been in the sun too long, shorts that can coach you on stride length and hip rotation, yoga pants that can encourage you to hold that pose a little longer, and socks that monitor your baby's heart rate, breathing, and sleeping patterns. So how smart are smart clothes? Pretty darn smart!

NikeConnect Jersey

Take that another step with Nike offering a team jersey that can connect you with your favorite NBA team:
By tapping your smartphone to the "jock tag," you'll get information about your team's stats and highlights, licensed products, tickets for games, and even a personalized playlist of your favorite player available for download from Spotify. Pretty cool, right? The are a couple potential downsides, though. For one, all the above-mentioned perks pour in whether you want them to or not. They will also know quite a bit of personal info about you such as where you bought it, where you live, and your location each time you connect your smart jersey to your phone app. Oh, and did I mention that they cost $200? As with all technology, the cost of these wearable smart clothes will eventually come down once it becomes more mainstream.

Smart Accessories

Clothing accessories are part of many people's daily ritual, and there's a growing trend for some that aren't necessarily smart technology but are just plain smart to use. Purses, computer bags and backpacks with a built in solar panel that have the capability to charge your mobile devices are hot items for outdoor lovers. They usually contain a flexible monocrystalline solar panel, battery, charge controller, plugs, and cords and are great for people that do a lot of walking or hiking but have also been used by the military and in situations of natural disasters, such as the recent hurricanes, that knock out electrical power. This article offers some good reasons why lugging around these solar powered bags makes sense:Solar Powered Backpack
...life can often feel like a constant hunt for USB ports and plug sockets. And, while keeping your phone juiced is just about doable when you're at home or in the office, what if you're going for a hike? The good news is that there's an alternative source of energy available wherever you are: the sun. And technology is starting to harness its power, with solar-powered bags becoming increasingly common. See the full post here:  10 brilliant solar-powered bags to keep all your gadgets charged
Backpacks that not only have solar chargers but also security and proximity features are great for traveling. None of them mentioned in the above article are extremely expensive, but most are over $200. And as we said before, the cost usually comes down once the supply and demand goes up.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Storm Is Coming…A Twitter Tweetstorm, That Is

What is a Twitter Tweetstorm?

A Tweetstorm is a series of related tweets posted by a Twitter user in rapid-fire succession. It's usually used to make a broad statement or commentary as a way to get around the 140 character limit. The problem is that these tweets can be hard to follow because they are all separate, even if the user gives a "shout out" to his community that the statements are part of a thread.Twitter Tweetstorm Recently, it seems a Twitter user discovered a way to create a series of Tweets on their Android phone that are all linked together and can be sent simultaneously. Even though they are individual Tweets, they can be all sent concurrently to show as one connected conversation.

Not Available To The Public...Yet

This feature hasn't been launched as of yet, but it's in the works. Here's more information about the person that figured it out:
By institutionalizing tweetstorms with a graphic user interface, Twitter could make sharing expanded thoughts more accessible to everyone. Whether it’s telling a suspenseful story, stringing together breaking news facts, or going on a long-winded rant that should have been a blog post, tweetstorms let you distribute deeper and more nuanced content. Under the pseudonym Devesh Logendran, a Twitter user passed on their sighting of the tweetstorm feature to TNW’s Director of social media Matt Navarra. Twitter told us “No comment to share on the record” when we asked about the feature that refers to tweetstorms as “threads”. We have no additional information on if or when this feature will ever launch, but have learned that it’s not currently available for public testing. See the full post here:  Twitter has an unlaunched tweetstorm feature

Cursory vs Comprehensive

There has been an ongoing discussion at Twitter concerning allowing users to post more extended dialogue. Those in favor of keeping the 140 character limit feel it is what makes Twitter unique and forces people to choose their words carefully and creatively. Others want the platform to allow longer, more in-depth conversations. It seems like this new feature would be a combo of both. This video provides a rundown of what the benefits a Tweetstorm will bring to users and its potential downsides of longer tweets in your timeline: Will Twitter release the Tweetstorm feature? Some are saying no, but it depends on how much of a priority it is. Looking back to the beginning of 2016, Twitter's CEO Jack Dorsey posted a message about the 140 character limit that was, ironically, a screenshot of a much longer message. He said that when the limit was put into place, it was based on the max number of characters for an SMS message. The CEO said is part of what Twitter is, but he also hinted toward allowing longer conversations by saying, "I love Tweetstorms! Those won't go away." There was a lot of conversations about this revelation, and here is one response to the news of the secret Twitter feature:
Twitter has slowly moved toward loosening up their rules by doing things like excluding an image link from counting toward the 140 characters in mid 2016. They also made Twitter handles (@mention) not part of the character count a few months ago. Even though their identity has always been short, sweet and to the point, letting people express themselves in an extended fashion, even if there are limits to how many posts per day, might be the best of both worlds.  

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Will Artificial Intelligence Become Part Of Our Daily Routine

The Answer Is Yes...It Already Has

When you think about artificial intelligence, it can bring about visions of science fiction movies with machines that take over the world. Is artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming more of a routine experience, similar to what owning a computer was like in the mid 90's? [caption id="attachment_4873" align="alignright" width="300"]artificial intelligence and our daily lives Pixabay[/caption] Comparing AI, also known machine intelligence, to natural intelligence can be equated to a computer that has the ability to learn vs the human brain. The latter has the ability to process more than just data, but it is limited to constraints of how quickly the neurons can fire. These building blocks of the  human brain have the capability to fire 200 times per second and is a complex system that shows emotions and sensitivity. A computer, on the other hand, is basically inputs and predictable outputs that can process billions of cycles per second. So how will artificial intelligence become part of our daily routine? It already has, but it's more in the background for most people. This article lists 17 everyday applications of artificial intelligence:

Current Common Uses of AI

1. Smart Cars 2. Surveillance 3. Detecting fraud 4. Fake News 5. Customer Service 6. Video games [caption id="attachment_4874" align="alignright" width="300"]Smart home devices Pixabay[/caption] 7. Predictive purchasing 8. Smart recommendations 9. Smart Homes 10. Virtual Assistants 11. Preventing heart attacks 12. Identifying criminals 13. Preserving Wildlife 14. Search and Rescue 15. Cybersecurity 16. Work automation and maintenance prediction 17. Hiring (and perhaps firing) Read the original post here:  17 Everyday Applications of Artificial Intelligence in 2017
Numbers seven and eight in the above list are especially important for business owners. Managing data and intelligence gathering are part of the process that helps today's businesses succeed by finding solutions to problems through Big Data. One aspect business owners deal with regularly are finances and taxes, and through Intuit products with Quick Books and Turbo Tax, AI is reshaping how small companies operate. [caption id="attachment_4877" align="alignright" width="300"]Intuit Logo Wikimedia Commons[/caption] According to a PDF published by Intuit concerning the rise of smart apps for small businesses, "smart apps can give accountants and bookkeepers the ability to sift through financial data more quickly and easily as well as do a better job of interpreting the data. Intuit, for example, is infusing its QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Self-Employed solutions with AI and machine learning capabilities to take the friction out of and put insights into everyday tasks." All of this technology been happening gradually enough that most people don't even realize how many aspects of our lives are already integrated in artificial intelligence. There are some that feel like we need to reign machine intelligence before it gets out of hand.

What Are Business Leaders Saying About AI

Influential businessman, Elon Musk, has a lot to say about this topic and he made a strong statement over this 2017 Labor Day weekend:
Elon Musk celebrated Labor Day with a dark premonition: Countries competing to be the best when it comes to artificial intelligence technology could “likely” be the cause of WW3, according to the prolific technologist and entrepreneur. Read the full post here:  Elon Musk warns that vying for AI superiority could lead to WW3 | TechCrunch
The Tesla CEO, who is ironically developing the hardware needed for full self-driving automobiles, has invested in a number of AI companies including Google's Deep Mind Technologies, and is also the founder of Space Exploration Technologies, AKA SpaceX. It might seem like a bit of a conflict, but don't second guess how this entrepreneur feels about allowing the competitiveness of AI to become more important that solving problems that bring us together:
The future of artificial intelligence is a little scary but also exciting, as the problems that could be solved will benefit human existence. From diagnoses and treatments to collaboration and intelligent bionic limbs, the medical uses are endless. Another industry that is already utilizing artificial intelligence is manufacturing. In fact, it was one of the first industries to harness artificial intelligence by using robots to assemble products and package them for shipment. With all of these changes as part of our future, should you be worried about losing your job? Honestly, there's a good chance it will not only affect your job directly, but also your industry and the company you work for. However, preparing yourself with a list of your strengths and weaknesses, including not only your technical skills but also other abilities and interests, can help you focus on the future opportunities that you might be suited for. Don't be scared; embrace changes that are coming with your eyes wide open.  

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

What To Expect With The iPhone 8 Launch

Potential Tech Included With The New iPhone 8

It's not all that surprising that Apple is once again coming out with a new version of the iPhone. According to a number of sources, it has been leaked that the launch date for the iPhone 8 is set for September 12, 2017. The Wall Street Journal was one of the first to cover the undisclosed update, as noted in this Time.com article:

iPhone 8 Announcement Date: Everything We Know So FariPhone 8 new color

Apple is planning an event for September 12 to unveil its new iPhones and more, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal. The Journal's report comes after French website Mac4Ever recently said that Apple is planning to take the wraps off its new iPhones at a September 12 event. Apple has not yet responded to TIME's request for comment.

Read more here:  iPhone 8 Announcement Date: Everything We Know So Far

Start Saving Your Money

What is surprising is the price. Apple must be quite proud of this special 10th anniversary edition, which is rumored to be $999 for the entry level with 64 GB of memory. That's a price hike of almost $350 from the iPhone 7 that came out almost exactly one year ago in September of 2016. One of Apple's newest upgrades is to have extra storage of 256 GB for $1,099 and 512 GB for $1,199. Speculation for the need of  this amount of storage is due to higher resolution video in conjunction with Apple TV. The other major ingredient that is pretty cool technology is the capability for facial recognition. It is a strong security measure for users when authenticating payments or if their device is stolen. The author of this video does an excellent job of going over the new features:

Wireless Charging

The capacity to charge the iPhone 8 wirelessly is also a component that is driving the cost up. It's known as inductive charging, meaning it uses an electromagnetic field to transfer energy. On a side note, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is also coming out soon as well, but through a bit of controversy with their leadership and following the Galaxy Note 7 firestorm. They are similarly priced and it will also offer wireless charging. Back to the iPhone 8 launch. Here are the main features you can expect:

iPhone 8 launch date, specs and price: Everything we knowiPhone 8 vs iPhone 7 display

  • Curved, edge-to-edge OLED display with True Tone technology and/or Ion-X glass
  • Virtual home button
  • Facial recognition alternative to Touch ID
  • "Wireless" charging (i.e. inductive charging) and/or faster USB-C charging
  • Dual-lens camera, possibly in a vertical configuration
  • AR capabilities featuring rear-facing 3D laser for enhanced depth perception
  • Support for the Apple Pencil
  • Stainless steel and glass body
  • Multiple color including a reflective, mirror-like finish
  • Upgraded storage and memory, possibly starting at 64GB and 3GB of RAM
  • Intel or Qualcomm modem
  • iOS 11 (preview)
  • Enhanced water resistance or waterproofing
  • Higher quality earpiece for louder, clearer audio
  • Apple's next-generation processor (the A10X or A11)

Read the full post here:  iPhone 8 launch date, specs and price: Everything we know - CNET

Bigger Display Screen

There are a few other additions that are going to be part of the unveiling. The iPhone 7S and 7S Plus are also part of the excitement. They will have similar features minus the facial recognition and the high cost. The iPhone 7S and 7S Plus will come in a new copper color to make them stand out from previous versions. Even though he display screen for the iPhone 7S Plus is good sized, at 5.5 inches, the display on the new iPhone 8 will be a whopping 5.8 inch display.  

What To Expect With The iPhone 8 Launch is available on S&S Pro Services

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

New Development For Google Maps – Q&A

Google Maps Continues to Morphhttp://ift.tt/2wywslZ

For online search, Google Maps is becoming the go-to place for everything from finding a website, directions to a business, and reviews. You can see bike paths, check the traffic, and share your location with your friends. Google Maps allows you to contribute business information, and you can even become an expert local guide. You can create a map of your favorite places, embed it, and share it with others. What next? It was recently announced that Maps have become more interactive with Google Maps Q&A. In other words, you'll be able to chat via a maps business listing. This tells more about how it works:

Google brings Q&As to Google Maps | TechCrunchChanges with Google Maps

Starting now, when you find a place in Google Maps, for example, you can scroll down in the business’ listing and find the new Q&A section between the business’ details like phone numbers and the “popular times” widget. Unsurprisingly, you’re not likely to find any questions there yet (and I don’t think there’s a prize for asking the first question), but that’ll likely change over time.

Google is also encouraging business owners to use this for an FAQ section, and the company notes that business owners will get a notification when somebody asks a question.

Read the full post here:  Google brings Q&As to Google Maps

This new development for Google Maps is only available via mobile. Once you have searched for a location, you touch More Info at the bottom, which takes you to the business listing. Scroll down past the option to claim the business and you'll see a box for Questions & Answers. Enter your question or comment and click post. You can even upvote information so people know it was helpful. The following video shows how the Q&A works: There has been speculation for quite some time that Google Plus, the social network owned by Google, is eventually going to fold. Many were surprised when they rolled out an updated version of Google Plus at the beginning of 2017. However, the 550 million active users on Google+ doesn't compare to the 1 billion daily users of Facebook. So, how can they make their platforms more social? We all know Google is constantly morphing, and two places in particular these changes are happening is with Google Maps and Google My Business listings.  Earlier this summer they added the ability to post about events, products, and services directly to Google Search and Maps.Messaging on Google My Business Listings These posts are basically like blogging directly on your business listing, providing helpful content for people searching for a business like yours. They also offer a messaging app for mobile, where users are able to send questions about your business. The business owner can set up auto-responses when they are busy and follow up with the potential customer as soon as they are available. You can read more about this feature that was fully rolled out around a month ago:

Google Messaging Rolling Out to More Dashboards

The product allows the business to “listen” to the messages either via SMS or Allo. Customers are advised on the typical business response time.

Google has been giving business owners more and more reasons to visit the front page of Google for their brand search. It seems that with Messaging, Google is attempting to give consumers a reason as well.

See the full post here:  Google Messaging Rolling Out to More Dashboards

My point is that it almost seems like they are transitioning from Google+ to social features within Google Maps and Google My Business listings. The mobile revolution is behind a lot of the updates, and it only makes sense to focus on those users.

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Technology and Education – A Match Made In Heaven?

Technology is an integral part of our lives, and the educational system is no different.  Schools are spending more than ever on tech, with over $3 billion per year being spent on digital content. In addition, public schools in the U.S. now provide an average of one computer for every five students and base much of their curriculum on ushering in 21st Century skills. Because of this, students are more engaged and motivated; therefore, learning is accelerated. [caption id="attachment_4821" align="alignright" width="300"]Using technology in education Pixabay[/caption] Convincing educators to buy into technology and integrate it into their classroom has been a slow transformation. Sadly, the United States is still falling behind in STEM courses: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Part of the problem for teachers is a lack of training, which requires ongoing development. Another is a fault of school districts, trying to integrate technology into their curriculum without considering how it supports their learning goals. This post explains more on how this transformation is affection higher education:

How Technology is Now Empowering Educators | Inc.com

In fact, research shows that 70% of students want their universities to update their digital options, with 44% of the same group saying they'd be happier with their university experience if they could engage with more digital resources. With an obvious demand from students for better digital solutions, organizations that don't engage with the latest in technology may struggle to engage with new students and grow.

Read the original post here:  How Technology is Now Empowering Educators | Inc.com

Higher education hasn't changed quickly enough to keep up with the shifting needs and demands of students.  Even though more kids are going to college than ever before, the rising costs and the lack of tools with which to prepare them for the working world has brought colleges into the limelight. Amazon got into the education space by launching a program in 2016 where schools and other educators could upload, manage and share educational materials, providing unlimited access to first-class course materials - Amazon Education Wait List. What are some of the ways technology and education are being meshed? This video gives some great examples:
Virtual and augmented reality have the potential to offer immersive learning and are well on the way to becoming a vital component of how students learn. Virtually travelling to places like the International Space Station and The Colosseum would be invaluable learning opportunities. The list of possibilities is endless! Along with 3D printing and cloud computing, the world is becoming more and more connected, better preparing kids for their future. Memorizing facts is part of the old school way, but today's classrooms are allowing students to dive in deeper on subjects that truly pique their interest. One buzzword is personalized learning, which offers diverse variety of instructional programs that are geared toward each student's individual needs and interests. This post offers more insight into personalized learning:

Technology in Education: An Overview - Education Week

[caption id="attachment_4822" align="alignright" width="324"]Education technology Pixabay[/caption]

Many in the ed-tech field see new technologies as powerful tools to help schools meet the needs of ever-more-diverse student populations. The idea is that digital devices, software, and learning platforms offer a once-unimaginable array of options for tailoring education to each individual student’s academic strengths and weaknesses, interests and motivations, personal preferences, and optimal pace of learning.

Read the original post here:  Technology in Education: An Overview - Education Week

This requires an in-depth profile of each student, their goals, and setting up an individualized learning path for every person in the classroom. It also necessitates a flexible environment and grading system, based on mastery of a topic and not a letter grade comparing one student to another. As a former educator, this sounds a bit overwhelming. It would make sense to utilize digital platforms that allow this process to happen through guided tutorials, so the students are partially responsible for facilitating their own individual learning goals.

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

YouTube’s Mobile Video Sharing and Messaging Feature

As if sharing videos through text or email wasn't good enough, YouTube has rolled out a new feature for mobile-only users that allows fans to share and chat with friends and family in private...without ever leaving the YouTube app. It works similar to the default messenger app with Android, allowing you to share a video with a single contact or a group. You are able to continue a thread without the need for a different messaging application, and others in the convo can respond with text or even another video.YouTube Mobile Video Sharing and Messaging You have to invite others to be in your chat, and once they accept you are on your way to a video sharing fest! This post talks a little more about the process of getting your friends and family on board:

YouTube messaging arrives in-app to simplify video sharing - SlashGear

Once the updated app arrives on your phone, you’ll see a new tab that contains all the shared videos. It seems your YouTube friends will be able to see videos you have shared in general; there’s also the option to share a video directly with multiple people through the messaging functionality. YouTube says the feature is available now, though not everyone is seeing it at this point.

Read the original post here:  YouTube messaging arrives in-app to simplify video sharing - SlashGear

The sharing feature has been in the testing phase since the middle of last year. At the beginning of 2017, Canadian users were privy to a "soft launch.” It was eventually rolled out to other parts of North America and after lots of testing and feedback, YouTube decided it was officially ready for the world as of August 7, 2017. This promo clip by YouTube Help shows a quick glimpse of how the app works:
YouTube's mobile video sharing and messaging service is comparable to other platforms, such as Instagram. With Instagram Direct, which was introduced in December of 2013, you can send messages, photos and videos to one person or to a group of up to 15 people. And very much like Snapchat, Instagram also has the ability to send disappearing messages with photos or video. Vanishing videos wouldn't really make sense for YouTube, as they want you to share your creation with the world, but I guess you never know. Is there an over-saturation with messaging apps? Maybe, but with YouTube it sort of makes sense. People love to share their favorite videos, so why not be able to do so right within the app. Even though they had worked out a lot of the bugs by the official launch date, it hasn't been perfected. Given time, though, I'm sure there will be a lot of upgrades to the feature and possibly be offered on desktop as well. This post mentions some of the less attractive features for the YouTube app:

YouTube adds in-app direct messaging and sharing featuresMobile Phone with Video

Sadly, the phone book doesn't actually show whether or not your contacts are using YouTube; it just pulls up an "add me as a contact on YouTube" message and dumps it into an SMS. It would be a lot more elegant if the app could recognize which of your friends are signed into YouTube and just start the conversation there. That's the challenge with what YouTube is trying to do here: It's easy enough to just use the standard Android or iOS sharing pane to drop a video into iMessage or your chat app of choice, but it's beneficial for YouTube to keep the conversation going on its own platform.

Find out more here:  YouTube adds in-app direct messaging and sharing features

Another quirk I found with the YouTube video sharing feature is that once I went back into the app, I had trouble locating the conversation to continue it. Once I realized the icon looks similar to the icon for Android messenger, it made sense. However, until I had a couple connections, that area didn't look like the place to carry on the discussion. There is supposed to be a tab that shows all the shared videos/messages, but it is possible that all the features haven't been completely displayed.

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