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Technically Speaking: Links of the Week – December 16

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features a tongue-controlled wheelchair, a bra that affects your appetite and blinking gloves for cyclists. All that and more in the return of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

Blinkers on your hands: New gloves shed light on bicycle safety

Lighted Bicycle Gloves

A bright new idea on Kickstarter is calling for bicycle safety. The company Zackees has developed turn signal gloves that light up with LED directional arrows so cyclists can let cars in traffic know when and where they’re turning, says Amanda Kooser of CNET. The invention could also be used for skateboarders and runners, among others. The gloves can be powered by either regular or rechargeable coin cell batteries. For $69 you can get a set of gloves in classic black spandex.

The bra that keep you from eating too much

Could your bra stop you from eating too much? According to CBS News, Microsoft is working on a new bra that lets wearers know when their bodies are stressed so they can be warned not to binge-eat. Researchers say the bra monitors wearers’ heart rates, detects emotional stress and alerts wearers via their smartphones when the hunger they’re feeling probably isn’t real. And gentlemen need not worry: While the working version is designed for the female form, the company says it’s developing one for men, too.

Tongue-controlled wheelchair helps people with paralysis

Wheelchair

Thanks to a new wireless device, people with paralysis can control their wheelchairs by moving their tongues, according to Mashable. The device consists of a headset with wireless sensors and a tiny magnet. The headset measures changes in the magnetic field as wearers move their tongues, and then it sends signals to a smartphone to control the wheelchair.

The wheelchair has gone through a clinical trial in which people with paralysis of all four limbs were able to use the chair to successfully maneuver through an obstacle course.

New service blocks mobile location tracking

Is big brother watching? Not if AVG can help it. Parmy Olson of Forbes reports that the security firm AVG is launching the first location-blocking service for mobile devices. The company is adding the feature to its free PrivacyFix app for Android.

“The update to AVG’s free app … is the first of its kind to be offered by an established security company, and lets Android users block location tracking by Wi-Fi networks in retail stores or public venues, says Olson.

 

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Technically Speaking: Links of the Week – October 8

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features advice for iOS 7 camera users, an app that can start your microwave and how to watch YouTube videos with no Internet. All that and more in this edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

New App Allows Users to Control Household Items from Smartphones

Revolv

You’re out to dinner when you realize you forgot to turn off the television. You locked your keys in the house and can’t get in. The new app from Revolv for iOS allows users to sync up their home appliances and control them with their mobile devices, according to Adam Popescu for Mashable. The company is currently pre-selling its Smart Home Solution, which allows users to control entertainment systems, wireless lighting, automated locks, and thermostat from an iPhone or iPad. For $299, the system includes a WiFi hub that can be plugged in to an outlet in the home and access to Revolv’s cloud service. The hub automatically connects to the user’s WiFi and manually connects to wireless electronics in the home.

5 Tips for Making the Most of iOS 7′s New Camera App

The tech world has been filled with buzz about Apple’s new iOS 7 software. With so many changes and features, it’s difficult for even the biggest of tech nerds to keep up with everything that’s going on. However, one of the biggest (and in some people’s opinions, best) upgrades is to the Camera app. Jason Cipriani of CNET details 5 important tips for getting adjusted to the new Camera.

No Internet? No Problem. Watch YouTube Videos Offline

New YouTube App

Users will soon be able to watch YouTube videos even when they aren’t connected to the Internet, according to a Mashable article. YouTube recently announced that it will unveil a new feature that will let users “add videos” to their mobile device to watch offline. The app is set for a November release date.

 

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Technically Speaking: Links of the Week – September 30

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features big changes for the iPhone, bomb-detecting lasers, and a new logo for Yahoo. All that and more in this edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

Fingerprint Sign On One Major Change for iPhone

iPhone Touch ID

Apple continues to come up with more creative tech ideas for every new iPhone–and it appears the 5s has some extremely interesting advancements on the horizon. According to Alistair Barr of USA Today, the new iPhone will be able to read users’ fingerprints for authentication or to make purchases.

The fingerprint technology will be near the home button at the bottom of the screen. After the phone verifies the user’s identity the rest of the home screen will appear.

Google+’s Newest Feature is Embedded Posts

Google+ posts can now be embedded on other sites. Users who want to showcase a Google+ post on a blog or news story can simply click a new “Embed post” tab on the drop down menu in the upper righthand corner, reports Kurt Wagner of Mashable. A code will appear and the user simple copies and pastes it onto the site of their choice.

The best part? The post will remain fully interactive, meaning readers will be able to comment, offer a +1, and follow the author right from the embedded page.

Yahoo Gets a New Logo

Yahoo is hoping to get people’s attention with a clean, thin new logo that features a sans-serif typeface created by the company, says Heather Kelly of CNN. The new look features a darker purple and uppercase letters. Of course the well-known exclamation point at the end also remains (and it even moves around in some versions).

Experts say the new logo is only the beginning of some changes for Yahoo. This is the first change since 2009, and even then the alterations weren’t too different from the original one designed in 1995.

Lasers May be Used to Search Luggage at Airports

TG-02-3810

In the near future airline travelers might be going through a check-in line where lasers scan their luggage. According to Tim Hornyak of CNET, researchers say laser-equipped airport security checkpoints could be used to pinpoint trace amounts of explosives.

The lasers would probably be used in a conveyer-belt type system. The low-energy laser, which was developed by researchers at Michigan State University, uses a single beam fired in two pulses. The first pulse can find chemical frequencies found in explosives, and the second searches for discrepancies that could indicate a bomb.

 

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Technically Speaking: Links of the Week – Sept 16

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features a high-tech camera lens that attaches to smartphones, the release date of Microsoft’s new Xbox console, and the launch of this year’s iTunes Music Festival. All that and more in this edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

New Xbox One Hits Shelves in November

Microsoft Xbox One

The long-awaited arrival of Microsoft’s new Xbox console is finally here. It’s been eight years since the company releases the Xbox 360, and now the software giant is rolling out the Xbox One, which is “all-in-one system to align games, TV and entertainment,” according to Samantha Murphy Kelly of Mashable.

The new console, which is set to go on sale on Nov. 22, allows users to stream movies, watch television and (of course) play games. An upgraded version of Microsoft’s Kinect sensor is included, so gamers can use gestures to control what happens on screen. Many gamers will line up to by the $499 console, while others will grab the comparable Playstation 4 from Sony, which will also be released next month for $399.

Apple’s iTunes Festival Features Original Concerts from Big-Name Artists

The beginning of September marked the start of Apple’s iTunes Festival, held London. The event features a live performance from a different artist every night of the month. Kevin Bostic of Apple Insider reports that “in total, more than 60 artists will perform in the festival, including Justin Timberlake, Ellie Goulding, Dizzee Rascal, and Robin Thicke.”

Apple has also updated its iTunes Festival app for iOS, and it allows all iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users to stream video from the concert.

Sony Creates Camera that Attaches to Your Smartphone

Sony’s new QX Smart Lens series of smartphone accessories combine the quality of top-notch camera lenses with the convenience of smartphones. According to Vlad Savov of The Verge, the Sony product includes a zoom lens, image sensor and processing chips, a battery, and stereo microphones. The lens connects to smartphones via Wi-Fi, takes photos, and allows users to share them from their phones right away.

Kindle’s MatchBook to Offer E-Books to Owners of Printed Books at a Discount

Are you the type of reader who has resisted switching to e-books because you feel a certain nostalgia for printed novels? Well, you’re not alone. Amazon is giving you the best of both worlds with the creation of its new Kindle MatchBook program, says Jeff Bercovici of Forbes.

The new program, which starts in October, will allow consumers to to purchase cheap e-copies of books they’ve already bought in hardcover or paperback. They can also buy both the printed edition and e-book edition of a specific title for a discounted price.

Technically Speaking: Links of the Week – September 3

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features the success of Netflix, office gadgets that make life easier, and NASA’s innovative tech projects. All that and more in this edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

New Gadgets Help Make Work Days Less Stressful

Lumoback

Working in an office can be stressful for a number of reasons. Maybe there’s too much work and too little time; or a boss that’s a pain in the neck. Alice Truong of USA Today writes about some new, innovative tools that could make your work day a little easier. Lumoback (pictured above) is worn like a belt and it helps the user track his or her posture by connecting to a smartphone and sending an alert when posture can be improved. Another comfort item for the office is Trigger Point Performance’s Grid Mini, a small foam roller that can be kept in desk drawers. Simply roll it over your muscles and massage away the tension. Other tech items discussed include a clean air device, a drive for extra storage, and a speaker clock to help keep to a schedule.

Redesigned Google Maps Now Available to Public

For two months Google was only allowing a select few to check out their new Maps application via invitation only. However, according to Steven Musil of CNET, the new site is now available to everyone, and it comes with some pretty cool changes. The new Google Maps Web interface offers photo tours of locations and public transportation options. Google has switched from using graphical tiles to vector data, which allows the maps to load faster. Perhaps the most spectacular of the new features is the “zoom out” that now allows users to zoom out as far as outer space.

NASA Funds 12 High-Tech Space Projects

NASA funds 12 high tech space projects

Hoping to come up with some breakthroughs in the area of space exploration and science, NASA has announced the funding of 12 projects that will use technology to create innovative projects related to space. Mike Wall of Mashable writes that the projects were selected under Phase 1 of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program. All 12 offer a variety of different possibilities. For example, one will attempt to use a 3D printer to build biomaterials. A second would study how to induce deep-sleep torpor states in astronauts traveling to Mars. Phase 1 awards are in the range of $100,000 and will be used for nine-month initial analysis studies. After that, each of the project’s managers can apply for Phase 2 funding, which would be about $500,000 for two more years of concept development.

Netflix Earnings Quadruple with Arrested Development Release

Is Netflix the new HBO? Many critics seem to think so, and if the company’s earnings are any indication, things are going quite well. The Huffington Post reports that second quarter earnings for Netflix have quadrupled, and 630,000 new subscribers have been added. One of the main reasons for the success is that Netflix decided to offer exclusive television shows, the most popular being the hit comedy “Arrested Development”, which had been canceled on Network television much to the dismay of hardcore fans. There are also original shows now available on Netflix as well, including “Orange is the New Black,” from the creator of the smash Showtime series “Weeds.” Netflix is a monthly service that streams video to Internet-connected devices.

 

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Top Apps for Back to School 2013

Schoolboy With Digital Tablet Sitting At Desk In Classroom“We are heading towards a paperless classroom,” says Sherry Maysonave, a former educator and author of the children’s e-book series EggMania: Where’s the Egg In Exactly (for the iPad). Maysonave has become an expert in technology in the classroom and emphasizes the benefits for both teachers and students. “Digital media offer children a whole new way to learn. Some people mistakenly think of ebooks as digital pacifiers when, in fact, they’re actually vitamins for the brain and can open up whole new stimulating worlds for children,” she said.

According to Maysonave there are now more educational apps than ever before. Many are for students, but there are also several for teachers and parents. Whether it’s helping to boost a child’s reading skills, make a teacher more organized, or helping parents stay in the loop, digital technology is adding several new tools for education.

Here is a look at some of the best apps for the upcoming school year:

iHomework

Students can manage everything they do inside and outside of the classroom with the iHomework app. Quickly enter homework assignments, course and teacher information, important tasks, and reading in a fun, intuitive, and convenient way. Keep up-to-date with school work, grades, to-dos, teacher’s information (create a contact list of all teachers!), and almost everything else you need during the school year. Set reminders so you never miss assignments or tasks. This ultimate school organizer is available for iPhone/iPod touch, iPad, or Mac ($1.99).

Remind101

Remind101 gives teachers a way to use text messaging to connect with students and parents. The free app, which is used by more than 200,000 teachers, allows teachers to send a message to a single student, group of students, or whole class, without displaying any phone numbers. It’s an easy way to communicate outside of the classroom without risking privacy issues on either side.

gFlash+ Flashcards & Tests

Available for both iOS and Android (free with upgrades available for varying fees), gFlash+ is a handy and innovative learning tool for students of all ages to create digital notecards. Its goal is simple: make studying easy and fun. Its integration with Google Docs allows users to create and share flash cards easily and on the go. gFlash+ allows users to create, download, and edit flashcards in any subject they would like. In-app purchases are also available and allow students to upload flashcards with information on specific tests (SATs for example) and subjects.

TeacherKit

The ultimate app for helping teachers get organized, TeacherKit helps instructors avoid piles of paperwork and combine all notes and grades into one simple digital system. With TeacherKit teachers can take attendance, keep a gradebook, maintain a seating chart, compile notes on student behavior, and even upload student ID photos. It’s truly an all-in-one app for instructors of all grade levels. And best of all, it’s free.

Pencils, Words & Kids

Pencils, Words & Kids (PWK) is a creative writing app that helps teachers and students with the creative writing process — specifically, to make it more fun and get the school year started right. PWK ($4.99) is based on the premise that writing is like weightlifting: every repetition makes you stronger. PWK has 203 inspiring photo prompts and 81 entries of kids writing, original artwork, and inspiring scenes. The photos show what real writing looks like and will fuel brainstorming for stories, essays and poems. Reading is emphasized as part of the PWK creative writing process, so the app includes commentary from authors and writers on the books that inspired them to write.

My Words

This is an app that makes life easier on special-needs children who are non-verbal. Created by the mother of an autistic son, My Words ($9.99) facilitates communication for people with a wide spectrum of special needs by allowing users to simply tap a word in order to play it audibly. Users can create custom word lists in which each word is associated with a sound and a picture. My Words has also been used by people who are trying to learn a new language.

Technically Speaking: Links of the Week – August 19

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features some futuristic hologram projects and a music poster that does more than just hang on the wall. All that and more in this edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

New Disney Creation Allows People to Feel Objects Made of Nothing but Air

AI Real Vortex

Disney has once again managed to create something so spectacular it boggles the mind. The company has found a way to use air cannons to project hologram-like objects into the air, reports Kyle Vanhemert of Wired. Disney Research in Pittsburgh has created Aireal, a device that lets users feel ghostly objects created purely with puffs of air. With these new cannons, the projected images can not only be touched, but they feel like the actual objects they are representing. The creators of Aireal are exploring a variety of ways for which it might be used. These include incorporating it into large-scale augmented environments, baking it into telepresence gizmos, and even distributing units around living rooms. The ultimate goal, however is to “tear down the boundaries between the physical and digital altogether and to make the entire world interactive.”

Could We Soon Have Full-Sized Holograms in Our Living Rooms?

It may soon be possible to have a conversation with a life size hologram in your very own home. David Szondy of Gizmag writes that the company Provision has created a life-size holographic projector called Holovision. The projector could be unveiled as soon as next year of Provision is successful with its current $950,000 Kickstarter Campaign to fund the development of new technology for the device. The Holovision projector uses what is called aerial imaging to produce 3D images without special glasses. It also has a digital LCD screen and a concave mirror to produce the illusion of a 3D image floating outside the projector. Creepy or cool? You be the judge.

Play the Drums on This Interactive Music Poster

Beat Poster

It looks like any ordinary music poster. A flat piece of paper with photos of some drums and “It’s the Beat” written across it. But there’s a catch. With this poster, users can actually create music. According to Mashable the company Novalia has created interactive posters with the hopes of preserving the print medium by turning formerly static objects into usable interfaces. The posters are able to produce up to seven sounds, and owners can either play along to their favorite songs or create their own beats. The key component of the poster is touch sensors that are printed with electrically conductive ink and attached to a circuit board, allowing it to recognize when the drum graphic is touched. There are two versions of the poster: one that connects to the iPhone or iPad via Bluetooth, and a standalone version that transforms the poster’s surface into a speaker.

Technically Speaking: Links of the Week – August 12

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features a pen that’s tough on spelling errors, IFTTT for iPhone, and Google re-instating voice calling. All that and more in this edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

Spell-Checking Pen Vibrates When You Make an Error

Learnstift Pen

Although some people ignore it, spell check is one of the most useful tools on our computers. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a spell check for all the handwritten work handed in to teachers and professors? Or a heads up that cereal is spelled wrong on the shopping list? Stacey Higginbotham of GigaOM reports that there is now a pen with a spell-check feature to help ensure there are no errors in your handwritten notes. The Lernstift pen was created by two fathers hoping to help their children detect spelling and handwriting mistakes. The pen combines electronics and connectivity to gently vibrate when a person using it spells a word incorrectly. The pen is currently on Kickstarter and can be had for a pledge of about $162.

Popular Website IFTTT Comes to iPhone

IFTTT, a universal automator that allows users to build “recipes” or groups of apps merged together, is now available on iPhone. IFTTT (“If This Than That”) makes apps more useful by merging features with other apps. For example, a recipe of YouTube and Facebook would allow users to easily post their favorite videos directly from YouTube to Facebook. According to Time Magazine, “the new IFTTT iOS app does exactly the same thing as the existing web-based version, but with an interface that’s been nicely rethought for the small screen.” The app is free and currently available in the iTunes app store.

After Users Complain, Google Brings Back Voice Calling to Hangouts

When Google updated its Hangouts feature in May it took away outbound calling services and left many users feeling slighted. Now, according to Todd R. Weiss of eWeek, the company has responded and restored voice calling to Hangouts in Gmail, Google +, and Chrome browsers. The move shows a pretty quick response from Google, which saw voice fans take to Google blogs and Google+ pages to complain when it was taken away. And not only is outbound voice calling back, but it’s also better than ever. Google has added new features to the service, like the ability to add multiple phone numbers and video participants to the same call, and an integration of the Google Effects app, which allows callers to play sound effects (like applause or laughter) while they are on the line.

Technically Speaking: Stories of the Week – July 22

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features a safer GPS, technology that can read fingerprints even if they’ve been wiped away, and contact lenses that can zoom in and out. All that and more in this edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

Garmin Creates GPS that Projects Onto Windshields

Garmin HUD GPS

These days drivers have so many choices when it comes to choosing a GPS for their cars. There’s the built-in versions, the hang-on-the-windshield types, smartphone apps, and more. Garmin, one of the leaders in the GPS industry, has developed new technology aimed to make navigation safer and more useful, according to VentureBeat. The “Heads Up Display”, or HUD, connects to Garmin’s StreetPilot and Navigon apps via bluetooth and projects the navigation information onto the car windshield, keeping details in the driver’s line of sight. The cost of the HUD is $130, and it has to be paired with Garmin’s apps.

Contact Lens Allows Wearers to Zoom in and Out

It’s still in the testing phases, but if all goes well there will soon be a contact lens on the market that will give wearers the ability to zoom in and out on focal points. Nic Halverson of Mashable reports that “the telescopic lens is just over a millimeter thick and is composed of a central unmagnified optical path, surrounded by a ring of movable components that magnify the view 2.8 times.” The creators of the lens have been testing the technology using a pair of Samsung 3D television glasses. Although the prototype is still attached to the glasses, researchers are hopeful further testing will result in being able to bring the lens to market.

Apple’s New Macbook Air has All-Day Battery Life

2013 Macbook Air

On first glance, Apple’s new Macbook Air model doesn’t appear to be much different than the original design created two-and-a-half years ago. But it’s not the look that has techies excited about the product–it’s the life of the battery. According to Brooke Crothers of CNET the original 13-inch Macbook Air battery ran for 7 hours and 27 minutes, and the new version goes for 14 hours and 25 minutes. The design of the computer hasn’t changed, nor has the resolution of the screen, making the battery life the major upgrade for the 2013 model.

New Fingerprint Technology Can Provide ID Even if Surface has Been Wiped

Although it seems like something from the television show CSI rather than real police labs, a new form of fingerprint technology is making things tougher on criminals. TechnoBuffalo’s Brandon Russell writes that Leicester University scientists have developed a color-changing fluorescent film method to capture hidden or latent prints on metal surfaces. It can be used on weapons like guns or knives, as well as surfaces like doorknobs and appliances. There will still be ways around getting caught–like wearing gloves–but the new technology will put an end to being able to wipe away prints from a crime scene.

 

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Technically Speaking: Stories of the Week – July 15

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features a cast that won’t itch, a baseball team with a social media hub, and a robot ape you have to see to believe. All that and more in this edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

Robotic Apes Aim for Space

Robot Ape

German researches have created a robotic ape and hope to bring the invention to great heights (literally). Megan Treacy of Treehugger reports that this incredible life-like robotic ape mimics movements of the actual animals, using its back feet and front knuckles to move about. It can walk forward, backward and side to side without a tether. While many robotic animals have been created with the intentions of use in search and rescue operations or surveillance, the creators of this ape have higher expectations–they would like to be able to send it to space. The company that funded a large chunk of the project is the Agency of the German Aerospace Center, which may ultimately use the ape for work on space stations, other planets or even piloting spacecraft.

3D Printed Casts Could Make Recovery a Breeze

3D Printed Cast

Say goodbye plastic baggies for showers and coat hangers for scratchings. Designer Jake Evill is aiming to put an end to heavy and itchy molded casts for good. According to CNET, Evill has developed a Cortex exoskeletal cast concept using 3D printing. The cast is light, strong, full of holes for air to get through, and safe for showering. The way the idea would work is that someone with a suspected fracture would get an x-ray as well as a 3D of the injured area. A cast would be then be individualized for the person and the injury, providing more support for the healing bone. The cast is still just a concept, but there’s a real possibility of it being available in the healthcare industry at some point. No word on whether it will be called the Evill Arm, but it should.

News for iWatchers? Apple iWatch May Be on It’s Way

Rumors have been circulating for a while now about Apple making an iWatch, and it looks like it may be true, as the company has now filed for a patent for the device in Japan, says Erica Ogg of Gigaom. Unofficial reports have said that the iWatch may run iOS and have a pedometer and heart rate monitor. It could also have the capability of making calls and checking points on a map. The iWatch would be part of the fast-growing industry of wearable technology, which is projected to make about $1.5 billion next year. The filing of the patent doesn’t necessarily mean the release of the product will come right away. For now there’s no telling how much time it will take for these to hit the shelves.

Major League Baseball Team Creates Social Media Cafe at Ballpark

The San Francisco Giants baseball team is being called a digital leader after it created a Social Media Café at its stadium AT&T Park. The café is Major League Baseball’s first social media command center and is located inside Peet’s Coffee, which is set behind centerfield, according to Forbes. Inside, fans can use their Twitter and Instagram accounts on six, 55-inch screens. The café also provides visitors with a place to enjoy coffee, recharge their phones, get a Wi-Fi connection–all while watching the game.

 

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