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Technically Speaking: Stories of the Week – April 22

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features a coat that acts like a girlfriend, a bracelet that displays texts and social media updates, and futuristic dressing rooms. All that and more in this edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

Say Goodbye to Dressing Rooms–New Technology Sizes Customers in Seconds

Say Goodbye to Dressing Rooms

Now showing up in more and more department stores throughout the United States, sizing stations use technology to determine what clothing will fit their customers. Customers walk into the round compartments with clear sides (normally located directly in the center of the floor near the racks of clothes and other displays) hold out their arms, and get scanned by a laser tracker. According to NDTV Gadgets it only takes about 10 seconds for the station to give the customer a personalized shopping guide with sizes, styles, and brands that would fit them best. Currently sizing stations are in 30 shopping malls in the U.S., with Bloomingdale’s being the first to use them.

Google’s High Speed Internet Coming to Austin, Texas

Google Fiber, a high-speed Internet that runs 100 times faster than the average broadband connection, is now coming to Austin, Texas, says Mashable’s Samantha Murphy.  This announcement comes a whole year after it was announced the service would first be available in Kansas City, Kansas. Google says it plans to have homes in Kansas City connected starting in mid-2014. What city will be next on Google’s list?

LED Smart Bracelet Displays Texts, Social Media Updates

Texts and social media messages can now appear right on a person’s wrist with new the new technology of LinkMe. Michael Seo of TechCrunch reports that LinkMe, a single chrome ring that slips around the wrist, connects to a users smartphone via bluetooth and incoming texts and social media updates scroll along the outside. The inventors are attempting to raise $100,000 on Kickstarter to fund their project. A LinkMe can be purchased on the site for $99.

Single? No Problem. This Coat Will Make You Feel Loved

Girlfriend Coat

A group of Japanese students have invented a coat that serves as a girlfriend substitute. Yes, you read that right. This coat hugs men who wear it and even whispers sweet nothings into their ear. According to CNET, the Riajyuu Coat features a belt around the midsection and motors on the back. The motors tighten the belt and squeeze the person wearing it so it feels like they are being hugged. A set of headphone lets the wearer listen to a woman’s whispers. It’s not being sold in stores, so for now lonely men might be stuck with the task of finding a human partner.

Twitter Working on New Music Feature

There’s been a lot of buzz this week about new music project being develop by Twitter. Clues around the web have led experts to believe that Twitter is introducing a music feature that will recommend songs and artists based on who each particular user follows, reported Ben Sisario of The New York Times. It’s still unclear, however, whether it will be accessible on the Twitter website, or if it’s a different website altogether. Right now, there’s a website set up with the Twitter logo and “#Music” appearing on the page. There is an area to login but it says “coming soon” next to it. For now music fans will just have to take a wait-and-see approach to finding out what Twitter has in the works.

 

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Technically Speaking: Stories of the Week – April 16

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features Facebook making waves on Android, an “invisible” bike helmet, and a new app to help keep teen drivers safe behind the wheel. All that and more in this edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

The Bicycle Helmet You Don’t Wear on Your Head

The Bicycle Helmet You Don't Wear on Your Head

A bike helmet called Hövding that has been developed by two Swedish industrial design students is turning some heads, says Jeremy Bogaisky of Forbes. The “helmet” is really an airbag in a collar worn around the neck. If there is an accident it deploys to envelop a bicyclist’s head. The product has been approved, but its inventors are facing some challenges because of the device’s high price ($515) and some reservations about it’s effectiveness. The invention does solve the problem of people not wanting to wear conventional helmets because they aren’t stylish or will mess up their hair. Also, an electronics redesign is in the works and could help lower the cost of the product. Whether this invisible helmet will become a trend among cyclists remains to be seen.

New App Aims to Keep Teen Drivers Safe on the Road

A new app designed for the iPhone (and coming soon to Android) is attempting to help teen drivers be more alert and experienced behind the wheel, according to USA Today. The app, Time to Drive, was developed by the University of North Carolina and is geared for both teen drivers and their parents. Some of the features in Time to Drive include the ability to record the amount of driving the teen does and what conditions they’re in, tracking of hard stops, tips for parents, and goals for teens and parents to work on together. The app comes at a time where it’s much needed; teen driving deaths increased last year after being on the decline for several years prior. Statistics show that new drivers are at the highest risk when first getting their driver’s licenses. The creators of the app are hoping that by making practice more fun and easy they can help cut down the number of fatalities.

Could You Do Without Your Cable TV? 30 Percent of Americans Say Yes

Could You Do Without Your Cable TV? 30 Percent of Americans Say Yes

The popularity of Internet television and streaming shows on tablets and devices is allowing many people to keep up with their favorite shows without having to pay for cable television. Alexis Kleinman of The Huffington Post reports that a recent survey by Belkin and Harris Interactive found that 30 percent of Internet users in the United States would consider ditching their cable plans and primarily watch content online. Does this mean the end of television? It’s highly doubtful that would happen anytime soon, but statistics show a large increase in online viewers. Currently, 106.2 million American watch TV shows online at least once a month. And the survey predicts that by 2014 more than 50 percent of Internet users in the United States (130.7 million people) will be watching television online.

Facebook’s “Home” is the Talk of the Tech World This Week

Facebook is making headlines yet again, this time for it’s new “Home” on Android. Home is a series of apps that attempts to always keep mobile users on the social media platform’s network, according to CNET’s Jennifer Van Grove.  When using Home on Android, the phone’s home screen becomes a Facebook cover feed, or a visually rich and swipe-able version of the news feed. Home also includes a more picture-perfect version of messaging, complete with a Facebook-invented feature called “Chat Heads,” with colorful notifications that include friends’ pictures.

 

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Prezi Offers Visually Stunning Way to Share Ideas

Prezi Presentation AppSome speakers bore their audiences to tears by using presentations that have nothing but slides with dull lists and bullet points. As the material blends together and their listeners slowly drift off to a faraway place, the presentation fizzles. Whether or not the information was good becomes unimportant–all because the way it was presented was tedious and boring.

Professional speakers and lecturers are turning towards technology to engage their audiences and communicate their ideas. Dr. Daniel Crosby of IncBlot Organizational Psychology understands the power of a good presentation. His TED Talk called “You’re Not That Great: A Motivational Speech” kept audiences rapt and earned him a place as one of Monster.com’s12 thinkers to watch in the world of leadership and organizational development.

What was Crosby’s secret for keeping the presentation interesting? Well, for one he had some very interesting information (he’s currently writing a book based on it). But Crosby also credits Prezi, cloud-based presentation software with a zoomable canvas that allows you to create visually captivating presentations that lead audiences down a path of discovery.

“Since Prezi is dynamic, beautiful and novel, my participants engage at an increased level which makes my job easier,” Crosby said.  ”I can’t count how many times I’ve had someone come up to me after a presentation and have them ask me, ‘What was that software you were using?’ It immediately makes me and my work memorable.”

Prezi’s software allows users to present from any device. Choose between the freedom of the cloud, the security of your desktop, or the mobility of the iPad or iPhone. Prezi is also three dimensional, allowing users to guide their audience through the presentation, rather than just flip from slide to slide. Users can also zoom out to show the overview of the Prezi, zoom in to examine the details of their ideas, or simply move freely through the Prezi and react to the audience’s input.

TED Talks - PreziPrezi is starting to become the technology of choice for many other TED Talks speakers as well, including Peter H. Diamandis, founder and chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation, the co-founder and chairman of Singularity University.

“Prezi is helping reinvent the art of presentation,” Diamandis said. “Farewell, one-dimensional thinking. Hello motion, dynamism, flexibility and power of inter-connection. When I gave my TED Talk, I chose Prezi to bring my ideas to life.”

While Prezi has almost immediately caught on among professional speakers, it’s also become popular within other sectors, including business. According to Prezi’s Kelly Hook, currently 80 percent of the Fortune 500 are utilizing Prezi to facilitate presentations and the company just hit 20 million users and 2 million iPad downloads.

So whether your next presentation is to TED or to your sales team, consider using Prezi to step outside of the PowerPoint box.

For more TED Talk videos, including many using Prezi, check out their YouTube channel. WARNING: May be addicting.

 

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Technically Speaking: Stories of the Week – April 1

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features a new phone charger that’s slim enough to fit into wallets, apps that help you hail cabs, and a 5-foot jellyfish robot. All that and more in this edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

A Five-foot Jellyfish? Good thing it’s Only a Robot 

Robot Jellyfish - Surveillance Tool

As if people don’t find regular jellyfish pesky enough, Virginia Tech researchers have created a 5-foot robot version that can autonomously patrol oceans for surveillance and environmental monitoring, according to UPI.com. The robo-jellyfish has been named “Cyro” and was developed as part of a multi-university, nationwide $5 million project funded by U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare Center and the Office of Naval Research. According to the article the goal is to “create self-powering, autonomous machines that can travel the world’s ocean for surveillance, monitoring the environment, studying aquatic life, mapping ocean floors and monitoring ocean currents.”

Study Shows Facebook Users Check Facebook 14 Times a Day

How many times have you checked Facebook from your phone today? 5? 10? 15? A recent study by the analytics firm IDC shows that people check Facebook on their phones on an average of 14 times a day, according to NBC News. And Facebook wasn’t even the most checked application, according to the study; it was email. Also, the group surveyed said they spent about two-and-a-half hours a day on their phones. Almost half the group (44 percent) used their phones as an alarm clock, and 79 percent checked their phones within the first 15 minutes of waking up

Having Babies with Three Biological Parents May Soon Be Possible

As a child it was pretty tough to sneak things by two parents. Now things might get even more difficult. CBS New York reports that new technology that would bring babies into the world with three biological parents is close to being legalized in the United Kingdom. The main goal behind the technology is to be able to prevent mitochondrial disorders. The British public overall has supported the technology, according to published reports, but lawmakers have yet to make a decision on whether doctors can use it.

This New Phone Charger is So Slim it Will Fit in Your Wallet

Chargecard Wallet Cell Phone Charger

Finally there’s an answer for techies on the go who are tired of their cell phones running out of batteries. And it doesn’t require lugging around a a phone charger–well, at least not one of normal proportions. The ChargeCard, an invention that turned up on the site Kickstarter, is a USB phone charger that can fit in a wallet as easy as a credit card, says Seth Porges. The charger easily slips into a wallet, but some people are even finding that it fits between their phones and cases.

Use One of These Apps to Hail Yourself a Cab

Tired of missing out on cabs all the time in your nearest city? Luckily, there are several apps for smartphones and devices that can help you get your next taxi or ride share. This week, a post on the Mozy blog profiles Hailo in New York City and TechHive’s Caitlin McGarry breaks downUber, Side Car, and Lyft. Whether you’re looking for a yellow cab, a limo, or simply to get in the HOV lane, these apps make coordinating a ride easier than ever.

 

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Live from Your Living Room: Streaming Concerts

Live from your living roomThe lights come up, the crowd erupts, and jazz musician Walter Smith III steps onto the stage at Berklee College of Music in New York City. Smith III plays hundreds of gigs a year, so the sights and sound are familiar, but there is one thing about this show that’s different from all the others: it’s being recorded and streamed live over the Internet.

Live streaming of concerts is a growing trend in the music industry today, thanks to the increasing technology that’s available, according to Darren Lieberman, Senior Manager, Business Development & Music Partnerships at Livestream. Livestream, a platform that allows users to view and broadcast live video content, sells recording products to producers as well as broadcasting live shows on its website.

And despite what many may think, it’s not too difficult to stream a concert live for millions to see at home.

“At its simplest form — if you have a solid internet connection with enough bandwidth, a computer meeting our minimum specs running our free software, and a webcam, you can go live pretty instantly,” Lieberman said. “Just over the last 3-4 years we’ve seen a huge uptake in artists using live streaming. And as the technology gets even better and the costs to stream shows get lower, more and more artists will continue to jump on to the trend.”

Smith III jumped on the trend for his March 7 Berklee show, which was part of NPRMusic’s The Checkout – Live at Berklee, which brings critically acclaimed, New York-based Berklee alumni back to their alma mater for concerts to be streamed live online and on the radio.

Amy Schriefer, Sr. Product & Events Manager of NPR Music, said she also believes streaming live concerts is a trend that won’t be going away anytime soon. “As the industry changes and budgets shrink, we’re hearing from more artists that it just makes sense to do one show that reaches dozens of markets on the web and on the air,” she said. “The majority of our live webcasts are done in partnership with our member public radio stations, providing exposure on multiple platforms. The Checkout Live series, which features live jazz shows from venues, including Berklee, is aired on WBGO and webcast simultaneously on NPR Music.”

Smith III, who just released the new album found his show to be a positive experience. “It works well because people who wanted to go to the show but couldn’t can now see it. Whether they can’t make it due to distance, lack of tickets, or other reasons, this gives them a chance to see the performance.” It also doesn’t hurt that the musicians don’t have to do anything differently for the streamed shows — except maybe shorten a song or set here and there, he explained.

Lieberman echoed Smith III’s comments about these types of shows benefiting fans, but he also said they’re good for artists. “Not only is streaming a concert a way to attract new fans who may buy tickets to a future show, existing and new fans alike can follow an artist’s account on Livestream to be notified when they announce an event and go live with one.  This is a great way for artists to re-engage their existing fans and stay in touch online through social media and Livestream,” he said.

While Smith III said he believes video of concerts will continue to grow, and hopes the majority of it will be aired by organizations like LiveStream and NPR who allow the artists to have “control of the content.” If such legal streaming of concerts continues to grow it may cut down on the amount of concert clips posted online that are unauthorized, he said.

As for whether or not he plans to do more live streaming shows, Williams III said he might, but certainly doesn’t want to do too many. “I wouldn’t want every concert recorded,” he explained. “One every now and then is good.”

And this one was very good. Check it out at NPR Music.

 

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Technically Speaking: Stories of the Week – March 25

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features tips for finding free Wi-Fi, the hashtag taking over Facebook, license plate readers with an eye on Manhattan, and the slimmest television you’ve ever seen. All that and more in this edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

Just When You Thought Televisions Couldn’t Get Any Thinner…

Philips Designline Promo Image

Philips’ new DesignLine television may look more like a slab of glass than an actual TV, but the company has managed to create the product without any stands, necks, bezels, or other “eyesores”. The television, designed by TP Vision, is made to just lean against the wall. (A wall-mount option is also available.) The product is said to be ready for launch in the United Kingdom in June, but no word yet on a U.S. release. Caleb Denison of Digital Trends says the DesignLine set will have 1080p resolution; LED edge lightning; active shutter 3D technology with 2-player full-screen gaming’ a remote control with full keyboard and “pointer”; 4 HDMI, 3 USB, Wi-Fi, Ethernet inputs; Smart TV apps; USB recording; and Smart sharing features.

Find Free Wi-Fi Wherever You Go

You may have a secret or two up your sleeve when it comes to getting free Wi-Fi. After all, most people want to be able to email and access important documents in the cloud with smartphones, tablets or laptops no matter where they are or what they are doing. USA Today has some help for those that are regularly working on the go. They put together a list of 5 ways to find surefire, ways to locate free Wi-Fi no matter where you are going. The methods include “thinking outside the Wi-Fi box,” “join hotel loyalty programs and use coupons,” “tap into Wi-Fi databases,” “free Wi-Fi access from your cable company,” and “tether your phone.”

License Plate Readers to Help NYPD Track All Cars Entering Manhattan

High Tech NYPD

The sky in New York might soon be blue every day, even when it’s overcast outside. It might not be long before drivers won’t be able to enter or leave New York City without being recorded. As Matt Sledge of Huffington Post reports, city officials plan to install license plate reader cameras in all lanes of roads leading into, and out of, Manhattan. The license plate readers will scan all license plate numbers and record information about the car and time of travel to a database. While privacy advocates are steaming over what they see as a violation of rights, those in favor of the technology are saying it could help prevent terrorist attacks.

Will the Hashtag be One of Facebook’s Newest Features?

Known for it’s use on the popular social media site Twitter, the Hashtag may be making its way across platform lines. According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook is working on incorporating the hashtag into its users’ experience. Like Twitter, it would be designed to help group together conversations. Facebook is also doing research on other ways the hashtag might be used. It is still not clear whether the move will be definite, and details are still being ironed out, but hashtags on Facebook is a real possibility, according to the article. Look for the news to spark even more competition between to two social media giants.

Fans of Google Reader Fight to Save the Program from Imminent Shutdown

In case you haven’t already heard, Google has decided to pull the plug on its Google Reader feature. Upset about the impending shutdown, users have come together to create a petition and gather more than 100,000 signatures in hopes of saving the program, according to The Next Web, which has the entire petition available for reading. According to the article, those fighting the good fight shouldn’t hold out much hope though, as Google appears to be firm on it’s stance to cut its Reader feature, perhaps by the end of the month.

 

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Technically Speaking: Stories of the Week – March 18

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features an art exhibit displaying Pac-Man and Tetris, a 5-year-old spending $2,500 on an iPad game in 10 minutes, and Google Glass going for a new look. All that and more in this edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

Museum of Modern Art Exhibit Showcases Classic Video Games

Retro Video Game Exhibit

Playing Tetris and Pac-Man were a huge part of growing up for some people, and now some are actually being considered pieces of art. (Apologies if this makes you feel old.) PC Mag reports that 14 video games have been chosen to be showcased in the Museum of Modern Art’s Applied Design installation as part of a 100 object exhibit representing contemporary design. Also included with the video games are 3-D printed chairs and an app that culls data from the National Digital Forecast database to render a living portrait of the U.S. wind landscape. Video games being displayed include Pac-Man (1980), Tetris (1984), Myst (1993), SimCity 2000 (1994), Dwarf Fortress (2006), and Portal (2007).

Grounded for Life? 5-Year Old Racks Up $2500 in Ipad Charges in Just 10 Minutes

Note to parents: don’t leave your 5-year old alone with an iPad–even if it is just for a few minutes. A story out of Warmley, England this week is that a child asked his parents to play with the iPad for just a few minutes. He wanted to play the game Zombies vs. Ninja, reports CNET’s Chris Matyszczyk. The parents didn’t think anything of it. The game is free (at least up front) and it would occupy their son for the time being. The problem: while the game is free to play, there are several add-ons, like weapons, that you can purchase to give your character a boost. Well, the young boy decided he wanted quite a boost for his character. So much so that he spent $2,500 on the game in 10 minutes.

Company Allows Users to Watch Commercials to Save Money

The company Hitbliss, which sells streaming movies and television shows much like Netflix, has developed a new idea for how customers can make payments: watch ads in place of paying your bill. According to Forbes, this could be the future of ad-supported content. On Hitbliss users have the option of paying for a movie or television show or watching 30-second ads to build up credit on their account. Most of the time customers are able to watch a movie or show after viewing approximately a minute or two of commercials. Or they can just skip the ads and fork up the dough. Which would you prefer?

Can Google Glass Become Fashionable?

Can Google Glasses Be made Fashionable?

There is a ton of hype in the tech community around the launch of Google Glass, a new invention that allows people to always have the Internet within their line of sight–all they have to do is wear a pair of glasses. These aren’t your ordinary glasses though; they come complete with a battery, a computer processor, and a tiny screen. Realizing it’s probably not the most fashionable look out there, Google has reached out to Warby Parker, a startup known for selling trendy eyeglasses, says Clair Cain Miller of the New York Times.

Stressed about Having to do Taxes? Try One of These Apps 

It’s the time of the year when most people are either working on their tax returns or paying a professional to do it for them. Thanks to the evolution of technology, doing your own taxes may not be as difficult as you think. Jeff Reeves of USA Today goes over the top five apps for getting taxes done. And the best part? Some of them are free.

 

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Technically Speaking: Stories of the Week – March 6

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features a computer allowing users to reach into the screen, a new app that helps drivers find open parking spaces, and a look back at the Mobile Word Congress and the top items on display. All that and more in this edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

3-D Computing Prototype Literally Puts Users Inside the Computer

3D Computer

A futuristic device known as Spacetop may be a glimpse of what the future of computing holds.Though it may not be completed for quite some time, NBC News Reports that it, allows the user to work in a 3-D environment through a transparent display. Users then move around the elements on screen with their hands. Experts aren’t sure whether this is a type of computing that could actually become commonplace, but it was a huge hit at the recent TED conference where it was on display.

RSA Conference Forecast – 100 Percent Chance of Cloud

Cloud security is growing and developing so quickly that more and more industries are starting to take notice. According to John Fontana of ZDNet, this week’s RSA Conference—a cryptography and information security-related conference, will kickoff with a summit from the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), which now has approximately 45,000 members. Among the topics being discussed at the summit is the spread of cloud technology across the world and how it is forcing enterprises to focus on security from a variety of angles.

New App May Have Answer for Big City Parking Hassles 

Finding parking in a big city can be quite the headache. However, the recently released app Park.It is quickly making a name for itself as it helps drivers to find open parking spaces and avoid costly tickets. Right now the app only covers the city of San Francisco, however New York and Washington, D.C. versions will be available soon, says Katherine Bindley of Huffington Post Tech. Park.It shows users where legal spaces are located in the area they are driving in, and notifies them if they have parked in an illegal area.

A Look at the Top Products From Mobile World Congress

Mobile World Conference

The biggest mobile conference of the year MWC (Mobile World Congress) 2013 took place last week and Ubergizmo has a wrap-up of some of the top products on display. MWC is a chance for all the big-name tech companies to showoff products being released sometime in the near future.

 

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Technically Speaking: Stories of the Week – March 1

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week, we have Google going retail, t-shirts going biometric and a 3D printer helping a child overcome disability. All that and more in this week’s edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

5 Year Old with Disability Recipient of “Robohand” 

Liam and his Robot Hand

A 5-year-old boy born without fingers was the recipient of a new robohand this week, thanks to new technology and a remarkable collaboration. The robohand, “an open-sourced device built with customized prosthetic fingers,” according to Mashable’s Camille Bautista, was built using 3D printing. The duo that created the device live across the world from each other (one in Washington state, the other in South Africa) and used Skype to communicate and share ideas.

Coming to a Shopping Mall Near You: Google Stores

One of the companies you’re used to seeing all over the web may soon be all over your local shopping malls as well. Venture Beat reports that Google plans to launch its own retail stores just in time for the 2013 holiday season. The move could be considered an attempt to compete with Apple, which currently operates 400 stores in 12 countries, according to the article. The Google stores will feature the company’s products, like the new Chromebook, and will also have employees offering technical support, similar to what Apple does.

President Obama Urges Schools to Focus More on Technology

President Obama mentioned technology in his State of the Union Address last week, saying that he would like to see schools “meet the demands of a high-tech economy.” The President suggested that schools focusing more on technology—and subjects like science, engineering, and math—would be rewarded. While exciting people who have been pushing for more coding to be taught in schools, implementation may be an uphill battle. According to Forbes’ Anthony Wing Kosner, schools face challenges such as a lack of computer science teachers and time in their current daily schedules.

Under Armour Working on Technology for Touchscreen Tees

Technology and exercise have become fast friends. Smartphones are now valuable devices for workouts, as several apps and features have emerged to help motivate and keep track of miles, time, weight, and more. But what if you didn’t need your phone at all? If Under Armour’s vision comes true, all of that technology might be available right on a person’s arm—in the fabric of the shirt they’re wearing. Ryan Gearhardt for Mashable writes that, while the idea hasn’t been perfected yet, the company is hard at work on developing “wearable” technology, or touchscreen shirts.

 

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How Technology Can Cure Tax Season Headaches

Tax Stressed BusinessmanTax season is one of the most stressful times of the year for many Americans, but according to accounting experts, the proper use of technology is a better cure for tax-season headaches than a few aspirin.

“We live in a digital world,” explained Rebecca Berneck, founder of Officeheads, a provider of operational strategies and back office services to small companies. “There are a variety of different things taxpayers and business owners can do electronically throughout the year to make things much easier come tax time.”

One of the biggest hassles that can be avoided, according to Berneck, is having to carry around piles and piles of paper receipts. There are several ways you can now store them on your computer or mobile devices, she said.

According to Berneck, taxpayers should look to their mobile phones and devices for apps that allow you to scan in receipts and save them digitally. One such app is Proongo, an application and website where you can record your receipts, mileage, credit card information, and more, so it’s easily accessible come tax time.

She also suggests using your smartphone to take photos of the odometer in your car when you get gas, receipts from company dinners and outings, and any other expenses you plan to claim on your return.

Even if you’re not comfortable using apps or smartphones, you should at least consider scanning in important documents, like receipts and tax forms, said Julie Miller a spokesperson for TurboTax. TurboTax now offers tax software online, through tablet or smartphone, or via CD/Download. (Many employers are even starting to offer tax forms in PDF format so individuals don’t have to do it themselves, she said).

One new technological idea TurboTax has brought to the table to help with tax claims is ItsDeductible Online, a site that allows individuals to enter charitable donations right when they make them. ItsDeductible Online will automatically add those donations as deductions to the taxpayer’s TurboTax account. (In case you’re wondering, yes, you do have to use TurboTax to file your taxes for this feature to be useful).

The biggest downside to going digital with all of your tax documents is the fact that sometimes computers can crash and data can be lost, said Berneck of Officeheads . However, there’s an easy way to prevent that from happening: cloud software, she explained.

“Cloud provides secure and seamless accessibility,” she said, adding that having cloud software has saved her on numerous occasions. “These are extremely important documents,” she said. “When you work with them on a daily basis you want to make sure they’re as safe as can be. Cloud provides that needed security.”

So whether you use an accountant for your taxes, or you do them online yourself, technology can make your life easier. And all the experts agree that you should be recording your tax data electronically all year long. Do not wait until the last minute when tax season hits.

“The best thing you can do is get organized in advance of sitting down to do your taxes. More and more people are wanting to keep those documents electronically,” Miller said. “You want to make sure you get every dollar you deserve. Being organized is the best step to making that happen.”

 

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