Tag Archives | technology

Image by paulbr75, pixabay.com

We know technology has grown exponentially over the past 20 years in ways that make our lives fun and efficient, but it has also made life easier and safer for some. Here are three tech advances that are really changing lives:

1. Smart watches for blind people
Think about the last time you had trouble finding where you were going. Now imagine being disoriented again, only this time you’re blind. Sometimes we take things like vision for granted, and Sunu is changing things. Fernando Albertorio is co-founder of this company, and legally blind. He recognized a need for a product that could help him navigate without bumping into objects, and created a wristband that emits ultrasound waves and uses varying levels of vibrations to let him know how close objects are. Not only is this product practical for the blind or visually impaired, but it increases their confidence and way of living. Albertorio even ran a 5K race wearing it.
Price: $299

2. Self-driving wheelchairs
You’ve heard of self-driving cars – so it’s only logical that self-driving wheelchairs would be just as possible. A Canadian research team has claimed to develop technology that would allow wheelchairs to drive themselves. The idea has presented itself before, however, the price for one of these was in the range of $30,000 – not exactly affordable. Toronto’s Cyberworks Robotics and the University of Toronto say they can create one for a cost of $300-$700. Self-driving wheelchairs would assist those who have low mobility in their upper body and may not be able – or find it difficult – to use joysticks and similar features on current motorized vehicles. While still a work in progress, it’s a good move towards improving the quality of life for those confined to wheelchairs.
Price: TBD

3. A device to prevent sexual assault
Sexual assault cases are constantly in the news, and MIT researchers wanted to develop a way to help detect it and prevent it. Too many times on campus, students are intoxicated and end up in situations where their judgment isn’t clear. The Intrepid Smart Sticker was created with the idea that it can be fastened to the inside of your clothing and sync to your phone. The sticker recognizes when clothes are being removed, and sends a notification to the wearer’s phone asking for consent. If a response isn’t received, the phone will start buzzing loudly, and if a response is still not received, the identified contacts in the user’s “safety circle” will be notified and receive their location and a phone call. The app will also start recording the phone call and any other noises. Based on input from assault survivors, volunteers, and users, the Intrepid team believes this device could really help cut down the number of assault cases.
Price: TBD

Amazon

Ok, maybe it’s not the same as a personal chef, but let’s face it, an item that can heat up food while we sit on the couch is a win.

Amazon has introduced its AmazonBasics Alexa-powered microwave, letting you tell Alexa to start heating things up. Even the installation (if you can call it that) is easy, provided you have the Amazon Echo already set up (it is required for the microwave to respond to voice commands). Just plug in, connect to the app, and away you go!

You’ll have the option to activate the microwave the same way you do with Echo, by saying “Alexa”, or you can hit the “Ask Alexa” button on your microwave and proceed with your instructions. Voice presets will help eliminate the need for you to know how much cooking time is required. For example, you can tell Alexa to cook a potato, defrost peas, or reheat a cup of coffee. It’s practically magic.

Can’t get enough of stay-in movie nights? If you so choose, you can sign up to automatically reorder popcorn. Alexa will keep track of how many times you use the Popcorn button or voice command, and reorder popcorn for you when it knows you’re running low.

For those of us that aren’t quite ready to embrace voice technology, the microwave still has the “old-fashioned” keypad.

For the affordable price, the compact size, and the ease of use, this microwave is perfect for your dorm room!

Size: 17.3″ x 14.1″ x 10.1″
Cavity Size: 0.7 cu.ft.
Power levels: 10
System requirements: Alexa app, Echo device
Price: $59.99 USD
Buy: Amazon.com

L (5)

By hackNY.org on Flickr

Amazon Student is a special service offered by Amazon which – you guessed it – caters specifically to students. Available initially as a free six month trial, the service can be extended after the trial for 50% off the price of a regular Amazon Prime account. So what is it exactly that you’re paying for as a student?

The trial version of Amazon Prime Student includes free two-day shipping for the whole six months, and members will receive email updates on promotions. Amazon Prime Students also get early access to Lightning Deals – 30 minutes before the rest of the public.

Being an Amazon Prime Student member has other bonuses that include having access to Prime Video, a streaming service with access to a large amount of movies and TV shows. You’ll also get free unlimited photo storage with Amazon Drive and a subscription to Twitch Prime with monthly games and exclusive in-game content.

For Canadian and American students who enjoy shopping online, Amazon Prime Student is a great option, especially for the free two day shipping that it comes with. Online shoppers will save money on shipping costs and receive their purchases more quickly – which is also great for last minute gifts! Students who enjoy watching television and movies will benefit as well from the large amount of content available on Prime Video. Photo lovers who may be running out of hard drive space, or wish to keep their content in the cloud will benefit from the unlimited photo storage offered. Amazon Prime Student appears to be a great service with great features.

The biggest con here of course is the price. However, you get six free months to test out the service and see if you like it (and use it) enough to warrant the $7.99 per month fee. Keep in mind that you’ll be switched over to Amazon Prime once your four years are up. If you don’t want to spend the money at that point, you’ll need to find another place to store your photos.

For more information on becoming an Amazon Prime Student, check out their website.

Highlights:

  • Six month Free Trial
  • Free Two-day Shipping
  • Unlimited Photo Storage
  • Prime video streaming service
  • Access to Lightning Deals 30 minutes early
  • 50% off Amazon Prime membership

Amazon

When you’re grinding through those hefty assignments, having a pump-up playlist in the background can make all the difference in keeping you going. With hundreds of bluetooth speakers to choose from, a student-sized budget can really narrow down the options. However, not all inexpensive speakers are poor in quality!

The best, most affordable bluetooth speaker we’ve come across is the DOSS SoundBox Touch, which comes in at a delightful $28.99 and comes in four colours – blue, red, white, and black. It boasts a high-def, 360 degree stereo sound and fingertip controls and up to 12 hours playtime for your all-nighters (though you should expect 9 to 10 hours). It’s sleek and attractive, and both looks and sounds more expensive than it is – which is always a plus!

You’ll only need to connect your phone to the speaker once; from then on, the speaker will automatically connect to the last used device.

Keep in mind this speaker isn’t water-resistant, so you may want to refrain from using it for pool parties, but the sound is loud enough that you’ll be able to add a soundtrack to your sunny days in the park.

Overall, it’s hard to find cons for this device – for the price, the quality is superb!

Sound: 12W high-performance drives; <1% harmonic distortion; 360-degree stereo sound Battery Life: Up to 12 hours at 75% volume; recharge in 3-4 hours
Compatibility: Connect to bluetooth-enabled devices up to 33ft; aux-in; micro SD card
Colors: Black, white, blue, red
Size: 6.6 x 2.9 x 2.7 in
Accessories Storage bag, aux cable, USB charging cable, audio adapter
Price: $28.99 USD
Buy: Amazon

Image via store.google.com

If you’re a university student in 2018, chances are you never really knew a life where smartphones weren’t necessary. Our entire lives are on our phones, and if we ever forget to bring it out with us, we feel naked. The unfortunate thing is that they are incredibly expensive – especially if they need to be replaced every few years. So as a student trying to pay your way through school, you need to find the balance between a great smartphone and a great price.

Enter Google Pixel 3.

Aside from a sleek design, the best part about this phone has got to be the camera – whether you’re outside during golden hour or in a dimly lit restaurant, you can be confident your photos will be of great quality. For the price you’re paying, you will get all the connectivity, apps, storage and speed you’re looking for, and in the age of Instagram and social media, having a better camera than competitors is nothing to shy away from!

Pros:

  • The camera – great quality photos, no matter the light
  • Water resistant – because we all need a little safety net
  • Wireless charging – say goodbye to sitting on the floor next to your outlet!

Cons:

  • No headphone jack (am I the only one disappointed by this trend?)
  • If you need more memory than 64GB, you’ll have to buy a new phone (or delete some selfies)

Overall, the Google Pixel 3 has very few cons, and with a price a couple of hundred dollars lower than competitors, it’s the perfect fit for students!

Security: Fingerprint reader
Operating System: Android Pie
Cameras: Dual front-facing camera; rear-facing camera
Colors: Just Black, Clearly White, Not Pink
Processor: QUALCOMM 8-core 64-bit
Resolution: OLED 2160x1080px
Size: 5.5 in
Battery: Wireless charging
Memory: 64GB
Price: from $750 USD
Buy: Google Store

Image via amazon.ca

20 years ago, our parents had stacks of photo albums with everything from our birthday parties to trips to the zoo, to pool parties and holidays. Now, smartphones have taken away that printed photo in favour of digital ones we can swipe through. But there’s something about a tangible memory – somehow, it leaves more of an impact.

The Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6 camera can help give you that physical memento, but with a digital flair. All those filters and editing features we love so much about apps and smartphones are also included right in this camera, so when you print your polaroid, you’re looking your best.

This camera is so easy to use and really has nothing you don’t need. It’s a simple way to bring some nostalgia into your life and doesn’t claim to be anything more. Competitors do have more features, but it depends what you’ll be using the camera for. For a fun day out with friends where you’re just looking to print a photo for your fridge, this camera is perfect. You may need to wait a minute or so for your polaroid to print (that might feel like forever!) but this makes a great gift for your significant other or best friend and will really encourage you to get out and explore!

Colors: Graphite Gray, Aqua Blue, Blush Gold, Ruby Red, Pearl White
Filters: Comes with orange, green, and purple filters you can add over the flash
Size: 4.7 in. x 5.0 in. x 2.3 in.
Photo Dimension: 2.4 x 2.4 in
Film Development Time: 90 seconds
Self Timer: Yes
Battery: Non-rechargeable
Price: from $150 CAD
Buy: Amazon

Bring your own device

Photo by EigenmannZaak on pixabay.com

Most employers can’t keep up with changing technology as easily as their workforce can, so adopting a “bring your own device” policy is common for businesses these days. It allows employees to do work on their own laptops, tablets, and smartphones instead of company-issued equipment.

The widespread adoption of BYOD (bring your own device) to work has changed the nature of how connected we are — or are expected to be — in an office setting.

As our availability shifts, so do expectations that we should be more connected to work 24-7. Employees don’t even seem to mind this as they’d rather use their own devices for business purposes than unfamiliar work-issued equipment. Why? Here are five reasons.

Work & Play

The line between work life and personal life can be pretty blurry sometimes. Whether we like it or not, our smartphones connect us to both personal and professional endeavors. Many of us embrace the blurriness because it’s all part of “life,” and we tend to spend most of our waking hours on work related stuff anyway, whether at home or in an office. But it can be intrusive if you let it, which is why striking a balance may be necessary. Versatile business devices, for example, separate business apps from personal apps so you can use your device for both work and play. It beats having two separate phones.

“Considering 20 percent of the 1,500 job seekers surveyed by FlexJobs last year would take a cut in pay for more flexible work options, the BYOD trend is necessary to creating more work-life balance,” states an article on Entrepreneur’s site. “Not to mention, working from devices that employees are already familiar and comfortable with can help them complete tasks quickly and efficiently.”

Efficiency Queens & Kings

Instead of learning how to use computers or technology you’re not familiar with, it’s easier to stick with what you know as it saves time. When companies allow you to use your own mobile device, they are basically letting you choose the tool you see most useful to get the job done. Just imagine if a painter couldn’t pick his own brushes or if a mechanic couldn’t use her own tools. Similar philosophy, right?

Keep the Talent

Millennials and creative types especially like flexibility in the workplace because they often work outside of the 9-to-5 office paradigm. BYOD is a good recruitment and retention tool as many tech-savvy workers see their personal devices as an employee benefit. They can work either in the office or at home on the weekends and evenings with more fluidity than switching between devices. BYOD is particularly important for tech-heavy jobs like graphic design, UX design and programming because different operating systems support different products.

Expanded job titles

Speaking of creative types, our super mobile society has widened the job possibilities endlessly. In the marketing field in particular, technology is transforming the old marketing landscape with new career opportunities in a huge range of content channels. If you’re in marketing, you could actually help companies look at gaps in the their marketing plans and offer skills that will help a potential new employer step up their game and separate themselves from the competition.

Morale Booster

Even though the employee is usually the one who ends up paying to use their own equipment, which doesn’t seem that enticing on the surface, there’s still a sense of freedom or independence associated with being able to use your own device. Sometimes it’s the simple things that encourage employees to stay with a company, especially if the employer actually pays for the device of your choice.

This article was contributed by guest author Devin Morrissey.

Image from amazon.com

Have you been to a house built in the 1970’s and noticed that weird speaker system in various rooms? Intercoms were very popular in this era, allowing parents to tell their kids when dinner was ready without yelling across the house.

It seems that now, texting and instant messaging have taken over that role, but it’s possible that intercoms are coming back in a new, modern form.

Amazon just introduced an intercom feature on their Echo devices, allowing you to converse across rooms. It uses a teleconferencing software called Drop-In, and will work with your connected devices once set up on the Alexa app.

All you need to do is name the devices (ie. “Kitchen,” “Bedroom,” “Den”). Then you can activate the intercom simply by instructing Alexa to call that room. The intercom also works from the Alexa tablet and smartphone apps – so you can place calls to the Kitchen straight from your phone.

We can see it now – you’re on your way home from school and starving. You open the app and say, “Hey Alexa, call the Kitchen,” and it would probably immediately be followed by, “Hey mom, what’s for dinner?” Whether your mom will like this feature or not is to be determined.

An interesting feature with the intercom is that it doesn’t work on Wi-Fi – meaning you can connect devices that are in different locations. Now, this is something your mom probably would like – especially if you’re away at school and you bring an Echo device to your dorm.

If you’ve already got Echo devices, the intercom feature is available with the latest app update. If you don’t have Echo devices, here’s where to start for more information.

Image by William Iven, unsplash.com

Image by William Iven, unsplash.com

Cellphones are no longer mere communication devices. With the advent of advanced systems on chip products such as the Qualcomm Snapdragon series, you can now carry an entire PC in your pocket. Additionally, there are services that allow for complex data manipulation via powerful remotely-accessible computers. This change in how data is interacted with in real-time has broad implications for many aspects of everyday life – including education. Here’s how powerful your mobile phone can be:

Mathematics
Equations of various difficulties from basic arithmetic to advanced calculus can be input into online knowledge engines such as Wolfram Alpha. This allows for math to be made very easy with minimal preexisting knowledge. The skillset needed to solve almost any everyday mathematical problem is now basic data entry – instead of having to memorize formulas, you can simply enter information into a text box to get instant answers.

Science
Whether you have to balance a chemical equation or find information on a specific organism, all you have to do is type. Between Google, Wikipedia, and Wolfram Alpha, you have unlimited information at your fingertips. The answer to virtually any question can be found quickly with simple searches.

History
Search engines are our new best friend. Do you need to know when a specific event took place? What about where a battle happened or why? Google has you covered. For more in-depth knowledge, provided links can be explored in detail, but the text underneath each result is often enough to solve your query.

Languages
Are you unsure about how to spell a word, or wondering if your grammar is correct? Just Google the way you think it should be written, and precise results will be provided instantly. Additionally, text can easily and accurately be translated into foreign languages: with Google Translate or Babelfish, many people now check their phrases to make sure they sound natural.

Smartphones have fundamentally altered education as we know it. With data security and touch ID our phones are more accessible and safer than ever! With growing computational power, the impact of phones will only increase in the future to the benefit of us all. Don’t be left behind as computers evolve dramatically – use technology to enhance your learning experience and make your schooling a breeze.

This article was contributed by guest author Kara Masterson.


Nascent Modular Consumer Electronics from Nascent Objects.

Ever wonder how your water bill got so high? When are you using all this water? Is it your roommate or a family member?

Researchers have found that when people are aware of how much water is being used (ie. if they’re being timed while the water is on), they use up to 30% less. In places like drought-ridden California, 30% is a big number. In comes Droppler.

Droppler listens to your water usage – yes, listens. The company that invented it, Nascent, programmed Droppler to “hear” the sounds of water on different sinks (you can imagine how much time this took), and to block out other miscellaneous house sounds like footsteps, cooking, etc. Droppler starts off with a full bar of light in the morning, and as it hears water being used, the light depletes, and information is synced to an app. It’s supposed to make you aware of how much water is being used throughout the day.

When it’s not monitoring water usage, it can also be separated to act as a speaker or home-monitoring camera. Go figure!

Droppler has raised $62,499 USD on their Indiegogo campaign.

The Details:

  • Shell: Porcelain
  • Wifi & Bluetooth enabled
  • Microphone
  • Light: LED
  • Camera: 720px home-monitoring
  • Speaker: Wifi streaming
  • Price: Unknown