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The upcoming iOS 8, Apple's latest mobile operating system due to be delivered later this year, is rumored to be health-centric. The headlining feature of the new operating system is said to be "Healthbook", an app that will function similar to how Passbook functions, but will be all about tracking a user's health-related data.
It's likely that the Healthbook app is being designed to interface with the long-rumored iWatch that Apple is reportedly developing. The Healthbook app will reportedly be able to track numerous different aspects of a person's health, in addition to the usual steps walked and calories burned. The iWatch/Healthbook combo is rumored to be able to track blood pressure, hydration levels, heart rate, and possibly several other blood-related data points. Users can also enter information about medications and the software will remind users to take medication at appropriate times.
Of course, this is just a rumor, so take it with a grain of salt. The source also warns that health integration could be removed for the final cut of iOS8. However, it's fairly likely that the iWatch will make a debut sometime in 2014.
Almost 70 percent of consumers in the United States suffer from digital eye strain from continuous use of electronic devices, according to The Vision Council. As casual consumers become more comfortable with devices like smartphones and tablets, it seems there is major concern that digital eye strain will become more prevalent. The term digital eye strain explains two or more hours using a device with a digital screen - and includes dry, red and irritated eyes, fatigued eyes, blurred vision, headaches, and back, neck or shoulder pain.
"Digital eye strain has become a large concern for the vision community," said Ed Greene, The Vision Council CEO, in a statement. "Fortunately, the optical industry has made great strides in the past year to develop lens technologies that can best address the causes of digital eye strain. Like other glasses we rely on to read and see clearly, computer glasses are transforming the way we look at computer and handheld devices."
For better eye health, the "20-20-20" rule: After every 20-minute duration, take a short 20-second break while looking at something 20 feet away. When reading text or looking at a particular screen, either increase font size or zoom in.
Electronics company Withings has launched a $299 gadget that uses customized light and sound programs that adapt to each sleeper, providing a more restful amount of sleep. Aura also has the ability to track heart rate, breathing and body movement, along with noise pollution, room temperature, and lighting. Both the custom sensor pad and beside unit send information wirelessly, which owners can check using a free mobile app.
"Sleep is such a vital part of a healthy balance that we challenged ourselves to create a product that could be used not only to analyze and monitor sleep, but also to positively impact the experience," said Cedric Hutchings, Withings co-founder, in a press statement.
Smart technologies will be a major draw at CES 2014, with Withings fighting for attention among a strong list of competitors. However, the niche market for those looking to improve daily life could benefit from looking at something like the Withings Aura.
Pyle Audio recently introduced the Bluetooth Fitness Scale (PHLSCBT4), a custom designed scale including a smartphone app so owners can better track their health and fitness.
Scale owners are able to track data with the free Pyle Health Fitness Tracker app, and everything can be sent wirelessly via Bluetooth to a smartphone or tablet. Designed for Apple and Google Android products, and all data can be shared on Twitter or Facebook - or in an online password-protected workout log. Collected data includes: weight, body fat, hydration levels, muscle level and bone level percentages - and provides a great baseline of overall health.
The scale is available immediately with a $59.99 USD retail price. Pyle is best known as an audio company often specializing in consumer electronics, sports products, and professional audio - so this is a rather interesting product offering.
A gravity powered LED light has been introduced by the designers of GravityLight. This light produces its own energy by, you guessed it, gravity. A string on one side of the light is pulled, lifting a bag attached to the other side. After letting go, the bag gradually falls back down to the starting point. This turns gears inside that produce enough energy to power the LED for up to 30 minutes. The weight of the bag determines how long the light will last. Brighter light settings can be selected but also shorten the amount of time it lasts.
This easy to use, portable light that uses no costly batteries or fuel also allows light in areas without electricity. It can replace dangerous kerosene lamps in those areas.
After raising a sufficient $400,000, which is $345,000 more than their original $55,000 goal, the designers are testing the new product and are expecting it to be available to the market soon after.
Calico is a new project from Google, and a mysterious, but wonderful project from the Mountain View-based giant. Google explains Calico as "a new company focused on health and well-being, in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases."
No one knows what Calico will be doing exactly, but it's interesting to note that Calico's CEO, Art Levinson, is a chairman over at Apple - Google's main competitor. Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, has had a say in Google's press release, where he said: "For too many of our friends and family, life has been cut short or the quality of their life is too often lacking."
Cook praised Google's choice in Levinson, who is also the chairman and former CEO of biotech company Genentech, as well as the director of its parent company, Hoffman-Le Roche. Google's CEO, Larry Page, took to his Google+ page where he said: "OK ... so you're probably thinking wow! That's a lot different from what Google does today. But as we explained in our first letter to shareholders, there's tremendous potential for technology more generally to improve people's lives."
Today, Netflix launched a new feature that allows family members to set up user profiles so that everyone sees their own recommendations and favorites. This allows you to see your horror flicks without seeing the Disney shows your kids want to watch. Netflix used to have a similar feature but removed it in 2008.
The newly revised profiles are designed to sharpen the way Netflix makes recommendations by better excluding content you may not want to see. "The more people watch, the more they retain" the service, Chief Executive Reed Hastings said. Netflix says that the new profiles are much more simple and easy to maintain than the previous iteration.
"With a feature like profiles where consumers invest a lot, you can't take it away," Said Neil Hunt, Netflix's chief product officer. "We didn't want to introduce something that we might have to change or take away. Our intent is to make the family experience great, we've not been too worried with the phenomenon of account sharing,"
If one daily dose of 3D printing was not enough for you, scientist at Cornell University have successfully printed lifelike human ears that can be used to treat birth defects such as microtia. Other possible uses are for accident victims or those who lost an ear to cancer.
The "product" that is almost perfectly identical to a human ear, was printed using gel made from living cells, a type of collagen that is gathered from rat tails as well as cartilage cells taken from cow ears. The whole process is rather quick too in terms of forming a living organ.
Associate professor Lawrence Bonassar said:
"It takes half a day to design the mold, a day or so to print it, 30 minutes to inject the gel, and we can remove the ear 15 minutes later. We trim the ear and then let it culture for several days in nourishing cell culture media before it is implanted."
While some hard-core Star Wars fans might be upset by Disney's announcement, others will certainly be pleased. Disney has confirmed that there will be at least two spinoffs that focus on individual Star Wars characters. These movies will be in addition to the upcoming episodes, the first of which--Episode VII--will be directed by J.J. Abrams.
Lucasfilm is officially announcing new spinoff films that will expand the mythos and depths of the Star Wars universe in previously unexplored ways. One of the standalone films will be written by Lawrence Kasdan, screenwriter of The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and co-writer of Return of the Jedi while the other will be penned by Simon Kinberg, writer of Sherlock Holmes and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The movies will be separate from the upcoming Episodes VII, VIII, and IX, on which Kasdan and Kinberg are also consulting, and are expected to be released sometime after Episode VII. Each standalone film will focus on a specific character, and two spinoff films are currently confirmed.
Basically, Disney is trying to make as much money as possible from their $4 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm. Nothing has been said about which characters these spinoffs will focus on, though rumors suggest that Yoda or Jabba the Hutt could be the potential stars.
If you're a Star Wars fan, how do you feel about Disney's spinoff plans?
Dyson's latest and greatest invention is an update to their Airblade line of hand dryers, the Airblade Tap. Dyson's Airblade Tap integrates the drying functionality directly into the faucet itself, thanks to some great size reductions in the technology required to integrate the drying functionality into the faucet. Sir James Dyson, founder of Dyson said:
In washrooms using conventional taps, you'll need to move to a separate hand drying area, dripping water on the floors as you go. With the Dyson Airblade Tap hand dryer, water isn't dripped on the floor because you don't need to leave the sink with wet hands.
Dyson's Airblade Tap sports a smaller 1600W motor that is capable of drying hands in under 12 seconds as it's capable of pushing air out at an incredible 420mph. The hand dryer also cleans the air before blowing it onto your hands, with Dyson stating that it makes it much more convenient to use than regular hand dryers. The included HEPA filters reportedly pick up 99.9% of bacteria and viruses in the bathroom air, too.