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For those of you not in the know, today is Earth Day, a crowd-sourced holiday in which everyone is supposed to pause and think about how our daily lives are affecting the earth. This week Google, Apple and other tech giants have released statements, and held events to make their consumers more Earth conscious, and today coincidentally Google began selling its Nest smart thermostat on its Google Play Store.
Again, unless you have been living under a rock, you will recognize the Nest Thermostat as one of the early entries into the Internet of Things, and one of the first so-called intelligent thermostats to hit the market. Nest learns your heating and cooling schedule, and automatically adjust things to keep your home at the perfect temperature when you are home. Nest Thermostat owners can also make adjustments from their smartphone or tablet anywhere that has an internet connection. This allows users to turn the HVAC off while away and to turn it on before arriving home, and that saves a lot of money and lessens the owners carbon footprint.
There are alls sorts of gadgets and accessories that go along with the iPhone and iPad. You can find an accessory for just about anything you might need. If you are one of the many who have hearing loss, you can even get a made for iPhone hearing aid now.
That hearing aid is the ReSound LiNX and it is now available to purchase. It is also offered as the Beltone First with the same exact features. The LiNX uses an app that runs on the iPhone or iPad and allows the user direct control lover the hearing aid and its settings.
Users can control the treble and bass settings as well as the volume from that app. One of the coolest features is that the app supports geotagging. With geotagging, you can choose settings that are specific to certain locations and they will change automatically when you get to that location.
3D printers are really going to change the world, with the technology being used more and more in the healthcare industry. 3D printed human tissue, prosthetics and much more are being printed, but now 3D printers have saved a young boy's life.
14-month-old Roland Lian Cung Bawi, son of two Burmese immigrants living in Owensboro, Kentucky, had major defects to his heart. The defects included a hole in his heart, as well as misaligned aorta and pulmonary arteries, and if left untreated, he would have died not long after. Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Erle Austin, stepped in, taking 2D images of Roland's heart, which he then showed to his fellow surgeons, as he attempted to correct Roland's young heart.
The 2D scans were not precise enough, which left surgeons offering alternative solutions on how to fix his heart. Austin turned to the School of Engineering at Louisville, where they used a Makerbot Replicator 2X to create a 3D-printed model of Roland's heart, with all of the defects. The 3D-printed heart was printed in three separate pieces so that the surgeons could take it apart and look inside.
Many people out there are still using normal toothbrushes to keep their teeth clean. There are also a number of folks that have adopted high-tech toothbrushes to help keep their mouths even cleaner. Oral-B is one of the biggest names in electric toothbrushes and the company has announced that it will be showing off its most tech packed toothbrush yet at MWC 2014.
The toothbrush is the first to feature Bluetooth 4.0 technology inside. The Bluetooth tech inside the toothbrush interfaces with an app that runs on your smartphone. The idea is that the app can be programmed with the help of a dentist to help you concentrate on part so the mouth that need it.
The app also gives you feedback on how well you brush. That feedback includes how long you brushed and if you used too much pressure among other things. The toothbrush can be programmed with personal brush settings for target session length and preferred brushing modes.
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."