Monday, January 20, 2014

Olympic apps are ready to perform for the Sochi 2014 games

If I had a wallet full of one-hundred dollars bills and some time off, I would try and make my way to the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Russia.

But since I'll be around 6,000 miles away, I'll have to rely on technology and all the apps that will keep me up to date on what's going on. The Olympic officials say around 1,650 of the world's best athletes from over 45 countries will compete in five Paralympic sports.

A quick search of the apps stores will bring up a slew of Sochi 2014 apps that are free, although a few will cost from around $1 to $4.

The Olympic organizing committee also has developed their own free Sochi 2014 Guide app for iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices. It'll provide up-to-date information on the events. These apps are for the fans, while the American athletes will get their very own special app.

The AT&T Mobile Application Development group is developing a custom-built application for members of Team USA. The app will be launched by the United States Olympic Committee to help the athletes and coaches communicate and navigate the Olympic and Paralympic events in Sochi.

The app will provide calendar updates, logistics, maps and other information, such as reference guides, athlete handbook, polices and procedures.

By making the Olympic app available, the USOC hopes to avoid distractions for Team USA and allow them to focus on the competition.

In addition to the app, the USOC will used a separate app for managing voice and data usage on smartphones, which are being provided to Team USA athletes, coaches and delegates through a partnership with AT&T and Samsung.

The networking services for the winter games will be provided the NBCUniversal and AT&T, with the idea that people watching the events will do so from multiple devices, including smartphones, tablets, computers and traditional television sets.

So it looks like everything in place on their end. The only thing left to do on our end is to grab a mobile device and download some apps by Feb. 7, which is the start of the winter games. Then you can put you feet up and enjoy all the flips, jumps and sliding until Feb. 23.

Let the games begin.

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Monday, January 13, 2014

Girl Scout troops embrace mobile app for cookie sales

It's that time of the year for Girl Scout Cookies. My favorite is Caramel deLites – yummy, yummy.

I'm not surprised that technology has made its way to door-to-door cookie sales in the form of an app, COCOMobile, that will help track each girl's sales, progress toward goals, orders and delivery status. The girls will also be informed when they reach a sales incentive when using this free app.

The effort has taken flight on the Verizon Wireless network, as a couple of the Girl Scouts organization staffs in South Carolina have been outfitted with Verizon smartphones and mobile hotspots.

According to Verizon officials, the girls will be able to boost sales by using a Square or Intuit card reader over a smartphone on Verizon's network to let customers buy cookies without cash.

By using the COCOmobile app, developed by Interbake Food LLC, Verizon and Girl Scouts organization are hoping the girls will learn more about about financial literacy and acquire skills that will shape their future.

I'll be able to get my Caramel deLites without cash and I'll try not to eat the whole box at once.

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Saturday, January 11, 2014

2014 CES: Best of Show awards showcases emerging technology

The 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show is history now and probably all that's left behind are discarded name tags and freebies that nobody wanted.

But Engadet, a popular technology website, has released its "Best of CES 2014 Awards" winners with some real goodies on the list. These are the gadgets that we'll likely be hearing more about this year.

The finalist come from different categories, such as Best Startup, Best Digital Health & Fitness Product and Best Automotive Electronics Product. Some were prototypes, some were in the funding stage and some are expected on the shelves soon.

Some of the previous stars of technology didn't make the list, such as desktops, laptops and not even a tablet. The emerging smart watches were also absent and smartphones were not all the rage this year, except for the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact. According to Engadget, the Xperia Z1, a smaller version of the larger Xperia, features some of the same powerful components as its larger sibling.

We can expect to see a wave of Fitness Bands on our wrists in the wearable technology arena. They will monitor everything from heart rates to burning calories to swimming strokes. The JayBird Reign fitness device stood out to the Engadget judges. The Epson Pulsense and Atlas fitness bands were also at the electronics show.

There is even something for the kids in a wearable baby monitor, which will let parents monitor a baby's vital stats.

Then there is the mysterious 3D printer, for which this technology still has a ways to go before ending up in my office, but it's getting there, with the MakerBot Replicator 3D printer eating the way. For virtual reality and gaming fans, the Oculus Rift VR headset looks very promising. It is now in development as a Kickstarter project

So be sure and check out the full list of technology products that had the "wow factor" at the CES in Las Vegas. These are the gadgets that will be after our wallets this year.

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2014 CES: Epson introduces Pulsense wearable fitness devices

It seems that the healthcare and fitness industry is on track to embrace wearable technology. Epson America, a leader in innovative products, and probably better known for their inkjet printers and projectors, is leading the way with the announcement of their continuous heart rate monitoring wearable device.

The Epson Pulsense smart watch, a bio-sensing wrist watch, and a lightweight Pulsense band was announced at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. According to Epson, these devices, which are designed for daily wear and activity, can monitor and store your heart rate, activity level, calorie burn and sleep patterns.

The Pulsense band has a LED display that can be wirelessly connected to a smartphone to read and transfer the stored biometric data, while the watch features a LCD display for real-time viewing of heart rate, steps walked, calorie burn and date/time. These wearable devices will be pitched as ideal devices for staying fit, losing weight or training for a marathon.

This technology works by detecting a continuous heart rate directly from the wrist by measuring the amount of light reflected from red blood cells. A single heart beat is recorded when the amount of light reflected changes due to a drop in red blood cell count as the blood vessel contracts. There is no chest strap involved.

Since the Pulsense devices utilizes real-time heart rate data, it is able to determine calories burned based on personal biometrics. With the built-in memory, the Pulsense can store up to 480 hours of heart-rate data, which can be transferred to a smartphone or computer. For tracking your progress over a period of time, the data can transferred to an online health or fitness service using an iOS or Android mobile app, as well as from your personal computer.

You can look for these devices to hit the shelves this summer for around $130 for the band and $200 for the watch.

Epson also announced Moverio smart glasses with front-facing cameras and motion sensors and a Labelworks app-enabled label printer for printing QR and Bar codes.

It's still early in the week and more emerging technology will continue to flow from the 2014 CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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