Wednesday, March 19, 2014

SmartSoles offer tracking technology for Alzheimer's patients

If you have a family member diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, dementia or autism, and who has a history of wandering, the Smartsoles technology might be the one thing to offer some peace of mind.

The Bluetooth SmartSoles is a footwear system that consists of an embedded Bluetooth chip. The SmartSoles look like regular insoles and are designed to fit nearly every size shoe, as they can be trimmed to fit. An email or text message is sent to a caregiver when a wearer leaves a pre-set area, such as a room or building. They can be used in a personal home or assisted living facilities.

In addition to a tracking portal for desktops, laptops and tablets, a free Smart Locator mobile app will available for Android and Apple devices. The cost is expected to be under $50, with a rechargeable battery that'll last up to five days on a single charge and is rated to last over a year before needing to be replaced.

The SmartSoles are manufactured by GTX Corp., a developer of wearable technology, and are expected to be available in the second quarter of this year.

According to the company, this technology could be the solution for tracking loved ones with cognitive memory disorders.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Jackery Leaf extends iPhone 5, 5S battery with on-the-go charging

If you're like me and have been having problems making it through a full day without having to recharge your iPhone battery, then I have the solution for charging on the go.

I've been testing the Jackery Leaf for the past few weeks and I no longer dread the mid-afternoon battery run-down saga, which was just like clockwork every day. Now I'm able to use my iPhone until bedtime with no worries about a weak battery.

The Jackery Leaf is an integrated rechargeable battery and spiffy case that provides plenty of extra juice for iPhone 5 and 5S devices. According to the Santa Clara, California-based technology company, a maker of portable batteries for smartphones and tablets, the Leaf gives users up to 50 extra hours of operational time, depending on the types of applications and tasks that are running.

The Leaf accomplishes this feat with an Apple certified micro-USB Lightning connector converter built into a rechargeable 2400 mAh Li-ion battery, which also slips into a stylish case to make one compact unit. The device can be charged as one unit with the iPhone or separated and the battery charged while the case is still on the iPhone.

The setup is a breeze to install. Just slip the iPhone into the case and then slide the iPhone/case onto the Lightning connector built into the base of the charger. Everything fits snugly with a unique hook that is hidden from view when everything is fitted.

The Leaf charger uses a micro-USB cable and it takes about five hours to fully charge the battery, which can monitored by a three-color LED indicator light on the back of the charger unit. It starts out blinking red and progresses to blue and finally green to indicate a full charge.

Once the Leaf's battery was fully charged during my test, my iPhone stayed charged for several days, with me only charging the iPhone/Leaf charger each night at bedtime, like I normally would do. I finally depleted the Leaf's battery after about two-weeks of use, but I still had enough to juice to use my iPhone while the Leaf was charging.

The Leaf is not as fussy as say, the Mophie Juice Pack charger, which has similar technology, but uses a combined case and charger. With the Mophie, a switch on the back of the charger turns the charging feature on when needed and a button controls a row of indicator lights to indicate the charging strength of the battery unit. But with the Leaf, charging seems to be automatic, as my iPhone's battery indicator stayed green the majority of the time.

In the Leaf box, you'll find the extended battery, snap-on case, a Micro-USB charging and Sync Cable, Audio Extension Cable and a second colorful orange case in you don't like black. The Audio Extension Cable is needed for headphones, since the design of the Leaf unit causes the headphone port to be recessed on the iPhone. There are also cutouts for the iPhone's speakers at the bottom of the charger unit.

Because of the matte black finish on the Leaf, it is more susceptible to fingerprints and smudges than the Mophie, but they wipe off easily. The Leaf is also slightly heavier at 3.4 ounces than the Mophie, which is listed at 2.44 ounces.

With the Leaf's larger battery capacity at 2400 mAh, compared with the Mophie's 1500 mAh battery, the Leaf is the better buy at around $60. I like the features, the two cases and the extended battery capacity the Leaf provides for my iPhone.

The Leaf unit gives a nice, quality feel to an iPhone and I don't mind the extra bulk. It's the extra battery capacity that counts.

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Monday, March 3, 2014

Google Glass invitation costly, but quite a honor to join program

Google Glass is still around today for enterprise customers as Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2 and it was an honor to join the Explorer Program in 2014.
It was a typical day, with what I thought was a typical inbox of emails to filter through, until I spotted an email from "Glass Support." The subject line simply said "Earnest, so you want Google Glass?"

The day was no longer typical. I was surprised, thrilled, and honored, along with several other emotions as I contemplated what all this meant. In a nutshell, I had been selected to purchase an early version of Google's hi-tech eye wear that is fitted with a high resolution display that has the possibility of changing our lives and how the world uses information technology.

I remember signing up to be considered for a pair of Google's latest technological wonder awhile ago, but never thought I would actually get an invitation.

The concept for Google Glass was being kicked around in 2012 and even grabbed the "best invention of 2012" by TIME magazine. It gained traction in 2013 with the Explorer Program, where a few lucky developers also received invitations to purchase Glass and begin to think about what applications would be great to be developed for the device. The possibilities are endless – from the medical field to sports to research and beyond. The display of mobile information right above the wearer's right eye has the potential to be revolutionary.

Because of the conspicuous voice-commands interface expected to be used in Glass, the scrutiny and privacy concerns has already started, with a few cases popping around the country with tickets being given for "distracted driving" violations. In some states, it is against the law to drive a vehicle if a video monitor of any sort is located in the vehicle and visible to the driver.

In another case involving Google Glass, concerns were raised in a movie theater over a Glass wearer recording the show. I imagine the emerging wearable-technology arena will foster a new category of laws and restrictions for when, where and how it can be used.

Nevertheless, as a technology enthusiasts, I am excited about the potential Google Glass will bring and the bevy of similar technology from other manufacturers, such as Samsung and Apple Inc. I'm sure they will be right on Google's heels with Galaxy Glass or iGlass.

Google Glass is still not available to the general public and may be rolled out later this year. In the meantime, for us invitees, the cost is $1,500 to join the Explorer Program and become a part of a truly interesting experience.

Let's just hope the price is lower before Glass hits the store shelves.

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