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The consumer world is becoming powered by mobile devices, but those devices are still powered by being tethered to a wall or a reserve power pack. What if you could generate power for your mobile devices simply by moving your body, and the power source was almost unnoticeable? A new device developed at the National University of Singapore aims to fulfill both of those requirements.
The flexible nanogenerator resembles a small, stamp-sized patch that attaches to your skin. It uses your skin as a source of static electricity, and converts it to electrical energy — reportedly enough to power a small electronic device, like a wearable. The device, presented at the MEMS 2015 conference last week, can generate 90 volts of open-circuit voltage when tapped by a finger. The researchers presented the patch as a self-powered device that can track the wearer’s motion.
Virgin Atlantic is taking wearable tech to the skies. USA Today reports that concierges for the airline have today begun wearing Google Glass to aid in the process of checking in passengers. With the information closer than their fingertips, concierges will be able to offer passengers the latest flight, weather and event information. Glass will also offer the valuable ability to translate languages.
The articles states that at some point, the device will also be able to link a person will their food and beverage preferences. Director of information technology for Virgin Atlantic Dave Bulman said, “The whole industry needs to listen to what these passengers are calling for, and keep innovating to bring a return to the golden age of air travel. Flying should be a pleasure, not a chore.’
This project, which was launched with the help of SITA, an information technology company, will last for a six-week trial period. Should everything go well, the program could be extended to other airports.
Do you view this as a luxury experience for travel? Would it disturb you to be called by name by someone you’ve never seen before and have them know your flying preferences? It does give back a sense of importance to passengers but is it more important to recognize that all passenger information is being uploaded and shared by Virgin Atlantic concierges?
As wearable technology expands into use by various members of different professions, its great to see industries that don’t usually adopt technology quickly jump on the bandwagon. But it will also be interesting to see how privacy concerns are met.
THE technology rumour mills are, as ever, running hot. This time it’s all about wearable computing devices.
Google Glass controversial web-connected specs are due to hit the market some time this year; up to 10,000 pairs are said to be already on the faces of testers worldwide.
And an increasing number of feverish reports claim yet again that Apple is close to announcing a wrist-worn i-Watch.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook has been sighted wearing one. It’s said to be a Pebble, mainly used for tracking fitness, but who knows? Perhaps it’s a prototype iWatch in disguise. DoubleClick doesn’t know whether the rumours are right or not.
But we do know the computing market hype machine has sprung into life in recent months, with just about every major manufacturer other than Apple announcing plans for a wearable gadget, and many more minor ones and wannabes bouncing ideas for similar gadgets on KickStarter, the website that helps raise funds for startups.
Some pundits are proclaiming the Year of the Wearable, but DoubleClick has some doubts, as do some of the more cautious IT trends-consulting firms.
Many wearable gadgets are on the way, but early acceptance may be restrained, and it could be next year before the market begins to take off, if then.
There are two types of wearable devices: things worn on your face, like Google Glass, and those worn on your wrist or arm, which include fitness-reading bands such as the Jawbone as well as e-watches like the Pebble.
Google Glass is certainly the most controversial of the moosh-mounted wearables. You wear a small headset that looks like a pair of very slim specs, but which has a little display device mounted just above your right eye.
It can take pictures of what’s around you and record conversations, sometimes unbeknown to those nearby. It can also display weather reports, phone messages and so-called “augmented reality” information about nearby objects, perhaps bars or restaurants or maybe supermarket items.
Wearing Google Glass in a bar or restaurant is strictly a no-no, and they’re also frowned on in company meetings. In the US, several people have been nabbed for wearing them while driving.
Current test versions of Google Glass sell to approved folk for about $US1500 ($1674), but this is expected to come down to $500 or so if and when the things come to market.
Google won’t have this market to itself. Other makers who already have head-mounted gear in the market, or are planning to, include Oculus, PivotHead, Epson, and Lumus.
Then there’s the Avegant Glyph headset, a heavyweight affair that wraps right around your eyes and ears. It doesn’t display information on a screen — it delivers movies, video games and video calls direct on to your retinas. Safe? Let’s hope so.
In the wristband wearable department, a typical example is the Jawbone Up, sometimes described as a pedometer disguised as a bracelet. It coils around your wrist and measures three matters: how you move, how you sleep, and what you eat.
Like most other wearables, you must plug it into a mobile phone to transfer data to an app that stores the figures. The Jawbone Up sells in Australia for about $150.
Other fitness trackers include Nike’s FuelBand and Garmin’s forthcoming Vivofit.
Samsung since September has been marketing the $369 Gear, an e-wristwatch that links to its Galaxy smartphone and Note phablets. It notifies users of incoming phone messages, displays weather reports, includes a tiny camera and captures voice recordings. Yes, it also tells the time.
Sony has been in the wearable market longer than most with its SmartWatch, which sells for about $240 in Australia.
But at January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Sony unveiled a forthcoming and completely different wrist device: the Core, a very slim band that is not so much a fitness tracker as a lifestyle logger. You wear it always, and it tracks your movements, your sleep patterns, your movie watching and even the weather on a particular day.
Linked to Sony’s LifeLog app, it gives a record of everything you’ve done, day in and day out, possibly even some things you don’t want to be reminded of. Pricing and release date are yet to be revealed.
US-based Pebble has produced a number of reasonably successful e-watches. The latest, dubbed the Steel, is good looking in steel and Gorilla Glass and has a growing number of apps that can be swapped on and off via iPhone or Android mobiles.
The Steel can be ordered from Pebble’s US-based online store at getpebble.com, $US249 ($278). Standard (ie, slow) shipping is free; courier delivery within five business days costs $28.
Other outfits that have announced plans to launch wearable gadgets in coming months, among them Taiwan’s Acer, Asus and HTC and South Korea’s LG, though details are sparse.
Is there a place for all. How big will the wearable market get?
Nowhere near as big as some of the wild estimates coming out of the US and Asia, according to Deloitte consulting.
At a media briefing in Sydney a few weeks ago, Deloitte executives suggested that the smart fitness-band market, while moderately healthy, would never go mainstream.
It estimated the total market for fitness bands and smart watches this year would be about four million bands and two million watches: pretty small beer compared with the booming markets for smartphones and tablets.
Deloitte suggested smart glasses would generate more revenue — especially from businesses and mining groups, where they might fill a niche for safety products — with sales of about four million at an average $US500 each.
DoubleClick’s advice: even if your interest in the wearable genre has been piqued, don’t rush to the stores just yet.
There’s hopefully better stuff -maybe even something that’s really useful — and lower prices yet to come.
As Virgin Atlantic and NYPD trial Google Glass, we look at the other potential business uses…
Google has yet to confirm a release date for Glass, but the technology is already being trialed by a variety of industries including airlines, hospitals and police forces.
Having tried the latest version of Glass, we can see the potential of the device. The ability to take photos and video as well as bring up information from the internet via the head-mounted display make Glass a powerful tool. Despite Glass still being in the beta phase, it’s real-world applications are there for all to see and we take a look at 10 scenarios where it will be a good fit.
Glass can make a huge difference in hospitals to increase the efficiency of staff and accuracy of treatment given to patients.
The camera will play a pivotal role – allowing nurses or doctors to scan barcodes and NFC tags to identify patients, bring up medical records and verify the correct medication and dosage is being applied. Below we can see how SAP envisages Glass could be used in combination with its HANA technology.
Surgeons have already used Glass during operations. Sharing videos via Hangouts allows them to impart knowledge to students and seek real-time assistance from specialists who may be halfway across the world.
During operations, the HUD can also provide important images to surgeons, meaning that they don’t have move away from the patient. On the compliance side, recording the surgery can be used to find out why something went wrong during the the procedure, and help settle any complaints.
This week, Virgin Atlantic commenced a six-week trial of Google Glass at Heathrow airport. The airline announced Glass will be used by concierge staff at the Upper Class wing, with the aim of providing a more personalised customer service.
Glass will be used to process check-ins and provide passengers with information about their flight, as well as details of the weather and suggested activities at their destination. It can also aid translation queries.
Virgin will consider a wide-scale deployment and will work on improving functionality if it deems the trial successful. Other potential applications include the ability to provide staff with details of passenger’s dietary requirements.
3. Augmented Reality
Glass can superimpose information over real-world happenings, which will allow the tourism and leisure industry to enhance and support the customer experience.
City and museum tours can be brought to life by overlaying historicals buildings and artwork with key facts or audio descriptions. Users will also be able to take pictures and video and email the files to themselves so they can capture memories hands-free.
If Glass ends up being mainstream, as Google hopes, then a few years from now we will be living in an augmented reality world. Simple tasks like food and clothes shopping will be revamped. Apps could be developed allowing Glass to highlight the health benefits of foods and any promotions. Retail assistants will be able help customers with their queries on the shop-floor by providing information on products and checking stock levels.
Even the construction, retail and real estate agencies will benefit from augmented reality. When designing buildings, bridges and vehicles, the architects, builders and engineers will be able to pop on Glass and see what the finished article should look like, instead of relying on 2D blueprints or pictures.
Similarly, those selling or letting houses will be able to provide real-world tours without having to get clients to visits all properties. This could save the buyers/renters time as they would only need to visit houses in the real world they like the look of in the virtual world.
Global Travel Industry News: Virgin Atlantic first in world to use wearable technology to serve passengers
Virgin Atlantic passengers will be the first air travelers to experience the benefits of pioneering Google Glass and Sony Smartwatch technology as they arrive at London Heathrow airport, in an innovative pilot scheme which starts today. Concierge staff in the airline’s Upper Class Wing will be using wearable technology to deliver the industry’s most high tech and personalized customer service yet.
The cutting-edge technology is being introduced asVirgin Atlantic publishes the results of a major study of 10,000 airline passengers from across the world on the future of air travel. The results show that as the number of people travelling by plane has sky-rocketed in recent decades, the experience has lessened. Virgin Atlantic is joining with passengers and calling on the industry to introduce more innovations and radical fresh thinking to meet sky-high consumer expectations.
Virgin Atlantic, in collaboration with air transport IT specialist SITA, is the first in the industry to test how the latest wearable technology, including Google Glass, can best be used to enhance customers’ travel experiences and improve efficiency. From the minute Upper Class passengers step out of their chauffeured limousine at Heathrow’s T3 and are greeted by name, Virgin Atlantic staff wearing the technology will start the check-in process. At the same time, staff will be able to update passengers on their latest flight information, weather and local events at their destination and translate any foreign language information. In future, the technology could also tell Virgin Atlantic staff their passengers’ dietary and refreshment preferences – anything that provides a better and more personalized service. During the six-week pilot, the benefits to consumers and the business will be evaluated ahead of a potential wider roll-out in the future.
Virgin Atlantic’s new solution replaces an existing process for serving passengers traveling in the Upper Class Wing, the airline’s premium entrance at Heathrow dedicated to Upper Class passengers. Airline staff are equipped with either Google Glass or a Sony SmartWatch 2, which is integrated to both a purpose-built dispatch app built by SITA and the Virgin Atlantic passenger service system. The dispatch app manages all task allocation and concierge availability. It pushes individual passenger information directly to the assigned concierge’s smart glasses or watch just as the passenger arrives at the Upper Class Wing.
Dave Bulman, Director of IT, Virgin Atlantic, said: “While it’s fantastic that more people can now fly than ever before, the fact that air travel has become so accessible has led to some of the sheen being lost for many passengers. Our wearable technology pilot with SITA makes us the first in the industry to test how Google Glass and other wearable technology can improve the customer experience. We are upholding Virgin Atlantic’s long tradition of shaking things up and putting innovation at the heart of the flying experience.”
Jim Peters, Chief Technology Officer, SITA said: “2014 is shaping up to be the breakout year for wearable technology, and Virgin Atlantic is the first to bring its vision to reality. At SITA Lab, we’ve taken the lead in testing and trialing this new technology for the air transport industry, and it’s been fantastic to work with Virgin Atlantic to launch the industry’s first wearable technology application.”
Virgin Atlantic continues to push the boundaries with other technological advancements with SITA, including testing iBeacon with its Upper Class passengers at Heathrow, a new low-powered Bluetooth transmitter that can notify nearby iOS Apple devices of nearby services, discounts and updates on their flight boarding schedules. In addition, Virgin Atlantic’s newly enhanced mobile site means passengers will be able to book flights, check in online and check their flight status on the move, while also having access to the vast range of information on the main website, including destination and airport guides as well as details of baggage allowances and much more.
If you got a new Android smartphone for the holidays, here are some things you want to do right away!
1. Don’t Skip the Google Account Setup
When you set up your Android for the first time, you’re asked to provide your Google account credentials. Doing so is the fastest way to set up your email, calendar, and contacts (core PIM functionality), but it’s optional, some people don’t have Google account, or for whatever reason they decide to skip the step. If you skipped it, go back and complete it, even if you’re using someone other than Google for your basic PIM functions.
Why? There are a few reasons. Not only will your contacts be synchronized with your Google account, they’ll also be synced with any Android’s you get in the future (if your current phone is lost, stolen, damaged, or in a year or so when you decide to upgrade). Additionally, you’ll need it for the Android Market.
While it’s probably true that you don’t need the Android Market to install apps on your phone, there is one case in particular where you’d want to: if your phone is lost. To the best of my knowledge, the Android Market is the only app store for Android that allows for remote installation of apps. Simply log into the Market using a desktop browser, then find an app called Plan B and install it (remotely) to your phone. Within minutes you’ll have an email telling you exactly where your phone is! Of course there are other apps that let you do similar things, but most have to be installed and configured before you lose your phone. The appropriately named Plan B app takes care of all of that for you, all you have to have done is set up your Google Account.
2. Get a Car Kit
It’s becoming illegal in more places — and is generally frowned upon everywhere — to use your phone in your car. Take that as an opportunity to trick out your ride for Android!
A car dock usually attaches to your windshield or dash and holds your phone where you can see it. Many have a charging solution built in (some will plug into your phone’s USB charging port, others, like the dock for Nexus One charge using three gold dots to carry the power — the dock for the Galaxy Nexus isn’t readily available yet). Some also connect to your phone’s audio, which not only lets you listen to music on your car’s sound system, they also do double-duty as a speaker phone.
Whether or not you opt for a car dock with these features built-in or opt for a USB charger and Bluetooth headset, you’ll appreciate having a fully-charged phone when you start your day at school or the office, and will be much safer keeping your phone out of your hands while driving.
3. Turn on Your WiFi
There are three reasons why you’ll want to turn on your WiFi right away.
WiFi is probably faster than your phone’s 3G or 4G data connection, so when you’re under a WiFi bubble, your phone will be faster!
WiFi uses less power than traditional cellular data, so your battery will last longer when using WiFi rather than cellular data.
With almost all carriers throttling or limiting your data once you hit their data threshold, using WiFi whenever possible could save you quite a bit of money and frustration, which lets you save your cellular data for when you need it.
4. Set Your Data-Hungry Apps to Update Less Often
If you’re like me, you’ve got at least a couple social networking apps, a couple news and RSS apps, and maybe even a couple weather apps installed. These apps try to connect to various data services to keep the information on your phone up-to-date. This makes their apps feel faster because the information is already on your phone, before you ask for it. Unfortunately that means the app is going out on the Internet frequently to get updates — updates that you may never see.
To help keep data usage down and battery life from magically disappearing, you should open each type of app that I mentioned above and check its settings for “Update Frequency”. Some social apps are come set top update every 15 minutes. I set mine to update every 4 hours, or “only when charging”. Some apps even have an option to only sync when connected to WiFi. Keep in mind that some of the smarter apps use something called “push notifications” which only update when the server “pushes” a notice to them that there is something to update.
Check your apps and set them to something that’s more in-line with how often you actually use the apps.
5. Log in to Google Talk
Google Talk is the chat app that comes built-in to your Android, and it’s terribly under-used. You can use Google Talk not only to instant message people with other Android smartphones, but also those who use Gmail on their desktop and laptop computers.
What’s really cool is that many of those computer users have microphones and speakers, and with the right plugin can audio chat with you. This is essentially a free way to make voice calls to anyone in the world with a Gmail account — and it’s built in to every Android out there.
What’s more, if your Android Smartphone has a front-facing camera, you can also use Google Talk to make and receive video calls! You can video call with other Android users, or computer users that have a webcam. This comes in particularly useful during the holidays when friends and family may not be able to come together. Unlike other video chatting solutions, Google Talk should work just fine over 3G, 4G, or WiFi.
There’s so much more that you can (and should) do with your Android-powered smartphone, but those are the pocketnow top five things you’ll want to do right away!
What about you? What five things did you do after getting your new Android?
What five things would you recommend to your friends and family? We’re eager to hear! Let us know in the comments!
For early adopters of Google Glass, it’s been a demand from the start: a version that is friendly to prescription lenses. Those people’s prayers were answered early Tuesday when Google announced it would begin selling several “designer” pairs of glasses that are compatible with Glass, called the Titanium Collection.
Before yesterday, near- and farsighted Glass Explorers needed to either wear contact lenses while using Glass (as I do) or pinch the nose piece tightly so the Glass prism extends far enough away from your normal glasses. A few intrepid explorers have managed to jerry-rig the core Glass hardware onto a custom frame, but it’s a risky endeavor.
Starting Tuesday, anyone with Glass can buy the new custom frames directly from Google. The company is also offering some new styles of removable twist-on shades for those that thought the original might have been a little too Terminator-esque.
Still, there’s a little fine print. From insurance to benefits to design, here’s what you need to know about the latest accessory for Google Glass.
Why is Google now offering prescription frames?
It was always part of the plan. Google has been rolling out Glass slowly since the first explorers got units in April 2013. Some thought Google might wait for the commercial release of Glass before offering prescription frames, but Google’s Glass guides say they’ve been getting requests for them ever since the first units were released into the wild, and it appears the company fast-tracked their development.
When can I buy them?
If you’re a Glass Explorer, you can head over to the Glass store now, pick your frame and proceed to checkout. You’ll need Glass first, however, and it’s not for sale to the public until later this year — and even then you might need to climb aboard a barge to get it. Google is still letting people sign up for the Explorer program, and you can do that through the site, but the device itself still costs $1,500.
How much are they?
The frames cost $225 each, plus tax. There are four to choose from: Thin, Curved, Bold and Split, and you can view them all on Google’s promotional page. The Glass guides say the Thin frames are more suited for men, while women may favor the Bold or Curved look. Split frames “look good on everybody,” one rep said.
Who designed them?
Google. Although there were rumors that the company was partnering with Warby Parker to make some hip frames for Glass, it decided to design them in-house. It’s also offering the frames in the same colors as Glass: Charcoal (gray), Cotton (white), Shale (dark gray), Tangerine (red) and Sky (blue).
How do I get them? Do I need to send my existing Glass back?
No, hang on to your Glass — this isn’t the same as the “upgrade” to the more current edition. All you need to do is order the frames through the Glass Store, and Google will ship them out to you right away. The frames come with placeholder lenses, and once you’ve put in your own, you can remove the Glass prism unit and battery, and attach them to the new frames.
Oh, so I need to buy lenses separately?
Yes. The idea is you buy the frames, then take them to an optician, who will craft the lenses.
How long does that take?
According to VSP, the eye-care provider Google is partnering with for its launch, the frames need to be shipped to VSP’s lab in order to get the best fit, then they’re shipped back. So probably a few days, at best.
Will my vision insurance cover this?
That depends on your plan. Most vision plans specify how much money you can put toward lenses and frames in a calendar year, and these would count against those quotas, if they even pay for it at all. If your provider is VSP, they’ll be covered, and its network of trained providers will even reattach the Glass hardware for you.
So as long as it’s VSP?
Right. If not, it’s up to you to reattach the hardware yourself. It’s not that hard — there’s a single screw that attaches the Glass prism to the frame — so we’re not talking extensive repairs.
What if I hate all the styles Google provides? Is there any way I can use my own frames with Glass?
There is, but they’re all a compromise. A few explorers, such as the unlucky gentleman who wasrecently questioned by Homeland Security for wearing Glass in a movie theater, have modified their own prescription frames to work with Glass, but there’s no set way to do it — and it usually means permanently altering your existing frames.
Some explorers simply adjust the nose piece of Glass so it rests over and above their existing frames, although that has two consequences: First, Glass juts even further out from your face, and second, you end up wearing two pairs of “glasses.”
Finally, there are a few third parties who have built or have committed to building frames for Google Glass.
Can I switch to the left side?
No. Glass is currently designed to be worn on the right side, and the new frames don’t change that.
And it still looks like I’ve got a weird plastic rod sticking out of my head?
Pretty much. Glass is still ostentatious, and the frames don’t change that. They do add a new level of style and convenience, though, and Google certainly isn’t done creating accessories for its head-mounted computer. Stay tuned.