Mobile Payment, A Beginner’s Blueprint
Jun10

Mobile Payment, A Beginner’s Blueprint

Two giants, forced into an infancy stage. If you are the kind of person like myself, you hate carrying around cash and won’t even get started with coins. The future’s looking bright, as technology seems to advance in every aspect, I highly urge you to join the Mobile Payment movement with Google, Apple and me. In this day and age, people want things done in the speed of light. I am no different, I would imagine most people growing up in today’s society would agree with me or are just like me. I remember when having a quarter in my possession was the best thing that could ever happen to me. However, it’s not the 90s anymore. My history with Mobile Payment has been short, but in my opinion it has the potential to be something amazing. Google Wallet My experience with Google Wallet has been glorious over my 1 ½ years of ownership. Although I am restricted to only its app, since I am an iPhone user. It has many strong features that many people could take advantage of regardless of phone type. One of the primary reasons I use Google Wallet is to cap the amount of money I spend. Since it is impossible to overdraft when using Google Wallet, transactions are declined instead. I limit my spending by manually transferring money from my bank account to my wallet. For example, it’s a Friday night, somehow you end up at that bar downtown your friends can’t get enough of, but I know in my head I only want to spend $30. That being said, all one would need is an ID and Google Wallet that night. I have used that method for not only bars, but other services as well. Such as music streaming apps, Wall Street Journal subscription, premium LinkedIn account and yes, even a gym membership. There are probably more that I have yet to encounter which is the wonderful part. Apple Pay At first, Apple Pay was only available to six major banks across the United States. When US Bank announced that they collaborated with Apple Pay I was ecstatic. I had my iPhone 6 plus and I was going to pay with my phone. I’m going to be the coolest guy on the block, but then I realized NFC (Near Field Communication) readers need to be intact in order for this to work. Walgreens was the only place in small, but great town of Hastings, Nebraska that offered this. I had a hard time recovering after that, luckily, I do get out every once in awhile. I was at Panera Bread on the...

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The Awe-Inspiring Potential of Consumer Drones
May01

The Awe-Inspiring Potential of Consumer Drones

A few weeks ago, AlwaysCurrent published a story about an open platform drone created by 3D Robotics. The article was full of interest, excitement, and child-like wonder at our rapidly-changing world and new possibilities for humankind. Consumer-level, freely-modifiable drone technology? How vast the sea of opportunity, we thought; our expectations for the creativity and ingenuity of our race were foolishly high. Fortunately, one man stood ready to disappoint such naive positivity and bring us all back to reality. Just in time for finals week, too! On Wednesday, a prolific graffiti “artist”* and vandal, called KATSU, tagged an enormous billboard high over the streets of New York using a DJI Phantom drone he modified for this purpose. While some scant lines of red paint might not seem impressive at first, watching the video kind of changes that. The apparent ease of the action is almost unsettling, but really, this project has been in the works for quite awhile now. KATSU is a well-known vandal, but possesses a range of other skills as well, including hacking and drone-modifying, apparently. He has been working with DJI’s Phantom 2, it seems, figuring out how he can incorporate drone technology into his super-cool acts of vandalism; in fact, he debuted a prototype of his modified Phantom along with a series of drone-painted images a little over a year ago. In an interview with Motherboard in 2014 regarding that exhibition, KATSU expressed much of the same interest we did in drone technology and its potential to change the way humans interact with the world: “…really I think deep down it’s really magical what drones represent and what they can actually accomplish and do for human beings.” Well, so did we, KATSU; so did we…. Regarding his most recent escapade, KATSU said: “It’s exciting to see its [the drone’s] first potential use as a device for vandalism.” Please excuse us while we roll our eyes. — *Side-note: this AC writer has nothing against real artists. Just pretentious jerks who violate public or private property for the sake of...

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In-App Dating? GetReal
Apr29

In-App Dating? GetReal

Smartphone dating applications have become the new norm when it comes to meeting new people. While you can still walk up to strangers at a coffee shop or bar and get to know them in person, that particular form of spontaneity has gone by the wayside thanks to apps like Tinder and Grindr. I mean, why should you actually talk to someone when you can left- or right-swipe their profiles to see if they’re interested? Being rejected via social media applications is so much less traumatizing than in person, right? I’m not sold either way, but a new app wants you to get real about meeting new people. GetReal is a recently launched iOS app that wants users to spend less time messaging through apps and more time in each others’ company. Similar to Tinder, it’s a location-based networking app that connects you to the people in your vicinity. However, there is no in-app interaction and pre-meeting conversation other than the request to meet. Here’s how it works: When you open the app, it shows you everyone on GetReal in your surrounding area. After checking out the various user profiles consisting of one photo and a short status, you can send a meeting request through a pin-drop map feature to pinpoint the location and have the option of adding a short message. The requested person has half an hour to accept, decline, or defer your invite. Then you meet them in person and start a conversation that way. All communication on the app is limited to the meet up requests; there is no chat or messaging function. If you’re a little iffy about meeting a stranger, GetReal allows users to link their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles to the app so you can see if you have any mutual connections. The app also keeps track of how many people you’ve invited to meet, how many people are available in your location, and any people you have muted, which we’re assuming is a way to block people. GetReal isn’t limited to screening potential dates; the main goal is just to help people meet in person. Whether you’re networking, in a new city, want to meet people in your neighborhood or while traveling, want to expand your circle of friends, etc., GetReal wants to help users meet up in person. A group of 200 beta testers in San Francisco and New York tech industries found the app can be used for anything; they have been using the app for everything from recruiting to tech talks to growing their networks. The app creator, Arnaud Meunier thinks the recent inflation of apps and...

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UltraHaptics: The UltraCool Possibilities
Apr28

UltraHaptics: The UltraCool Possibilities

You know how in Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr.’s lab is controlled by his hands? There aren’t any physical buttons, its all hologram-like images that he moves with just a flick of his wrist. Super cool right? The first time I saw it, I couldn’t wait for that to be our reality. Thanks to a company called UltraHaptics, that reality is closer than we think. This technology company based in the United Kingdom is working on developing technology that “enables users to receive tactile feedback without needing to wear or touch anything.” They have made this possible through their use of ultrasonic sound waves. UltraHaptics uses a small collection of ultrasonic speakers that emit low frequency sound waves. These waves are similar to those of the bass you feel when you go to a club. The sound waves are all concentrated to meet in one area, providing an invisible layer of ultrasound that you can feel with your hand. Other companies have been working towards the same goal as UltraHaptics using different strategies, but UltraHaptics has added an extra layer of feedback to their technology. When someone touches the area of concentration, they feel a small vibration against their skin. By giving the feel of a force field to the user, it is easier to interact and utilize the technology. The possibilities of this technology are endless. This technology can be used on a car’s dashboard, to make a phone’s screen larger, really anything. And with the rise of popularity in the development of this technology, many industries are eager to get involved. Tom Carter, UltraHaptic CTO, said they are working in a variety of areas including consumer electronics, home appliances, and even virtual reality. Carter recently said of their work, “I’d like to believe that the first product featuring our technology will be on the shelves in a year”. If Carter’s hopes become reality, our world will just be so much cooler than it already...

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A Hykoo For You
Apr21

A Hykoo For You

“Twelve second story Showing your world in motion Do not call me bro” -Daiva Jarasius, AC writer Poetry wasn’t my strong suit in seventh grade and it still isn’t today so Always Current writer Daiva Jarasius wrote a haiku about Hykoo for today’s post. For those of you who aren’t familiar with haikus, this isn’t the most informational post but if you want to learn about Hykoo, read on. If you’ve ever wanted to make short videos from your phone, there’s another new app for that! Hykoo is an app that allows users to create 12 second videos on their phones through a combination of video clips and text with a variety of filters to complement the video. Now, with all the other video creating and sharing platforms out there today, why is something like Hykoo a novelty? We found a couple possible answers to that question. What sets Hykoo apart from the rest of the video creation mobile apps out there today, including Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, and more, is how the video is shot. Hykoo, pronounced like and influenced by the poetry style “haiku,” is very structured in it’s format. Similar to the poetry, there are three clips that are three seconds, three seconds, and six seconds long (though technically, it should be five, seven, five, or at least three, six, three, but we aren’t filing a complaint just yet). The video has to be shot in those segments; you can’t shoot all 12 seconds in one sitting because the idea behind Hykoo is you’re sharing a story, and stories often have more than one part. Each clip has some text on it to give the video context. Gary Krieg, one of the founders of the app, explained, “So much of the context of why someone is making and sharing a piece of content lives outside of the image itself, so our format allows that information to travel together.” Unlike Instagram, Vine and Snapchat videos, you can save drafts of these videos until they’re completed and ready to share. Hykoos are shareable on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and through email or text so the rest of the world can see your story. Hykoo is an independent startup created by Krieg, the former head of production for ad agency Wieden + Kennedy, Yoni Bloch, founder of interactive video service Interlude, and Jane Rosenthal, a co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival. The app will officially launch with this years Tribeca Film Festival. As of right now, Hykoo is only available on iOS devices, but the founders are planning to launch a version for Android devices as well. Other changes they’re looking...

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Sonar Treadmill: The Personalized Running Machine
Apr20

Sonar Treadmill: The Personalized Running Machine

Walking into the gym is like entering a whole new world. There are the serious gym rats who spend hours lifting weights (hopefully not forgetting their legs), the ones who try not to mess up their hair while exercising so they can take selfies, and the ones who don’t really know what they’re doing. Whichever gym body you are, entering this new world immediately makes you question yourself. “Should I go on the elliptical or bike today? Or maybe run the track? But I’d like to stay up to date on current events, so maybe the treadmill, so I can see the TV. But the treadmill – ugh it’s so bad to run on and what if I fly off the end?” Not anymore, my friends. Not any more. Researchers at Ohio State have just designed a new treadmill that aims to make running more natural. Their new treadmill has a sonar device attached to the back of the treadmill that is aimed at the runner’s back. This sonar keeps track of the runner’s distance along the running belt, increasing speed when they get closer to the front of the treadmills, and reducing speed when they get closer to the back. This automatic increase and decrease of speed allows the runner to simply run at their own pace as if outside. Steven T. Devor, an associate professor of kinesiology at Ohio State and one of the developers of the new treadmill, said that the sonar is so accurate that an elite runner could break into a fast sprint and still not hit the front of the treadmill. “It is all seamless and the runner doesn’t even know it’s happening.” Automatic speed isn’t the only good part. Another benefit was discovered when testing runners on the treadmill. They found with endurance runners that their maximal oxygen consumption (V02) scores improved, meaning that their levels of oxygen usage increased. These scores are vital in testing endurance and heart rate, and help make training more effective. The prototype for this awesome new sonar treadmill is near completion and will soon be ready for commercial releases. What does this mean for us? Well, now running on a treadmill won’t be such a stressful ordeal, and there will be no risk of flying off the...

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