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A Hykoo For You

Posted by on 10:55 am in Internet News, Just For Fun, Social Media, Software News | Comments Off on A Hykoo For You

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 to make include increased interactivity with hykoos. Check out my first Hykoo below....

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Sonar Treadmill: The Personalized Running Machine

Posted by on 9:33 am in Hardware News, Technology News | Comments Off on Sonar Treadmill: The Personalized Running Machine

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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Hairware: The Everyday Bond Gadget

Posted by on 9:14 am in Hardware News, Just For Fun | Comments Off on Hairware: The Everyday Bond Gadget

Hairware: The Everyday Bond Gadget

Anyone who’s ever seen any of the James Bond movies knows that the man has the coolest gadgets, from the Aston Martin DB5 to the Rebreather all the way to the classic grapple gun. James Bond’s suaveness and skill make us want to be him – or at least have the gadgets he has. Well my friends, we are one step closer. Beauty Technology, a company that works to develop beauty technology, wearable computers, virtual worlds, and groupware, recently developed a gadget that is raising hairs in the technology world (pun intended). Designer Katia Vega has developed Hairware, an attachable hair clip that lets you communicate with and use your smartphone. I know right? Like, mind blown. So how does this work? The hair extension is woven with wires that “act as a remote touch sensor” to interact with the smartphone. A Bluetooth module and Arduino microcontroller allow the hair to communicate with the phone and tell it what to do. A built-in learning algorithm is then used to detect different touches and strokes, eventually learning to understand and recognize the user’s intentions. Besides Hairware being a super cool James Bond–esque gadget, it could be very beneficial to women everywhere. If they are in a dangerous situation and using a phone is impossible, notifying someone by inconspicuously touching their hair can help save them – for example, by sending a text or turning on a voice recorder. Vega wrote on her website that, “normally, while someone touches her own hair, unconsciously she is bringing comfort to herself and at the same time is emitting a non-verbal message…we add new functionalities to hair extensions, turning them into a seamless device that recognizes auto-contact behaviors concealed to outside observers.” Women aren’t the only ones Beauty Technology is looking out for. Their next step is to use the technology to turn beards into smartphone communicators as well. This is a huge innovation that could definitely make a big impact on the world. Now we just have to sit back and wait until we can get our own Hairware so that we can walk around saying, “The name’s Bond. James...

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Flying Solo: 3D Robotics Releases Open Platform Drone

Posted by on 1:38 pm in Hardware News, Technology News | Comments Off on Flying Solo: 3D Robotics Releases Open Platform Drone

Flying Solo: 3D Robotics Releases Open Platform Drone

Consumer-level drone technology just took another big step forward. 3D Robotics recently announced an addition to the market: the 3DR Solo. Developed through a partnership with GoPro, this little guy will give users the ability to attach GoPro cameras to their drones, allowing for incredible aerial videography. The drone will cost $1,000, and the GoPro Gimbal (the attachment that holds and moves the camera) will be another $400. Of course, the Solo is by no means the first drone with the capability to carry a camera, so what’s special about it? First, the Solo comes equipped with two computers: one on-board the drone itself and another in the controller. The drone is able to detect and fix the camera on an object, follow preprogrammed flight paths, and perform maneuvers that would be near-impossible for a human operator. Additionally, long-distance broadband capabilities means you can control the camera and receive a live HD video from this thing up to half a mile away, well beyond GoPro’s typical Wi-Fi reception range. Another feature of this connection is that the Solo can keep flight records, and if there are any problems, detailed error reports will help 3DR fix the problem – including repairing or replacing anything that gets damaged because of a system error. The powers of Solo’s twin computers aren’t even the most exciting part, though. 3D Robotics is going to sell their drone as an open platform – both the hardware and the software. This means anyone is allowed to design and develop new parts or program new features for the drone, tweaking the device for new purposes or situations. Basically, potential uses for this thing are left to the minds of developers everywhere. Cnet quoted Chris Anderson, the CEO of 3DR, who put it this way: “This is like the PC or the early days of the App Store. Who knows what these things will some day become. What we want to do is create a system by which other people can reimagine the future of the drone and then act on them simply.” Considering it from that perspective, it’s crazy to imagine where this could go – just take a look at the huge number of iPhone apps available these days. None of those existed just a few years ago (as this AlwaysCurrent editor remembers well). What will an open platform drone look like in just a few years? A decade? We can’t wait to find...

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MOTI, Your Personal Cheerleader

Posted by on 9:36 am in Hardware News, Just For Fun, Technology News | Comments Off on MOTI, Your Personal Cheerleader

MOTI, Your Personal Cheerleader

For the past few weeks – heck, the past few months – the Internet has been a buzzing about the iWatch release from Apple. While I’m glad Apple created another device – a wearable one this time – to which I can form an unhealthy emotional attachment, I’d gladly pass in a heartbeat to get my hands on one of these. Meet MOTI, your motivational, habit-forming, robotic, personal cheerleader. MOTI, which I like to think is short for motivation, is a pint-sized gadget that helps you practice, track and eventually form good habits by giving you encouragement. How does this furless, furby-like device help you become a better person, you ask? Well, first of all, it’s not nearly as terrifying as a furby; it’s actually pretty cute and friendly for a robot. You pick a habit you wish to adopt (drinking 8 glasses of water a day, running daily, flossing your teeth, etc.) and you sync that up with your MOTI. We’re guessing there’s a software program or website for that; a mobile app is in the works, but MOTI can be used as a stand alone device at this point in production. Now, back to our example. Lets say the habit you’re trying to form is drinking 8 glasses of water a day. When you drink a glass of water, press the button on MOTI and it will light up, chirp, and vibrate to celebrate your accomplishment. Not reaching your goal? MOTI’s creator, Kayla Matheus said in an interview with Fast Company, “If you start straying, then you’re going to get prompted with a reminder. Rather than being a push notification you can easily wipe away, MOTI might get sad or angry.” MOTI is based in behavioral science, which suggests you need three things to successfully develop a new habit: a trigger, routine, and reward. MOTI gives you the trigger and the reward to maintain or improve your routine. The problem with most fitness trackers and habit-forming apps is there is the reward is delayed and it’s incredibly easy to ignore a notification, delete an app, or take off a bracelet. MOTI is a small hardware device that sits on your desk; it’s physical presence reminds you, “Oh, right, I need to drink more water.” And if that doesn’t, the lights and chirping will. MOTI celebrates your accomplishments and tracks your progress to help your form your new habit; it evolves with you. Matheus said, “My first testers were two guys in their twenties and thirties, and they fell in love with these things. The vocabulary they used was interesting—they’d call it a he or a she, something you’d never do with a wearable [device].” Fast Company reports that one of MOTI’s recent testers used the device at his office. Initially, he worried the chirping and buzzing would irritate his coworkers, but it actually helped him. His coworkers knew his progress, would give him encouragement, and would even sit next to him to watch MOTI do his thing. MOTI was created by Matheus during the 30 Weeks program for designers sponsored in part by Google. Matheus had trouble keeping her physical therapy routine after injuring her ALC and came up with MOTI to help solve that problem. The design for MOTI is based off Japanese Daruma dolls. People would...

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Amazon Echo Grows Ever More Powerful

Posted by on 12:26 pm in Hardware News, Technology News | Comments Off on Amazon Echo Grows Ever More Powerful

Amazon Echo Grows Ever More Powerful

As if privately-operated drones and button-press convenience shopping weren’t wild enough, Amazon is making even bigger strides in the field of home automation. Recently, the company announced that the Amazon Echo would be receiving some new features including the abilities to: Control lights and powered appliances in your home with voice commands (assuming you have the supported sockets, switches, and bulbs currently available through WeMo and Hue) Give you traffic reports, sports scores, and schedules Play your Pandora stations For those of you unfamiliar the Amazon Echo, it’s a small-ish speaker that connects to the internet. Released as an always-on, at-home assistant, Echo is similar in function to Siri. Like the Apple AI, you can tell Echo to play music, ask it questions, or tell it to take a memo. Unlike Siri, you don’t have to do much to activate the device – just say whatever word you’ve chosen to activate it, and talk – from anywhere in the room, without raising your voice, if Amazon’s promotional video is to be believed. Echo works by connecting to Amazon’s servers, and apparently gets better and better at recognizing and responding to commands over time. In other words, with the ability to control your appliances is added, we’re looking at what pretty much amounts to an actual robotic servant. It seems like the major downside to the Echo at this point is that once it’s made your coffee, you still have to get off the couch to pour it into a cup. I doubt there’s any reason to panic; I’m sure someone at Amazon is working on it. Really, as the resident technophobe-turned-tech-writer at AlwaysCurrent, the thing that sticks out to me most about the Amazon Echo are potential privacy issues. The implications of an extremely powerful microphone, in your home, that is connected to the Internet and never really shuts off are pretty readily apparent. Considering Amazon’s position as a gigantic virtual store, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which this device isn’t used to analyze and influence your purchasing habits. Others have considered possible ramifications as well, but honestly, the device is so cool and seems to have so much potential it’s hard not to be impressed and excited by...

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Road Trip: Delphi Style

Posted by on 9:48 am in Hardware News, Internet News, Technology News | Comments Off on Road Trip: Delphi Style

Road Trip: Delphi Style

Road Trip: Delphi Style We have heard for years now that car companies are working on technology that allows a car to drive itself. This technology has been developing and making big strides – Google’s driverless vehicle has been tested over tracks and roadways, and Audi’s car traveled from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas. But the biggest news these days is about Delphi. Who is this Delphi, you ask? No, it is not the ancient Greek city with the Oracle. Delphi is a UK-based global supplier of technology for automotive and commercial vehicles. They have quietly been developing their own driverless technology over the years, and they just upped the competition. Last week, Delphi’s Audi SQ5 made a trip from San Francisco to New York City in only nine days. That’s right. Nine. It must be nice to be a car and never get tired. Delphi said about the trip, “the vehicle encountered complex driving situations such as traffic circles, construction zones, bridges, tunnels, aggressive drivers, and a variety of weather conditions”. The car never went over the speed limit, which did annoy some people, but hey, it was just following the rules. The car also showed some human characteristics while driving. The car avoided moving into crowded lanes and shifted to one side to avoid the massive semis. So one thing we learned is technology can have feelings too. For safety, of course, the car did have a passenger in the drivers seat to make up for the car’s fears and drive through construction zones, but that only accounted for 50 of the 3,400 miles driven. Otherwise, the Delphi Audi SQ5 is the first driverless car to successfully complete a cross country road trip. The next steps will include collecting additional data and further working out the kinks in the technology, in addition to considering all the legal ramifications. This is an unprecedented event, and an exciting, futuristic one as well. Our only question is when are these cars going to be on the...

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Button Pushing – Amazon Dash

Posted by on 4:08 pm in Hardware News, Internet News, Technology News, Website News | Comments Off on Button Pushing – Amazon Dash

Button Pushing – Amazon Dash

Earlier this week, Amazon launched what a majority of the Internet mistook as an outlandish April Fool’s Day joke – the Amazon Dash button. After all, who would actually create  a button that reorders household supplies the day before April first and expect people to take it seriously? Well, Amazon did, so once again the Internet is wrong, for the Dash button is no laughing matter. Instead, it’s an invite-only product, offering a way for Amazon Prime users to easily replenish the common household items and groceries they order from Amazon at the push of a button. Amazon has enlisted certain brands that distribute products through their website to send Prime users Dash buttons. Customers can stick the buttons around their house and push them when they’re running low on their product of choice. But how does this magical button of dashing wonder work, you ask? Say you’re an avid user of Bounty paper towels – it’s the only quicker picker upper in your life, no other brand will ever suffice. But you’re almost out. LE GASP! What a travesty – the world will STOP without your paper towels. You’re simply too busy to a) go to the grocery store, or b) go on Amazon.com and reorder them because that’s something reserved for commoners. Thankfully, you live a life of luxury and convenience with Amazon Prime and requested a Bounty Dash button. Push the battery operated, Wi-Fi enabled button that is situated right next to your classy paper towel holder, confirm the order on your smartphone, and in two short days the doorbell will ring as drones deliver your paper towels. VOILA! Your day is saved, the crisis has been averted, the world will continue turning. What about my kids? Will a fleet of Bounty paper towel trucks pull up to my front door if they get ahold of my beloved Dash button? In a word: no. Amazon actually thought this out and created a safety feature for those of you with button loving children. If little Tommy or Sally happens to push the Bounty button 4,000 or so times a day, you will NOT receive 4,000 rolls of paper towels. Amazon will only deliver one order at a time, so if you pushed the button yesterday and Tommy pushed it today, they won’t place Tommy’s order until yours has been delivered. And the button is synced with the Amazon app on your phone so you’ll get an alert whenever an order has been placed that you can easily delete. Personally, my inner button lover ADORES this product because button pushing is fun whether it’s an elevator button or my mother’s nerves. However, at this point in my life, I’m resolutely confident I will never use a Dash button. Mainly because running errands is oddly comforting to me and I rarely order things online. Others are more cynical about the product, but people believe the Dash button is the next best thing since Betty White (she’s older than sliced bread, you know). So who knows what the future will hold for the elusive Dash...

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TIDAL For All… Who Pay the Piper

Posted by on 4:28 pm in Internet News, Software News | Comments Off on TIDAL For All… Who Pay the Piper

TIDAL For All… Who Pay the Piper

If you keep up with certain extraordinarily popular stars of the music industry, you might have seen some profile pics on Facebook and Twitter replaced with solid blocks of blue, and cryptic messages accompanied by the hashtag #TIDALforALL. After the enormous success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge viral awareness campaign, you might imagine this is another social media fundraising effort. You’d be wrong. This coalition of artists (including such names as Rihanna, Kanye West, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Usher, and Taylor Swift) is backing a far more noble cause: the ability to charge you large amounts of money for the privilege of streaming their music. Welcome Jay-Z’s TIDAL, a music streaming service similar to the wildly-popular Spotify. Where Spotify offers free and premium subscriptions (a model supported mostly through advertisements), TIDAL will be available only to premium subscribers for a cost of $19.99 per month – double the cost of Spotify’s premium subscription. So why would anyone pay to stream music when free services like Spotify and Pandora are available? Well, for one thing, TIDAL offers lossless tracks, which is a pretty big draw for audiophiles. But let’s be real, the average person isn’t worried about the audio quality in their Spotify playlists. No, TIDAL’s success will most likely depend on the support these artists can garner. If enough mega-stars follow Taylor Swift’s example and make their music available only through payment-based subscriptions, paid services could very easily become the norm. There’s still one more big reason you might choose to support a subscription-only music streaming service over the constantly growing pool of free options – artist payouts. Legitimate concerns exist around programs like Spotify regarding artist payment, and like it or not, musicians need to get paid to keep making music. While I doubt Jay-Z or his band of supporters are hurting for cash, they have the right to make their work available where and how they see fit. Of course, we get to choose whether or not we support their distribution...

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On Comet, On Cupid, On-Body, On Blitzen

Posted by on 11:30 am in Software News, Technology News | Comments Off on On Comet, On Cupid, On-Body, On Blitzen

On Comet, On Cupid, On-Body, On Blitzen

Hold your horses, or in this case reindeer, because it’s not quite time for Santa Clause to be coming to town. But our favorite Internet and technology elves (aka geniuses) at Google have been hard at work on something special down in Silicon Valley for Android users. Google’s working on rolling out a new smart lock mode, coined “on-body,” that will leave your phone unlocked when the accelerometer recognizes the phone is in your hand, pocket, purse, or anywhere on your person. When the phone’s sensors detect the phone has been set down, it will lock the screen and you have to manually unlock is (which is such a hassle). The idea behind on-body is that if you leave your phone sitting on a table somewhere – say, at Starbucks when your drink is ready – then potential thieves can’t steal it and easily access your data. Why you are leaving your phone unattended on the table and walking away is beyond us; you might as well just give it to a stranger on the street and hope for the best. Still, if local coffee shop thieves stealing your phone and accessing your data keeps you up at night, you can rest easy knowing on-body is here to save your day. Unfortunately, it’s not a foolproof solution. On-body will continue to keep your phone unlocked as long as the accelerometer detects it is being held or carried. So if you pass your phone off to a friend or someone snatches it out of your hand, the phone has no way of knowing whether it’s in your hand or not. If that’s the case, your phone will remain unlocked and your data is accessible to whomever is holding the phone until they set it down, which is bad news bears for you. Of course, you have the option of pairing on-body with the other smart lock features such as trusted face and trusted places to better your phone’s security, so all hope is not...

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