Posts Tagged ‘consumer technology’

How #smartphones are transforming personal #healthcare – an annotated infographic

January 18, 2017

 

More than 1.2 million people living in London are to be offered medical diagnosis using Babylon – an “artificial intelligence” (AI) app which gives patients access to a virtual health service in their pocket.

Babylon’s AI doctor is just one of the powerful tools that have transformed smartphones into mobile medical clinics.

In 2016 the US Food and Drug Administration approved 36 smartphone apps and devices. Now, smartphones are being used to perform ultrasound scans, measure heart rhythm, blood pressure and glucose levels, and execute an array of lab tests from liver and kidney function to identifying communicable diseases and even analysing DNA sequences.

E&T magazine was at CES 2017 at the start of the year – read our report on the latest healthcare technology.

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

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#Nintendo #Switch console details revealed – an annotated infographic

January 16, 2017

Nintendo’s Switch console, the successor to the beleaguered Wii U, and its big bet on the future of video games, has been revealed in full.

It is set to go on sale in the UK on 3 March for £279 and features an adaptable design allowing for greater portability than its rivals.

E&T covered the Nintendo Switch news announcement in full last week.

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

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100 years of Sharp – an annotated infographic

April 5, 2016

The ¥389 billion ($3.5bn) takeover of Japanese electronics giant Sharp by Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision industries – better known as Foxconn – ends the independence for a 100-year-old company which started out making belt buckles. We remember them fondly for their mid-1980s sponsorship of Manchester United.

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

100 years of Sharp

100 years of Sharp

Book Review: How Games Move Us: Emotion by Design – Katherine Isbister

February 23, 2016

By Jade Fell

“If I was feeling depressed or frustrated about my lot in life, all I had to do was tap the Player One button, and my worries would instantly slip away as my mind focused itself on the relentless pixelated onslaught on the screen in front of me.” ― Ernest Cline, screenwriter

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The MIT Press, March 2016, 192 pp, ISBN 978-0-262-03426-5, £17.95 Hardcover

What do you see when you hear the word ‘gamer’? If your immediate vision is that of someone pasty white, sat hunched over a keyboard, face lit only by the pale blue light of a computer monitor, insistently clicking away for hours on end with no real aim in mind, then get ready to re-evaluate your stereotype.

For years now filmographers and music researchers have analysed the emotional effect of film and music, while the computer game industry has been largely ignored as un-emotive. Katharine Isbister poses the question – why should games be any different?

In ‘How Games Move Us’, Isbister attempts break down the negative stereotype surrounding computer games and open up public conversation up to a more sophisticated approach to computer games as a cultural medium. The book serves as an exploration of the emotional experience of gamers, as well as how different games are used, explored and experienced by different people

“People talk about how games don’t have the emotional impact of movie. I think they do – they just have a different palette. I never felt pride, or guilt, watching a movie.” – Will Wright, designer of The Sims.

Far from being devoid of emotion, video games, Isbister argues, can actually elicit strong emotional responses in players in a multitude of ways, ranging from a simple feeling of anxiety in horror-based survival games (think Amnesia, or Silent Hill); to the inexplicable feeling of guilt which arises from spanking a pet Tamagotchi, or worse, letting it die. Delving further into the simulated world of gaming, Isbister also analyses how certain games create strong emotional bonds between players and non-player characters, and social connections among players in networked games.

Isbister analyses the techniques used by game designers to create these emotional responses, drawing examples from across the gaming industry. Isbister analyses games ranging from much-loved classics such as The Sims and Little Big Planet, to more obscure, one-off projects, including Anna Anthropy’s cooperative maze-navigation game Keep Me Occupied, and the once great massively multiplayer online role-playing game City of Heroes.

Many of you may take issue with a researcher attempting to define games as a whole – Isbister does not try to do this. The huge variety of games are not merely thrown into the melting pot labelled ‘computer games’ –  she differentiates but does not attempt to define, focusing on certain games within sub genres while acknowledging the partiality of her analysis.

How Games Move Us is an incredibly interesting, enlightening, and poignant read, and will no doubt evoke similar feelings in a reader as it strives to explain in a gamer. Isbister presents a new way of thinking about and understanding games, a medium which, though misunderstood, offers players unique opportunities to explore and understand themselves, and the world around them – much in the same way as music and film.

Easy #WearableTech upgrade for any analogue watch – instant #SmartWatch – an annotated infographic

January 20, 2016

Casting envious glances at all the shiny-brainy smartwatches pouring out of global gadget-fests like CES 2016? Old watch feeling a bit stupid?

Fear not! For a projected selling price of $99, Chronos will smartify your existing analogue watch, allowing you to continue wearing your Patek Philippe heirloom, yet still join the obsessional footstep-tracking, personal health-monitoring, phone-bothering smartwatch generation. Nice.

The Chronos smartwatch add-on is a pad that simply attaches to the back of a regular watch to add Apple Watch-like smart functionality, such as notifications, fitness tracking and phone controls.

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

How smart are you? How dumb am I?

How smart are you? How dumb am I?

Book Review: Design Meets Disability – Graham Pullin

January 4, 2016

By Jade Fell

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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The MIT Press, September 2011, 368 pp, ISBN 978-0-262516-74-7, £17.95 paperback

From their humble beginnings, balanced on the noses of monks and scholars in the 13th century, eyeglasses have undergone a fantastic transformation. The handheld lorgnette donned by ladies in the 19th century gave way to the inexpensive pince-nez of the early 20th  – but It was not until the latter half of the century that eyeglasses were transformed from a mere medical necessity to something more.

In Design Meets Disability, author Graham Pullin approaches assistive technology from the point-of-view of the end user, encouraging designing for the person, rather than the disability. He advocates for moving away from the cold, clinical, “pink moulded plastic” of the 20th century and into something new, unique, and desirable. If assistive technology is to become a large piece of someone’s life why should its purpose be purely functional? Is there not room in the marketplace for fashionable, assistive technology?

By embracing the design culture of the fashion industry, eyeglasses were transformed from something purely functional, to something beautiful – so much so that by the 21st century able-eyed teenagers were popping out the lenses of thick rimmed glasses to add to their everyday outfits. So, if eyeglasses can make the move from medical necessity, to fashion accessory then why can’t the same be true of hearing aids, prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs and communication aids? Of course it can, Pullin suggests, when design and disability meet.

Throughout the course of the book Pullin explores new forms of design for disability – where appearance and functionality complement the results from clinical trials – and meets with prolific designers behind ground-breaking disability design projects. Design, he argues, should be inspired by disability, allowing the two fields to combine to enrich one another.

The meeting of design and disability has further benefits – as well as making designs for disabled people desirable, it can also allow for the making of inclusive designs, which are, not just desirable to all, but useful to all. As explored in this month’s Engineering & Technology magazine by Tereza Pultarova, who looks at the role of digital technology in catering for the needs of blind people. The high-tech age, she suggests, has brought about the “biggest improvement in the lives of blind people since the invention of the white cane” – and this is not purely through new devices being created to cater to this specific group of people, but in making ordinary technology accessible for everyone, including blind people.

Think about the different ways everyday technology and devices function that can be of assistance to disabled people – these days all phones vibrate, which allows for those with limited hearing to know when they are being contacted, while functions included in the Google Search and Chrome smartphone applications allow users to communicate with their phones and tablets using their voice. Design for disability does not, and indeed, should not, have to be exclusive. Take, for example, Pullin’s presentation of watches designed for blind people –some of the designs are seriously beautiful – there are textured watches and those which vibrate, or prick the wearer to tell the time. These watches are not just useful for those with limited sight, but anyone who wants to option of checking the time in a meeting without appearing rude!

As Tom Pey, chief executive of the Royal London Society for Blind People points out in this month’s article: “If technology is simply for blind people, it is doomed to fail. What you need to do is to design the technology in a way that can benefit everybody.”

BTPT: #Bizarre, #pointless #technologies: #smart umbrella, electronic fly swatter, G+Didi washing machine, calming wristband

August 26, 2015

By Rebecca Northfield

With the wind and the rain beating down our summer happiness, I begin to reminisce on the beautiful, albeit brief, warm weather we had and the joy it brought me. When the winter months come knocking, I often think of what reminds me of summer to make me feel better, wishing that I didn’t have to get out my winter coat in preparation for the dismal weather to come.

Guard n Care Electronic Fly Swatter

So I ask you: what reminds you of summer?

The scent of sun lotion? The sand embedded in your toes? Smokey barbeques? Melted ice cream on your fingers? English summer rain? Squeals of delight from children playing in the sea?

Flies? Disgusting, nasty flies?

Not all flies are gross, but some do deserve electrical fury.

Not all flies are gross, but some do deserve electrical fury (I’m looking at you, bluebottle).

They are a symbol for everything revolting in this world. They spring up all over the place and everything is a target for their bacteria-ridden bodies. Including your home.

Like me, if a fly had been terrorising your personal space for longer than you can stand, you attempt to extinguish this infuriating tiny flying life. You swat, and miss. You’re a bad shot. You chase the winged demon around the room, cursing its hundreds of ever-seeing eyes.

You pick up your Guard n Care electronic fly swatter and become engrossed in your own mission impossible. You ignore the other person walking into the room and fly goes straight for him, hoping for shelter from the enraged giant beast with a swatter. You then hit your fellow human with the electrical execution device. Right in the face. You just killed the fly with a dose of electricity and the person you assaulted looks angry. Whoops. Great scenario, right?

I’ll just stick to my Mr Miyagi karate kid skills, thanks. Or use a newspaper, or a shoe. Household items are always good weapons to squish pests with.

Ever seen Karate Kid? Then catching a fly with chopsticks is no big deal

Ever seen Karate Kid? Then catching a fly with chopsticks is no big deal

Plus, I’ll always be a little bit tempted to touch the electronic swatter, which would probably end in disaster.

The Guard n Care electronic fly swatter is £8.65, which is a lot more than a rolled-up newspaper, unless it’s a weekend edition of the New York Times.

Kisha Umbrella

Summer rain is inevitable. One can become flustered when the pitter-patter sounds of the sky leaking hits the ground. However, you always keep your umbrella close at hand, because the unpredictability of the British weather makes you forever suspicious of the skies. If it’s sunny, there is always a chance of the ominous grey clouds looming over, ready to ruin the perfectly fine day. I have my weather app handy on my iPhone, so I know what it will (probably) be like when I trundle my way back home from work, brolly at the ready if the sky looks miserable. It’s just sensible to check the weather before you venture outside.

However, the makers of the Kisha – the world’s first smart umbrella – think differently, and is the answer to all of our rainy prayers. It looks like a normal umbrella, but it contains a Bluetooth coin-sized chip that can track its whereabouts via your phone, so you can ‘never’ lose it and will alert you if you’ve left it behind.

You can stand under my umbrella...ella...ella

You can stand under my umbrella…ella…ella

The downloadable app lets you know what will happen with the day’s weather, its precipitation levels and tells you whether you ought to take your umbrella. I check my normal weather app and get pretty much the same result. So paying £50 for a brolly is really worth it, right? It is 100 per cent windproof and can stand 120mph gales, naturally. I would expect that from a 50 quid umbrella though, wouldn’t you?

G+Didi washing machine

When it does rain, things can get a little messy. Dirt on your trousers, rain dampening your clothes, mud splattered on your back from riding your bicycle through the tough terrains. You’re exhausted and can barely press a button once you’ve loaded the washing machine. What do you do? You tell it to clean those clothes (link NSFW)!

Life was simpler in to 50's

Life was simpler in to 50’s

Galanz, a Chinese electrical manufacturer, introduced the G+Didi in July. It comes with voice APP control and is said to be a landmark in the washing machine industry. Pressing buttons is such a chore these days. You have to turn the washing machine on, switch to the appropriate temperature and mode, and press start! Phew! The machine also sends you a text when it’s finished.

This miraculous, time-saving piece of technology is on sale soon. However, you will have to speak Chinese. Bummer.

I’d rather have a washing machine that loads itself, as that seems to always be the more difficult part.

Doppel Wristband

After washing and packing all of the clothes that you need for your summer holiday, you check your itinerary. Where is the sun lotion? Did I remember the toothpaste? Is everything packed in appropriate bags? What about airport security? Will I be frisked? The airport will be busy! Did I pack the underwear? Did I pack enough? I’m going to have to check it again!

Let’s just say, you can get a little stressed. Why not try a Doppel, a wristband that uses your body’s natural biorhythms to sort out your mood, because a wristband will sort all of your body’s problems, surely?

It will pulse you to a sort of calm.

When you stroke it – you have to do this in an arc-like movement – it will pulse slowly to calm you down if you’re stressed. If you squeeze it when you’re tired it pulsates quickly to help you focus. Think of it like this: if someone lightly pokes me again and again, over and over, I may become slightly annoyed. If I’m tired and already cranky from a lack of sleep, my fuse would be just a wee bit shorter, and the Doppel would find a new home in the bin.

Now breathe, and calm.

Now breathe, and calm.

The theory of biorhythms led the Doppel team to create the device, which designer Neil Bennett says could especially help anxiety sufferers apparently.

The team raised over £111,000 from their Kickstarter campaign with the help of 820 backers, and they’re taking orders for their first batch now, if you’re interested in the most calming wristband you’ll ever wear.

#WhatsApp hits 800 million active users – an annotated infographic

April 22, 2015

WhatsApp, the messaging service that lets you text other users for free, now has 800 million active users every month. The app sends messages over the internet, bypassing a phone carrier’s text messaging charges.

WhatsApp is a solid poster boy for spectacular dotcom success, going from zero value as a start-up company in 2009 to the point at which Facebook hoovered it up for a tidy $19bn in 2014. Not bad for five years’ work, all told.

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

800 million? Whatsapp with that?

800 million? Whatsapp with that?

New issue of E&T magazine online now – the #WearableTechnology issue

April 22, 2015

Check out the wearable technology, hype or happening issue of E&T online.

The wearable technology market has exploded. There are plenty of activity trackers, e-health monitors and smartwatches, but all too often the focus has been on emerging technology rather than the design. Yet product design is vital to commercial success, as consumers will only want to buy a device that complements their desired look.

If the wearables market is going to achieve the success it should, the fashion element that consumers use to express themselves needs to be the priority right now.

Wearables made readables

Wearables made readables

Check out the wearable technology, hype or happening issue of E&T online.

#AppleWatch officially quite popular – an annotated infographic

April 16, 2015

From the top drawer of the “so obvious it surely isn’t news” files comes the statistical confirmation that a lot of people around the world really, really want an Apple Watch.

Soaring demand online for Apple’s new wearable device has obliged our favourite Californian tech uberlords to push back its delivery dates from April 24 to June.

The first Watch models arrived in UK Apple Stores this week for customer gawking, pawing and general uncontrollable slavering.

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

Watch: out

Watch: out