Tag Archives: technology

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Apr 26

Rarely do magicians reveal their tricks. Even more rare is when Silicon Valley insiders tell you their secret, that technology is not inherently neutral. Its addictive.

Recently CBS released an episode on 60 minutes called “Brain Hacking.” The program discusses the modern phenomena of ‘Smart Phone Addiction.’ However CBS covers the topic from the perspective of those creating the software. (more…)

Feb 15

Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots organization, and Lady Gaga all set records on the night of February 5th, 2017, Super Bowl 51. Bill Belichick became the first coach to win 5 Super Bowls,Tom Brady, the first quarterback to win 5 super bowls, the Patriots, the first team in a Super Bowl to overcome a 25 point deficit. Likewise Intel and Lady Gaga combined forces to produce a performance that outshone previous half time shows. (more…)

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May 19

Innovations in healthcare has shown astounding growth in the past decade from 3D printing of arteries and prosthetics to treatments in diabetes. Though the goal is to do more than just assuage the constant struggle of diabetes sufferers, medical care is heading in the right direction with these 5 new innovations:

Finger Sticks Reduction

One of the complaints heard often from those with diabetes is the pain of finger sticks, and though continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) make it easier to see data, the calibrations have presented problems which can cause a need for more finger sticks.

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Abbott’s FreeStyle Flash Glucose Monitoring System intends to answer this concern with its new system that doesn’t need calibration or blood glucose meter. It only uses finger-stick tests for confirmation readings below 70 mg/dl. A small sensor with under the skin filament is held under the arm with adhesive giving a reading of glucose levels minute-by-minute and can read through clothing. The device can store 3 months of data which is useful to track trends.

It has launched in some EU countries and is working on coming Stateside in the near future.

Pump It Up

The modern designed Medtronic’s 640G cuts down on the bulk with its hybrid design. It acts as both a hybrid pump and CGM. The device acts as a pump but monitors the levels to prevent unhealthy limits of insulin. The device is available in Australia and is expected to launch in the U.S. shortly. Medtronic

Insulin Reminders

Something as simple as forgetting to take your insulin can lead to not-so-simple problems. Under or over-taking your insulin can be a problem that Timesulin is aiming to wipe out.  Timesulin has a timer that starts counting the minute you cap your pen so you’ll be able to see when you took your last dose at a glance on its digital meter. This device works with most pen brands and is already in the U.S.

Breathe Easier

Sanofi and MannKind Corp are in works to offer an alternative to rapid-acting insulin in the form of Afrezza, an insulin powder you use like an asthma inhaler before a meal. The insulin works faster than injected rapid-acting insulin, clears from the body more readily, and cuts down the risk of hypoglycemia. This drug is not intended for smokers, those with asthma, or other lung-related illnesses. Afrezza is already available in the United States for both Type 1 and 2 diabetes.

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Skin Deep

In its search to provide a less intrusive method for diabetes to take their medication, Intarcia is looking below skin level. The matchstick-sized device would be implanted below the skin to deliver a constant dose of exenatide for type 2 diabetes which is generally injected twice a day. This device would only need to be injected twice a year significantly cutting down the discomfort of injections. This device plans to clear FDA sometime next year.

These are only 5 of the innovations available or heading our way. There are many more listed at the Diabetes Forecast site. With the trajectory of innovations moving towards alleviating at least some of the problems, the hope is that this momentum will continue and offer even more solutions moving forward.

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Feb 9

When the largest game of the year is hosted in California’s Bay Area, you can expect the NFL to get a little help from the locals: Silicon Valley tech giants. This year’s game, as the 50th Super Bowl, was an important anniversary worthy of showcasing the latest specs in technology. From the stadium, to the halftime performance, to the athletic gear, #SuperBowl50 did not hold back.

As it happened, the game itself wasn’t much to brag about. The Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers 24 to 10 in a monotonous display of good defense, which though a feat for Peyton Manning did not make for exciting viewership. Luckily, there’s so much more to the Super Bowl these days than touchdowns and field goals. What lacks in the match can be made up for by the digital fan experience, both onscreen and behind the scenes. This year, boundaries were broken in both the delivery and the message of technology at its finest.

The support

The spectrum of Super Bowl 50’s technology didn’t begin and end on February 7th in San Francisco. Rather, it was many months in the making, with preparation taking up a huge portion of technological real estate, so to speak.

The Super Bowl Host Committee is largely responsible for ensuring these preparations come together smoothly in the weeks leading up to the game. This year, the committee’s CEO Keith Bruce emphasized that first and foremost, Super Bowl 50 would be all the about the tech.

“Our goal was to be the most technologically advanced Super Bowl ever,” Bruce said. “We’re at the center of the digital economy of the world, home to a lot of the stalwarts of tech, and we thought we should embrace that.”

Software and tech companies needed very little urging to get on board with this mission. Transportation came via Google’s commuter fleet and Uber on-demand, while laptops, phones and other equipment were provided by Apple. Google also helped develop the Road to 50 app, a virtual guidebook to the event, which fans could use to order food to their seats enjoy other perks.

With the help of Verizon and other providers, Levi’s stadium fully equipped with 400 miles of fiber optic cable, 1,200 wifi access points and 1,700 BlueTooth beacons to keep fans connected at all times. All in all, the committee raised $50 million from corporate sponsors to hold Super Bowl 50 to the highest of standards, worthy the sport’s 50 year mark and the region’s technology prowess.

The specs

Beyond sponsorships, the fun continues from all angles. Super Bowl 50 featured camera technology was at its finest: the EyeVision 360 displayed a 360 view of the stadium streamed from 36 cameras around the venue, while the debut of the Pylon Cam placed 16 cameras in end zones to film goal line sand sidelines, aiding officials in making tough calls. Athletic gear has advanced over the years as well — this year, players donned state of the art gear with RFID tracking in their shoulder pads.

Behind the scenes, there’s also advanced cyber security to take into account. Following terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, the biggest American sporting event of the year took no chances with security — luckily, and they had the technology available to make it an utmost priority. Though FBI declined to reveal their measures in full detail, we do know that disarming robots, helicopters, military jets were on standby.

Perhaps the greatest security measure, though, was surveillance. With over 600 cameras and an advanced scanning system that aggregated threats from the ground, sky, and social media, streams of real-time data were analyzed by agents at a Joint Operations center at an undisclosed location.

The social

Social networking continues to be an enormous boon for brands and fans alike. The “second screen” experience, which allows live tweets and commentary from anyone with a device, proved successful once more: it’s is the ultimate augmentation of the Super Bowl, maximizing engagement in and out of the stadium.

Since the game wasn’t stirring up huge excitement in and of itself, we can thank our lucky stars for the halftime performance, which generated significant buzz online. Halftime shows often feature high-tech spectacles: for example, the mechanical cat ridden by Katy Perry last year, which was somehow overshadowed by the antics of Left Shark.

This year, Coldplay lead a technicolor display complete with interactive light-up LED wristbands, video walls, lasers and light-up inflatable balls. But as if proving technology for technology’s sake is bound to fall flat, it was Beyonce that stole the show with the performance of her brand-new song “Formation.” Together, Beyonce, Chris Martin and Bruno Mars evoked themes ranging from LGBT pride to African American empowerment, making the show as politically charged as it was electronically.

All in all, fans of the Broncos, Beyonce, and technology should be pleased with Super Bowl 50. And for those still unsatisfied, there are only seven more months until football season starts up again, with the power of a million screens and screams close behind.

Featured image: duluoz cats via Flickr

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Jan 28

In the aftermath of a winter storm that mercilessly slammed DC to NYC this past weekend, severe weather is on the minds and lawns of many Americans this winter. Mother nature can be an unforgiving force in all regions and seasons: whether she manifests as a sizzling drought or blizzard of the ages, humans are left to scramble for safety with emergency supplies and stockpiles of canned goods. Too often, severe weather events lead to injuries, deaths, and costly damages to property and infrastructure.

Living on a planet with a weather cycle and plate tectonics comes with its inherent risks, and that’s not to mention the severe weather events that climate instability could result in. Regardless of cause, humanity is lucky in the sense that we’re better able to predict, prepare, and stay safe under dangerous conditions. This is largely due to the advancement of weather, disaster relief, and rescue technology.

Extreme weather and other natural disasters can now be detected early on, meaning you’re unlikely to have a typhoon sneak up on you reading Kafka on the beach. It’s thanks to technology that this early and accurate forecasting is possible: for decades, doppler radar, observation tools and computer calculations have been utilized to generate weather predictions. The improvement of these tools along with the addition of weather satellites has upped the accuracy of forecasting over time.

The improvement of forecast technology has been instrumental in the implementation of weather alerts and other types of notifications that help people prepare for harsh weather. Tools like the American Red Cross’ DigiDoc send mass alerts to people in affected areas; most of smartphone owners in the US have built-in alerts that warn of flash floods and other weather-related dangers. Sometimes these may seem superfluous — if it’s raining hard, you probably don’t need a text to tell you — but if the weather event is something like a tornado, these alerts can save lives.

There’s also new technology that allows people to stay connected and safe both during and after severe weather events. Facebook recently released a tool called “Safety Check” that lets people in disaster-affected areas check-in to let their friends know they are safe. But technology goes beyond even this — survivors can alert emergency responders with their mobile phones, sometimes even without Internet connection, for example, through mesh networks like the Serval Project. There are also many emergency and survival apps that work with or without wifi and cell service.

For those in need of emergency relief, rescue and assistance has improved tremendously over the years as well. From drone supply deliveries to rescue robots and radar search tools, individuals at risk can be located, supplied, and ultimately rescued from unsafe areas — whether from flooded homes or piles of rubble.

It’s a relief to know that through the blizzards of today and the quakes of tomorrow, the probability of safety and survival is greater thanks to intelligent minds and effective technology. While we’ve no way yet to change or control the weather all together, the ability to detect danger and avoid harm is a bright spot in a stormy sky, capable of saving millions of lives (and dollars) each year.

Featured Image: NASA GSFC via Flickr. 

Dec 11

There are all types of methods, used and abused by human beings, that have stunning effects on athletic performance. Steroids, widely banned, have the ability to make athletes better, faster and stronger — nonetheless, such drugs are largely illegal for ethical and medical reasons.

In the meantime, the concept of the human body as a machine that can be tweaked and optimized is gaining traction thanks to advancements in science and technology. But the world of sports remains committed to the all-natural athlete, despite the fact that this ideal no longer exists. Today’s athletes are aided by special uniforms, technological training, nutritional supplements — and, in spite of regulators’ best efforts — new types of doping methods that are difficult to ban and impossible to trace.

It may seem odd that athletes are expected to adhere to primitive standards of excellence while the rest of the world embraces technological advancement, unhindered. Drug bans in the name of health and fairness make sense, but steroids are not the only way athletes can boost their performance. Safer and stranger modern innovations exist — the use of which some term “tech doping.” These futuristic methods don’t always fall under the realm of cheating, but some may toe the line.

Tracking and perfecting

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Sans drugs, there are many ways athletes can (and do) fine tune their bodies to near super-human results. Perhaps the simplest and least controversial way involves technology that tracks performance for valuable insight on what drives successes and failures. With proper data, the athletic achievements can be replicated, mistakes reduced and overall performance improved.

Today’s athletes can swallow pills that monitor core temperature, wear sensors that track movement, and attach devices that record video and statistics. The wealth of information yielded by this technology can help athletes (along with their coaches and trainers) understand their performances and tweak their technique accordingly.

And it gets more advanced: athletes that digitally track their eye movements are able to discover which retinal fixations (and corresponding cognitive functions) correlate with success. This isn’t cheating, but it’s not natural either. Understanding the body and the brain this intimately would not be possible without the breadth of technology we use today to obtain and harness information.

Uniforms and equipment

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Can high-tech sportswear constitute as cheating? Apparently so: ultrasonically welded swimwear by Speedo was determined to have artificially enhanced athletic performance in the 2008 Olympics, after which the high-tech swimsuits were banned. There is little reason to believe that cutting edge shoes, outfits and equipment couldn’t, in time, give athletes a similar edge on land.

Already, today’s athletes benefit from lightweight, sweat-resistant sportswear that boosts performance by minimizing hindrances like weight and heat. NFL quarterbacks have in-helmet speakers, Olympians have bobsleds made of carbon fiber, and speed skaters wear suits that reduce drag. Is this cheating? Some think it comes close, or at the very least gives certain athletes unfair advantages.

The big issue here has a lot to do with resources, or the lack thereof. When the quality of equipment and sportswear dependant on a team or nation’s money flow, it’s little wonder wealth and wins so often go hand in hand.

Techy Training

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The optimization of body and brain isn’t only done through careful tracking, but physically altering the way an athlete thinks, moves and acts in prep time.

A system called Neurotopia is one of such methods used by Football players for brain training and stimulation. Through this technology, athletes can train their brains to influence physiological processes that amplify their performance. The machine lets its user play a game with their mind in which lively mental focus is rewarded, and low focus punished. If used correctly and often, the player’s brain will optimize performance for rewards outside of the machine, too.

And speaking of science fiction-style training: athletes have experimented with all types of equipment — like pods that simulate exercising, and altitude chambers that replicate low-oxygen conditions — all for improved metabolism and endurance. They may also have highly-engineered diets, workout routines and therapies to ensure their brains and bodies are fine tuned to perform under pressure.

Training has always been key to success, but it’s only recently that advanced technology, science and metrics have become this valuable, and in some cases manipulative of mind and body. When these innovations become mainstream, the athletic training montages in sports movies like Rocky will seem crude and prehistoric.

Health and wellbeing

One of the biggest boons to athletes is the likelihood of injury, and the lasting impacts of, well, impacts. Luckily, there are emerging innovations that help prevent athletes from getting hurt, or ensure quick and effective treatment when they do. With athlete safety more scrutinized than ever, preserving bodies and careers is a priority for those in the sports tech industry.

Recently, various types of wearable technology have been used to detect high-impact collisions and other injuries so that medical treatment can be undergone right away. Gear is designed to be protective, with highly-engineered fits that support moving bodies and prevent injury. Head trauma may soon be able to be diagnosed on the sidelines with advanced spit and blood tests.

On top of this, athletes may soon benefit from a scientific feats that make them even better functioning than the normal human. For example, a cooling glove that eases muscle fatigue and produces results equal to steroids, supplements and cryotherapy to enhance athletic recovery, or even genetic engineering for built-in athletic strength.

What’s next?

Put all of these together, and we arguably have athletes that are better, stronger and faster as a direct result of science and technology. Today’s athletes are not natural at all, and it’s not a bad thing — some might even call it an inevitability.

When it comes to cheating, it will be difficult to know where the line should be drawn. Even with regulations in place, many athletes continue to quietly partake in performance enhancement drugs undetected. Some argue that sports would be better off allowing steroid use — transparently and with and medical advisement — than to let it continue in the shadows. As for “tech doping,” it’s also a sticky issue. As long as the playing field is unequal, players with money and science on their side will likely keep the upper hand.

The same goes for safety. Though many technological innovations protect athletes, not all teams can afford the standard let alone the extras. Winning almost always trumps safety, and only rigorous and long-term research will tell if emerging performance enhancement methods are truly sound.

At some point, fans, athletes and others in the industry will have to acknowledge the implications of these advancements, and decide: Can we equal the playing field? Do we allow enhancements of some kinds, and not others? Or none at all? Will we embrace the super-athlete, or decide natural is better after all? Whatever the case, I hope decisions are mindful of both athlete well-being and the potential of tech to transform sports as we know them.

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Dec 9

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Leave it to scientists at MIT to create the sportswear of the future — and expect it to look a lot more than a superhero costume than jersey. Recently, researchers at MIT Media Lab’s Tangible Media Group have been using an ancient bacteria to develop a self-ventilating second skin.

The bacteria was discovered 1,000 years ago in Japan, but only now is it being repurposed as a wearable solution to bodily sweat. With the bacteria, scientists have developed a natto material called BioLogic that physically morphs when exposed to moisture. Tiny flaps in the material open when the body within reaches certain humidity conditions so that the sweat can evaporate.

How does it work? Well, first the cells were grown in bioreactors, then molded for use in a micro-resolution printer so it could be bioprinted onto wearable fabrics. The film deposits were then sent off to the Royal College of Art, who integrated them into clothing by pinpointing which parts of the body sweat the most.

Unsurprisingly, sportswear manufacturers are incredibly interested in this innovative development. New Balance is one such company invested in the process. For athletes, this could mean light, breathable clothing that keeps your sweat from saturating workout clothes or uniforms by responding to your body to open up ventilators.

There’s a bigger picture here, of course. Biologically sensitive material opens as many doors as it does flaps far outside the world of athletics. Researchers are thinking about color-changing clothes, lampshades that respond to light, flowers that blossom and change color when watered, and steam-activated teabags.

So basically, if you’re a human that runs, has a garden, uses artificial light, drinks tea or all of the above, it’s entirely possible you’ll encounter BioLogic or a BioLogic-like material in the future. Who ever though bacteria on your skin and in your hot beverage would be a desirable thing? Not me, but apparently innovation knows no boundaries.

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Nov 16

As I’ve touched on before, wearable technology is bringing new and astounding changes to the world of sports. Wearable tech can improve player safety, team visibility, call efficiency and so much more. In other words, it’s a game changer — literally.

Some wearable technology is already used by athletes, but when it comes to imagining what the future could hold, the sky’s the limit. Brilliant hypothetical designs can demonstrate the potential of wearable technology to improve sports like soccer, rugby and football. Some may even be useful for non-athletes as well.

The following concepts (by Bwin via CNET) imagine how athletes’ outfits will look and function in the future. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to seeing these innovations in action on fields, courts, and rinks across the globe someday.

1. Offside lights & watches

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It can be difficult for everyone — including referees — to tell when athletes are out of bounds. With light-up offside indicators, flexible LED displays would flash on players’ outfits when they’ve crossed a boundary. This can minimize and even eliminate human error, or worse, cheating — the lights don’t lie.

GoalControl is one organization already focused on clarifying boundaries through wearable technology. In this case, the referee would have the wearable: a watch that displays real-time data based on camera footage so refs can make more accurate calls.

2. Player cameras

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Speaking of footage, imagine getting a view of a game from your favorite athlete’s perspective. With wearable cameras like GoPros in use commercially, it’s feasible that similar devices could be embedded into athlete uniforms, assuming the rules would allow it.

Already, wearable technology like Google Glass has been used to record behind-the-scene or even on-the-scene footage at sports events by both reporters and athletes. In the future, POV footage could give viewers a unique perspective of the game, while giving sports organizations a brand new product to broadcast or sell.

3. Wearable ads & statistics

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Advertising is a huge part of professional sports, as is evidenced by Super Bowl commercials, corporate sponsorships, on-site activations and more. Flexible LED displays could theoretically turn an athlete’s uniform into another screen for brand promotions.

LED ad outfits are unlikely to become the standard anytime soon, least of all in the United States. Though sports teams globally have long brandished the names of sponsors on their jerseys, it’s one of the only spaces the “big four” professional American leagues won’t advertise on.

Alternatively, LED textiles could display player statistics on their jerseys so fans can peek at the data without doing additional research.

4. LED visibility outfits

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When the weather’s bad, it’s not just moisture that makes sporting events unpleasant: bad visibility can be physically dangerous for players and bothersome for fans. High-visibility textiles, which light up in bad weather, could remedy this issue.

Though some kinds of high-visibility gear already exists, even the brightest neons won’t be of much use at night in the rain. Apparel embedded with flexible LED technology would be the ideal solution, but only if it can be powered effectively without adding extra weight.

5. Built in generators

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So how are the sports outfits of the future powered? Since clunky batteries would weigh down wearable electronics, the best solution may be battery-free: specifically, outfits could be charged with kinetic energy generated by the players’ movements.

There are a number of wearable electronics that are self-powering, some through body heat, others through body movement or even human blood. For athletes, running and jumping could someday be efficient enough to power at least some of their high-tech wearables.

6. Impact visualizers


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Lastly, here’s one type of wearable that is already making waves in American football: the impact visualizer, which (in this design) changes colors when a player takes a hit. An outfit with this kind of tech built in could flash green, amber, or red to alert referees and doctors when a player needs medical attention or a break.

Impact sensors have already been embedded into helmets, mouth guards and chin straps to measure the force and duration of collisions players endure. The hope is that recognizing severe impacts right when they occur can help athletes get treated as soon as possible, minimize suffering and long-term side effects, and prevent further dangerous incidents.

Apr 21

Since 2011’s Margin Call succeeded with its day and date release through video on demand (VOD), the strategy and platform has grown to become a viable option for indie and big release productions. Other movies demonstrated the platform’s power as well. The Interview turned controversy into cash for Sony after its large screen release got squashed–raking in $40 million before landing on Netflix 30 days after its VOD release. Currently, indie horror film It Follows is showing that the “compressed window” strategy that closely runs theatre and VOD releases can result in massive earnings and exposure for indies that otherwise could drown behind small marketing budgets and limited release.

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76 percent of homes in America currently use DVR, Netflix and/or other VOD services to stream content to their screens. As the number rises with each year, more and more services have come onto the scene to allow independent film and television makers a viable platform to host their productions on Hulu, iTunes, Vudu and countless other services. Now, Walla enters the fray with some incredible options that makes the process easier for content creators, as well as providing viewers with some often hard to find content.

What is Walla?

Walla is a service striving to make global aggregation and distribution a simpler process. Its proprietary tools leverage technology to resolve VOD issues while reducing costs for platform delivery. In turn, this should make the process much more efficient for creators while holding them accountable for producing high-quality content that will pass stringent quality checks employed by streaming platforms. If content passes the quality check, Walla ensures that movies and TV shows should reach iTunes distribution within 30 days. Additionally, with established agreements with top VOD distribution services in place, it can provide Distribution as a Service (DaaS) with ease to up to 110 territories.

During the initial phase, Walla’s Studio Service will guide you through the uploading process that offers an incredible ease of use for the client at the speed they prefer. Once uploaded, a quality check of your content will begin. Once completed, all the platforms your work qualifies for will become options to launch on. If there is a service you wish to be added to that you don’t qualify for, Walla will instruct you on how to reach that goal. After you make your distribution decisions, Walla handles the rest of the work.

Pricing

With clear-cut pricing and no hidden fees, content creators can understand just what they are getting into. In addition to low, one-time fees clients are guaranteed to receive prompt payment each month that they can track in near real-time through the company’s sales reporting. With transparency as its goal, Walla strives to have clients know exactly what is going on with their project on each platform. Once you have your sales stats for the month, Walla will deliver prompt payments on time, every month.

Walla in the News

Walla’s name received a nice boost in April courtesy of two exciting pieces of news. First, the company announced a partnership with premiere South Korean distributor CJ Entertainment. The partnership brings the South Korean content to Facebook–including a 48 hour free streaming of the film Friend II: The Legacy. Furthering the month’s good news, Walla also launched support for the new iTunes Store Package from Compressor to make delivery to the iTunes Store simpler. It remains to be seen how Walla further impacts distribution, though the recent news bodes well for the service.

Have you tried Walla? What are your thoughts on Walla and VOD as a whole?