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Hand-cranked phone charger for disasters, travel, backup

When your phone runs out of power and you’re in a literal or figurative emergency, the feeling of panic can be overcome with a nature-powered charger.

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hand crank iphone charger

hand crank iphone charger

Gadget of the year?

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, many people are still without power, and any natural disaster may leave residents in a bad way. One of the worst feelings is being without communication, particularly when help is needed.

Alternatively, having a smartphone without power can simply be a nuisance when traveling, especially at conferences. But accessory manufacturer, Etón has developed a hand-cranked cell phone charger. Etón is a licensed emergency gear maker that has co-branded with the American Red Cross to create the Boost Turbine, a hand-crank device that is a USB jack that produces spurts of energy for critical times – one minute cranking the turbine creates enough energy for 30 seconds of talk time or a few texts. The idea is to create enough energy to call 911 or connect with loved ones.

The BoostTurbine is available online, starting at $50, and a colored case adds another $10. Keep one around the house or car, or ismply packed when traveling for a quick notification in case of emergency.

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

Tech Gadgets

Google Glass didn’t succeed, but Apple’s AR glasses might

(TECH GADGETS) Apple Glass: Are AR glasses gimmicky, or can Apple improve where Google failed? The potential is enormous, but can Apple meet the expectations?

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Apple AR glasses

Apple may announce a new addition to the iFamily this year: Apple Glass, a set of AR glasses to complement existing Apple products. Even though we’ve seen this story before, here’s why Apple’s rumored eyewear might deserve your attention–if not your money.

This certainly isn’t the first time a technology company has taken their brand name and slotted the word “Glass” after it to create hype. In 2015, Google Glass was discontinued–quite publicly, in fact–due to a variety of issues, chief among which were privacy concerns, and an untenable price tag of around $1500. Lacking a clear market and suitable demand, the shades were put to rest, though it should be noted that a rebranded version is available now (for $999).

Apple is a company that has, in the past, showed a propensity for iteration rather than innovation; the Apple Watch, while a stylish and functional improvement on existing wearable technology, wasn’t even close to the first of its kin, and early versions of the iPad were scrutinized against similarly sized, lower-priced counterparts. This isn’t to say that Apple doesn’t do tech better–just that they are, often enough, pretty late to the party.

In the case of AR glasses, this is a habit that may suit Apple well.

Put bluntly, there isn’t a clearly established need for smart glasses, and while critics of the Apple Watch were quick to say the same thing about that implement, anyone who has worn one for a few hours can recognize (if not fully appreciate) the handiness–no pun intended. It seems fair to afford Apple some grace with this in mind, but the fact remains that the demand for a set of AR glasses simply isn’t there for now.

On the other hand (again, no pun intended), Apple is the master of creating demand and hype where previously there was naught but slumber. For this reason, it behooves us to keep an eye on Apple’s unveiled tech this year–if for no other reason than to know for sure how the company plans to address the sticky issue of AR wearables.

After all, there are numerous medical, exploratory, and generally functional applications for which one could feasibly use AR in a beneficial (not gimmicky) manner, and if Apple is able to expedite that process, far be it from us to criticize. Yet.

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Tech Gadgets

The Apple Watch isn’t just a way to ignore calls, it could save your life

(TECH GADGETS) A lot of people balked at the idea of an Apple Watch, and even though many of its features seem superfluous, it has actually saved lives.

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Apple Watch

Apple products are known for invasive yet convenient features–Face ID, Keychain, and AirDrop being some of the more notable ones–but the Apple Watch emergency dial feature might be the most useful one of them all.

If you’ve had the pleasure of setting up an Apple Watch from scratch, you know that the Healthcare app asks some invasive questions. This app, among other things, is responsible for curating a list of emergency contacts (something you can also populate via the Contacts app on your iPhone)–and this list might save your life if you take an unexpected tumble, at least if you have a Series 4 or 5 watch.

The way the feature works is relatively simple: If the watch senses that a user has rapidly or heavily fallen, it will initiate a haptic pulse along with a message asking the user to confirm that they are okay. Should the user fail to address this notification, the watch will call emergency services–and the user’s emergency contact list–with details including the user’s GPS coordinates.

The fall detection feature has reportedly worked for a few Apple Watch owners, one of whom passed out and didn’t wake up until emergency services arrived.

It is worth noting that the Apple Watch has another potentially life-saving feature: an ECG attached to the Heart Rate app. In theory, the Heart Rate app can detect abnormalities in one’s heartbeat and warn the user of an impending issue such as a stroke or a heart attack. Anyone who owns an Apple Watch knows that the Heart Rate app can be finicky, but Apple seems likely to continue tweaking this app as the watch ages.

While several owners have publicly attested to the effectiveness of these features, this shouldn’t be taken as an endorsement of the Apple Watch’s ability to save a life. An Apple Watch is still, first and foremost, a novelty–one that won’t always perform the way it’s meant to.

Future iterations of the watch–starting with the Series 6–are expected to expand on these medical features by adding monitoring for blood oxygen levels as well as improvements on existing features.

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Tech Gadgets

Samsung shines a new light on indoor health with artificial sunlight

(TECH GADGETS) Samsung’s C-Lab venture creates windows that simulate natural sunlight, so now you can stay healthy while being stuck inside!

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samsung sunnyfive

The light therapy market just leveled up. C-Lab Inside, an in-house idea incubation program to develop innovative ideas from Samsung employees, unveiled a window-shaped artificial sunlight device called the SunnyFive window. According the Samsung Newsroom, it enables the user to enjoy sunlight that changes by the hour by copying the full spectrum of the actual sunlight.

Light therapy lamps have been around for decades as a way for sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and some skin issues to get the benefits of sunlight all year long, without the risk of sunburn. In a time when many people are spending more time indoors than before as they shelter in place during the CoVID-19 pandemic, the audience for more accessible in-home sunlight may be greater than ever.

A device like the SunnyFive window promises a full spectrum of natural light that can simulate a real window through a changing light angle which adjusts throughout the day, including sunrises and sunsets. For SAD sufferers and others who can benefit from exposure to light, it can helps users synthesize vitamin D while indoors or in low-light places as they would in natural sunlight, according to the Samsung Newsroom.

samsung sunnyside

And because it is 2020, of course there is an app with that. It is set for easy integration with Samsung’s SmartThings smart home system, so users can personalize their light by adjusting brightness and color temperature from their phone, and set a schedule to wake up with a simulated sunrise. It can be mounted on the wall like a picture frame, and is designed to look like a window with diffused light, instead of the light box design used by many current light therapy lamps on the market.

This seems like an interesting product with a lot of upsides, but there are still a number of question marks around the technology and safety of this device. If UVB lighting is what is being emitted, what type of health consequences might users be exposed to? Did SunnyFive integrate any health safeguards or mitigating elements to address UVB exposure? Though Samsung showcased the SunnyFive window at the 2020 CES, the product, pricing, and details have yet to be released.

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