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Looking smart: AR glasses to actually get excited about

(TECH NEWS) Smart glasses have been predominately hit-and-miss since their inception. North’s Focals promise to disrupt this stereotype. Finally, Kingsman glasses are real!

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The very public fall from grace experienced by Google Glass is still a sore spot for those of us who were looking forward to a viable set of augmented reality (AR) eyewear. Fortunately, a set of glasses backed by companies like Amazon and Y Combinator looks to provide an accessible solution.

While the Google Glass project didn’t technically die, it did veer away from public availability and into the enterprise spectrum; this makes Google Glass relatively inaccessible to any “normal” private citizen, thus negating the fact that — technically, at least — Google Glass is still around. If you’re lamenting the absence of Google Glass in your daily life, however, don’t fret: a company called North has a solution for you by way of a set of smart glasses called Focals.

Focals appear to bridge the gap between the public and what Google Glass could have offered, all without the clunky appearance and questionable marketing techniques. North embodies the idea that the first company to come up with a stylish pair of glasses with “smart” functionality (as opposed to putting the “smart” aspect over form) would earn a memorable spot in AR history: Focals are, first and foremost, eyewear that’s designed to be comfortable and unobtrusive.

Of course, smart glasses should do more than just look nice on your face. Focals boast a range of AR capabilities including personalized updates, messaging, turn-by-turn directions, and information about your surroundings, all of which are rendered in a three-dimensional augmented reality display that only the wearer can see. You can even talk to Amazon’s Alexa or dictate text message responses via the glasses’ built-in microphone, making Focals the ultimate hands-free experience.

Smart glasses feel like the most logical next step in terms of wearable smart technology, especially given the success of items such as the Apple Watch. As society continues to implement strict limitations on the ways in which you can stay connected while working, commuting, or otherwise keeping your hands away from your phone, having the option to review your updates without having to shift your field of vision a whit is particularly enticing.

Focals aren’t currently unavailable for purchase, but you can reserve a pair through North’s Focals webpage. A pair of Focals is expected to set you back approximately $1000 upon release. Enjoy your new life as a Kingsman!

Jack Lloyd has a BA in Creative Writing from Forest Grove's Pacific University; he spends his writing days using his degree to pursue semicolons, freelance writing and editing, oxford commas, and enough coffee to kill a bear. His infatuation with rain is matched only by his dry sense of humor.

Real Estate Technology

WriteyDesk is a desk you can write on and not get in trouble for

(TECHNOLOGY NEWS) A new desk stands to increase productivity or, at the least save you a tree load of paper.

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Supplies scramble

We’ve all been there before. You’re working at your desk and you get an unexpected phone call. All of the sudden you’re needing to jot down a few quick notes but your plethora of notepads have all miraculously disappeared in your time of need. At this point, I typically use my hand / wrist / entire arm to write down the pertinent info.

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Ink stained extremities are thing of the past now with WriteyDesk on the way.

New desks

WriteyDesk hasn’t started mass production yet but is posed to revolutionize your office and productivity.

The desk double-times as a white board making it the perfect place to jot down a few notes or to write your entire manifesto.

The WriteyDesk comes from the creators of the anywhere whiteboard. It is available in birch or in white and is backed by Mark Cuban.

Those kind of already exist

I know what you’re thinking, why would I not just use a regular whiteboard or a glass top desk and use dry erase markers on it? Well WriteyDesk anticipated this question and answers it by letting potential buyers know that their mission is to give everyone dry erase surfaces that are not only easy to use but also don’t throw off the entire groove of a workplace.

“Producing a desk that stands out as a modern workstation while having a seamless dry erase writing surface wasn’t an easy task.”

The WriteyDesk boasts features like an ergonomic height, modern chassis, a 100% dry erase surface, and even an optional bookshelf.

Grab one for yourself

Whether your an artist or an actuary, the WriteyDesk is versatile enough to host a myriad of work. Plus, the makers of WriteyDesk have even figured out their own dry erase markers that are smudge resistent and their own chalk pens that are 100% smudge proof. Clean sleeves for everyone!

Production starts this month and WriteyDesk plans to begin shipping in August. Do you plan on getting one? Leave us a comment!

#WriteyBoard

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Real Estate Technology

Secret list of reasons why your Facebook ad will be rejected

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Save your marketing team time with this secret list of Facebook ad rejection reasons.

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You read the rules, spent time optimizing target audience, double checked all the visual elements, and your Facebook ad is finally ready to go to market. You’re expecting the latest email from Facebook to be about billing details, and instead receive the dreaded (albeit common) rejection letter.

You’re left wondering how your your content have possibly violated the Community Standards. Turns out text like “Meet other seniors” or “Depression getting you down?” violates a “personal attributes” rule.

Directly addressing the user with terms like “you” or implications about identity like age, race, and gender aren’t permitted. So you remove that, only to find your ad rejected from the ad auction once again. There are hundreds of reasons the site can reject your ad.

You can quite literally spend hours pouring over Facebook’s Advertising policies, but we have a shortcut – Jane Manchun Wong put has together the most extensive list we’ve ever seen (click to enlarge).

facebook ad rejection reasons

Understandably, illegal content is rejected. You won’t find ads for drugs or counterfeiting services. Likewise, anything even kind of sexual or potentially offensive (like someone flipping the middle finger) violates the standards. No ads for mail order brides or anything the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would regulate either.

Okay, so obviously you can’t advertise illegal things on the mainstream internet. Especially not when Facebook is asking users to respond to surveys about if the company is good for the world.

However, there’s some grey area once you move past obviously unacceptable content. QR codes, a popular ad novelty, are a reason for rejection. Likewise, if your ad features a picture of Mark Zuckerberg, it’ll get slapped down.

Feel like mentioning the spy cameras? Nope. Have an ad about lasers? Nah. Animals? DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT. Oddly enough, Instagram references aren’t allowed either even though Facebook owns the company.

Although Facebook is trying to uphold their values about safety, voice, and equity, enforcement of these principles is often flawed.

Bra and underwear retailers struggle to get their ads approved even if the content is not sexual in nature. An ad by Harper Wilde, an online bra startup, featuring a plain bra on a colored background was rejected on the grounds that the link leads to a site featuring adult content.

Since Facebook rejects anything focused on a single body part or that is too zoomed in, exposed bodies on an underwear site certainly violate the terms. While Facebook is attempting to hold up a moral code of not offending users, implementation isn’t consistent.

Although Facebook technically has a link to appeal disapproved ads, users report the link is either broken, or returns an auto-generated response with no way to follow up with a person.

We can certainly appreciate that Facebook now bans the obnoxious “before-after” gifs of someone’s belly fat disappearing to the backdrop of a tape measure, and rejects blatantly offensive material.

facebook ad acceptable

Attempting to provide higher quality content that doesn’t shame or offend users is a noble goal.

But when everyday products can’t be advertised, and robots are enforcing grey area, it’s time for a better appeals process. At least now you know what not to include in your next Facebook ad, even if it is legit.

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Real Estate Technology

Smart homes spy on you, here’s how to spy back

(TECHNOLOGY) Wow surprise, smart homes spy on you constantly. Here’s why it matters, and how to spy back.

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We’ve long talked about the risks and rewards of technology, especially IoT devices in the home. For every cool gadget, there’s a chance your information will get hacked or tracked.

Last year, Congress thought it would be fun to give Internet Service Providers (ISPs) power to spy on customer internet usage data and sell it. Which means your ISP can see all the data from your smart devices and profit from selling you out to third parties.

Some folks at Gizmodo decided to conduct an experiment to see how much data can be tracked from smart homes.

Back in December, Gizmodo senior reporter Kashmir Hill set up just about every smart device imaginable in her apartment including an Amazon Echo, smart TV, smart lights, toothbrushes, baby monitor, and even a mattress.

Hill’s colleague Surya Mattu, Gizmodo data reporter, configured a router to track the device’s network activity and give the duo the same view as Hill’s ISP.

They found that since the router’s installation in early December 2017, there was not a single day without activity from the router.

At least once a day, at least one of the smart devices sent data packets to the ISP, manufacturer, or third parties. If Hill told the living room to turn on the lights, Phillips got alerted. If the family watched something on Hulu, the smart TV sent information to data brokers.

Every action could be (and in most cases was) tracked and recorded, creating a vast data set about Hill’s daily routines and schedules.

Routine tracking may seem mundane since right now most of the data isn’t being used, just monitored and recorded. However, this data may have more impact in the future.

We already have car insurance companies that offer discounts for safe driving if you use their driving monitors. Cybersecurity expert David Choffnes points out we’re not too far from a world where smart toothbrushes may connect to dental insurance rates and discounts. We’ve explored how smart watches and even browser history could impact your health insurance rates and insurability. Right now it’s all theoretical, but the bones are there to create a tech-inspired Frankenstein.

Plus, it’s inherently creepy to think that an ISP could deduce your family’s schedule based on use of smart devices.

So how can you spy back to see what kind of data is being reported?

Well, for starters you’ll need to have some computer knowledge. Or a pal who is willing to help you out in your endeavor to be a smart home spy.

For the Gizmodo experiment, Mattu built a customized router using a Raspberry Pi 3, which is a tiny computer you can custom program. If you want to replicate their test, these run around $35 for a single board.

Fortunately, the Raspberry Pi 3 comes with built in wifi hardware so it should be fairly easy to configure it as a router if you already know how to use one.

Once connected to the internet and set up as a wifi router, you’ll add the script to monitor network traffic. For this part, you need an understanding of Git and Github.

Next, set up a server so you can store traffic. Mattu and Hill used Amazon Web Services, but you can use your own server if you want. They also crafted a front-end interface to analyze the data.

Note the times when you connect and use the devices for easier analysis. If you want more details about setting up your very own smart home data traffic monitoring router, check out their article.

Some of the information collected from the devices may seem trivial. After all, what does it really matter if Philips knows what time you get up in the morning? Hill noted the data being sent is “basic, boring, information, but revealing information about how we live our life.”

This data could start to matter if companies and ISPs use your information control how you use their devices and how products are sold to you.

TV watching data is already being sold to data brokers. It’s just a matter of time before your sleep score from a smart mattress gets reported to your health insurance to determine coverage or something equally Big Brother-like.

Smart homes are predicted to be a $27 billion market by 2021, with an unprecedented number of new devices in our homes. Before rushing out to get the latest smart device, make sure you’re fully aware of what data you may be inadvertently sharing with companies.

Check out different products’ privacy policies before buying to make sure you’re cool with what information the device will be sending. And if you don’t want your ISP to know how often you make lattes, maybe opt for a coffee maker that isn’t wifi-enabled.

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