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Not all driverless cars are the same, educate yourself on the five types

(TECH NEWS) Before you start saving for your next driverless dream, take a look at the various types of autonomous cars (there are many).

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The Jetsons coming to life

Driverless cars circa the 1980s were such a futuristic and forward-thinking concept that they were only fathomable through cartoon depictions like the Jetsons. Today though, engineers (who I’m supposing were hard-core Jetson fans) have created five levels of real life driverless that are even cooler than their cartoon counterparts.

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Tesla’s “Autopilot” feature, which boasts self-capabilities at safety levels greater than that of a human driver, is the closest us consumer’s will get to the Jetson experience thus far. In the meantime, self-driving cars with varying levels of autonomy are being publicly tested in states like California, Nevada, and Pennsylvania.

From self-parking to collision avoidance, there are an array of different features that will be made available to consumers. But before you start saving for your next dream, take a look at which kind is best for you and your futuristic needs.

Gauge the levels

Level 0
Zero automation

Simply put, your car is most likely a zero automation car. A human driver is required to operate and fully control the vehicle.

Level 1
Driver assisted/function specific

These cars are for those who don’t trust automobile’s with their lives. They still require a driver to operate the vehicle, but act as an aid to the driver, providing intelligent features that offer more convenience, safety, and comfort to the driver. This kind of car can send alerts regarding road conditions, environmental conditions, and potential obstructions.

Most commonly, Level 1 cars have features like lane keeping, automatic acceleration and deceleration in cruise control, and automatic stop to prevent collisions, while still requiring full control from the driver.

Level 2
Partial automation/combined autonomous functions

At this level, a self-driving automobile can perform two or more simultaneous tasks like steering, lane keeping, and speed maintenance while in cruise control mode.

Automatic lane changing and self-parking in parallel and perpendicular spots are also available in some cases. The driver in a Level 2 vehicle, unlike in the aforementioned descriptions, gives partial control to the automobile.

Level 3
Conditional automation/limited self-driving

In this case, the car assumes more than just partial control, and acts instead as a co-pilot.

Level 3 vehicles can manage most safety-critical driving functions in certain environmental conditions, like traffic jams on the highway.

Although the driver can relinquish a lot of tasks to the car, the driver must to be ready at all times to resume control.

Level 4
High automation

Level 4 vehicles are capable of performing all safety-critical driving functions while monitoring environments in defined-use cases without human intervention.

Here, drivers need to enter the destination and navigation details and the car will handle the rest. There is still a driver cockpit, but the driver is able to look away from the road, take their hands off of the wheel, foot off of the accelerator, and still be safe.

Level 5
Fully autonomous

This car, hence the name, does not require any effort or driving on behalf of the human owner.

There is actually no driving equipment in the car, and is instead designed to resemble comfortable environments like lounges and offices. The vehicle is in full control.

Get on their level

To satiate our obsession with all that is convenient, automated cars are expected to improve and become more complex as research and ideas develop.

If the engineers are true Jetson fans though, these improvements will reveal themselves as automated, flying cars just like theirs.

In the meantime, I’m going to stick with my Level 0 Honda and save for my Level 4 dream car. Which level would you drive? Let me know in the comments below!

#OnTheLevel

Lauren Flanigan is a Staff Writer at The American Genius, hailing from the windy hills of Cincinnati, with a degree in Marketing from the University of Cincinnati. She has escaped the hills, and currently resides in Atlanta, where you can almost always find her camping at a Starbucks strategizing on how to take over the world.

Tech News

Cope Notes: cheeky low-commitment mental health tool for all

(TECH NEWS) Mental health apps can be hard to find, harder to use, and even harder to remember without inundating, annoying alerts. Cope Notes is the perfect solution.

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I recently went searching for some mental health apps and it was a sea of garbage, if I’m being honest. I finally found a meditation app that was kind of cool, but after I figured out how it worked, I mostly spent time on videos of a gal cussing, but not for meditation value, but humor. I deleted the app.

I’m not in a dark place right now, but I work in a fast paced, high stress world, and maintaining focus and mental health is my competitive advantage, and one I take very seriously. But so many of the tools available are overpriced, overly complicated, or short on value.

About 12 hours after I had given up and decided to stick to my current regimen, without the help of any tech, a former Staff Writer reached out to update me on what he’s up to, and it was so timely… Cope Notes.

Put simply, it’s 20 randomly-timed text messages per month. You don’t know when they’re coming, but they’re exercises, encouragement, and witty advice. Finally, something that doesn’t put all of the work on me as a user.

And I’m not surprised – creator Johnny Crowder is young, but has long been a mental health advocate, and very sincere about it. He used to write here at AG in between tours and gigs as a famous straight-edge metal musician (I had no idea what that was prior to connecting with Crowder). He is a talented creative that has a lot of people looking up to him, so what better way to use that spotlight than for good?

“I just don’t want people to get so frustrated searching for solutions that they give up on healing altogether,” said Crowder. “It’s not clinical, it’s not complicated, it’s not confusing. It’s for people who feel great, people who feel rotten, and everyone in between.”

What we love about the creation of the app is that Crowder has suffered his own challenges, and instead of just complaining about an option he says he would have truly benefited from in his past, he took action.

Cope Notes is far different from any solution we’ve seen in that it speaks our language – cheeky, never condescending, and disarming, never douchey.

And because it’s done over text, it doesn’t require you to run an app in the background or remember to turn it back on, giving you a better chance at successfully using it (instead of forgetting which is my biggest fault).

“It took me years to find and hone the coping strategies that I rely on every day to keep me happy and healthy,” said Crowder. “Now that I finally figured out what works, I want to save people from the discouragement and disappointment of scrambling for solutions and fast-track their growth.” Every text is written by Crowder himself.

New users can enjoy a seven-day free trial by visiting copenotes.com/subscribe or texting COPE to 33222. After the trial period, subscribers pay $9.99 per month, with discounts applied to six-month and one-year subscriptions, and no set-up or cancellation fees.

The service also offers an option to purchase and personalize gift subscriptions for friends or family members in need, so check out Cope Notes today for you or a loved one.

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Tech News

Smartphone addiction is killing social norms, physically hurting us

(TECHNOLOGY) Smartphone addiction is increasingly common, and it’s not just manners that we worry about, it’s the physical impact and erosion of social norms that are also a result.

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Sorry, just checking something. Sorry, just need to quickly respond to this text. Sorry, just turning on low power mode. Sorry, just addicted to my phone and compulsively check it even when spending time with family and friends.

Have you ever experienced any of the following?

  • Eyes burning from staring at a screen for hours
  • Your attention span is totally shot and you find yourself in an endless loop checking apps, messages, and social media
  • Curled up in an uncomfortable ball on the bathroom floor for half an hour checking a dumb app, trying to decide if you want to be patient or spend real money
  • Asking your friends to tell you’re not allowed to spend real money on said stupid app

If you answered yes to any of these, you’re probably addicted to your phone.

If you answered yes to all of these, are you me?

I know it’s time for me to get rid of an app when I start making charts optimizing the game. Or when my arm starts to feel like I’m getting carpal tunnel syndrome twenty years too soon. My motivation to write my college thesis was to academically justify all the time I spent checking Snapchat while on family vacation.

Turns out, my phone addiction has more physical consequences than I was previously aware. On average, human heads weigh 10-12 pound. Our neck muscles are super tough since most of the time, we’re holding our heads upright.

Except when we bend our necks to check Instagram, or compose a text. When we bend down, the gravitational pull of our head increases pressure on our necks to nearly 60 pounds. Which, you know, isn’t great for our spines either.

Posture affects your mood, and can even impact behavior and memory. Frequently slouching alters your energy levels, bone development, and your oxygen intake, which can lead to depression. And if you’re already depressed, you were probably slouching anyways.

Add the negative impact overuse of phones can have on social interaction, and you’ve got a recipe for a lot of really unhappy people even more drawn to digital devices.

According to the Pew Research Center, 75 percent of Americans don’t think smartphone use hinders their attention in a group setting.

But as we stare more at screens instead of people, nonverbal cues get lost.

There’s a disengagement, even if you happen to be texting or playing virtual games with whoever is in the room with you. For children, loss of nonverbal cues due to constant phone use or competition for attention with their parents’ phone use can even stunt development.

As a writer, the lure of communicating with my phone is nearly irresistible since I can spend time working and reworking messages. However, social scientist Sherry Turkle’s decades of studies on family interactions and technology suggest that obsession with devices has created a generation afraid of spontaneity from organic interactions.

Receiving a phone call can spike anxiety, and forget about trying to interact with a stranger in the grocery store line. Knowing how much easier it is to type a message than deal with someone face to face can make analog interactions nerve-wracking.

Yet at the same time, the feeling of always being reachable and always “on” brings another kind of anxiety to the table.

According to a 2015 Pew Research center report, 24 percent of teens are “almost constantly” online, and a Nielsen report found adults spend around 10 hours per day consuming electronic media.

If someone doesn’t respond to your text and you know they always have their phone with them, does that mean they’re mad? If you forgot to respond to a message from someone, will they take it as a personal offense?

While smartphones and social media aren’t necessarily harbingers of evil, we’re all affected physically, emotionally, and socially by our use, particularly overuse.

Manner and etiquette experts point out the obvious: spend more time with people in the room than on your phone. However, that’s easier said than done. Especially considering Facebook’s recent admission that the platform was specifically designed to be as addicting as possible.

Even without confessions from other sites and apps, that’s kind of their goal: revving up your dopamine with an addicting platform. So it’s understandable that there’s a drive to check your phone every few minutes (or seconds.)

However, change comes in baby steps. Try to be more mindful of how often you’re checking your phone, and when you’re checking it.

Henry Alford, author of “Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That: A Modern Guide to Manners” suggests making a point to not be the first person in your group to pull out a device.

It’s a small thing, but can at least help delay the eventual waterfall of everyone else bringing out their phones once one person breaks the seal. If you’re really struggling with phone addiction, there are apps that track how often you unlock your phone and spend time on apps.

That may be a reality check, especially if you’re checking your phone hundreds of times a day in the absence of reason. Make an effort to have more face-to-face conversations, and if nothing else, at least keep your phone stashed while you’re driving.

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Healthcare app uses blockchain tech to perfect the prescription experience

(TECH NEWS) This healthcare startup is using blockchain to make managing prescriptions less of a headache for patients and doctors. And it’s awesome.

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New healthcare startup ScalaMed is using blockchain tech to make dealing with prescriptions significantly easier for patients, doctors, and pharmacists.

Founded by former pharmaceutical rep, Dr. Tal Rapke, ScalaMed is an app backed by blockchain that allows users to safely access medical information digitally.

“This fusion of blockchain technology and healthcare is a huge leap forward—it is the spine to an eventual blockchain-enabled consumer-centered health record and represents a big step towards personalized healthcare and medicine,” says Rapke.

Patients can track ongoing medication and upcoming prescriptions, and refill directly from the app. Interaction and allergy warnings are available at every level, as well as cost comparison for filling prescriptions.

Pharmacists are able to service patients remotely, cut down on fraudulent prescriptions, and use the app to communicate directly with the prescriber for any questions.

Healthcare professionals can provide on-the-go support using a secure digital database that can be integrated into existing prescription software. Through the app, doctors can access patients’ complete medication list across providers and update as needed.

The process is faster, more transparent, and overall simplified. It’s how healthcare apps should have worked all along.

The average person sees about 16 different doctors, which makes reconciling medications a monumental task. Adverse reactions to medication interaction and errors in prescriptions resulting in negative side effects account for around 10 percent of hospital admissions.

Nearly half of all patients do not take medication as prescribed, which costs the healthcare industry billions of dollars. Providing information to the patients first increases education and knowledge of prescriptions, reducing hospitalizations due to medication errors, non-adherence, and fraud.

With ScalaMed, clinicians can save time and protect client’s data from ever increasing breaches. The app uses cryptographic design, which provides patients with relevant data without using centralized databases.

Since blockchain’s whole deal is decentralization, it removes the middleman in transactions. According to ScalaMed, “patients become the central point for prescriptions.”

Instead of clinicians sending prescriptions to a pharmacy, patients manage their prescriptions directly on the app. The patient chooses to share information with a pharmacist, who can then download, decrypt, and mark as redeemed in the blockchain record.

For those of you thinking, “I would never trust an app with my medical information,” fret not. The app complies with global data security requirements, ISO standards, and is HIPAA compliant.

Select clinics took part in a pilot run during December 2017, and global scaling and expansion are set for some time in 2018. Patients, healthcare professionals, and clinicians can sign up to be notified when the app is ready for release.

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