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Jawbone is breaking up with consumers to get their PhD

(BUSINESS NEWS) There have been rumors floating that Jawbone has been working on a medical device for some time, and the move away from consumer-based wearable technology should not be much of surprise – here’s what’s going on.

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The band-wagon has left

A couple of years ago, it seemed like every wrist you looked at in the gym had some form of fitness tracker on it. Whether they specialized in climbing rocks or the corporate ladder, it seemed everyone was busy counting their steps and their calories- well, for the first few months of owning the band at least. Over time, of course, the data gathering would begin to lessen before dying out completely, often hand-in-hand with said individuals’ New Year’s resolutions.

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However, it is unquestionable that for some the desire to remain healthy remained, largely in part due to the newfound game-ification of being active. Whether it was counting steps or questionable metrics (Has anyone ever figured out what Nike’s Fuel Points actually are, by the way?), the fitness band did, and continues to inspire individuals to live healthier, more active lives.

For now, anyway.

One foot out the door

But as smartphones continue to increase in their number of functions (most coming out of the box featuring pre-installed health-tracking software, and built-in pedometers), and with the advent of the smart watch, consumers seem to be questioning the necessity of these extra wearable pieces of technology. For hardcore athletes and health nuts, these devices still retain some value- especially as many current models feature heart rate sensors.

Still, the every-person can’t help but be left wondering if it’s worth shelling out the extra $50-100 just to count the extra 130-odd steps they took during the day without their phone.

Jawbone, maker of the “UP” line of fitness bands, and longtime nemesis to wearable tech heavyweight Fitbit, seems to have asked themselves the same question. Recently, they appear to have come up with their answer. Per a TechCrunch report, the San Francisco-based company will be shifting focus and moving into the B2B wearable market, manufacturing medical-grade devices marketed toward entities such as health-care providers and clinicians.

There have been rumors floating that the company has been working on a medical device for some time, and the move away from consumer-based wearable technology should not be much of surprise.

Though they were one of the early players in the wearable technology market, their products have long been plagued by mediocre reviews, often coming to the consensus that their fitness bands offer too little for too steep a price.

Dig deeper and you’ll find a barrage of complaints from dissatisfied customers, often regarding an inability to contact customer support.

It seems Jawbone may have been planning this shift for a while.Click To Tweet

Fitness protection program

Amid reports that the company has run out of money, and near constant legal battles with rival Fitbit over the last few years, the change in direction is likely to be thought of as a step in the right direction.

The company having weathered several changes before – Jawbone started out making noise-cancelling headsets in 1999, before moving to making speakers in 2010, and eventually wearable fitness bands in 2011 – would similarly help the move be met with anticipation instead of trepidation.

Can they find their niche?

Regardless of whether their next device is a success or a flop, hopefully other companies will take note of the adaptability Jawbone has displayed throughout the years and follow accordingly.

No one knows exactly how long a market for wearable technology will be around, but it seems safe to say that a market for activity trackers has a very finite amount of time left before becoming irrelevant. Over the next few years, we will likely see many brands follow Jawbone’s lead in slowly moving away from manufacturing consumer-grade hardware.

Finding a niche need that they can fulfill will likely play a significant part in these companies’ future successes, or failures.

#Jawbone

Andrew Clausen is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and when he's not deep diving into technology and business news for you, he is a poet, enjoys rock climbing, monster movies, and spending time with his notoriously naughty cat.

Tech News

A look into why AI couldn’t save the world from COVID-19

(TECH NEWS) AI is only as powerful and intelligent as the teams building it, but we just don’t have the data yet. So perhaps, we just aren’t there quite yet.

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Even in the best of times, the human race can hardly be defined by our patience in the face of uncertainty. COVID-19 has rocked our feelings of safety and security. Hospitals have struggled to keep up with demand for care, and researchers are working tirelessly to create a vaccine. Early on in the fight against this virus, some looked to artificial intelligence technology to lead the pack in finding a solution to the global health crisis, but science takes time and AI is no different.

Over two months ago, when COVID-19 was still most prevalent in China, researchers were already attempting to use AI to fight the virus’ spread. As Wired reports, researchers in Wuhan, China attempted to screen for COVID-19 by programming an AI to analyze chest CTs of patients with pneumonia.

The AI would then decipher if the patient’s pneumonia stemmed from COVID-19 or something less insidious. This plan failed for the same reason many pursuits do – a lack of time and data to pull it off.

The United Nations and the World Health Organization examined the lung CT tool, but it was deemed unfit for widespread use. The lung CT tool, and all other AI driven projects, are limited by the humans designing and operating them.

We have struggled to collect and synthesize data in relation to COVID-19, and as a result tools, like the lung CT scans, cannot hope to succeed. AI is only as powerful and intelligent as the teams building it, so perhaps, we just aren’t there quite yet. Our tenacity and optimism continue to drive AI forward, but progress can only be sped up so much.

Like all science, AI has its limitations, and we cannot expect it to be a miracle cure for all our problems. It requires data, experimentation, and testing just like any other scientific pursuit. There are many problems to unlock before AI can be a leader in the driving force for positive change, but its shortcomings do not outweigh its potential. AI couldn’t save us from COVID-19, but as researchers continue to learn from this global event, AI may still save us in the future.

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Chrome can now group and color code your open tabs

(TECH NEWS) Do you have too many tabs, and can’t tell what’s what? Google has tab groups that make it easier to find what you’re looking for.

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Are you a tab collector? That’s Google’s name for people who have tabs upon tabs upon tabs open on their Google Chrome browser. And while third party apps are already available to help collectors manage tabs, Google is now stepping in with Tab Groups.

Tab Groups, try it here, allows users to color-code, group and add text or emoji labels to separate clusters of tabs in their browser.

Right-click on any tab and choose Add to New Group. A gray dot will appear to the left of the tab and outline it in the same color. Clicking on the dot lets users update the color, label and name the group. Once grouped together, the tab groups can be moved and reordered. They’re also saved when Chrome is closed and reopened.

Google said after testing Tab Groups for months, they noticed people usually arranged their tabs by topic and that appeared most common when people shopped or were working on a project.
“Others have been grouping their tabs by how urgent they are, “ASAP,” “this week” and “later.” Similarly, tab groups can help keep track of your progress on certain tasks: “haven’t started,” “in progress,” “need to follow up” and “completed.”

Of course, this new feature does nothing to dissuade users from opening too many tabs, despite research that says multitasking may change the structure of your brain and Chrome is notorious for using too much RAM. So now you can’t concentrate, and your computer is running hot and slowing down.

A solution? Use Chrome extensions such as The Great Suspender, which suspends tabs that have been inactive for a specific amount of time. Don’t worry, you can whitelist specific websites so if you always need a tab for Twitter open, it won’t be suspended.

Another tip is to focus on one task at a time using the Pomodoro Technique, breaking tasks and your workday into 25-minute bursts of productivity with five-minute breaks in between. FocusMe uses a timer and website blocker to reduce the risk of getting distracted. You’re on the internet, after all.

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Quarantine bod got you down? AI trainer Artifit lifts you up

(TECH NEWS) If staying home has caused some unfortunate weight gain, Artifit can help you keep your home body fit during and way after quarantine is over.

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Mandatory lockdown’s have changed people’s routine’s in every conceivable way. From the way we work and cook to how we exercise. Home workout routines have been a hot topic in the last couple of months. People are trying to find a way to retain some sense of normalcy and maintain their healthy lifestyles We’ve all heard jokes about the so called “Quarantine 15” online and maybe you’ve even made a disparaging comment or two about your weight since gyms closed.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with a little weight gain the face of a global pandemic. The world is changing, your life is changing, and times are scary. Be gentle with yourself and those around you.

If you are looking for a way to get regular workouts back into your life and YouTube videos just aren’t cutting it, there is a high-tech solution. Artifit is an AI personal trainer designed to make your solo workouts safer and more effective. The app acts as your personal trainer by creating your workout plans, tracking progress, and providing posture corrections.

The app uses your phone’s camera to track your reps and spot errors in form while providing real time audio feedback. According to the app creators, [Artifit] recognizes 20 major joints movements via mobile camera, and we are constantly working on adding new joints and improving the algorithm.”

Beyond the workouts, Artifit taps into your competitive side by providing you with a score at the end of each work out that you can then share with friends. The app measures and analyze your progress over time and uses this data to create a workout plan that is best suited for you.

There are a ton of reasons you might be looking for a tech-driven approach to your workout routine. Most of us already rely on technology to track out movement in one way or another – think about the Health app on your phone or your Fitbit. Working out from home isn’t for everyone, but some are thriving under a more flexible schedule and want to keep it that way.

If you are not sure when you’re going to feel comfortable going to the gym again or you no longer want to fuss over scheduling appointments with a personal trainer, this could be the app for you. Artifit can help you keep your homebody tendencies intact way after quarantine is over.

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