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NeuroPlus device retrains and equips the brains of kids with ADD

(TECH NEWS) NeuroPlus is the video game for kids with ADD that teaches their brain to focus energy on one task and is now better than ever.

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Neuro+

Many kids have a hard time paying attention, and while medication can help in some cases, it doesn’t equip children with strategies to manage their wandering minds. The good news? It’s the 21st Century, so there’s an app for that.

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NeuroPlus, was launched for public use in 2016 to help children with ADHD exercise their brain to develop and improve their attention skills. Initially it was a rather pricey video game, but now the attention training software is available on iOS and Android phones and tablets. NeuroPlus has also begun offering tiered subscription prices. By making their software more accessible, NeuroPlus can help even more kids manage attention-deficit disorder in a fun, engaging way.

How does NeuroPlus work?

The game-based program combines three clinically practiced approaches to help users improve both mental and physical focus and self-control.

Neurofeedback: Users wear a brain-sensing EEG headband and advance through a series of exercises. Users’ brain waves determine their success in the game. With more focus, they can control things like the speed of a flying dragon.

Motion-biofeedback: While playing the game, users must maintain complete control of their bodies and remain absolutely still in order to avoid major point deductions. The game monitors their movements and muscles tension–too much nervous twitching might cause that dragon to plummet. The goal is to teach users to translate this calmness into their daily life.

“Go/No-Go” cognitive training: Users must quickly and accurately respond to certain stimuli while ignoring distractions. This could mean only responding to specific colors or acting on certain signals while moving about the game, and it helps users not only hone self-control, but also strengthen working memory and reaction-time.

Has it been effective?

Since its launch, several studies have proven the effectiveness of NeuroPlus’s approach. The most recent of these studies revealed that most NeuroPlus users experience a reduction in hyperactivity and impulsivity after just 10 weeks of training, 3 times a week.

As users improve, the game gets progressively harder.

As NeuroPlus states on their website, “Research into neuroplasticity shows such training can make your brain better at paying attention over time — just like exercising a muscle!”

To see results quickly, the company recommends using the program three times a week for at least 30 minutes each session. Users won’t be cured of ADHD, but they can make substantial strides in minimizing its NeuroPlus is not a treatment, it’s simply a strategic exercise for management of ADHD — a super effective one.

New, flexible pricing

NeuroPlus now offers monthly, bi-annual, and annual subscriptions. All plans provide full access to the NeuroPlus program and future training games, as well as weekly progress reports and unlimited customer support. This way, users can test out the program to see if it’s right for them before jumping into a big contract. Users still need to purchase Muse headphones to use the software, but NeuroPlus lets you add those to your subscription package for a reasonable price if you don’t already own them.

The evolution of this program is a testament to its powerful results in the past year, and hopefully its enhanced device compatibility and enhanced pricing options mean that more kids can learn to tackle their attention spans, improve their lives, and have fun along the way.

#neuro+

Helen Irias is a Staff Writer at The American Genius with a degree in English Literature from University of California, Santa Barbara. She works in marketing in Silicon Valley and hopes to one day publish a comically self-deprecating memoir that people bring up at dinner parties to make themselves sound interesting.

Tech News

New Apple Watch is awesome, but past watches could be just as good for cheaper

(TECH NEWS) The Apple Watch Series 6 is a ridiculous display of self-flattery—but that doesn’t mean people won’t line up to buy it in droves.

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Apple Watch being worn on wrist showing weather for Montreal.

The Apple Watch has been the subject of everything from speculation to ridicule during its relatively short tenure on this planet. While most have nothing but praise for the most recent iteration, that praise comes at a cost: The Apple Watch’s ghost of Christmas past.

Or, to put it more literally, the fact that the Apple Watch’s prior version and accompanying variations are too good—and, at this point, too comparatively cheap—to warrant buying the most recent (and expensive) option.

Sure, the Apple Watch Series 6 has a bevy of health features—a sensor that can take an ECG and a blood oxygen test, to name a couple—but the Series 5 has almost everything else that makes the Apple Watch Series 6 “notable.” According to Gear Patrol, even the Series 4 is comparable if you don’t mind forgoing the option to have the Apple Watch’s screen on all of the time.

More pressingly, Gear Patrol points out, is the availability of discount options from Apple. The Apple Watch Series 3 and Apple Watch SE are, at this point, budget options that still do the job for smart watch enthusiasts.

Not to mention any Apple Watch can run updates can utilize Apple’s Fitness Plus subscription—another selling point that, despite its lucrative potential, doesn’t justify buying a $400 watch when a cheaper option is present.

It’s worth noting that Apple is no stranger to outdoing themselves retroactively. Every year, Apple’s “new” MacBook, iPhone, and iPad models are subjected to extensive benchmarking by every tech goatee around. And the conclusion is usually that buying a generation or two behind is fine—and, from a financial perspective, smart.

And yet, as the holidays roll around or the initial drop date of a new product arrives, Apple invariably goes through inventory like a tabby cat through unattended butter.

The Apple Watch is already a parody of itself, yet its immense popularity and subtle innovation has promoted it through several generations and a few spin-off iterations. And that’s not even including the massive Apple-specific watch band market that appears to have popped up as a result.

Say what you will about the Series 6; when the chips are on the table, my money’s on the consumers making the same decisions they always make.

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Microsoft acquires powerful AI language processor GPT-3, to what end?

(TECH NEWS) This powerful AI language processor sounds surprisingly human, and Microsoft has acquired rights to the code. How much should we worry?

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Code on screen, powering AI technology

The newly-released GPT-3 is the most insane language model in the NLP (natural language processor) field of machine learning. Developed by OpenAI, GPT-3 can generate strikingly human-like text for a vast range of purposes like bots and advertising, to poetry and creative writing.

While GPT-3 is accessible to everyone, OpenAI has expressed concerns over using this AI tech for insidious purposes. For this reason, Microsoft’s new exclusive license on the GPT-3 language model may be a tad worrisome.

First of all, for those unfamiliar with the NPL field, software engineer, and Youtuber, Aaron Jack, provides a detailed overview of GPT-3’s capabilities and why everyone should be paying attention.

Microsoft’s deal with OpenAI should come as little surprise since OpenAI uses the Azure cloud platform to access enough information to train their models.

Microsoft chief technology officer Kevin Scott announced the deal on the company blog this week: “We see this as an incredible opportunity to expand our Azure-powered AI platform in a way that democratizes AI technology, enables new products, services and experiences, and increases the positive impact of AI at Scale,” said Scott.

“Our mission at Microsoft is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, so we want to make sure that this AI platform is available to everyone – researchers, entrepreneurs, hobbyists, businesses – to empower their ambitions to create something new and interesting.”

OpenAI has assured that Microsoft’s exclusive license does not affect the general public’s access to the GPT-3 model. The difference is Microsoft will be able to use the source code to combine with their products.

While OpenAI needs Azure to train these models, handing over the source code to another party is, to put it mildly, tricky. With the earlier GPT-2 model, OpenAI initially refused publishing the research out of fear it could be used to generate fake news and propaganda.

Though the company found there was no evidence to suggest the GPT-2 was utilized this way and later released the information, handing the key of the exponentially more powerful iteration to one company will undoubtedly hold ramifications in the tech world.

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Tech News

What is UI/UX? Take a little time to learn for free!

(TECH NEWS) For the all-time low price of—well, free—Invise gives you the option of learning a few basic UI and UX design techniques.

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Woman browsing web, made easy with UI/UX

There’s no denying the strong impact UI and UX design has on the success of a website, app, or service—and, thanks to some timely altruism, you can add basic design understanding to your résumé for free.

Invise is a self-described beginner’s guide to the UI/UX field, and while they do not purport to deliver expert knowledge or “paid courses”, the introduction overview alone is pretty hefty.

The best part—aside from the “free” aspect—is how simple it is to get a copy of the guide: You enter your email address on the Invise website, click the appropriate button, and the guide is yours after a quick email verification.

According to Invise, their beginner’s guide to UI and UX covers everything from color theory and typography to layout, research principles, and prototyping. They even include a segment on tools and resources to use for optimal UI/UX work so that you don’t have to take any risks on dicey software.

UI—short for “user interface”—and UX, or “user experience”, are two critical design aspects found in everything from websites to app and video game menus. As anyone who has ever picked up an outdated smartphone knows, a janky presentation of options or—worse yet—a lack of intuitive menus can break a user’s experience far faster than slow hardware.

Similarly, if you’re looking to retain customers who visit your website or blog, presenting their options to them in a jarring or unfamiliar way—or selecting colors that clash for your landing page—can be just as fatal as not having a website to begin with.

The overarching problem, then, becomes one of cost. Hiring a design expert is expensive and can be time-consuming, so Invise is a welcome alternative—and, as a bonus, you don’t have to dictate your company’s vision to a stranger and hope that they “get it” if you’re doing your own design work.

2020 probably isn’t the year to break the bank on design choices, but the importance of UI and UX in your business can’t be overstated. If you have time to read up on some design basics and a small budget for a few of the bare-bones tools, you can take a relatively educated shot at putting together a modern, desirable interface.

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