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There’s a new wearable that will give LifeAlert a run for their money

(TECH NEWS) A new wearable by UnaliWear is poised to enable the elderly to continue living independently, safely.

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unali wearable

U gotta hear about Unali

UnaliWear created an “OnStar for People” with its new watch that’s essentially a Life Alert minus the embarrassing stigma. The Kanega watch is a voice-controlled wearable device that detects falls, provides medication reminders, and gives emergency assistance. According to UnaliWear, their product aims “to extend independence with dignity for millions of vulnerable seniors.”

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Wearables are further integrating themselves into the mainstream, moving away from fad status.

WHAT IS IT

Like any new trendy technology, wearables have proliferated culture with awesomeness and trash alike. In 2014, one third of wearable technology was abandoned within six months.

However, those with staying power are propelling us further into a futuristic tech-laden world where our jewelry and accessories can assist us with simple needs.

Smartwatches started out as a laughable extravagance, but now they’re fairly common. I still geek out every time someone pays with their smartwatch, though. Unlike easily abandoned fad gadgets, UnaliWear seriously analyzed their product’s purpose.

BACKSTORY

CEO and founder Jean Anne Booth started the company in response to her mom’s refusal to use a Personal Emergency Response System like Life Alert. Booth wanted her mom to remain active, so she created a product that tackled the problems of products currently available on the market.

Many older adults don’t want to be associated with the stigma of personal assistance devices, yet want to remain independent.

This is completely understandable. Stigma plays a huge role derailing anyone seeking help. Removing some barriers to seeking help gives consumers options for more independence.

WHY IS IT SPECIAL

UnaliWear’s watch is geared towards a specific demographic, addressing reasons older adults have traditionally steered away from wearables. For starters, many tech products for older adults are pretty darn ugly.

The Kanega watch doesn’t look like something out of a trite infomercial. It’s simply a discreet watch with smart features.

Another primary hesitation to wearables is ease of use. If a product isn’t intuitive or obviously useful, surprise, people won’t use it. UnaliWear’s goal of treating users with respect makes their product unique. The design team did their homework and really focused on the wearer.

primary function

So what does the watch do? According to their Kickstarter, “Kanega handles all daily intelligence for providing an unobtrusive continuous welfare check.”

Fall detection, medication reminders, emergency assistance, and guidance home if lost are its primary features.

The watch utilizes voice-control commands for its various functions. During setup, users speak with an operator to determine which functions fit their personal needs.

Unlike Siri…

It won’t embarrass you in public by speaking aloud unprompted. It’s not looking to confuse or play Overseer to the wearer.

The Kanega watch also isn’t tied to a home-based system or owning a smartphone, and is waterproof.

This means wearers aren’t tied to their homes in order to use Kanega’s features. However, wifi must be present for the watch to function at full capacity.

Self-updating while you sleep

Machine learning and artificial intelligence updates lifestyle information while the wearer is sleeping.

This sounds creepy, but they use Verizon’s HIPPA-compliant cloud to keep health info secure.

This is how the watch connects with pharmacies to provide medication reminders.

Your very own Elvis

The watch can also pair with new generation Bluetooth Low Energy hearing aids, speaking directly to the user but not through the speaker.

Additionally, users choose the watch’s name so they’re not stuck constantly addressing a dystopic robot character.

For example, the creator’s mom named her watch Fred Astaire.

RISKS/CHALLENGES

Right now the watch is still in product development. Kickstarter backers are expected to receive their watches sometime this spring, and general consumers will get access later in the year.

You can sign up to be a beta tester if you’re in the continental US. However, you must have wifi to register.

The Kickstarter version relies on the Verizon or AT&T network, and coverage is not available everywhere. Wifi access could definitely deter potential customers.

So far, potential connectivity issues seem like the only major problem users will face.

However, it’s important to note that the watch isn’t a replacement for a caretaker if needed.

The fall detection isn’t 100% infallible, and users must be willing to utilize the features.

UnaliWear notes, “medication reminders won’t work for the willfully non-compliant.”

“Kanega is designed to complement normal human forgetfulness; we can’t make you take your medications.”

Revolutionary wearables

The wearables trend is clearly not over.

As companies learn from the downfalls and success of other products, wearable tech gets smarter, sleeker, and more mainstream. Click To Tweet

Check out UnaliWear’s fully funded Kickstarter for a great example of a company winning at the wearable game.

#WearablesThatMatter

Lindsay is an editor for The American Genius with a Communication Studies degree and English minor from Southwestern University. Lindsay is interested in social interactions across and through various media, particularly television, and will gladly hyper-analyze cartoons and comics with anyone, cats included.

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Nate app: $38M Series A fintech startup you should keep an eye on

(TECHNOLOGY) The nate app combines the best of social media and shopping into one platform, streamlining the check-out process for hassle-free purchases.

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African American woman holding iPhone scrolling through the Nate App homepage.

No one likes to hop around from store to store searching aimlessly in aisles for all of their necessary items. That’s why the big guys win, like Walmart, Amazon, and Target – they have all you need in one swoop! Users choosing to shop online feel the same way. Having to reenter payment, billing, and shipping information over and over again becomes a pain – or worse, a deterrent to purchase, resulting in cart abandonment- that’s where the nate app comes in.

Nate combines the best of social media and shopping into one platform.

The well-funded, series A startup utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to complete purchases seamlessly without all of the fluff a user discovers when checking out at various online retailers. Once a user inputs shipping and payment information into the app during sign-up, nate keeps the data on file for subsequent purchases, virtually eliminating the time-consuming check out process. If a user sees a product they like from an online merchant, they simply have to “share” the item to the nate app, and it will take care of the rest.

Unicorner’s startup analysis states, “In essence, nate is bringing the benefits of shopping on a centralized platform like Amazon to a decentralized shopping ecosystem.”

Brown leather wallet with tip of credit card sticking out next to a iPhone showing a shoe purchase on the Nate App.

With a nod to Pinterest and LikeToKnowIt, the platform allows for users to create visual product lists on a personal account that can be shared with followers. If a follower likes an item they see, they can purchase the item in-app in just a click or two.

In contrast to the big wigs of the social media world, the nate app hopes that users will purchase based on true inspiration and not a targeted algorithm suggesting what they should buy. Instead, the app runs its business model on a $1 fee for each transaction which covers the ability to issue virtual cards, protect online privacy, and apply available discounts.

The nate app simplifies gift giving as well. Users are able to select a gift item and enter the recipients phone number – if the recipient is a nate app user, it can be shipped directly – otherwise, they will receive a text asking them where to send their new gift! This makes it a perfect choice for the upcoming holidays (yes, 2021 is almost over…whew).

To stay up to date on everything nate, download it now on the App Store.

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Facebook deletes developer over ironic browser extension invention

(TECHNOLOGY) Think a muted week for a nipple shadow is bad? Facebook just permabanned this inventor for…helping others to use the platform less.

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African American hand holding iphone on Facebook's login page.

It must be true that corporations are people because Facebook is pulling some seriously petulant moves.

In a stunt that goes beyond 24hr bans for harmless hyperbole, and chopping away at organic reach (still bitter from my stint in social media management), Facebook straight up permanently banned one of their users for the high crime of…aiming to get people to use the platform a little less.

Developer Louis Barclay came up with Unfollow Everything, an extension that basically instantly deleted your feed without having you unfriend anyone or unlike anything. Rather than have users manually go through and opt out of seeing posts, they’d now opt IN to keeping who they wanted front and center.

In his own words on Slate: “I still remember the feeling of unfollowing everything for the first time. It was near-miraculous. I had lost nothing, since I could still see my favorite friends and groups by going to them directly. But I had gained a staggering amount of control. I was no longer tempted to scroll down an infinite feed of content. The time I spent on Facebook decreased dramatically. Overnight, my Facebook addiction became manageable.”

Since more time spent on Facebook means more ads that you’re exposed to, means more you spend, the add-on started slowly making headway. I myself pretend to be a ranch owner to keep ads as irrelevant to me as possible (though my new addiction to hoof trimming videos is all too real), and Unfollow Everything probably would have been a great find for me if it hadn’t been killed by a cease and desist.

Law firm Perkins Coie, representing the internet giant, let Barclay know in their notice that Unfollow Everything violated the site’s rules on automated collection of user content, and was muscling in on Facebook trademarked IP.

They also added, in what I can only assume was a grade-school narc voice, that the add-on was “encouraging others to break Facebook’s rules.”

Barclay, not having the resources to fight a company with the finances of a small country, promptly ceased and desisted. Practical.

Officially speaking, Facebook might have actually have some ground to stand on vis-à-vis its Terms Of Service. The letter and legal team may have been warranted, not that we’ll ever truly know, since who’s taking Facebook to court? But then they followed up with a ‘neener neener’ deletion of Barclay’s 15 year old account – which was still very much in use.

Look, Facebook is the only way I connect with some of my friends. I don’t take enough pictures to make full use of Instagram, I fully hate Twitter, my Tumblr is inundated with R-rated fanfiction, and any other social media platform I’m happy to admit I’m too haggish and calcified to learn to use. So a complete WIPE of everything there with no notice would be pretty devastating to me. I can only imagine how Barclay felt.

And in light of the fact that the browser extension wasn’t hurting anyone, taking money, or spewing hateful rhetoric, there’s really only one thing to say about Facebook’s actions…they’re petty.

Sure, they may have the legal right to do what they did. It’s just that when you notice every fifth post is an unvetted advertisement, their high ground starts to sink a little. I mean nothing says ‘We’re being totally responsible with user information’ like the number of add ons and user tactics popping up to avoid seeing the unnecessary. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Facebook put up a fight against losing ad traffic.

We all know all those stores with amazing deals aren’t actually going out of business, or even using their own photos right? Right?

Barclay added in his article, “Facebook’s behavior isn’t just anti-competitive; it’s anti-consumer. We are being locked into platforms by virtue of their undeniable usefulness, and then prevented from making legitimate choices over how we use them—not just through the squashing of tools like Unfollow Everything, but through the highly manipulative designs and features platforms adopt in the first place. The loser here is the user, and the cost is counted in billions of wasted hours spent on Facebook.”

Agreed, Mr. Barclay.

Now I’m off to refresh my feed. Again.

 

Graffiti wall with image of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, with the saying "You've been Zucked."

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Glowbom: Create a website, using just your voice

(TECH NEWS) Talk about futuristic! This app allows you to create quizzes, surveys, an online store, and even a website in minutes–without typing.

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Colleagues looking at Glowbom website homepage

In the past, we’ve discussed things like simplified coding and no-code app creation. Now, a San Francisco startup has taken the process a step further with no-type app creation.

Glowbom is a voice app that allows you to dictate steps to an AI – from adding information all the way to exporting code–in order to create a simple app, survey, or game. While the built-in options for now are limited to four simple categories, the power of the app itself is impressive: By asking the Glowbom AI to complete tasks, one is able to dictate an entire (if small) program.

It’s an impressive idea, and an even more impressive product. Glowbom founder and CEO Jacob Ilin showcases the power of Glowbom in a short demonstration video, and while he only uses it to create a simple survey, the entire process–up to and including the exportation of the API–is accomplished via voice commands.

Furthermore, Glowbom appears to process natural inputs–such as phrases like “Let’s get started”–in the context of an actual command rather than the colloquial disconnect one tends to expect in AI. This means that users won’t need to read a 700-page manual on phrases and buzzwords to use before jumping on board–something the Glowbom user base was probably hoping to avoid anyway.

As of now, the options one can use Glowbom to create include a quiz, a survey, an online store, and a website. It seems reasonable to expect that, as support for the app grows, those categories will expand to comprise a larger library.

Glowbom certainly opens a few doors for people looking to take their businesses or ideas from an offline medium into the digital marketplace. As coding becomes less centralized in computer language and more contingent on processes such as this, we can expect to see more products from folks who may have missed the coding boat.

Perhaps more importantly, Glowbom and products like it make coding more accessible to a wider base of disabled users, thus taking a notable step toward evening the playing field for a marginalized demographic. It’s not true equality, but it’s a start.

This story was first published here in October 2020.

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