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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.

Tech News

Artificial intelligence wants to improve your resume

(TECHNOLOGY) Artificial intelligence can do everything from drive a car to improve your resume – we’re movin’ on up!

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skillroads artificial intelligence resume builder

Remember the career service office in college, who gave you your first lesson on resume writing? Or maybe you remember the coaching company who helped you tweak your cover letter and professional story for a career change?

Now, imagine all those experiences automated by artificial intelligence (AI). Seems farfetched? It’s closer than you think.

Enter Skillroads, an “AI career service to help you land a dream job.” This tool acts as a new resume builder, a current resume evaluator, and a cover letter builder, to set you up with the most optimal job app documents.

The resume builder takes your desired position, and a questionnaire outlining your experience, and a list of your skills and turns it into a resume for you. Powered by “smart data sourcing and natural language,” Skillroads turns those inputs into “strengths and skills that suit you best,” likely by matching your skills with desirable keywords.

That same technology fuels the “smart resume check.” You can upload your current resume, and the tool will grade it on ATS (applicant tracking systems) compatibility, formatting, and sectioning, among other things. In addition to the quantitative scores, the tool offers steps to fix and improve the document.

Once your resume is ready, next up is the Cover Letter Builder. Using your resume details, Skillroads automatically identifies key competencies to address in the letter, then builds the language and story using best writing practices.

The tool itself wants to appeal to users targeting Fortune 500 Job Opportunities, as the tool also incorporates a search engine for jobs at those companies. The tool can match the documents it creates with open opportunities, to save people time during the job hunt.

So, how does it stack up to a resume writing service?

A human review can give you different perspectives from different people; unless all such perspectives are accounted for in an algorithm, you may not receive the most comprehensive audit possible. Furthermore, you can’t get feedback on things like in-person interview or phone screen performance from an algorithm. Not yet, anyways.

While a human review is still superior, this is a good first step to integrate artificial intelligence into a algorithm-oriented job application environment.

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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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cope notes

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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smartphone addiction

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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