The newest, hottest products in the market.
Smartphones, tablets, laptops, smartwatches –
reviewed simply with four questions in mind.
Time and again I hear stories about seniors who are given great pieces of technology to help simplify their lives only to relegate them to a drawer or closet never to be heard from again. The problem is that some of these devices that aim to simplify are just not that simple to setup. Now, Clarity, a division of Plantronics, has come up with an ambitious effort to create a communications device for seniors that combines the best of a landline and the Internet. But unlike other devices that assume that the senior will set up the device on his or her own, Clarity’s Ensemble is taking a more realistic approach. It begins with the premise that the Clarity Ensemble will be purchased and setup by either a family member or a close friend or caregiver. So everything is designed to be setup by the Manager, who can remotely access the phone’s many functions.
The new Qumi Q7+ projector from Visitek is a pretty impressive device. Vivitek lists the Qumi Q7+ as a mobile projector. But it’s certainly not pocket sized, weighing in at about 3 pounds, roughly three times the weight of its Q5 model. It has the footprint of a 9″ tablet, and about 1 1/2″ thick And it’s fairly pricey, just about $1000. But it’s also quite versatile. It can throw an image up to about 9 feet with a 107″ diagonal image, making it good for anything from a business meeting to your living room. It has WXGA resolution (better than HD), it has 1000 lumens, and it has an LED light source that’s rated for 30,000 hours. That means the lamp is likely to last a whole lot longer than the technology that surrounds it. But the question becomes, is this a large version of a mobile projector or a small version of a home theater projector. It may not matter.
Health is a major concern for just about everyone I know. And Google says that’s reflected among its users. The company says one in 20 Google searches is health-related. With that in mind, now, when you ask Google about common health conditions (over 400 at launch with more on the way), either with your voice or by typing, you’ll immediately get relevant medical information. displayed with the Google Knowledge Graph. It presents typical symptoms and treatments, as well as details on how common the condition is, whether it’s critical, if it’s contagious, what ages it affects, and more. For some conditions you’ll also see high-quality illustrations from licensed medical illustrators. When you use the Google App on a smartphone, the information is displayed in a graphical form. When you do a computer search, the graphical information appears in the right hand column of your computer screen.
Why Apple is Focusing so Much on Health
By Tim Bajarin, President, Creative Strategies
As an analyst I am often asked what I think will be the next big thing for Apple. Given the success of the Mac, iPod, iPhone and iPad, people are wondering if Apple has anything new up their sleeves that could be their next really big hit in the market. Based on commentary in Steve Jobs’ biography we all know that Apple has intentions of making Apple TV smarter and eventually change the way people interact with and view their TV’s. Of course, the Apple Watch is big news and could be a significant source of revenue for them. Both of these will come to market and indeed become major hits for Apple, but I actually see one of their most important contributions coming out of a big move to create a whole new way for people to monitor their health and get that information aggregated and to some degree analyzed and eventually make that data available to health providers.
Eagle Creek Pack-its Organize Your Trip If I’m going away for a couple of days, getting organized is generally not a problem. But if I’m heading out for a week or more, especially if I have to keep my business running while I’m away, then deciding not only what to take, but how to organize it becomes a little like an exercise in military logistics. Packing used to be a challenge. But for several years now I’ve been using the Eagle Creek packing system, which has only improved with age. Certainly it’s handy when you get to a hotel room and you can quickly put your stuff away in a dresser. But it’s even better if you are living out of a suitcase.
Back in the day when there was only one telephone company, AT&T, the Federal Communications Commission put rules into effect making Ma Bell, as the monopoly was known, into a Common Carrier. That meant that AT&T had to pretty much allow anyone to connect to its network, subject only to technical requirements. When this all came about some eighty years ago the only thing that was carried on that network was voice communications. Data transmission would come later, and the Internet not for another half century. Historically, government regulation has lagged behind new technology, and that’s certainly been the case when it comes to the Internet. Now, the FCC has decided in favor of new rules, known collectively as “net neutrality”, that basically say to Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) like Comcast, Verizon, Cox, and yes, even AT&T U-verse that they are Common Carriers. That means the ISP’s will have to treat all comers equally. They cannot charge for any content more or less than any other content provider, nor can they limit data transmission speeds based on payment, a practice known as throttling. In short it means that my ISP, which happens to be Comcast, cannot charge me any more money to upload a video clip on the Internet than it charges Netflix or vice versa. Quantity plays no role.
Imagine for a moment a brand new $100,000,000 hospital currently being built in the United States. It will be staffed by hundreds of fully qualified doctors and nurses. But it will have no beds. That doesn’t mean it has no patients. It will have thousands of patients. Dr. James Mault, the Vice President of Qualcomm Life and Chief Medical Officer of HealthyCircles says it should be open within the next three months. I don’t know the specifics of where it is being built, or who will operate it. I can tell you that it will be the first real 21st century healthcare facility, and likely will become the revolutionary standard for remote healthcare monitoring. It will cover Intensive Care Units in more traditional hospitals, as well as assisted living facilities, and even home bound patients. Information will be collected through the 2Net technology platform developed by Qualcomm Life. Doctors and nurses will sit in a tele-medicine command center, keeping track of the vital sings of their patients, looking for any abnormality that will require an intervention And it will use the model that Dr. Mault says reflects the system created by the airline industry.
By John R. Quain – Editor -At-Large
What is it? – Cable and satellite TV subscribers are mad as hell and are not going to take it any more. But while many would love to cut themselves free of onerous fees, there’s one major problem: There’s no way to get ESPN sports without cable or satellite. Until now.
by Asif Khan, CEO of Caremerge
When you consider that many seniors were around for the invention of the television in 1927, it is no wonder that they may be resistant to new technology and especially social media. For many seniors, computers are intimidating, but it is critical for family members and the healthcare community to encourage seniors to get involved in social media.
Hi-Res Audio Update
The Hi-Res Audio movement took a major step into consumer consciousness with the decision by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) to support a logo and branding for products deemed capable of playing hi-res audio formats, which are a major improvement over the MP3’s the music industry has foisted upon us for a generation. Sony, which has been the major mover behind popularizing Hi-Res is also introducing products that bring these high end products within the reach of average consumers.
by Judith Bitterli Chief Marketing Officer AVG Technologies
The importance of our digital legacy has been brought home to me time and again in the past few years, as I’ve seen family and friends who have lost loved ones and faced the prospect of what to do about their digital footprint. Just this past year, a friend and former colleague of mine passed away. I, like so many, was shocked and saddened to learn of his untimely death. He was healthy and vibrant until the day he died of a heart attack while out cycling.
Technology doesn’t just effect how you navigate from one place to another, it can also have a serious effect on how you drive there–especially in the snow. This was amply demonstrated to me, thanks to a couple of Buick engineers and some professional driving instructors at Lime Rock’s Winter Autocross course. Like many experienced drivers, I grew up driving in the snow with rear-wheel cars that spun and fishtailed predictably. One learned to pump the brakes and turn at the last second to maneuver around wintry roads. There were no ABS brakes, electronic stability controls,or complex all-wheel-drive traction control systems to rely on. All that has changed, and it requires a change in driving habits to realize their safety benefits.
At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, there were robots all over the place. Robots that could remove bombs. Robots that could play with autistic children. Robots that could monitor the status of a loved one. Robots that allow a severely disabled individual to interact with the rest of the world. And yes, robots to clean your floors. The age of the robot is not quite upon us. But it’s getting closer. It’s actually been a while since we last looked at a household robot, and that was a combo unit from Roomba that washed floors. This time around we decided to look at the competition, the Botvac 80 by Neato, one of their top models, which claims to do the best job of picking up pet hair. Even though our daughter’s golden retriever is banned from the living room, his hair seems to show up, and the Neato did a pretty good job of picking it up. Even more impressive was the job that it did in picking up the hundreds of fallen needles from the Christmas tree.
“Oh my aching back” How often have you heard that phrase, or used it? Lower back pain affects millions. And the older you get,the more it’s likely to be a problem. It can come from sitting too long or from a strain, or who knows what else. But now, there’s an FDA listed device and app combo that may help. Valedo integrates technology and gaming to improve lower back health. The kit includes two sensors, a USB charger to charge both sensors at once and medical grade tape to affix the sensors. You place the sensors on the lower back and chest sternum. According to the website, Valedo’s “game-like exercises can help you improve movement awareness, restore motion to vertebral joints and redevelop muscles in your back.”
No, that’s not just hyperbole, Splash is the name of the urgent response device from GreatCall, the folks who created the senior-friendly Jitterbug phone. With the touch of a button, the user has access to the GreatCall 5 Star Service. That provides instant voice communications with a live trained emergency services agent. Using the GPS functionality of the device the agent can see immediately where the wearer is located and send help if needed. The agent will stay in direct communication with the wearer until the situation is resolved. When you sign up for the service you can provide key health and health provider information so it’s available in an emergency. The Splash is waterproof down to three feet so it can worn in the shower or in a bath. It uses a drop-in cradle charger so the user doesn’t have to deal with connecting cords. Battery life is a couple of days, but the best way to use it is drop it into its cradle each night. The Splash runs on the Verizon network so most places have service, but you should check your local area before your buy. The device itself is just about $50 but requires a monitoring plan for either $15 or $20. The more expensive plan gives you access to GreatCall’s health and safety services, like Urgent Care, which provides u unlimited access to registered nurses and board-certified doctors.
By John R. Quain, Editor-At-Large
What is it? – Roku has managed to do what no other company seems capable of–make a smart TV dumb. But that’s a good thing. It means no more infinitely regressing menus, cascading option screens or inscrutable settings. Roku had boiled it down to the essentials and then baked it into this 40-inch Hisense H4 Series HD TV. Easy? Gracie Allen could operate this TV.
Advances in GPS technology and power management are making it easier than ever to keep track of the people and pets important to you. To give you a brief idea on the state of the market, here are three devices that all rely on GPS (Global Positioning System). GTX makes a set of GPS enabled inner soles, called the GTX SmartSole that can be put in the shoes of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia, or even autism. The inner soles can be charged wirelessly, and one charge is good for five days. Depending on the service plan you can set up monitoring reports to track the patient every 5, 10, 30, or 60 minutes. The information goes directly to either a smartphone app or a monitoring portal. You can set the system up so that the caregiver is notified if the patient breaches a pre-set geo boundary. The device has no on/off switch, so it cannot be disabled. It will go into sleep mode if there’s no activity in order to save battery power. You can monitor the patient’s comings and goings on a computer, smartphone, or on GTX’s own tracking device. The inner soles themselves are $299. There are two different monitoring plans for just about $30 or $50 per month.
If you live in a place where you need snow chains during the winter, you know what a huge pain they are to get on and take off. Well, now there’s an alternative, the AutoSock, a fabric wheel cover that’s accepted in most states as a legal alternative to chains. The forecast Blizzard of 2015 missed us in Western Connecticut But it deposited enough snow to make driving a challenge – well at least for a few minutes. Even though I wanted to try these out, given my past experiences with chains, I was not looking forward to the experience. But I was wrong,