Tech solutions helping people with disabilities

One of my previous posts was about how technology is killing education. I might be sceptical about it sometimes, but as a person who barely remembers life before computers and smartphones, I definitely see the bright side of technology too.

To me, the best usage of technology or gadgets is not making our lives more interesting or even easier, but helping people in need. Below I’ll present some of the best (in my humble opinion) solutions for disabled people.

  • Liftware

I came across a movie about Liftware during one of many hours spent on scrolling my Facebook feed. I instantly fell in love with the solution, it’s brilliant and really helpful. It’s a handle to which you can attach utensils like fork or spoon. It’s designed for people with Parkinson or other diseases causing hand tremors. The main idea behind is counteracting unwanted movements so that the person can eat with ease and dignity. Take a look at the video below to understand how brilliant this is:

  • Talkitt

Another, truly amazing solution is Talkitt. It’s a software that helps people with speech and language disorders communicate with others. It can be run on any computer, smartphone or tablet and works for all languages! It first learns pattern speechs and then identifies what the person is saying and translates it so that others can understand.

Speech is one of the most important parts of being a human. It’s said that speech and thought are two things that make us distinct from animals. That’s why the need of being understood is huge and Talkitt helps people finally get that.

  • UNI

Speaking of helping people communicate, there are more oustanding solutions. UNI helps deaf and speech-impaired people communicate with others. It detects sign language (thanks to the camera installed in the device) and converts it to text. Thanks to that other people can understand a meaning of given signs. The second functionality is converting speech into signs. Thanks to that, UNI provides two-way communication.

It’s not only an amazing solution, but also inspiring story, as the whole company is deaf. Watch to see how it works:

  • Braille Edge 40 & Lechal shoes

The last two solutions are designed for visually impaired people. The first one, Braille Edge 40, is a device helping blind people control their smartphones or computers. It’s connected by Bluetooth or USB port and it converts text into Braille. Producer describes it as follows: ‘Braille EDGE 40 contains 2 four-way navigation keys and 8 function keys (Escape, Tab, Control, Alt, Shift, Insert, Windows and Applications) combining the convenience of entering text in Braille with the intuitive functionality of a PC keyboard.’ Finally blind people are not technologically-excluded!

Another deivce worth mentioning are Lechal shoes. These are GPS-enabled sneakes that ‘navigate’ a blind person by vibrating (to give a correct direction). The shoes can be connected via Bluetooth and are compatible with most of iOS and Android versions. They can be synced with Google apps and navigate you to any given location. To me, being blind in a city must be terrifying. Leachal shoes seem to make the world a little less scary.

I truly admire technology that makes people’s lifes better. Disabilities often lead to exclusion, both technological and social. Seeing people invent such devices and softwares gives a lot of hope that developing technology won’t destroy us, but will really help.

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The new iPhone with a bendable display

Actually we can assume that Apple will introduce 3 new iPhone models this year. More than for the expected iPhone 7S and iPhone 7S Plus, people are waiting for the iPhone 8. The first two mentioned will be launched with the traditional LCD-Screen not as the iPhone 8, which will be equipped with the pretty expensive, high-quality OLED Display, but that’s not all of the surprises Apple is preparing for its fans.

Few days ago Apple’s display provider Japan Display Incorporation has presented its newest invention, a bendable screen for smartphones. It is a 5,5 inches screen which is elastic and has FullHD-resolution. Samsung and LG have had this idea since a very long time, but that days both of them focused on their OLED-Technology. Now Japan Displays wants to penetrated the market and become the market leader.

jdi-iphone-display-flex-620.jpg

 

Flexible synthetic material instead of glass

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple announced that the next iPhone is going to have a new screen. The production is going to start by the beginning of 2018. JDI, Apple’s display manufacturer, is going to introduce high flexible synthetic instead of the glass display we got used to in our phones. This screen is going to be unbreakable, which will a huge advantage for the user. Also the design can be modified in more ways than it could have been up to date. Furthermore is the LCD-technology ways cheaper than the OLED invention, LG and Samsung invested in. This could give Apple the opportunity for more savings and a higher margin as it is producing millions of iPhones each year. The sales disparity between the huge number of sold iPhones compared with the sales size of MacBook or iPads is drastic.

The only disadvantage of LCD-screens in comparison to the OLED technology is the colour display, which is ways better on the OLED screens. Furthermore do LCD-screens use less energy, so the smartphone’s battery will last longer.

Taking under consideration all the disadvantages and advantages of these two screen types, Apple shows a big interest in introduction of the bendable LCD-displays for its iPhones and later even for the iPads. The mass production was settled to start in the beginning of 2018. We will find out soon!

Ecoism, the invention that will make you save energy

Ecoisme was created in 2013 in London, England where its headquarters are still located. The goal is to help people save money on electricity bills and to save energy resources at the same time. Their partners are energy distributors such as EDF, Virgin, Telekom, Dubai electricity and water authority.

Discovered during the CES 2017, Ecoism 2.0 is an energy monitoring system that monitors your heating, your oven, your television, and all your domestical eletronic device. Ecoisme can manage them according to the local tariffs and user habits.

But that’s not all, because Ecoisme is monitoring electricity usage of your major appliances and applying its machine learning algorithms Ecoisme can  predict when an appliance is likely to fail. It can help you to save some money by being better prepared of the future failure.

Ecoism is a sensor to connect to any electrical panel, by using two clamps and an application.
The Ecoisme kit consists of the sensor and the mobile application. It just needs to connect Ecoisme to electrical panel and download the app.
Then sensor turns fuse box into a data center. The application becomes energy manager, which takes care of energy bills. It lets know how to optimize energy within homes to be able eliminate overpayments. It gives you personalized advice and recommendations directly on your smartphone.

 

If you have solar pannels, Ecoisme is able to monitor the level of solar energy charge and will let its user know when its level has been exhausted or when they have extra energy for sale.

Artificial Intelligence will help you learn. And relax.

Artificial Intelligence is a growing trend in technology. Most of us are aware of the fact that its importance is steadily increasing. Some people say AI is, in fact, the most important topic for our future. 

Looks like we should start getting used to it and finding a place for AI in our lives. Of course, it is widely used in business already, Accenture calls AI ‘fuel for growth’.  However, what I wanted to talk about is a solution that can help you learn, relax or fight insomnia thanks to Artificial Intelligence.

Brain.fm is a service offering AI-composed music that will help you trigger specific cognitive states. This includes deep focus, relaxation, and sleep. Music is obviously powerful and we know that. That’s a rule all movie soundtracks are based on. But Brain.fm goes even further. The product has a lot of scientific research behind. Starting with how neuronal oscillations control cognitive processes to showing how music entrains neuronal oscillations.

There are plenty of researchers from various universities behind Brain.fm. There are even experiments ran to measure effects of the AI-composed music on cognition. Measures included Reaction Time (RT), Go-No Go (GNG), Visual Pattern Recognition (VPR) and EEG. Detailed results are presented here, but well, you probably guessed them already ;).

What’s interesting, even athletes use Brain.fm. It lets them focus and then relax and meditate. For athletes, especially those from Olympic teams, the pressure is huge. Psychological aspects of sports are as important as physical ones. It’s not something new that during finals of the most important championships, mind is equally important as body and only people who have nerves of steel will win. Robby Smith is the US Olympic wrestling team captain and he was using Brain.fm during Rio preparations. This is a great example of balanced preparations and another use of AI.

The solution sounds brilliant, doesn’t it? What’s worrisome a little is the legal info. If the AI-composed music so beneficial to us, why do have to be so careful about it? If it might be dangerous to epileptics, pregnant women, people wearing a pacemaker of ones who drank alcohol and took medications, then how can we be sure it’s safe to the rest of us? Isn’t it just too misterious, with no explanation following the legal info?

 

brain.fm

Source: Brain.fm

For sure, the solution is brilliant and can help many people who can’t focus or sleep. Knowing the reality of today’s and huge problems people have with focus, seems like the demand will be only growing. But can we really trust Brain.fm? I’m sure we’ll find out about it soon!

 

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Is technology killing education?

We all believe or want to believe that technology development is something good. It shows we’re moving forward, we’re getting better, we’re pushing the limits. But does it always make sense? Do we always need to introduce more gadgets and software to all fields? Is it always justified with thorough thinking and planning?

I doubt that.

I want to raise a taboo subject of technology in education (and in classrooms in general). More and more schools are facing this problem, including Kozminski University.

smartphones in the classrom

Source: www.bostonglobe.com

The first thing you notice when you enter the classroom is that literally 90% of students do not pay attention to the teacher, but do pay attention to their smartphones, tablets and laptops. What is the point of going to a class if all you do is scrolling Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat? And why do teachers never react?

It is said that problems with attention can be blamed on technology. You can argue and say we’re a generation of multitasking, but guess what? Researches show multitasking is actually impossible and what you do is more of a “task-switching”.

My point is not criticizing students for not paying attention in a class. I’m guilty myself! Moreover, being addicted to social media is not something my generation chose. It’s rather something we inherited from previous generations and are forced to live in.

 

no-powerpoing

Source: www.someecards.com

Let’s look at the problem from a different perspective. Why would someone pay attention to the full-of-text PowerPoint slides that he knows he’ll receive before the exam? Slides that can be read at home in 1 hour? Of course, there are teachers who try to make their classes more interesting and engaging, but even in spite of those efforts, PowerPoint in killing education. There’s no point in making notes when they’re already made and sent to you. Not to mention taking notes with a pen and paper, which happens to be the best way to learn.

Another taboo is cheating. We’re in Poland where cheating is, unfortunately, socially accepted. Teachers pretend they don’t see that, but smartphones and access to the Internet make cheating easier than ever before. With practically no reaction and no penalties, the value of your diploma is getting low. It is also said that with easy access to academic information, any academic writing is no longer original. Is that what we wanted?

Of course, there are amazing companies that help people learn (like Brainly, Skillshare, Khan Academy, Lynda, Codeacademy and many many others), knowledge is now more accessible than ever before. But is school really teaching us how to learn? Or just how to pass the exams?

Some people say technology is making us stupid and it’s hard not to agree with that. Others will list trends that are changing education for better and you can’t argue with that either. Technology is getting better every day and we probably should be excited about it, but are we actually ready for it? Maybe it’s time to stop for a moment and think not only about how we can implement technology at schools, but also how we can reduce its negative influence. After all, education is our future.

 

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Global Digital Marketplace (G2A.com Limited)

Global Digital Marketplace (G2A.com Limited)

Let’s think for a second and try to imagine a market which is completely digital. Back in 2010, a company called go2arena was founded by Bartosz Skwarczek and Dawid Rożek in Rzeszów, Poland as an online game retailer. The main aim of the market was the young gamers with a lack of disposable income.

A Polish company that aimed mainly to objective of the company to sell cheaper games than normal market. Selling video games at the place where it is the lowest possible price got attractive customers suddenly. The CEO of the company Skywarcze set the goal to approach as large as possible game developers to make them sell their games on the platform. Skywarcze achieved this goal by joining various events such as Gamescom, E3 and G-Star by reaching and securing as many partnership deals as possible in order to become an official seller of the games. This decision and deals changed the company’s business model from retailer to marketplace. The company allowed people or small companies to sell video games through the platform.

The hay-day of the company happened in 2016, it began to focus on the technological innovation by investing money into development of Virtual Reality and Customer Services for its customers. G2A pay, G2a direct and G2A shield made the company to became bigger and bigger.

G2A pay, launched back in January 2015, The company introduced its online payment system through the platform in order to make the customers pay easily. With the integration of global payment methods thought the system such as PayPal, Skrill, Webmoney and financial services such as Maestro, Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Also integrating chargeback production availability to system to protect the customers and sellers through the system against the illegal refunds which is called Chargeback Fraud which was a big issue on the digital market place.

Introducing G2A Direct which allowed developers to join the program in July, 2016. Selling developer’s games and charging the customers became much easier. G2A was only getting small commission from those sales from the customers and developers. By joining the program, G2A allowed developers to ranked higher on the market place of G2A platform.

G2A Shield which is a paid membership service for the customer. It offers additional protection to customer who are buying the game thought platform and enjoy the games by playing. Thanks to its customer services, if customer has any problem from the buyer perspective, G2A has 24 hours to solve this issue with the seller. Also G2A including G2A coin transfer, up to 10% cashback, priority pre-order games receive by the customer. With 24/7 live chat in customer service, customer is buying the games without any problem.

Poland is a developing country which is an European Union member state, that’s why companies such as G2A gets a lot of free space to develop and grow in this country.

Let me know about what is your thinking for buying games or anything online. Do you think, it is a good idea to start a business online such as G2A?

 

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50 Million Subsicribe on Youtube

I believe everyone heard Pewdiepie who has a channel in YouTube with over 50 million Subscribers currently.

It is the biggest channel on Youtube. According to Socialblade, the second biggest channel is HolaSoyGerman, which has 30,753,543 subscribers currently.

Now it is time for the story. How a person from Sweden became this bigger on YouTube? What he made through all this way?

Basically funny things…!!!

The most important thing to mention, what Pewdiepie did to get attention about an important issue which is going-on on YouTube.

In 2016, YouTube changed its algorithm about showing Videos on the main page. Youtubers were complaining about how the views of the video decreased dramatically. Posting to twitter and publishing videos did not get enough attention from the media and YouTube itself.

Pewdiepie decided to make a movement about this issue to get media’s attention. Basically, he just recorded a video about explaining the issue and promising the delete his channel, when it hits 50 million subscribers. He explained that because of the changes in YouTube algorithm, he could not even see the new videos of the channels, he subscribed to… When a channel has a lot of subscribers, YouTube algorithm stops showing the new videos on YouTube currently.

Of course, this video got a lot of attention from the media and pewdiepie started to reach much more subscribers that he could get in a year in few weeks.

There were a lot of news on the Internet about this video above and media started paying attention to YouTube algorithm problem finally. There were countdowns on many websites for Pewdiepie subscribers count live. When he reached the 50 million subscribers finally, he published a video which he was deleting his another channel and explaining the situation that it was a joke and a viral marketing for his branding.

To be honest, people did not complain about it at all. Because who does not like pewdiepie let’s say. The only thing now, YouTube knows that it has to do something about this algorithm issue and solve it. Otherwise, it will affect both ways. Since most of the big YouTube channels work as full-time Youtubers for their living to earn money.

What you think about this? A person who has over 50 million subscribers which is bigger than most of the European countries population. I always count him such “if he decided to join the election in UK, he will for use win it…”

 

 

 

Back in time

Have you ever heard of Neo-Luddism? Or have you ever heard the term “Technophobia”? There are people in the world who oppose to technology or are afraid of it. Actually, how can you not be afraid of technology after watching Black Mirror? 😉

These two terms mentioned above refer to extreme phenomena. However, there is a trend in technology that aims at traveling back in time. Well, not literally. There are apps that will make people, who were born before widely accessible computers, feel pretty nostalgic. By that I don’t mean 1950s, but let’s bring 90s back!

  1. VHS Camcorder

Do you remember the thing called VHS? Kind of old-school, I know. But don’t you sometimes miss it? Those white number in the bottom-left corner of the video that instantly tell you when it was recorded and that it’s a tape from your 3rd, not 4th birthday? Now you can have these back on the videos recorded with your smartphone. How cool is that! For $3 you can download it here.

VHS camcorder

Source: itunes.apple.com

 

  1. Games

There are some classics you’ll never forget. Games of our childhood, which we really spent hours playing. They were not complicated and graphics were… well, were enough back then! Of course, now with the ocean of games and consoles like Xbox or PlayStation, with the growing market of Virtual Reality in the gaming industry it’s easy to find top quality entertainment. But don’t you sometimes miss good old Pac-Man, Snake, or Tamagotchi? I do! If you want to travel back in time when standing in a line or in the bus, just download old-school versions of those games.

  1. Photography

Now let me show you one of my favorites! Meet Yoso, a new Polish product that can change your smartphone into an analog camera. Nowadays we tend to take gigabytes of pictures every day. You’re at a concert? You take 300 pictures. You’re going out? 50 selfies. In a restaurant? #instafood. Vacation? 1000 pictures. Most of them are the same, few of them are good. And most probably you won’t go back to the majority of your pictures because it’s just too much! Yoso will make you actually think before taking a picture, you won’t see it instantly, but then they’ll send you a physical copy. Wouldn’t it be great to have 36 awesome pictures from vacation and simply live the moment for the other 9964?

  1. Conversations?!

It’s not an app, but still an exceptional idea. Last year MasterCard started a campaign in Warsaw restaurants called #PricelessTime. Its goal was to make people put their phones down and start having real conversations. That they did was installing special capsules in the restaurants. Based on the time people’s phones spent in the capsule, customers were given prizes.

The idea is brilliant and sad at the same time. Do we really need a prize to focus on the people we met with? I hope this campaign will inspire you to re-thinking the way you spend time with your friends. How about living real life even without special apps and capsules? 😉

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Half of the world’s population do not have access to Internet

We tend to think of Internet as of something inherent, a part of our life that has rooted so deeply, that is almost impossible to cut of. But is it the real situation for the whole world?

How many people in the world you think don’t  have access to Internet? 10 per cent? Or 20?

The reality can be very different from what we expect.

According to different sources more than half of the world’s population doesn’t have an access to Internet. Could we even think that in 21st century, when about 61% of web users feel addicted to the Internet, 54% of the world will be disconnected from the world wide web? And what are those countries?

Among countries, who have less than 3% of penetration of Internet in the population are African countries like Somalia and Niger, followed by Asian less developed countries (e.g. Myanmar). Generally, 50 first countries with smallest percentage of penetration are African and Asian countries.

This information has to be taken into consideration especially while establishing an international company, or while expanding abroad.
If you think of promoting your product in Africa, opening a new branch of the business, or even travelling to the unknown country it is always worth checking Internet statistics, to prevent your business from bankruptcy, or just from an unpleasant surprises.

 
Sources:

http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users-by-country/

Internet Addiction Statistics

Do you love technology as much as your dog? 

You don’t have to be a crazy pet person to get onboard with this idea. But it helps.

Do you ever wonder what your dog is doing all day while you’re at work or school? I do. There are two cool companies that make it possible to check in on your dog while you’re away. Petcube and Petzi Connect.

Petcube is a box that contains a wide-angle HD camera, microphone, speakers, and a laser pointer. When you’re not home you can see what your pet is up to. You can even use the laser to play with them a bit. The best part is that this is all done through your smart phone! You can also get sound and motion alerts so you can see if anything major is happening. But the idea behind Petcube is not only to interact with your pet and keep tabs on your pet, but to also keep them active.  With the built in laser toy you can play with and exercise your pet at any time. You can also use the “autoplay” mode to keep your pet entertained if you’re too busy to do it yourself.

Current price: $149

Petzi Connect is a device that is similar to the Petcube. But instead of using a laser pointer to play games, it has a treat dispenser so you can spoil your pet even when you’re not around. Another difference is that Petzi Connect plugs directly into the wall whereas Petcube can be placed anywhere. While Petcube allows you to speak to your pets, Petzi offers a two-way audio and video connection.

Current price: $169.95

Both are reasonably priced considering what they do. What makes these cameras “pet cameras” rather than regular cameras, aside from the marketing, are the interaction features.  Both use smartphone apps as the main user interface and are both available for iOS snd Android.

Although the technology is a bit quirky, it is another convenience that technology allows us to enjoy. Now I can sit at work and give my dog a treat, just because. I can check in on him to make sure he hasn’t gotten into any trouble. I can also get great new pictures for his Instagram…follow him! @hugo_warsaw_frenchie. 

Sources:

petcube.com

www.petzi.com

http://petdogwriteblog.com/2016/02/16/dog-cam-showdown-petcube-vs-petzi/