Implantable vs. Wearable: Where do you stand?

Reality-Shifting Comments: By Rebecca Smith

       These days many people are figuratively inseparable from their technology, but what happens when people become literally inseparable? Implantable technology is quickly taking over wearable technology with new devices such as technology enhanced contact lenses, tattoos, and more recently, devices that can actually be embedded into major organs such as the brain, liver, or heart.

       Building on my most recent avenue of research (the use of health-tracking wearables for data collection), there has been a development in technology which can track information about the health of an individual. The difference between the new device and older tracking devices is the fact that the newest health-tracking devices are not wearable, they are implantable. The technology is not just an accessory anymore, but a part of the individual’s body.

       According to an article in The Guardian by Samuel Gibbs, the device is known as the “mid-field wireless transfer” and it was developed by a Stanford engineer. While the idea of implantable technology is certainly not new, this form of implantable raises some questions of privacy. For instance, who would be in control of the data being collected? Would the information be sent directly to the individual’s smartphone as is the case with current health-tracking devices? Or would the information go directly to doctors?

        These are certainly important questions to be asked when it comes to an individual’s personal information. Issues of privacy are arguable more important to implantable technology simply because of the more permanent nature of an implantable device. What are your opinions on implantables vs. wearables?

Is wearable technology the next step in healthcare research?
Reality-Shifting Comments: By Rebecca Smith
Fitness tracking devices are the norm these days with many people using them to monitor their caloric intake, calories burned, heart rate, respiration rate, etc. So far, most individuals have used this information for personal reasons to gain insight into the workings of their own bodies; however, the information could be useful on a larger scale. 
According to a Huffinton Post article by Vala Afshar entitled, “Wearable technology: the coming revolution in healthcare”, the data collected through the use of such technology could be useful for the healthcare industry. In the article, Afshar states “having a network or backbone that a much broader population base can seamlessly connect to will fuel more meaningful data comparison and analysis and distill useful information”. Afshar goes on to claim that the data could be aggregated from specific demographics of individuals such as groups of people who have been diagnosed with the same illness or condition. This would allow researchers to collect data pertaining to the condition on a wider scale and compare the results for large populations. 
While the use of wearable technology to collect data for research may raise some questions about the privacy rights of users, it is a compelling concept to explore. If this became a method of data collection, the cost of research could be significantly reduced which could lead to faster developments in the healthcare industry. It is definitely something to consider for the future of healthcare research!

 

Is wearable technology the next step in healthcare research?

Reality-Shifting Comments: By Rebecca Smith

Fitness tracking devices are the norm these days with many people using them to monitor their caloric intake, calories burned, heart rate, respiration rate, etc. So far, most individuals have used this information for personal reasons to gain insight into the workings of their own bodies; however, the information could be useful on a larger scale.

According to a Huffinton Post article by Vala Afshar entitled, “Wearable technology: the coming revolution in healthcare”, the data collected through the use of such technology could be useful for the healthcare industry. In the article, Afshar states “having a network or backbone that a much broader population base can seamlessly connect to will fuel more meaningful data comparison and analysis and distill useful information”. Afshar goes on to claim that the data could be aggregated from specific demographics of individuals such as groups of people who have been diagnosed with the same illness or condition. This would allow researchers to collect data pertaining to the condition on a wider scale and compare the results for large populations.

While the use of wearable technology to collect data for research may raise some questions about the privacy rights of users, it is a compelling concept to explore. If this became a method of data collection, the cost of research could be significantly reduced which could lead to faster developments in the healthcare industry. It is definitely something to consider for the future of healthcare research!

 

Meet the team!!
From left to right: Dr. Isabel Pedersen, Nathan Gale, Cameron Nicoll, Samantha Reid, Rebecca Smith, Alex Mestrinaro, & Jeremy Baarbé.

Meet the team!!

From left to right: Dr. Isabel Pedersen, Nathan Gale, Cameron Nicoll, Samantha Reid, Rebecca Smith, Alex Mestrinaro, & Jeremy Baarbé.

Why travel the world when you can get the experience at a Marriott hotel?
Reality-Shifting Comments: By Rebecca Smith
Marriott hotels in New York have recently showcased a new travel booth. The booth essentially allows users to travel anywhere in the world without the expenses and jet lag. 
The travel booth uses Oculus Rift technology to give users sensory experiences such as heat of a tropical island or the mist of a rain forest. In fact, the experience is so immersive that users actually feel as though they are on vacation while in the travel booth. 
The booth uses the 4D technology of the Oculus Rift in combination with a virtual headset and wireless headphones in order to give users the physical experiences that can be associated with the location of their choice. Users can travel to their dream destination on w whim and without breaking the bank. 
It is a bit quizzical that a hotel chain would unveil such technology seeing as how most of their clientele are already travelling, but it is an interesting concept nonetheless. What do you think?  

Why travel the world when you can get the experience at a Marriott hotel?

Reality-Shifting Comments: By Rebecca Smith

Marriott hotels in New York have recently showcased a new travel booth. The booth essentially allows users to travel anywhere in the world without the expenses and jet lag. 

The travel booth uses Oculus Rift technology to give users sensory experiences such as heat of a tropical island or the mist of a rain forest. In fact, the experience is so immersive that users actually feel as though they are on vacation while in the travel booth. 

The booth uses the 4D technology of the Oculus Rift in combination with a virtual headset and wireless headphones in order to give users the physical experiences that can be associated with the location of their choice. Users can travel to their dream destination on w whim and without breaking the bank. 

It is a bit quizzical that a hotel chain would unveil such technology seeing as how most of their clientele are already travelling, but it is an interesting concept nonetheless. What do you think?  

SoftBank introduces the world to Pepper

Reality-Shifting Comments: By Rebecca Smith

If you are not a local in Japan, you might be in for a shock when you walk into SoftBank stores and see Pepper, a humanoid robot, milling about in the stores. 

Pepper features many audio, visual, and tactile sensors which allow the robot to interact with individuals, read their emotional state, and recognize voices. According to an article by PC World, “Its main function is to interact with people”. In fact, according to the same article, Pepper was created in order to maximize joy and minimize sadness. 

Pepper’s ability to logically interact with individuals and move around independently could mean that the robot could offer companionship to individuals who are in need of additional support. Indeed, it would be interesting to research the implications of such a robot in terms of treating individuals who suffer from depression in order to determine if the robot would be able to minimize the effects of depression such as sadness and loneliness. Is it possible that Pepper could become another component of treatment for individuals with mental illness? 

Dashboard cameras: what’s all the fuss about?
Reality Shifting Comments: By Rebecca Smith
Dashboard cameras in cars have been the target of much skepticism as a result of debates regarding the safety of such devices. Much of the concern about the safety of such devices lies in distracted-driving. However, if a dashboard camera is left alone and used simply as it is intended to be used, does it really pose a risk to safety?
In fact, could it not be argued that dashboard cameras can be a safety feature? If such devices can be used to capture videos of dangerous drivers in action, could the footage from a camera be used to prosecute someone even if there are no police around to witness the dangerous or reckless driving at the time of the act? 
Conversely, could the footage be used to determine who is at fault for an accident? In cases in which there is uncertainty about who is to blame for an accident, a dashboard camera could act as a neutral third party account of the incident. Furthermore, if an accident has occurred, is it possible to make use of the footage in research regarding preventative measures in operating motor vehicles? Alternatively, the footage could be implemented in drivers-ed classes in order to teach young drivers about defensive driving and what to do in certain situations to avoid accidents. 

Despite the potential downfalls of using dashboard cameras, there are obviously many benefits to using the technology. Which side of the debate do you fall under?

Dashboard cameras: what’s all the fuss about?

Reality Shifting Comments: By Rebecca Smith

Dashboard cameras in cars have been the target of much skepticism as a result of debates regarding the safety of such devices. Much of the concern about the safety of such devices lies in distracted-driving. However, if a dashboard camera is left alone and used simply as it is intended to be used, does it really pose a risk to safety?

In fact, could it not be argued that dashboard cameras can be a safety feature? If such devices can be used to capture videos of dangerous drivers in action, could the footage from a camera be used to prosecute someone even if there are no police around to witness the dangerous or reckless driving at the time of the act?

Conversely, could the footage be used to determine who is at fault for an accident? In cases in which there is uncertainty about who is to blame for an accident, a dashboard camera could act as a neutral third party account of the incident. Furthermore, if an accident has occurred, is it possible to make use of the footage in research regarding preventative measures in operating motor vehicles? Alternatively, the footage could be implemented in drivers-ed classes in order to teach young drivers about defensive driving and what to do in certain situations to avoid accidents.

Despite the potential downfalls of using dashboard cameras, there are obviously many benefits to using the technology. Which side of the debate do you fall under?

Crossing Boundaries between the Real World and Virtual Reality

Reality-Shifting Comments: By Rebecca Smith

Have you ever heard of Milo? Step into his world and become immersed in a virtual reality so real that you will find yourself reacting when Milo “throws” something to you through the screen.  

Milo is the one and only character in a reality simulation game in which users can interact with Milo. The young boy is capable of having a logical conversation with the user and can react with appropriate emotions via body language and facial expressions. 

This is a great example of the technological advancements that developers are capable of creating. While the Milo: Virtual Human was never released to the public, the fact remains that such games and virtual realities are possible. 

It would be interesting to investigate how technologies such as Milo’s virtual reality could be implemented in everyday life. For example, if an individual is suffering from social anxiety, would they benefit from regular interactions with Milo? Alternatively, if a child is dealing with exclusion from their peers would they benefit from having a virtual friend such as milo? And would there be any negative implications to the use of virtual reality technology in such a way?

Fashionable meets functional with the UU-U memory ring
Reality-Shifting Comments: By Rebecca Smith
In a recent post, the importance of aesthetic appeal in the wearable technology industry became obvious based on an article which featured quotations from Dr. Isabel Pedersen of the Decimal Lab at UOIT. The basic point of the article was that the future of wearable technology is extremely dependent upon the ability of technological developers to take on a fashion-forward approach to designing devices.
Evidently, some developers agree with the fashion-forward approach. For example, the UU-U Memory Ring is a recent development which was designed to appeal to both men and women while still maintaining the elements of functionality that people expect in wearable technology. The ring doubles as a USB with the capability of holding up to 32GB of content. 

That said, don’t get too excited just yet! According to an article entitled, “This flash drive is a beautifully designed ring that holds up to 32GB”, the device is not yet available to the public. The developers of the ring are currently in the process of starting a kickstarter campaign to help make the ring available to the public on a wide scale. As with any product, it may take some time before it is ready to hit the market, but you should definitely keep your eyes open for this fashionable find!

Fashionable meets functional with the UU-U memory ring

Reality-Shifting Comments: By Rebecca Smith

In a recent post, the importance of aesthetic appeal in the wearable technology industry became obvious based on an article which featured quotations from Dr. Isabel Pedersen of the Decimal Lab at UOIT. The basic point of the article was that the future of wearable technology is extremely dependent upon the ability of technological developers to take on a fashion-forward approach to designing devices.

Evidently, some developers agree with the fashion-forward approach. For example, the UU-U Memory Ring is a recent development which was designed to appeal to both men and women while still maintaining the elements of functionality that people expect in wearable technology. The ring doubles as a USB with the capability of holding up to 32GB of content.

That said, don’t get too excited just yet! According to an article entitled, “This flash drive is a beautifully designed ring that holds up to 32GB”, the device is not yet available to the public. The developers of the ring are currently in the process of starting a kickstarter campaign to help make the ring available to the public on a wide scale. As with any product, it may take some time before it is ready to hit the market, but you should definitely keep your eyes open for this fashionable find!

Technology in the classroom
Reality-Shifting Comments: By Rebecca Smith
Its that time of year again! People of all ages are heading back to school and its obvious that technology has been established as an important learning tool for students of all ages. While it is clear that there are many benefits to the use of technology in the classroom (and if you don’t believe me, check out the article, "36 ways to use wearable technology in the classroom") there are still some people who have doubts. 
While many individuals might claim that there is a generational divide with the older generation being opposed to the use of technology in the learning environment, there may be merit to some of the concerns. For instance, many studies have proven that students who take notes by hand are more engaged in class and retain more information than students who use laptops for note taking. This may be linked to the fact that students who are using laptops for note taking may also be using the technology for other purposes during class which may distract them from learning; thus, preventing the retention of information. While this is of course dependent upon how a student decides to use the technology, it can be hard to resist the urge to use the laptop for alternative purposes when it is sitting right in front of them. Even the best of students may be tempted to check their emails during class which begs the question: do the risks outweigh the benefits?
Before answering this question, it is also important to consider how the use of technology in the classroom will impact the career prospects of students. After all, the goal of education is to produce well-educated citizens who are prepared for the workforce. As such, it may in fact be a good idea to introduce students to the technology that they will need to use in a future career in order to help them prepare for the future. While this may not have been a key element of education in the past due to the lack of technology in the workforce, this is no longer the case because today’s society thrives in a technology enriched environment. 
With that in mind, I would have to argue that the benefits outweigh the potential risks. To ignore technology in a learning environment would be to ignore a key part of the workforce which the education system is supposed to be preparing students for. Therefore, while there are certainly risks associated with using technology in the classroom, it is important to prepare students for all aspects of the real world. Technology has proven to be an essential part of everyday life in today’s society; to ignore  or prohibit the use of technology in a learning environment would place limitations on the potential of student success.

Technology in the classroom

Reality-Shifting Comments: By Rebecca Smith

Its that time of year again! People of all ages are heading back to school and its obvious that technology has been established as an important learning tool for students of all ages. While it is clear that there are many benefits to the use of technology in the classroom (and if you don’t believe me, check out the article, "36 ways to use wearable technology in the classroom") there are still some people who have doubts. 

While many individuals might claim that there is a generational divide with the older generation being opposed to the use of technology in the learning environment, there may be merit to some of the concerns. For instance, many studies have proven that students who take notes by hand are more engaged in class and retain more information than students who use laptops for note taking. This may be linked to the fact that students who are using laptops for note taking may also be using the technology for other purposes during class which may distract them from learning; thus, preventing the retention of information. While this is of course dependent upon how a student decides to use the technology, it can be hard to resist the urge to use the laptop for alternative purposes when it is sitting right in front of them. Even the best of students may be tempted to check their emails during class which begs the question: do the risks outweigh the benefits?

Before answering this question, it is also important to consider how the use of technology in the classroom will impact the career prospects of students. After all, the goal of education is to produce well-educated citizens who are prepared for the workforce. As such, it may in fact be a good idea to introduce students to the technology that they will need to use in a future career in order to help them prepare for the future. While this may not have been a key element of education in the past due to the lack of technology in the workforce, this is no longer the case because today’s society thrives in a technology enriched environment. 

With that in mind, I would have to argue that the benefits outweigh the potential risks. To ignore technology in a learning environment would be to ignore a key part of the workforce which the education system is supposed to be preparing students for. Therefore, while there are certainly risks associated with using technology in the classroom, it is important to prepare students for all aspects of the real world. Technology has proven to be an essential part of everyday life in today’s society; to ignore  or prohibit the use of technology in a learning environment would place limitations on the potential of student success.

Dr. Isabel Pedersen offers insights in The New York Times
Reality-Shifting Comments: By Rebecca Smith
In a recent article by The New York Times entitled "Tech, meet fashion", Dr. Isabel Pedersen of the Decimal Lab is quoted as saying ” A wearable can’t really hope to become part of everyday culture until these companies consider more than just the technology”. Dr. Pedersen’s point here is that wearable technology would be much more wearable if it was more aesthetically appealing. 
While it is certainly important for the creators of wearable technology to focus on the technological components of a device, there should also be an emphasis on the appearance of the device. In fact, for some people the aesthetics of a device are even more important than the functionality of the device. As a result, it is understandable that the design and appearance of a piece of technology could impact the success of the device. 
The conclusion of the article is that companies need to “crack the code” between the fashion industry and the world of wearable technology. Combining the two industries would certainly help boost the success of wearable technology all over the world so I have to agree that this is definitely a case in which two is better than one. At this point, the convergence of the two industries is not only beneficial for both parties, but a necessary step towards making wearable technology a part of everyday culture.

Dr. Isabel Pedersen offers insights in The New York Times

Reality-Shifting Comments: By Rebecca Smith

In a recent article by The New York Times entitled "Tech, meet fashion", Dr. Isabel Pedersen of the Decimal Lab is quoted as saying ” A wearable can’t really hope to become part of everyday culture until these companies consider more than just the technology”. Dr. Pedersen’s point here is that wearable technology would be much more wearable if it was more aesthetically appealing. 

While it is certainly important for the creators of wearable technology to focus on the technological components of a device, there should also be an emphasis on the appearance of the device. In fact, for some people the aesthetics of a device are even more important than the functionality of the device. As a result, it is understandable that the design and appearance of a piece of technology could impact the success of the device. 

The conclusion of the article is that companies need to “crack the code” between the fashion industry and the world of wearable technology. Combining the two industries would certainly help boost the success of wearable technology all over the world so I have to agree that this is definitely a case in which two is better than one. At this point, the convergence of the two industries is not only beneficial for both parties, but a necessary step towards making wearable technology a part of everyday culture.