Do You Really Need to Constantly Upgrade Your Phone?

Whether you keep seeing people with sleek new gadgets or it’s the ads that draw you in, you aren’t alone in wanting to upgrade your phone. But do you need to do it each time a new device comes out? Sure, a new phone would be nice. But if you want to save money and think practically, it’s a good idea to think carefully before you pull the trigger on a brand-new device.

It Isn’t Really Something You Need to Do to Keep Up

Lots of people are tempted to upgrade their phones because they fear to look out of touch. However, recent research suggests that if you do this, you’re actually in the minority. Most Americans now upgrade their phones every three to five years. Plus, if you stay a model year or so behind, you’re likely to save a significant amount of money. When new models come out, they often are over $1,000, although that price drops sharply after a year or so on the market.

Most Phones Function Just Fine

Before you decide to buy the latest upgrade, make sure you compare features. In many cases, they’re likely to be similar. Businesses make money buying old phones because the technology isn’t that outdated. While some manufacturers include new updates that are drastically different, in many cases, the differences between model years are very small. Unless a new model has a feature you really want, like VR capabilities or a virtual assistant, you may be better off keeping your current phone.

Is Your Battery Life Slowing Down?

Of course, while many people want to upgrade simply for the sake of upgrading, it’s a whole other story if your phone is starting to lose function. If your battery life is starting to slow, it might be time for a new phone. If you’re determined to keep your old one, you may be able to replace the battery yourself. There are lots of places online that sell new phone batteries. However, in some models, working on a phone voids the warranty, so this probably only a good idea if your phone has no warranty or if you’re proficient in battery replacement.

Unless you have plenty of disposable income, you may want to think again before upgrading your phone. By waiting for a little and continuing to use your current phone until it starts showing noticeable signs of wear, you’re likely to save yourself a considerable amount of money in the future.

Here’s another article you might enjoy: Bigger or Smaller: Where Are Smart Devices Going Next?

Smart Home Devices for Your Outdoor Space

When people think of smart home devices, their minds automatically go to devices that are used inside of the home. From audio systems that flood music throughout the house to intricate lighting setups that are programmed with the home’s owners preferences, like having the lights automatically dimmed throughout the house at 8pm. Smart home devices have simplified indoor living spaces. There are plenty of outdoor smart home devices that are just as helpful. if you’re looking for smart home devices that can help your outdoor space, check out some of the info below.

Wireless Thermometer

If you spend a lot of time entertaining outside, you need to make sure that the weather is working hand-in-hand with your plans. Wireless outdoor thermometers are the perfect tools to help you ensure that you get an absolute accurate reading about what the weather is like outdoors so that your plans go off without a hitch. Many of the best thermometers have built-in humidity sensors that can help you keep track of how much moisture will be in the air in addition to measuring the temperature. You just need to make sure you place it in an area that’s covered since they are usually not waterproof. A wireless thermometer can also help you determine what kinds of materials you should use when selecting your outdoor deck and outdoor furniture material. According to Deck Remodelers, you should build your deck in a way that can withstand the elements over time.

Security Cameras

A security camera is one of the most important smart home devices any homeowner or renter can install. According to AMP Smart, the average burglary victim loses around $2400. Security cameras allow you to be able to keep eyes on your home at all times, even when you’re not on the premises. They allow you to be able to see who’s at the door before you open it, especially with options like smart doorbells. Things to consider when choosing a home security camera include figuring out whether you want it to run over Wi-Fi or cellular, whether the camera is accessible via an app, and whether you want a constant live feed that you can check on whenever you wish or if you’d prefer a camera that makes a recording whenever it detects movement.

Robotic Pool Cleaner

Having a swimming pool is awesome. Having to clean it on a regular basis is not so awesome. A robotic pool cleaner operated by smart home technology is the perfect solution for busy homeowners who want to be able to swim at a moment’s notice but don’t have the time to perform constant maintenance on their pools. According to Solar-Breeze, many of these are suitable for use in both inground and above ground pools. You can control these robots via app so that you can clean the pool while you’re away from home. 

Taking smart home technology outside can help you maintain the same level of control outside of your home that you have inside. Take a look at your outdoor space, and figure out what you need.

Thinking about the best smart home technology for in your home now? Read How Tech is Making Our Homes Smarter and Safer next!

Why Automation Is Good for the Economy

From the assembly line to apps that handle entire departments of paperwork and calculations with a simple script, automation can be found everywhere. And it’s only going to get more advanced. While there is a lot of potential, in some economic models, there are worries about job outlook and human productivity. Automation won’t eliminate gas stations and restaurant labor overnight. As can be seen in today’s manufacturing sector, fewer employees are needed to monitor partial automation. Here are a few details to help you see where automation is going along with the benefits and dangers of humanity’s latest chapter of progress.

Give Inquisitive Minds Their Due Attention

Wasted potential is an unfortunate part of the human experience, and it always has been. Children who have creative, insightful, voluminous and generally powerful minds can waste away in hometowns instead of working on the most important parts of history. Adults who bloom into greater potential later in life are often missed because of a focus on children. There is work to be done, and while children rightfully deserve a chance at a powerful upbringing, is it fair to ignore them once they hit a certain age? Automation will bring relief to many of those access troubles. At first glance, the most obvious benefit is more free time for those who want to pursue industrious or creative interests. The romantic concept of people who would work on their own drawings, create music or write books if not for their day jobs is just a surface-level example, yet great gains come from them. Engineering, construction, science, technology and other breakthroughs will come from people having enough time. It will be difficult to reach 100% of all minds when they need it. That doesn’t mean the world can’t do better. With automation, better is closer.

Better Margins for Small Business Owners

The inquisitive, industrious minds aren’t just nameless children or random people striking it rich overnight. Small business owners, startup leaders and entrepreneurs of all types will be at the top of automation’s change. Automation allows smaller teams to compete at higher levels. As new technologies emerge, there is a bit of an ebb and flow between big and small business as far as progress. Many of the biggest advances come from large corporate funding from contractors, subdivisions and independent firms that may or may not be acquired in the future. Once discoveries like automation are available for the public, small business takes over. Gas stations have started to use automated price books, so they can avoid selling gasoline at a loss, which was common before electronic communication made delivery of barrel price data instantaneous. It’s not just about big versus small business. Large companies with no stake in overnight revolutions may not be able to move assets quick enough because of obligations or because they’re too stuck on their current goals. Small companies can suddenly develop or produce new concepts faster than many businesses on the market. It’s not about you versus the tech company with the newest toys. That company and small companies like yours will exceed others who can’t act now.

Freeing Up Labor for Greater Projects

Many countries use labor as a way to keep their population occupied and producing for the good of the nation. In a not completely incorrect theory, a country that doesn’t have a reason to work can fall into stagnation and eventually failure. Today, automation can free up labor to simply work on something else. Some workers can be retrained, and others can become innovators or creators in their own right. Some can even retire. Depending on what country you come from, you may be wondering where these individuals would get the money to live such an innovative, relaxing life. Think about the companies with the highest revenues versus the richest countries in the world. Revenue isn’t the whole story, but the funding is there. Society is not, and rather than arguing about what won’t work with knee-jerk responses, it’s time for society to discuss what would be possible if certain jobs weren’t necessary. Or, if you’re afraid of Terminator’s Skynet future, it’s smarter to start studying now to fight later than being unprepared. Whether you’re embracing automation or trying to avoid a robot uprising, the time to ask questions is today. To answer those questions with more depth than movie plots, an automation and machine learning expert can provide more information about the best resources for the future.

Are Lithium Batteries Still Blowing Up?

Lithium batteries have been making the news for the past few decades due to reports of fires, explosions, and injuries caused by malfunctioning devices. What makes electrical fires much more likely to make the headlines is because they are much harder to control than a traditional fire and their effects may be more devastating. Even so, relatively few tech devices have actually been affected by these concerns, and most people continue to use lithium batteries safely and frequently.

Background

All devices that contain lithium batteries have the potential to explode. Newer devices tend to heat up faster than older devices, however. The trend in lithium batteries has been heading toward cheaper, faster, smaller, thinner and lighter. However, the charge capacity of the batteries is trending upwards, leading to a greater explosive potential. Incidents in recent years have included lithium battery explosions from Tesla electric cars, hoverboards, e-bikes, e-cigarettes, notebook computers, and mobile phones. Injuries involving e-cigarettes have been reported by teens as young as 17.

Lithium Battery Headlines

When lithium battery fires brought down a UPS cargo flight, government and industry leaders began their campaign to regulate and educate the public about the risk of exploding lithium batteries. Unlike a traditional fire, electrical fires are more difficult to contain, and they can burn up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. Electrical fires can cause a lot of damage due to burning metal parts being flung through the air.

What Should You Do in the Case of an Explosion?

Although the number of incidents caused by lithium fires is still relatively low, consumers own more devices using these batteries. An average person owns at least six rechargeable devices at a time. Consumers are advised to avoid keeping devices in hot temperature, to avoid using generic chargers and replacement batteries, and to avoid overcharging devices. If your phone or device does explode, there are some safety precautions to keep in mind. Never use water to extinguish a battery fire. Water, when in contact with lithium, can cause the release of hydrogen and will make the incident worse. The best way to put out lithium battery fires is to use a Class B fire extinguisher which suppresses flammable liquid, the electrolyte solvent inside all lithium batteries.

Lithium batteries are everywhere. Their ease of use in a variety of common devices means that every household is expected to contain more lithium batteries than ever before. It’s helpful to stay aware of the news to make sure your favorite devices are as safe as possible.

3 Industries That Benefit from Simulation Technology

It is no secret that there is an exponential rise in the number of industries that are implementing simulation training. There are dozens of benefits that simulation can bring to each industry. It allows individuals to train without actually having to jump into the fire head-on. It allows for a more relaxed education module for your employees or students. Let’s take a look at some of the industries that are benefiting the most from simulation technology.

Healthcare

Doctors are constantly faced with new challenges on a daily basis. They may end up finding themselves in situations that they have never experienced before. This can be a risk that textbooks can’t train you for. Fortunately, continuing education in the healthcare industry is an ongoing endeavor that helps many medical professionals hone their skills. VR simulation can help surgeons and other medical staff handle high-intensity situations from the comfort of a computer.

Transportation

Driving simulator technology allows drivers to practice their skills and develop new ones in a realistic yet safe, controllable setting. This simulation education has given many amateur drivers useful training before they hit the open road. Truck drivers have been using simulation education recently and it has allowed them to take note of unforeseen incidents on the road.

Law Enforcement

There are an incredible amount of uncontrolled variables in the world. Danger waits around every corner in every major city. However, these dangers can be difficult to detect sometimes. An untrained police officer will find themselves helpless to remedy a critical situation without proper education. Police officers are constantly training themselves to be aware of new tactics that criminals are implementing each day. However, it is almost impossible to predict every scenario out there. Fortunately, simulation technology is now being used by law enforcement individuals to help them approach dangerous situations.

Technology continues to improve our way of life. It helps us expand our understanding of the world around us and helps us hone our skills. Fortunately, simulation technology is here to stay. It has provided dozens of industries with the educational resources necessary to help improve productivity and skillsets. Employees can benefit from a training session in virtual reality rather than having to handle a critical situation in person. Simulation technology is also slowly becoming more affordable. This means that we will be seeing more of this practical innovation in other industries in the future.

New Research by University of York shows everyday technology helps people feel less lonely

This article was written by one of our contributing authors. You can learn more about them below.

In June 2019, the UK’s oldest loneliness charity, WaveLength, released their new report with the University of York. Their report, ‘Everyday technology fighting loneliness’ shows that people felt less lonely after receiving a radio, television, or tablet. People also rated their health more positively after using their new piece of technology. The charity collected information from over 180 people, who were on average 44 years old, over a period of 2 years. Over 50% had been homeless and experienced poor mental health.

 

Commentary on the relationship between technology and loneliness can often be negative in tone, despite there being little rigorous academic research. WaveLength’s report shows how technology can positively impact those who are lonely, which can be especially true for people who are in a bad financial situation and experience poor physical and mental health. Everyday technology which many of us take for granted can reduce people’s loneliness levels and leave a lasting impact on their lives.

WaveLength is celebrating its 80th Birthday this year. Alongside supporting on an individual basis, the charity works with organisations including women’s refuges, homeless hostels, day-care centres, hospital wards, and care homes. In 2018 alone, 12,700 people benefited from the charity’s work.

Clare, who is living in Kilburn, recently received a television from WaveLength after she left prison. Experiencing several health issues and disabilities means that she is now often housebound. Commenting on the difference her television has made, she explained:

“I have found the TV to be invaluable as it is a real companion to me when I am bedbound and stops me from feeling lonely. I really enjoy tuning into my favourite programmes for entertainment and learning. The TV has made such a positive difference to my life.”

 

Alongside processing individual applications, the charity also gives technology to organisations. One initiative WaveLength has helped is the Home for Good Club, run by the homeless charity, The Passage. The club helps previously-homeless people transition to independent living. Using tablets given by WaveLength during the club, one client reflected:

“When I first came to the Home for Good Club, I was living like a hermit. I hardly spoke to anyone. Conor gave me a tablet to use and this gave me access back to the “real world” and the opportunity to talk to, and make, friends. Without the tablet I would probably still be suffering from severe depression.”

WaveLength’s report calls for more attention to be given to the benefits everyday technology can bring to some of the loneliest people. Not everyone can afford to buy the everyday technology which many of us take for granted. It is just as important for funding to cover the purchase of equipment, alongside training. The report calls for free access to a minimum standard of broadband in order to connect greater numbers of people via smart televisions and tablet computers as well.

To read the report, and to learn more about WaveLength, visit https://wavelength.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/WaveLength-Everyday-technology-fighting-loneliness.pdf

 

Is the Breathalyzer Test Behind the Times?

If you make the decision to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle after you have been drinking, you run the risk of getting pulled over by law enforcement. If an officer believes that your ability to drive is impaired, you may be asked to complete a breathalyzer test. This test is simply done by blowing into a small machine that an officer carries with him or her in the patrol car. This technology will report what your blood alcohol content is. If the amount is over the legal limit, you may be arrested. Let’s take a closer look at what breathalyzer tests are and if they are really as great as they are made out to be.

Breathalyzer Tests and Their Use

The breathalyzer device is used to estimate what the blood alcohol content is in somebody’s system. The term “breathalyzer” is actually a brand name. After years of use, this is now what people use to refer to the device itself. These tests are used during routine traffic stops when pulling someone over. The results are not always perfect, but courts will use this information as evidence in a legal case. This test measures the amount of ethanol in a person’s breath to get an idea of how much alcohol has been consumed. If being used in a court of law, the equipment must have been used by an officer who is certified and trained on that piece of equipment.

Behind the Times

While this might seem like a very advanced piece of technology, “It is a machine designed in the early 1980s utilizing technology designed in the 1970s. There are often errors with individual breath test machines that you, the suspect, are unaware of at the time of the test,” according to the Law Office of Eric Harron. While the unit itself has changed over the years, police officers are still using the same concept of technology. The outcome isn’t always as accurate as it should be. With the advancements in technology in recent years, there probably should be something newly designed that will be more accurate and admissible in a court of law. This will be much more trustworthy as part of a defense. 

Impact of Criminal Proceedings

As the most commonly used test to determine what a person’s blood alcohol content is, the breathalyzer should be more accurate than it is. A blood test is far more accurate, but it cannot be processed on the spot. A court of law will allow this evidence to be used against a driver if it is determined that the test was administered correctly by the police officer involved. However, according to Alcohol Problems and Solutions, studies have shown that these readings can actually vary as much as 15 percent from the actual amount of alcohol in a person’s blood.

With information available to explain the inaccuracies of a breathalyzer test, it seems as though better technology and a new discovery should be developed. This would provide the court of law with more accurate information that can be used for DUI cases across the country.

Explore more articles to discover the newest developments and learn about the technologies that are revolutionizing justice in the US.

How Tech is Making Our Homes Smarter and Safer

Thanks to all the great technological advancements of the last several years, the home safety market has expanded to offer many advanced innovations to homeowners.

There are products available to help homeowners monitor their property and detect thieves in ways that were previously unavailable. Other products are designed to prevent accidents in the home and to put out immediate alerts when the unthinkable happens. Advanced home safety products and equipment are better than ever before.

With the use of the following innovations, you can better protect your family and home.

Electrical Safety

Arc flash incidents can happen at any time. Electrical arc flashes burn at nearly 35,000 degrees, which is hotter than the sun’s surface. Fortunately, through the use of technology, there are ways to instantly detect this serious threat.

Through the use of arc fault detection devices (AFDDs), you can specifically protect your home from arc flashes and faults. When dangerous electric arcs are detected, they automatically trip the circuit.

Easy to install along with other protective equipment in electrical panels, AFDDs are small, modular devices. Installed on the electrical circuits at greatest risk, the device protects your household’s electrical system and instantly detects dangerous arcs.

Home Monitoring

One of the more popular home safety measures, remote home monitoring involves security systems that allow you to see the inside and outside of your home wherever you area. You can ensure the safety of children who get home from school before you get home from work or the activity of a family pet.

In cases of burglary, you’re sent instant notifications regarding the activity via an app on your smartphone. Once logged into the system, you can view your home from any installed monitoring camera. Along with the cameras are sensors installed at windows and more that can alert you to out-of-the-ordinary activity and help detect break-ins quickly.

Smart Doorbells

A newer technology that’s proven very effective in combating burglary and theft, smart doorbells help you keep an eye on visitors and potential thieves. They can also help protect against the theft of parcels left at your door by the postal service or other carriers.

Giving you a clear image from your front door, the camera has integrated motion detectors. You can access your camera from your smartphone through a connected app. When someone comes to your door, you’re notified which is a great convenience when you have to be away from home for errands, work, or vacations.

LED Home Lighting

Another great security feature for when you have to be away from home, only this one can give the impression that you’re actually there. Through the use of a remote access system, you can select LED lighting to turn on throughout your home when you can’t be there but don’t want others to know that.

These systems are also very helpful if you have elderly family members with mobility challenges. Using a device connected to the system, they can turn lights on and off easily without having to get out of their chair.

If you’re looking for ways to protect your family and your home, there are many great products and services available. There are many great companies available to help you implement these systems and guide you each step of the way.

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Businesses Can Now Text Their Customers — Is Your Personal Data Still Safe?

Your phone lights up with a new text message alert. It’s from a company you’ve bought a product from recently, announcing that they have a deal they wanted to share with you. You think how this happened and realize you had given them your cell phone number, but know you’re concerned about what this means for your personal data. This is what you need to know in this age of businesses texting their customers.

Why is Giving Out Your Phone Number Risky?

Never forget that your phone number belongs to you. So many businesses and other entities have your phone number, and while some, like your employer or doctor’s office, should have them, others most certainly should not. If you give your phone number out to a business like a large retailer, you might be unwittingly agreeing to let them share it with all sorts of other, tangibly-related businesses who are now able to interact with you or study certain things about you. Market research executives crave to get this kind of information so they can influence shoppers. Take a stand by asserting that you only need to give it to people and businesses who actually need it.

Data Security Laws

The good news is that, even if you do give out your phone number to a business, they’re under obligation to not do anything unscrupulous with your data. Group texting companies are legally required to secure customers’ personal information. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be vigilant about what’s going on with your data. If you have evidence or suspicion that a business has shared your data without the proper authority, you need to call them out on it and warn others.

How to Keep Your Data Safe

Knowing personal data risks doesn’t mean you should swear off technology. It just means that you need to be more mindful of how you use your data. You should have strong passwords, encrypted data, and be running virus protection. Change your passwords regularly and don’t open any suspicious emails. It might seem like a lot to keep track of at first, but you’ll get so used to it that it’ll be harder to not stay alert.

While businesses might be able to text their customers, that doesn’t mean customers can’t have a say in who sees their personal information or if they want to continue being texted. The technological revolution has made communication faster than ever, but that doesn’t mean it should impair our ability to feel like we can use the internet and smartphones without feeling like others are spying on us.

Loved this article? Keep reading:

How VR is Changing Security Monitoring

Immersive technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are touching lives in gaming and live entertainment, among many other areas. The security industry is reaping the benefits of this technology, too. Security monitoring is one area recently that has made tremendous progress. While most of the AR/VR technologies in this area are novel, their application is gaining traction very fast. Here are four ways virtual reality is improving security monitoring.

Security surveillance

Security experts agree that staying ahead of potential threats is the only true way of preventing them. Without elaborate surveillance systems of all threats, virtual and real, you cannot be safe. Using VR to model the security threats and situations can help bust technical faults and vulnerabilities that the bad guys can use.

Also, security is not just about bad guys; it is also about the hazards and risks inherent in a system. Virtual reality in construction, manufacturing, and other workplaces that are prone to hazards is proving to be a game changer.

In manufacturing, planning the factory layout requires time, careful planning, research of the equipment that will be placed, only to discover that that one piece of equipment next to the walkway has a heating coil that would be exposed to the employees, creating a safety hazard; but, you didn’t realize that until after you’ve installed everything else. So now, you have to remove everything and go back to planning. Being able to quickly explore the different safety concerns in real-time, without having to install physical objects first but still getting the benefits of testing as though it was there, will help prevent future accidents, reduce the labor cost installing and uninstalling equipment, increase production speed.

If you’ve ever worked in construction, than you know that there is a big difference between what the architect and engineers had planned, and what the landscape will actually let you do. Commonly used 2D images and maps do not project the exact picture on the ground. You may get the topographical map of an area, but it may not give you the true treacherous nature of the area in question. Virtual reality can offer you the third dimension that will tell you exactly what you are likely to find on the ground.

Accuracy in protection is a matter of life and death, and VR is making it possible for security officers to make the right call based on accurate information.

Source: ProVigil

Real-time simulation

Virtual 3D renderings are becoming a common phenomenon in most industries. For example, manufacturers, medical practitioners, architects, artists, and many other people can now simulate the reality on the ground. Customers can now take virtual tours of buildings, planes, theater rooms, and studios courtesy of virtual reality. The most common are 3D renderings of property, especially in new real estate developments.

The prospective power of AR/VR becomes even greater when it is used in conjunction with AI. Security companies will soon be able to have a real-time display of potential risks and threats. Using complex, predictive neural networks to highlight suspected criminal intent, agencies like law enforcement, airport security, or even event security will be able to quickly act upon security threats, instead of react upon them.

Source: GCN
Virtual reality is quickly growing beyond the world of entertainment. Security, education, farming, and health care are just a few places that we are currently using AR/VR, only because we have yet to try it in other fields. Like most technology, the idea that it was created for is quickly surpassed by the ideas of where it can be used, once the awesome might of the human imagination is set upon it.