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August 08, 2013

3 Weird New Apps

For Hard-Core Bieber Fans:

If you've ever wanted to wake up with Justin Bieber, this new app might be for you. This alarm app allows the user to select a Bieber song from their existing library to play as a wake-up alarm. The user is then prompted to tweet about his or her dream with the twitter hashtag #unlockthedream. The app is a marketing vehicle for Bieber's new fragrance, "The Key." The sultry television commercial promoting the new fragrance also promotes the #unlockthedream hastag. To get this free app, go to Google Play and type something like, "The Key Bieber."

For The VERY Easily Amused:

Are you a sucker for dumb cell phone games? Does your phone have Gorilla Glass? Yeah? Then this app might be for you.

The Send Me To Heaven app, by Norwegian developer CarrotPop, is basically a game to see how high into the air you can throw your phone. The app is based on a fact that you've probably never even wondered about - that most phones have an accelerometer in them. When you toss your phone into the air, the SMTH app measure the time in which your phone is in free fall. You get points for your tosses.

This app has so far become ridiculously popular, with competitions taking place and some folks inventing special slingshots to send their phones rocketing into the air. The app is available free for Android on Google Play, where the developers make a disclaimer that they are not responsible for damages to users' phones. They also ask that users are careful not to injure others. While there is no number currently available suggesting how many users have broken phones playing SMTH so far, it will be interesting to see how many broken phones will be attributed to the app in the near future. There is no SMTH app for iPhone because Apple does not endorse apps that will, in all likelihood, cause irreparable damage to the device.

For REALLY Hungry People:

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June 22, 2013

"Hands-Free" May Not Equal Risk-Free

Motorists have been warned in recent years, through legislation, public service announcements and ads, that talking on the phone or texting - things that take at least one hand off of the wheel while simultaneously distracting the eyes and mind- are dangerous and to be avoided while driving. In response to these concerns, some automakers have come out with "hands-free" systems that allow users to access GPS, place calls, text, and more, using only voice controls.

While hands-free systems have been heavily marketed as being safe for drivers, recent studies suggest that mental distraction caused by trying to accurately communicate to your dashboard can be almost or equally as dangerous as taking a hand off the wheel and looking at your cell phone.


Voice-dictating a text message to the dashboard can result in a dangerous state for the driver, called inattention blindness (casually referred to by law enforcement officials as "looking but not seeing.") The driver will be looking straight ahead at the road, but is thinking about the words that he or she is conveying, rather than what is happening on the road in front of his or her car.

Continue reading ""Hands-Free" May Not Equal Risk-Free" »

June 14, 2013

New Phone Battery Technology

Smart phones have a lot to offer that older model cell phones might not - apps that are fun or practical, internet at your fingertips, and more. However, older models can often boast better battery life because less power is needed to simply text and make phone calls. In fact, too-short battery life is one of the main problems reported by smart phone users. While battery technology has not evolved as quickly as one might like, there are a couple of companies who are trying to find a solution.

Solar Screen Batteries:


French startup SunPower Group is developing an attachable smart-phone screen that can extend the life of smartphone batteries up to 20% by harnessing solar power. The screen includes a layer of solar cells underneath a layer of specially designed lenses. The overlay is now about 82% transparent, and the company is aiming for 90% transparency in the future.

This design is considered an improvement over older versions of the solar phone, namely Samsung's Crest Solar model which was released in India in 2009. An hour of sunlight would allow this model 5-10 minutes of talk time. The phone's Achille's heel may have been that the solar cells were on the back of the phone - forcing users to keep their phone face-down (and preventing them from looking at their screen), for hours at a time. With the solar cells positioned over the screen, the user won't encounter this problem.

This new technology should also be relatively inexpensive for consumers.

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May 31, 2013

FCC Hasn't Set Cell Phone Radiation Standards Since 1996

After years of urging by the Environmental Working Group and others, the FCC very recently announced their plan to review cell phone radiation standards, which have not been revised since 1996. The revision will involve the FCC reaching out to health professionals and other agencies for current data on how radiation from cell phones affects the human body.

fcc logo.jpg

Every cell phone has a specific absorption rate (SAR) that refers to the amount of radio frequency energy that the body absorbs when a person is using the handset. The current limit in the United States is set at a maximum SAR level of 1.6 watts per kilogram. Different phones have different SAR values, and those rates can be affected by factors like transmission band and phone model.

Different bodies may absorb radio frequency energy at different rates as well, with children being especially susceptible due to their thinner skulls and still-developing bodies. Most available SAR research has been done on voice calls rather than data usage.

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May 20, 2013

Google Glass: Wear The Internet On Your Face

Recently spoofed on Saturday Night Live, and the object of many a Tumbler page, the new Google Glass is thought of by some to be the first step in what will become a movement toward wearable technology.


What Is It?
Google glass looks kind of like a set of chemistry goggles without the lenses. A device positioned on one side allows the wearer to see what is supposed to be a subtle screen. The wearer can talk to Glass, asking it to take a picture or a video, or can see directions or information on the screen. These actions can also be done manually by touching the top or the side of the Glass device. Currently, Glass is only available as a prototype. Anyone who is interested in testing it must submit an application at Google Glass's start page

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