Go Go Gadget: Wearable Tech!

 

God I loved that cartoon when I was growing up (not the crummy live action movie adaptation…). I still quote “go go gadget arm” from time to time at work when I am reaching for something that is just slightly out of reach. Nerd. Yes, indeed. Then again, this is 2013 is it not?! So why do we not have those amazing gadgets that Inspector Gadget so often flaunted?! Government secrets I’m sure. Unfortunately it may still be some time yet before we are all cyborgs, but in the mean time we do have some exciting gadgets and wearable tech to play with!

Misfit Shine and Hot Watch are both wearable tech that blend new age technology with a sense of style! But of course, I am getting ahead of myself, they aren’t as impressive as a hand that reaches out of a detective hat. They do however each have their own purpose and are definitely pieces of technology that should not be overlooked.

Related Article: Robotic Sense and Feel

The Misfit Shine is a little metal UFO looking coin, that, much like a UFO, lights up in response to touch. This little wonder is not equipped with a touch screen of any sort, but it is a pedometer that is able to track your fitness throughout the day. This stylish coin is waterproof so you can even take it with you on your morning swim or your afternoon bike ride where you are likely to sweat all over everything in your pockets.

Equipped with a touch response, the Misfit Shine may be a bit complicated with a unique way of showing time of day, although it does sport a sleek and stylish look. In fact, the best part about this little tracker is that it resembles jewelry! For all you style fashionistas, think fitness, health, with a twist of chic. Misfit Shine comes with a armband that it fits into snugly, resembling a watch, or a small strap that has a magnet attached to the end of it, acting as a clip-on. But for everyone else, just pop it into your pocket and set out on your athletic adventure. Pricing for Misfit Shine is just under 100$. Make sure you have an iOS device such as an iPhone or Apple computer, as Misfit Shine is currently only compatible with iOS. Compatibility with Android and other operating systems is expected sometime next year.

Related Article: Biggest Wastes Of Money That We Continue To Pay For!

Now the next one I am really excited about. The Hot Watch is the closest to a James Bond watch accessory that I have seen thus far. It resembles a watch with a LCD touch screen that may just be too small for my fingers. The screen isn’t exactly meant for texting or reading blogs, rather it provides you with updates of your Facebook and other social media outlets. Swipes and patterns bring up different menus that access your updates and alerts from emails and such.

The coolest thing about this Hot Watch is that it can be used as a substitute for a hands free Bluetooth headset. By cupping your hand around your ear the watch receives the calls and runs the speaker up your hand to your ear for private calls. A simple “good bye” wave hangs up the phone. Cool. The watch connects directly to your cell phone via Android or iOS apps and even alerts you when you are too far from your smart phone, reminding you that you are most likely losing it or forgetting it. Stylish and Smart. Bingo. Pricing starts at $169 for the Hot Watch and it will be released in December 2013.

Related Article: Facebook: Glorifying and Depressing

Technology tickles my fancy, especially with the prospect for newer and more innovative pieces that may be released because of current tech that is being developed. Now I won’t lie, during the construction of this whole article I was either humming or singing the Inspector Gadget song. I may just have to watch a couple episodes on YouTube now. GO. Gadget. GO!

Cheers to nostalgia!

Research:

CNET: Sleek Hot Watch Makes Hands-Free Calls With Style

CNET: Fitness Tracker As Futuristic Jewelry 

Wondergressive: Robotic Sense and Feel

Wondergressive: Biggest Wastes Of Money That We All Continue To Pay For: Part 1

Wondergressive: Facebook: Glorifying and Depressing

Failure of Central Planning and the Venezuelan Toilet Paper Shortage

Venezuelan officials continue to undermine individual freedom by further demonstrating the deleterious effects of economic central planning. The nation is experiencing shortages of dozens of staple items including rice, milk, butter and toilet paper. These shortages have been exacerbated by a new pilot program designed to limit the amount of goods each person can purchase. However, innovation and decentralization have provided a way for savvy shoppers to once again beat the government’s vain attempts to control the market.

In an attempt to curb the crisis, the western state of Zulia is embarking on a digital endeavor that will track the goods individuals purchase and will block them from buying staple products from different stores on the same day. Blagdimir Labrador, a state official, explains:

Considering the average size of a family, one person should only buy 20 staple products during the period that we establish, which we think will be one week.

The initiative’s pilot will be run in 65 supermarkets in Maracaibo, the capital of Zulia.

Related Article: Public School Failure in America

The shortages were in part caused by price controls set into law during the Hugo Chavez administration, which keep goods like rice and flour below their market price. Steve Hanke, an economist at Johns Hopkins University, describes the flawed policy:

State-controlled prices – prices that are set below market-clearing price – always result in shortages. The shortage problem will only get worse, as it did over the years in the Soviet Union.

Although the intention of these policies was to ensure that the poor would have access to these necessities, their actual (and predictable) effect has been to dramatically reduce the supply of staple items.

Recognizing the shortage, many people are stocking up on supplies and some are reselling them at greatly inflated prices to needy Venezuelans. Zulia borders Colombia, where prices are several times the subsidized costs in Venezuela, and there has also been an increase in trade across the border.

Related Article: Income Inequality in America: Red Herrings and Wealth Envy

The result of this market mangling is an eminently foreseeable feedback loop: Economic controls and central planning distort the actual prices of staple products. This imbalance between cost and actual value leads to shortages which create incentives for people to hoard goods. This further diminishes supply, and by rationing the remaining goods the government further induces people to stockpile and the shortage is exacerbated.

In short, the Venezuelan government dug itself into an economic hole and is trying to dig its way out.

The national shortage of toilet paper has struck a nerve with many Venezuelans. In order to quell their frustration, the government says that it is going to import an additional 50 million rolls along with 760,000 tons of food.

Related Article: Bitcoin’s Rise and the Cyprus Bailout

Amazingly, Commerce Minister Alejandro Fleming blamed the shortage of staple goods on “excessive demand.” To a dyed-in-the-wool statist, the inherent friction involved in managing a society is always to be blamed on the proletariat, never on the Top Men attempting to organize the nation.

However, people are already ingeniously subverting the statists’ attempts to model society. On May 29 Jose Augusto Montiel launched an app called Abasteceme, which translates to “Supply Me,” which helps people get around government-caused scarcity. The app utilizes crowd-sourcing technology that alerts users to supermarkets that still have desired goods in stock. According to Montiel, toilet paper and flour are the items most sought after by shoppers. When users find a store that has these items on the shelves, they flock to the market and whip out their checkbooks. More than 12,000 people have already downloaded Abasteceme, mostly in Caracas, but its popularity is spreading.

The economic problems in Venezuela are intrinsic to the state-controlled political legacy Chavez helped create. Venezuela ranks 174th out of 177 in the 2013 Heritage Foundation report on economic freedom, nestled neatly between Eritrea and Zimbabwe. Chavez’ authoritarianism echoes elsewhere in Venezuelan society, as Chavez repeatedly attacked and censored the media for criticizing his regime and held human rights in disregard.

Related Article: The Senate is Useless and Should be Dismantled

Central planners believe in Top Men who have the knowledge and ability to maximize the productivity of a country and its people. They fail, however, to have the humility to realize that this is an absurd task for any leader or politburo, as it’s inherently impossible for a group of few to effectively run a nation of many. History has borne this out repeatedly and this further elucidates the mindset of Top Men. Every problem or inefficiency can be blamed on the Little People who audaciously have an “excessive demand” for anything, be it toilet paper, a free press or even liberty itself. For them, the problem isn’t that their political and economic ideology is fundamentally flawed, logically destined to devolve into the same illiberal hell that every socialist government has thus descended.

It’s that the proletariat didn’t comply or simply that the “right” Top Men weren’t in charge.

Modern technology has made controlling human activity gloriously challenging. This is a decided advantage of living in the 21st century, where people can wirelessly transmit knowledge and innovate myriad wrenches to throw into the machinery of tyranny. However, to statists this development makes their ultimate goals more difficult to achieve. To them it is something to be stymied and snuffed out, perhaps most dramatically seen during the 2011 uprising in Egypt when the Mubarak regime literally turned off the Internet to make it more difficult for the protesters to organize.

This authoritarian impulse can also be seen in America, as news of secret NSA surveillance has been leaked. Also reminiscent of Chavez’ regime, the Associated Press was specifically targeted and the phone records for 20 reporters were seized by the Department of Justice.

The statist playbook is outdated; their only remaining tool is the administration of further force onto an increasingly unwilling populace. This gambit continues to work in many regimes around the world, but its expiration date is nearing. People have begun to realize that the decentralization of power and the abandonment of Top Men leads to freedom and peace.

By innovating to strip Top Men of their iron authority, the Little People—too numerous and evasive to be stomped out—can hopefully reject unwanted and unwarranted authority in illiberal governments around the world.

Sic semper tyrannis.

 

Related Article: Gossip Through the PRISM: NSA Shenanigans

 

Sources:

http://news.yahoo.com/venezuelan-state-considers-system-limit-food-purchases-160925448.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/venezuela/10112604/Venezuelans-use-smartphone-app-to-find-toilet-paper.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/venezuela/10062640/Venezuela-running-out-of-toilet-paper.html

http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking

http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/03/05/venezuela-chavez-s-authoritarian-legacy

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/01/egypt-isp-shutdown/

wondergressive.com/2013/06/11/prism/

The Draw of Cell Phones

everydaymomideas.com

everydaymomideas.com

Bzzzt! Bzzt! Did I just receive a text? Am I getting a call? Email? Facebook notification? Oh wait, I guess it was just my imagination. Or was it…

The other day I left my cell phone at home and worked a 12 hour shift only to find myself completely bored out of my mind during the slow periods. Nobody to text, no news to read, no status updates to follow/comment/post on facebook, but worst of all no Wondergressive articles to browse through! Oh the humanity!

In this day and age a cell phone deprived person seems to be at a great disadvantage. A prime example of this happened last week. My girlfriend forgot her cell phone at home and her house keys in my car while she was out running some errands.That got me thinking. Without a cell phone she could easily have gotten hurt or lost or needed assistance and there would have been no way of me reaching her. Needless to say, she showed up where I was and got her keys, but I was still left with the thought of how important and intertwined our lives have become with cell phones.

inthebestofhealth.wordpress.com

inthebestofhealth.wordpress.com

For those of us suffering from nomophobia, and for those that are in denial, let me ask you: could you really part with your digital friend? Think of all of your daily routines, think of all of your leisure time and what you spend doing during that time, think about what you do while driving or while you are stuck in traffic, and finally, think of how you reach your friends/family/lovers/doctors/Wondergressive authors etc. If you can honestly avoid using your cell phone for any of these activities then congratulations! You may not be a zombie like the rest of us. Yet. A preliminary study on cell phone addiction by Baylor University yields that:

mobile phones are conspicuous artifacts of acquisition and sometimes are viewed as extensions of the self.

 

How deep is THAT?! Cell phones as a part of ourselves! Or is it the other way around… In the same way that some would argue that people suffer from hoarding items because they project emotions, experiences, and self onto the items they are keeping, cell phones are now becoming an integral part of our body and mind! In a way, my cell phone is my best friend: it always listens and does what I want it to do, well most of the time at least, so it is no wonder that I feel lost if I am without it. Not too long now, and the singularity will be nigh upon us, at which point I wonder if we will greet it with open arms?

The study goes on to say that

Much in the same way as consumers who use materialistic pursuits to cope with stress, anxiety, and feelings of low self-worth, cell phone and other technological addictions are likely similar attempts to cope with the exigencies of life and self esteem struggles.

A lot of people resort to cell phone sexting instead of real human interaction and that may be partially caused by stress and low self worth. Digitally displaying something is easier than having to deal with real life encounters and embarrassment.  I think, at least, that its easier to get rejected digitally than it is in person.

Lets re-rail this focus train and stop with all the sexting talk for a second. Speaking of re-railing thoughts, Multi tasking while using your cell phone has almost become impossible not to do. Just think of all those recipes you looked up on your smartphone while cooking or those soundtracks you listened to while working on something. One would think headlines like “Brain and Spinal tumors caused by cell phones” would put a stop to our obsessions but then again why do we continue to smoke, and not the good kind, when we know it is killing us?

I am as guilty as the rest of you, however this is my conscious effort at lessening my cell phone dependency. Here are a couple of tips to help with our digital addictions, but the most important thing to remember is to be as involved with other humans as we are with our electronic devices. Remember, when your battery dies, it is comforting to know that the person next to you will keep you not only interested, but also as warm as your cell phone does when it overheats in your hands from overuse. And for those of us that prefer to live in denial, check out this awesome tablet/phone concept designers are working on! Cheers!

 

Research:

Baylor University Preliminary Cell Phone Study

Nomophobia – Wikipedia

Tips to Overcoming Digital Addiction

Wondergressive – Cannabis Cures Cancer

Wondergressive – Singularity is Nigh Upon Us

Wondergressive – TVs, Brains, and Zombies

Wondergressive – Sexting

Wondergressive – From Multi to Mono

Wondergressive – Cellphones Cause Tumors

Wondergressive – Lumpy Tablets

Robotic Sense and Feel

As you may have already noticed, us writers of Wondergressive are obsessed with robots, and when new news of robotic improvements surface, you better believe that we are reading about those new developments with both vigor and ecstasy. Most of the time.

Anyway, there was early talk of a bionic hand that can feel and transmit the sense of touch to the user. It is being developed later this year so it seems the technology is finally surfacing! Amazingly, the bionic hand is getting an additional upgrade: it will soon be able to dig in your pocket (get your mind out of the gutter) to find the right amount of change needed for the toll booth you are sitting at. Soon, very soon.

Researchers of the Healthcare Robotics Lab at Georgia Institute of Technology have created and successfully used a robotic arm which identifies items based on how each object feels. This new robot can maneuver around an area to reach a certain goal; even when lightly coming in contact with structures or objects the robot simply redirects its movement to get to the goal. The idea is to allow the robot to move without too much force when coming in contact with humans at a workplace, or when searching for an item that is out of the robot’s viewpoint. In this way, the robot does not have to be completely careful and can still gently come in contact with objects. Without damaging anything, it can then continue its work by redirecting its movements.

With this new robotic arm, robots could potentially be used to assist the elderly and handicapped in daily routines. Or what about those dangerous and sensitive rescue missions that need delicate care and specific precautions? Robots everywhere!

The best part? The researchers have made the robot’s “feel” skin as well as the robot’s software open source and readily available for all others working on and interested in robotics.

So why not move forward with this technology to better our lives? Why not find ways to better our AI counterparts? Why not become cyborgs that don’t feel emotion, are as strong as Metallo with evil intent, and (matrix spoiler) enslave our fellow human breatherin after a grueling war of humans and AI where the sun is blotted out in order to stop the machines from getting energy from the sun but it backfires and we humans lose the war only to become the machines’ new source of energy? Okay maybe not any of that cyborg spiel but instead the creation of a real bicentennial man.

As before and always thereafter, the singularity is nigh upon us!

 

 

Research:

Reaching in clutter with whole arm tactile sensing

Healthcare Robotics Lab at Georgia Tech

Wondergressive: Bionic Hand That Can Feel

Wondergressive: The Singularity is Nigh Upon Us

Wondergressive: Kid Allergic to Everything Attends School

Wondergressive: Cyborg Lobsters Power a Digital Watch

Wikipedia: Metallo

Bicentennial Man