September 2014

A group works on their alternative pump at the
A group works on their alternative pump at the “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck” hackathon at MIT.

  • 120 people participated in a “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck” hackathon at MIT
  • The engineers, designers and parents created new takes on the breast pump
  • The winner was a pump on a utility belt that could be worn under clothes

(CNN) — An eclectic group of engineers, designers, artists, parents and lactation consultants came together at MIT over the weekend to improve a necessary, unpopular device: the breast pump.

“They are loud, they are painful, they are very expensive, they can cause pain and tissue damage, and they are weird,” said Alexandra Metral, a research affiliate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and mother of three.

Together with a group of other MIT Media Lab researchers and students, Metral helped host a “Make The Breast Pump Not Suck” hackathon in Boston. The 120 participants broke into 18 teams. They tinkered with old pumps and materials, consulted with volunteer experts and low-income working moms and came up with prototypes for what they hope will be the next generation of breast pumps.

The winning team designed a pump for people who aren’t able to take breaks to pump breast milk. Pumping while working means stopping all activity and heading to a secluded room for half an hour, multiple times a day. That loss of productivity is bad for employers and employees, and it can be difficult to do with active jobs such as nursing. The Mighty Mom utility belt turned a pump into a hands-free portable device that is worn discreetly under clothes and can work while the wearer goes about her regular routine.

Many of the teams saw potential in wearable sensors and data. The PumpIO design used a smartphone and sensors to log data such as pumping times and amounts. A mother could share the information with her doctor, a lactation support consultant or a larger community of other pumping mothers to troubleshoot any issues.

A handful of teams focused on mimicking the natural feel of breastfeeding a baby instead of the vacuum technology used by current pumps. A hands-free compression bra used small bladders that fill up to massage and compress the breast, drawing the milk out. Another used technology similar to blood pressure cuffs. A soft baby sling with little ears on it doubles as a holder for a pump, mimicking the feel, look and weight of carrying a child.

The technology already exists to fix many of the biggest issues with breast pump technology, such as loud motors and bulky, weak batteries.

“There really is low-hanging fruit here,” said Metral.

To make the leap from cool idea to actual product, the hackathon teams need to attract funding or the interest of a major pump manufacturer. Luckily, the event drew executives from major maternal health companies, including Medela and Ameda. And the winning team gets to pitch its idea to Silicon Valley investors.

The group started as an idea for an art project: to make a wonderful breast pump that everyone wanted to wear. Then Catherine D’Ignazio, Metral and Alexis Hope realized the idea wasn’t so crazy after all. Spurred on by a piece in The New York Times’ Motherlode blog, they got a Hack the Breast Pump group together and decided to do something about it.

The first “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck” hackathon took place in May and included about 20 people. The response was huge. Over 1,000 people wrote in with their own problems, ideas and fixes on the group’s Facebook page. Some had specific issues, such as breast cancer survivors who wanted to breastfeed.

Parents also shared their own fixes and solutions. As it turns out, moms have been hacking their own pumps for ages. Some knit cozies to muffle the loud noise the pump makes, others have created custom flanges to fit their unique shapes.

Instead of just encouraging manufactures to improve their designs, the Hack the Breast Pump group is making some hacks publicly available. They’ll publish 3D files online so anyone with access to a 3D printer can print custom accessories and parts that work with existing pumps.




CNN.com – Technology

  • Twitter user Abdulkader Hariri in Raqqa is way ahead of the media as operation starts
  • “Huge explosions shook the city in what might be the beginning of US airstrikes” he tweeted

(CNN) — They were 31 characters read, and retweeted, around the world.

If any doubts lingered over Twitter’s capacity to break news first, the overnight raids launched by U.S. forces on Syria on Tuesday night offered another case study of what the microblogging site does best.

Well before the first media accounts of the attack on the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, Abdulkader Hariri, a Twitter user in the town, tweeted this:

“Breaking: Huge explosions shook the city in what might be the beginning of US airstrikes on ISIS HQs in Raqqa”

Hariri is believed to be the first person to report on the first strikes the United States carried out against ISIS inside Syria.

He posted his tweet shortly after 9 p.m. — almost 30 minutes before Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby announced the operation to the world.

“US military & partner nation forces have begun striking ISIL targets in Syria using mix of fighters, bombers and Tomahawk missiles.”

In this respect, Hariri’s tweet recalls the U.S. raid on Abbottabad in Pakistan in May 2011 in which Osama bin Laden was killed — and one Twitter user unknowingly reported details.

Some of the first public accounts of the military operation that killed the terrorist leader came in the form of tweets from Sohaib Athar, a 33-year-old IT consultant.

“Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event),” the tweet said.

CNN tried to reach Hariri early Wednesday morning, but was unsuccessful. In several subsequent posts, he live-tweeted the operation.




CNN.com – Technology

  • Why did ancient Mars change so dramatically? MAVEN sent to get answers
  • MAVEN stands for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft
  • It’s scheduled to enter orbit around the Red Planet on Sunday night
  • Mars will be having plenty of other visitors: a spacecraft from India and a comet

(CNN) — NASA says its latest Mars-exploring spacecraft is on track to fire up its thrusters and enter orbit this Sunday night, completing a 10-month journey of 442 million miles.

NASA’s MAVEN craft will live up to its formal name — the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft — by helping scientists figure out how ancient Mars changed so dramatically into the planet we know today.

It will be the first mission devoted to studying the upper Martian atmosphere as a key to understanding the history of Mars’ climate, water and habitability.

Mars rover reaches key destination; ‘new science ahead!’

“The evidence shows that the Mars atmosphere today is a cold, dry environment, one where liquid water really can’t exist in a stable state,” said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator, during a mission preview briefing Wednesday at NASA headquarters in Washington. “But it also tells us when we look at older surfaces, that the ancient surfaces had liquid water flowing over it.”

MAVEN to study Mars from above

A new NASA spacecraft called MAVEN, short for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, will help scientists figure out what happened to the red planet's atmosphere. It's elliptical orbit will allow it to pass through and sample the entire upper atmosphere of Mars. This drawing shows Maven orbiting Mars.A new NASA spacecraft called MAVEN, short for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, will help scientists figure out what happened to the red planet’s atmosphere. It’s elliptical orbit will allow it to pass through and sample the entire upper atmosphere of Mars. This drawing shows Maven orbiting Mars.
Is this ancient Mars? An artist shows how Mars might have looked billions of years ago. MAVEN will be the first mission devoted to exploring and understanding the Martian upper atmosphere. Scientists hope it will solve the mystery of the red planet's missing air and water.Is this ancient Mars? An artist shows how Mars might have looked billions of years ago. MAVEN will be the first mission devoted to exploring and understanding the Martian upper atmosphere. Scientists hope it will solve the mystery of the red planet’s missing air and water.
Engineers and technicians work on MAVEN at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. "After 10 years of working on this, I can't tell you how excited I am to see this finished spacecraft ready to go," said the mission's principal investigator, Bruce Jakosky. Engineers and technicians work on MAVEN at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “After 10 years of working on this, I can’t tell you how excited I am to see this finished spacecraft ready to go,” said the mission’s principal investigator, Bruce Jakosky.
Workers on November 2 get MAVEN ready to be placed inside the nosecone that will protect it during launch. NASA says the project will cost $  671 million.Workers on November 2 get MAVEN ready to be placed inside the nosecone that will protect it during launch. NASA says the project will cost $ 671 million.
A transporter moves MAVEN to the launchpad November 8. MAVEN is NASA's 10th Mars orbiter to be launched. Three didn't make it to orbit.A transporter moves MAVEN to the launchpad November 8. MAVEN is NASA’s 10th Mars orbiter to be launched. Three didn’t make it to orbit.
MAVEN is lifted on top of a rocket for launch. Three other active spacecrafts currently orbit Mars: Mars Odyssey (launched in 2001), Mars Express (launched by the European Space Agency in 2003), and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (launched in 2005).MAVEN is lifted on top of a rocket for launch. Three other active spacecrafts currently orbit Mars: Mars Odyssey (launched in 2001), Mars Express (launched by the European Space Agency in 2003), and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (launched in 2005).
Reporters and photographers wear protective gear as they get a look at the MAVEN spacecraft. Wingtip to wingtip, MAVEN is the same length of a school bus -- 37.5 feet.Reporters and photographers wear protective gear as they get a look at the MAVEN spacecraft. Wingtip to wingtip, MAVEN is the same length of a school bus — 37.5 feet.
An Atlas V rocket launches MAVEN into space November 18, 2013 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. An Atlas V rocket launches MAVEN into space November 18, 2013 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
Photos: Mars MAVEN missionPhotos: Mars MAVEN mission

NASA’s new unmanned spacecraft

NASA tests supersonic parachute for Mars

What’s it like to maneuver NASA’s Curiosity rover?

So where did the planet’s water and carbon dioxide go?

Jakosky said MAVEN will help unravel that mystery by using its scientific instruments to measure the composition and escape of gases in the Martian atmosphere.

MAVEN will study the top of the atmosphere to determine the extent to which losing gas to space might have been the driving mechanism behind climate change, Jakosky said.

Before MAVEN can begin its year of exploration, it has to be inserted into orbit around Mars. That is set to happen at about 10 p.m. ET September 21. The craft’s six thruster engines will fire and burn for 33 minutes to slow the spacecraft down so it can get pulled into orbit around Mars.

MAVEN will have company out near Mars, manmade and otherwise.

India’s first mission to the Red Planet, the Mars Orbiter Mission, is set to arrive a few days after MAVEN does. The director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, Jim Green, says the United States and India are interested in cooperating as their crafts gather data about the planet.

There’s a visitor of the cosmic kind, too.

Comet Sliding Spring, which was discovered last year, will be closest to Mars about four weeks after MAVEN arrives.

The comet is going to miss Mars by about 81,000 miles, said Jakosky.

“I’m told that the odds of having an approach that close to Mars are about one-in-a-million years,” he said, adding that dust from the comet carries only a “relatively minimal” risk to the spacecraft.

MAVEN will take advantage of the rare flyby by observing the comet itself, as well as its effect on the Martian atmosphere.

Interactive: Exploring Mars from Viking to MAVEN




CNN.com – Technology

The new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, coupled with Apple's new iOS 8 operating system, offer new possibilities for app developers. Here are six apps that are worth checking out.The new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, coupled with Apple’s new iOS 8 operating system, offer new possibilities for app developers. Here are six apps that are worth checking out.
While initally only for iPad, Vainglory, with its massively multiplayer gameplay designed specifically for touchscreens, will be a natural on the sizable iPhone 6 Plus when it rolls out. In fact, Apple used the forthcoming game to demo the iPhone 6's graphical capabilities at the rollout earlier this month. It will begin its rollout in October in southeast Asia, New Zealand and Australia and is expected to be available globally by December.While initally only for iPad, Vainglory, with its massively multiplayer gameplay designed specifically for touchscreens, will be a natural on the sizable iPhone 6 Plus when it rolls out. In fact, Apple used the forthcoming game to demo the iPhone 6’s graphical capabilities at the rollout earlier this month. It will begin its rollout in October in southeast Asia, New Zealand and Australia and is expected to be available globally by December.
The iPhone 6's 8-megapixel camera doesn't have the big numbers of some of its competitors, but it's getting high marks from early reviewers for new features like faster auto-focus and the ability to take high-resolution panorama shots. Snapseed is a great photo editing tool. It has all the fun Instagram-style features like funky filters and frames, but combines them with an extensive, easy-to-use set of tools for brightness, sharpness, cropping and other editing.The iPhone 6’s 8-megapixel camera doesn’t have the big numbers of some of its competitors, but it’s getting high marks from early reviewers for new features like faster auto-focus and the ability to take high-resolution panorama shots. Snapseed is a great photo editing tool. It has all the fun Instagram-style features like funky filters and frames, but combines them with an extensive, easy-to-use set of tools for brightness, sharpness, cropping and other editing.
OK, odds are you've already got the Kindle app for your phone and tablet book-reading. But Amazon has jumped on the iOS 8 bandwagon quickly with a list of new features. The Kindle Today widget lets you keep up to three books front-and-center for easy reading. They also added the ability to copy and paste text from books you're reading and a quick translation app.OK, odds are you’ve already got the Kindle app for your phone and tablet book-reading. But Amazon has jumped on the iOS 8 bandwagon quickly with a list of new features. The Kindle Today widget lets you keep up to three books front-and-center for easy reading. They also added the ability to copy and paste text from books you’re reading and a quick translation app.
For the first time, Apple is allowing apps that retool the keyboard on the iPhone, and there are several good ones to choose from. Among other customization tools, Swype is best known for letting users drag their finger from letter to letter to type instead of hunting and pecking, and it's been a big hit among Android users. Apps like Fleksy and Swiftkey also are worth a look -- all three are either free or offer free trial periods.For the first time, Apple is allowing apps that retool the keyboard on the iPhone, and there are several good ones to choose from. Among other customization tools, Swype is best known for letting users drag their finger from letter to letter to type instead of hunting and pecking, and it’s been a big hit among Android users. Apps like Fleksy and Swiftkey also are worth a look — all three are either free or offer free trial periods.
While you're waiting for Vainglory, you can get your gaming fix with the latest version of what's widely considered among the best mobile driving games around. Developers have already optimized "Asphalt 8" for iOS 8 (appropriately enough), taking advantage of the new phones' added graphics and processing power. It's mighty pretty and is going to look great on the bigger phones.While you’re waiting for Vainglory, you can get your gaming fix with the latest version of what’s widely considered among the best mobile driving games around. Developers have already optimized “Asphalt 8” for iOS 8 (appropriately enough), taking advantage of the new phones’ added graphics and processing power. It’s mighty pretty and is going to look great on the bigger phones.
It's getting harder and harder to keep up with all our passwords, not to mention to ignore news about big data breaches by hackers. 1Password tries to help by creating really tricky passwords for your various accounts, then letting you access them with one, presumably simpler one, via the app. It's already been updated for the new iOS 8 operating system, including integration with Apple's Touch ID fingerprint security. The basic version is also free now.It’s getting harder and harder to keep up with all our passwords, not to mention to ignore news about big data breaches by hackers. 1Password tries to help by creating really tricky passwords for your various accounts, then letting you access them with one, presumably simpler one, via the app. It’s already been updated for the new iOS 8 operating system, including integration with Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint security. The basic version is also free now.

  • iPhone 6 and 6 Plus go on sale Friday
  • Both offer iPhone users bigger screens and new features
  • Games taking advantage of screen size will include Vainglory, Asphalt 8

(CNN) — As millions of people get their hands on the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus on Friday, many will no doubt be looking for new apps that take advantage of the new phones’ capabilities.

Chief among them is a bigger screen. The iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch display, while the 6 Plus checks in at a whopping 5.5 inches.

But they’ll also have better graphics and faster processors, as well as features that give app developers freedoms they’ve never had before.

For the first time, Apple is letting developers create widgets, mini-programs that are often designed to be quick and easy to use. They can tinker with the iPhone’s keyboard for the first time as well, giving iOS users access to some apps that Android users have enjoyed for the past couple of years.

A slate of those keyboard tools are ready to go now. But the front-runners in categories from productivity tools to photography tools to games are also raring to go.

Here’s a look at some must-have apps for the new phones.

Are there other apps you’re excited about, or already enjoying? Let us know in the comments.




CNN.com – Technology

Apple CEO Tim Cook leaves the stage after introducing iOS 8 at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference in June.
Apple CEO Tim Cook leaves the stage after introducing iOS 8 at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

  • iOS 8, Apple’s new mobile operating system, rolls out Wednesday
  • That’s two days before the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus hit stores
  • New features include a major keyboard update
  • Continuity lets you share documents between Apple devices

(CNN) — You can’t get a new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus until Friday, but iOS 8, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, goes live on Wednesday.

The free download will be available to anyone with an iPhone 4S, 5, 5C or 5S.

IOS 8 isn’t the radical upgrade that iOS 7 was, but it has a handful of new features that you’re bound to enjoy. Here’s a look at a few of our favorites. (Is there another feature you’re looking forward to using? Let us know in the comments.)

Device Continuity

When Apple’s Mac operating system, OS X Yosemite, is released, probably in late October, it will pair with iOS 8 for the tightest integration ever between devices.

iPhone 6, Apple watch … what’s next?

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See Apple’s iPhone 6 in :60

Rivals mount challenge against Apple

Users will be able to do things like answer phone calls on their laptop, receive texts on a desktop computer and move a document in progress from an iPhone to an iPad to a computer with a single swipe.

That feature, called Handoff, works with apps including Mail, Safari, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Maps, Messages, Reminders, Calendar and Contacts.

Widgets

Until now, Apple has kept strict controls on how apps — other than its own — appear on the iPhone and iPad. Basically, they get a tiny, uniformly sized box for each app, and that’s that. But in iOS 8, it has given developers the ability to create widgets for the devices.

Now, they’ll be able to create simple, standalone tools for things like checking the weather or monitoring data usage. But the function, which has long been available on Android devices, will be limited to the “Today” screen under the device’s Notification Center.

Keyboard changes

Apple says iOS 8 brings the biggest changes to the system’s keyboard since the iPhone was introduced.

For one, Apple will begin allowing third-party typing apps, so tools like Swype, the finger-dragging system popular on Android, will be coming soon.

The system’s native typing system will get some tweaks too, largely in the form of QuickType, a Google-style predictive text system. The system will predict the next word you want to type based on what you’ve written in the past and let you add the entire word with a single tap. Its predictions will change based on the people you’re communicating with and the format you’re using (say, email vs. text).

What’s that song?

Siri is now integrated with Shazam, an app that recognizes music and other media playing around it.

iOS 8 users will be able to simply ask Siri “what song is playing?” and get everyone’s favorite digital assistant’s best guess.

Family Sharing

Apple wants you to have one big happy iPhone and iPad-using family.

In the new system, up to six people will be able to share purchases from iTunes, iBook and the App Store without having to share a single account.

Family Sharing also automatically creates a family photo album, letting anyone on the plan share to it.

There’s a shared family calendar so anyone (OK, let’s face it, so Mom …) can keep everyone abreast of plans and an “ask to buy” function that automatically pings parents, letting them give or withhold permission when a child tries to buy something from Apple.

Hands-on with the new Apple Watch

See Apple’s new iPhone 6 in 60 seconds




CNN.com – Technology

  • Apple’s new smartwatches were on display at the company’s press event on Tuesday
  • The watch faces come in two sizes to accommodate smaller wrists
  • Battery life, resolution and other specs are still unknown

(CNN) — After Tuesday’s unveiling of two new iPhones and a heavily anticipated smartwatch, Apple gave press and special guests (including models, fashion bloggers and Gwen Stefani) some supervised hands-on time with the gadgets. Here are our first impressions of the Apple Watch.

This watch is still under construction

See Apple’s iPhone 6 in :60

5 Stunning Apple stats

It appears Apple is still ironing out the details of its new smartwatch, which is scheduled to be available early next year.

In the large white showroom Apple custom built for the event, rows of iPhone 6s and Apple Watches were on display. While everyone was welcome to pick up and test the phones, interaction with the watches was carefully controlled. The available demo units ran a prerecorded loop of screens and features, so there was no real testing of the touch screen, buttons, dials or user interface. Apple employees put them on people’s wrists and removed them. (They wore working versions of the watch and demonstrated a few features.)

The iPhone evolved

The company is still mum on many of the device’s specs, including memory, battery life and screen resolution. The exact differences between the low-, middle- and high-end watches are also still blurry. Behind the scenes, the company is likely rushing to iron out any issues with the entirely new operating system and hardware.

It fits!

One thing we can start judging is looks. Full disclosure: I have dainty wrists. I have tried on many smartwatches and, so far, the straps and watch faces have all been cartoonishly large and heavy.

Apple has always focused heavily on the design of its products, and that legacy really shows with the Apple Watch. There are a surprising number of options. There are three versions of the square watch face, each with its own color selection (including an actual 18 karat gold enclosure). All are available in two sizes (the small is 38mm and the large is 42mm) and there are six strap styles.

When I tried on the smaller size, it actually fit just like a somewhat oversized but normal watch. It seemed lightweight enough to wear all day and it was curved to be flush against my wrist (necessary for the heartbeat sensors on the back to work). The sportier plastic bands might be useful for workouts, but they look a little cheap. The nice metal and leather straps are on par with what you’d find on a similarly priced watch.

At a glance, there is a chance someone might mistake an Apple Watch for a regular timepiece. Once you look closer, it’s obvious the square screen is not a real watch face. No matter how cool the features, that could be a turn-off for many potential customers.

A new shorthand

This is not a wrist phone. You can’t write emails on it. If you want to have in-depth communications, you’ll need to use your iPhone (don’t worry, it’s already in your pocket because you have to have it for many of the watch’s features).

The size of the watch face makes using a full keyboard hard if not impossible (no apps with a keyboard were shown, but that doesn’t mean one can’t pop up later). To communicate from your wrist, you dictate messages to the watch or use it as a walkie-talkie to chat with another Apple Watch wearer.

Apple is really hoping people will choose to communicate using what it calls Digital Touch, a combination of drawings and vibrations. You can doodle with your fingertip, tap out a special series of vibrations or send your actual heartbeat. This shorthand could become the next Emoji, or it could be Apple’s Poke: something fun people do for a while before forgetting about it.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and other Apple employees repeatedly used the word “intimate” to describe the watch’s communication features. Perhaps that’s because only someone you know intimately will have any clue what you mean when you send a line drawing of an octopus and the bass line to “Under Pressure.”

Power struggles

Apple would not disclose the battery life of the watch. That could mean the company is trying to downplay the short battery life or that it is still working on the technical details and hopes to improve it before the release date. During a demo, an Apple employee said the company expected people to charge their watches every night.

One way it saves power is by only turning on the display when you lift your wrist to glance at it. But it’s still a full-color screen with multiple sensors. Without a major leap in battery technology, more than half a day is still a lot to hope for from a smartwatch.

The device does not charge wirelessly. It needs to physically connect to a large circular charger that attaches via magnets to the back of the watch face, much like the current MacBook MagSafe cords do. That charger has a wire that plugs into a wall.

It is an all new proprietary charger. While the magnets might make plugging the watch in “easier in the dark” as Apple promises, it also means adding yet another cord to your power strip. And if nightly charging is necessary, that means your charger goes on every overnight trip.

Too soon to judge

There is still much we don’t know about the Apple Watch. To make any reasonable guess about its fate, we would need to navigate the operating system, use the watch’s touch screen (which differentiates between a tap and a push), and test the digital crown (a knob) on the side. Cook said the time was incredibly accurate, but how about the various fitness measurements and heartbeat?

Then there’s the demand question. Are consumers really clamoring for a notification screen, credit card and fitness tracker on their wrist, especially one that’s dependent on having an iPhone nearby? Smartphones can do many of these exact same things (especially with the iPhone’s improved fitness tracking features).

After the legions of Apple fans and early adopters slip them on, will regular people swap out their Casio for an Apple Watch?




CNN.com – Technology

  • Apple’s new smartwatch was designed to be a fashion accessory as well as a gadget
  • It comes in two sizes, different finishes and has multiple slick strap options
  • Apple is going up against huge watch companies and an industry that has been around for a century
  • The device could be the next iPod or it could go the way of the Bluetooth headset

(CNN) — Ariel Adams loves watches.

He owns more than a hundred of them, sometimes changing into a different watch multiple times a day. He has even turned his horological passion into a full-time job reviewing watches.

Naturally, he is very excited for Apple’s latest invention.

“As soon as the Apple Watch is available I will be adding it into my life, but in addition to mechanical watches,” said Adams. “I will more than likely have to wear one on each wrist.”

Unfortunately for Apple, most people will only wear one watch. The question is, will they choose the Apple Watch over a classic timepiece?

After three years of development, Apple finally gave the world a look at its new smartwatch on Tuesday. It won’t be available until early next year, but the design is final. Whatever the reviews, it’s guaranteed that Apple fans will camp out in line for one, and early-adopters and watch lovers like Adams will gladly drop $ 349 to slip it on.

The new Apple Watch comes in a variety of styles and two sizes.
The new Apple Watch comes in a variety of styles and two sizes.

But to succeed, the Apple Watch will also have to appeal to regular people as a fashion accessory. The company has hired and collaborated with big names from the fashion industry, including watch designers like Marc Newson, Burberry’s Angela Ahrendts and Yves Saint Laurent’s Paul Deneve. Those fashion bona fides will help Apple’s watch appeal to people who see the item as a fashion statement.

Related: Apple just got its mojo back

Traditional watches are big business. Last year, watches were an $ 8.3 billion industry in the U.S., according to Euromonitor. Most watches sold are sub-$ 150 quartz watches, but $ 1,000 and up luxury mechanical watches from brands like Rolex, Omega and Louis Vuitton have been surging in popularity.

“Watches, unlike other consumer electronics, have existed for hundreds of years as accessories and fashion pieces,” said Tim Barrett, a research analyst at Euromonitor.

The smartwatch industry is a relative newborn. Only 750,000 smartwatches were sold in the U.S. in 2013, compared to 123 million smartphones and 32 million regular watches, according Barrett. So far, the most popular smartwatch is the Pebble, which got its start on Kickstarter. Smartwatches from companies like Samsung, Sony and LG have been plagued by clunky, large screens and glitchy software.

“Apple is definitely in the business of making markets as opposed to breaking into them, and this market has yet to be made,” said Barrett.

Related: ‘Apple Pay’ may be safer than plastic

The heart of the Apple Watch is a square touchscreen with rounded corners that comes in different metal finishes, including 18 carat gold. The watch face fits on classic watch straps that come in a range of styles, from sporty and colorful to high-end leather with metal clasps. The face of the watch is customizable and can display the time in a number of analog or digital designs. The final product is a typically Apple design: clean with a kick of personality.

“I don’t think it will replace the traditional timepiece, but I do think it is the most aesthetically pleasing wearable that has come to market to date,” said Eugene Tong, style director at Details magazine. “I would wear it, but probably not every day.”  

Apple has smartly included styles and a smaller watch face size to appeal specifically to women, a group mostly shut out by the gigantic smartwatch screens already on the market.

“Right now in fashion, a lot of women are dressing down, more casually and simply,” said Danielle Prescod, fashion editor for Elle.com. “There is a movement happening toward ‘normcore.’ … Something like the Apple watch, that looks great but also has a purpose, is perfect for this trend.”

Related: Sorry Apple. Solar dresses are the future

Perscod doesn’t usually wear watches, but said she would consider this one.

“The good thing about the Apple watch is that it’s super buzzy right now so people will notice it without needing a ton of other accessories that might try to compete for the spotlight,” said Perscod.

No matter how useful it is, once a wearable device is written off as un-cool, it marks the wearer as dorky. Not everyone believes the Apple Watch can avoid the stigma of a Bluetooth headset — or even Google Glass.

“The Apple Watch is the ultimate in geek chic, designed to look like a watch, but it leaves something to be desired when it comes to reflecting personal style,” said Tyson White, vice president of product at Nixon, a trendy California watch company. It “will certainly raise people’s expectations about what a watch can do. … But it appears to compete more with the likes of Fitbit, Fuel band and other smartwatch offerings, more so than traditional watches.”

Beyond looks, Apple will also have to overcome a limited battery life and dependence on the iPhone. But if any technology company has a chance of stealing precious wrist real estate from established watch companies, it’s Apple.




CNN.com – Technology

  • Apple unveils entry into wearable tech with long-anticipated smartwatch
  • Analysts say device could catch on in a way other smartwatches haven’t
  • Apple focused on design, with multiple sizes, styles and colors
  • Smartwatches remain “nice to have,” not “need to have” — for now, one analyst says

(CNN) — The long-anticipated Apple smartwatch became a reality this week when the tech giant unveiled its entry into the growing wearable-tech field.

The Apple Watch, which comes in three styles and two sizes with multiple options for colors and wristbands, was expected to energize a market that’s been slow to catch on as smartwatches from competitors such as Samsung, Sony, LG and Pebble rolled out over the past two years.

More than just a tiny smartphone, the Apple Watch, which hits the market early next year, packs a ton of watch-specific features. It has a “crown” knob to control scrolling and zoom without having to touch the screen, silent pulse notifications, a slate of health and fitness apps and compatibility with Apple’s new Apple Pay app, which lets users scan and pay card-free at participating stores.

But there are also questions.

The company is still mum on many of the device’s specifications, including memory, screen resolution and — most crucially — battery life. The exact differences between the low-, middle- and high-end watches are also still blurry.

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The watch must be tethered to an iPhone — some observers had hoped for a standalone device — and its $ 350 price tag is more than many were expecting.

So did the company do enough to make Apple Watch a breakthrough device that will shake up the gadget market the way its iPod, iPhone and iPad did? Many analysts said they think so.

“The Apple Watch defines the category in ways that other competitors will now have to work furiously to catch up to,” said James McQuivey, a tech analyst at Forrester Research. “In classic Apple style, the company has introduced a new interface — the digital crown along with a tap and touch capable surface — that will make Apple’s watch experience significantly easier to use than anybody else’s.”

While many competitors have released a single smartwatch, sometimes in designs that have been panned for being bulky and unfashionable, Apple’s trademark attention to design could make a difference, said Carolina Milanesi, chief researcher at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

That’s true, she said, even if the features Apple showcased won’t come close to making a smartphone unnecessary.

“I do think smartwatches are still a nice-to-have versus a must-have — more a convenience than a necessity, which is why appealing more from a style perspective might win more users in the short term,” she said.

Whether that pushes competitors in the same direction remains to be seen.

“Longer term I think we need to wait and see,” Milanesi said. “I am not sure we are totally clear as to what the true role of these wearable devices really is, especially as the Internet of Things materializes.”

Forrester Research’s J.P. Gownder said he’s convinced that Apple Watch will push smartwatches into the mainstream in a way that devices running Google’s Android Wear haven’t managed.

“Apple will legitimize and create the mass-market wearables category,” he said.

McQuivey said he doesn’t expect the Apple Watch to catch on with consumers as quickly as the iPad, which first introduced most people to the concept of a tablet computer.

He noted how Apple CEO Tim Cook repeatedly referred to the device as a “personal” device and said that could be the key to wide appeal.

From design to health monitoring to the Apple Pay feature, the watch could become a seamless piece of people’s day-to-day lives, not a mere novelty, he said.

“As a longtime Pebble watch wearer, I can attest to the number of ways a watch, because of its glanceability and its one-touch efficiency, helps you get things done more quickly than before, causing you to do them even more,” he said.

But what about the people who just don’t wear watches, or those who have found, in a smartphone, a suitable replacement?

Milanesi said there’s a chance that even those consumers will come on board. After all, who thought they wanted a tablet computer before Apple showcased the iPad?

“There are users that never wore a watch who happily spent money on a fitness band, so I do not see why not,” Milanesi said. “Is it for everyone? No, of course not. But there is a market out there, especially of Apple users who see the benefits of having multiple Apple devices working together.”

Apple Watch: Start of a wearable revolution?




CNN.com – Technology

This graphic shows the path Asteroid 2014 RC will take as it passes Earth on Sunday, September 7. The space rock will come within one-tenth the distance from Earth to the moon, but it is not expected to threaten the planet.This graphic shows the path Asteroid 2014 RC will take as it passes Earth on Sunday, September 7. The space rock will come within one-tenth the distance from Earth to the moon, but it is not expected to threaten the planet.
NASA scientists used Earth-based radar to produce these sharp views of the asteroid designated<a href='http://www.nasa.gov/jpl/asteroid/giant-telescopes-pair-up-to-image-near-earth-asteroid/index.html#.U5nrgii4SEK' target='_blank'> "2014 HQ124"</a> on June 8. NASA called the images "most detailed radar images of a near-Earth asteroid ever obtained."NASA scientists used Earth-based radar to produce these sharp views of the asteroid designated “2014 HQ124” on June 8. NASA called the images “most detailed radar images of a near-Earth asteroid ever obtained.”
The Hubble Space Telescope snapped a series of images on September 10, 2013, revealing a never-before-seen sight: An asteroid that appeared to have <a href='http://www.nasa.gov/press/2013/november/nasas-hubble-sees-asteroid-spouting-six-comet-like-tails/#.VAilBPmwLYg' target='_blank'>six comet-like tails</a>. The Hubble Space Telescope snapped a series of images on September 10, 2013, revealing a never-before-seen sight: An asteroid that appeared to have six comet-like tails.
A diagram shows the orbit of an asteroid named 2013 TV135 (in blue), which made headlines in September 2013 when it passed close by Earth. The probability of it striking Earth one day stands at 1 in 63,000, and even those odds are fading fast as scientists find out more about the asteroid. It will most likely swing past our planet again in 2032, according to NASA.A diagram shows the orbit of an asteroid named 2013 TV135 (in blue), which made headlines in September 2013 when it passed close by Earth. The probability of it striking Earth one day stands at 1 in 63,000, and even those odds are fading fast as scientists find out more about the asteroid. It will most likely swing past our planet again in 2032, according to NASA.
Asteroid 1998 QE2 is about 3.75 million miles from Earth. The white dot is the moon, or satellite, orbiting the asteroid.Asteroid 1998 QE2 is about 3.75 million miles from Earth. The white dot is the moon, or satellite, orbiting the asteroid.
Asteroid 2012 DA14 made a record-close pass -- 17,100 miles -- by Earth on February 15, 2013. Most asteroids are made of rocks, but some are metal. They orbit mostly between Jupiter and Mars in the main asteroid belt. Scientists estimate there are tens of thousands of asteroids and when they get close to our planet, they are called near-Earth objects.Asteroid 2012 DA14 made a record-close pass — 17,100 miles — by Earth on February 15, 2013. Most asteroids are made of rocks, but some are metal. They orbit mostly between Jupiter and Mars in the main asteroid belt. Scientists estimate there are tens of thousands of asteroids and when they get close to our planet, they are called near-Earth objects.
Another asteroid, Apophis, got a lot of attention from space scientists and the media when initial calculations indicated a small chance it could hit Earth in 2029 or 2036. NASA scientists have since ruled out an impact, but on April 13, 2029, Apophis, which is about the size of 3½ football fields, will make a close visit -- flying about 19,400 miles (31,300 kilometers) above Earth's surface. The images above were taken by the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory in January 2013.Another asteroid, Apophis, got a lot of attention from space scientists and the media when initial calculations indicated a small chance it could hit Earth in 2029 or 2036. NASA scientists have since ruled out an impact, but on April 13, 2029, Apophis, which is about the size of 3½ football fields, will make a close visit — flying about 19,400 miles (31,300 kilometers) above Earth’s surface. The images above were taken by the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory in January 2013.
If you really want to know about asteroids, you need to see one up close. NASA did just that. A spacecraft called NEAR-Shoemaker, named in honor of planetary scientist Gene Shoemaker, was the first probe to touch down on an asteroid, landing on the asteroid Eros on February 12, 2001. This image was taken on February 14, 2000, just after the probe began orbiting Eros.If you really want to know about asteroids, you need to see one up close. NASA did just that. A spacecraft called NEAR-Shoemaker, named in honor of planetary scientist Gene Shoemaker, was the first probe to touch down on an asteroid, landing on the asteroid Eros on February 12, 2001. This image was taken on February 14, 2000, just after the probe began orbiting Eros.
The first asteroid to be identified, 1 Ceres, was discovered January 1, 1801, by Giuseppe Piazzi in Palermo, Sicily. But is Ceres just another asteroid? Observations by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope show that Ceres has a lot in common with planets like Earth. It's almost round and it may have a lot of pure water ice beneath its surface. Ceres is about 606 by 565 miles (975 by 909 kilometers) in size and scientists say it may be more accurate to call it a mini-planet. NASA's Dawn spacecraft is on its way to Ceres to investigate. The spacecraft is 35 million miles (57 million kilometers) from Ceres and 179 million miles (288 million kilometers) from Earth. The photo on the left was taken by Keck Observatory, Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The image on the right was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.The first asteroid to be identified, 1 Ceres, was discovered January 1, 1801, by Giuseppe Piazzi in Palermo, Sicily. But is Ceres just another asteroid? Observations by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope show that Ceres has a lot in common with planets like Earth. It’s almost round and it may have a lot of pure water ice beneath its surface. Ceres is about 606 by 565 miles (975 by 909 kilometers) in size and scientists say it may be more accurate to call it a mini-planet. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is on its way to Ceres to investigate. The spacecraft is 35 million miles (57 million kilometers) from Ceres and 179 million miles (288 million kilometers) from Earth. The photo on the left was taken by Keck Observatory, Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The image on the right was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.
One big space rock got upgraded recently. This image of Vesta was taken by the Dawn spacecraft, which is on its way to Ceres. In 2012, scientists said data from the spacecraft show Vesta is more like a planet than an asteroid and so Vesta is now considered a protoplanet.One big space rock got upgraded recently. This image of Vesta was taken by the Dawn spacecraft, which is on its way to Ceres. In 2012, scientists said data from the spacecraft show Vesta is more like a planet than an asteroid and so Vesta is now considered a protoplanet.
The three-mile long (4.8-kilometer) asteroid Toutatis flew about 4.3 million miles (6.9 million kilometers) from Earth on December 12, 2012. NASA scientists used radar images to <a href='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fo38qU00HlQ' target='_blank'>make a short movie</a>.The three-mile long (4.8-kilometer) asteroid Toutatis flew about 4.3 million miles (6.9 million kilometers) from Earth on December 12, 2012. NASA scientists used radar images to make a short movie.
Asteroids have hit Earth many times. It's hard to get an exact count because erosion has wiped away much of the evidence. The mile-wide Meteor Crater in Arizona, seen above, was created by a small asteroid that hit about 50,000 years ago, NASA says. Other famous impact craters on Earth include Manicouagan in Quebec, Canada; Sudbury in Ontario, Canada; Ries Crater in Germany, and Chicxulub on the Yucatan coast in Mexico. Asteroids have hit Earth many times. It’s hard to get an exact count because erosion has wiped away much of the evidence. The mile-wide Meteor Crater in Arizona, seen above, was created by a small asteroid that hit about 50,000 years ago, NASA says. Other famous impact craters on Earth include Manicouagan in Quebec, Canada; Sudbury in Ontario, Canada; Ries Crater in Germany, and Chicxulub on the Yucatan coast in Mexico.
NASA scientists say the impact of an asteroid or comet several hundred million years ago created the Aorounga crater in the Sahara Desert of northern Chad. The crater has a diameter of about 10.5 miles (17 kilometers). This image was taken by the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1994.NASA scientists say the impact of an asteroid or comet several hundred million years ago created the Aorounga crater in the Sahara Desert of northern Chad. The crater has a diameter of about 10.5 miles (17 kilometers). This image was taken by the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1994.
In 1908 in Tunguska, Siberia, scientists theorize an asteroid flattened about 750 square miles (1,200 square kilometers) of forest in and around the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia.In 1908 in Tunguska, Siberia, scientists theorize an asteroid flattened about 750 square miles (1,200 square kilometers) of forest in and around the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia.
What else is up there? Is anyone watching? NASA's <a href='http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/' target='_blank'>Near-Earth Object Program</a> is trying to track down all asteroids and comets that could threaten Earth. NASA says 9,672 near-Earth objects have been discovered as of February 5, 2013. Of these, 1,374 have been classified as Potentially Hazardous Asteroids, or objects that could one day threaten Earth.What else is up there? Is anyone watching? NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program is trying to track down all asteroids and comets that could threaten Earth. NASA says 9,672 near-Earth objects have been discovered as of February 5, 2013. Of these, 1,374 have been classified as Potentially Hazardous Asteroids, or objects that could one day threaten Earth.
One of the top asteroid-tracking scientists is Don Yeomans at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managed by the California Institute of Technology. Yeomans says every day, "Earth is pummeled by more than 100 tons of material that spewed off asteroids and comets." Fortunately, most of the asteroid trash is tiny and it burns up when it hits the atmosphere, creating meteors, or shooting stars. Yeomans says it's very rare for big chunks of space litter to hit Earth's surface. Those chunks are called meteorites. One of the top asteroid-tracking scientists is Don Yeomans at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managed by the California Institute of Technology. Yeomans says every day, “Earth is pummeled by more than 100 tons of material that spewed off asteroids and comets.” Fortunately, most of the asteroid trash is tiny and it burns up when it hits the atmosphere, creating meteors, or shooting stars. Yeomans says it’s very rare for big chunks of space litter to hit Earth’s surface. Those chunks are called meteorites.
Asteroids and comets are popular fodder for Earth-ending science fiction movies. Two of the biggest blockbusters came out in 1998: "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon." (Walt Disney Studios) Others include "Meteorites!" (1998), "Doomsday Rock" (1997), "Asteroid" (1997), "Meteor" (1979), and "A Fire in the Sky" (1978). Can you name others?Asteroids and comets are popular fodder for Earth-ending science fiction movies. Two of the biggest blockbusters came out in 1998: “Deep Impact” and “Armageddon.” (Walt Disney Studios) Others include “Meteorites!” (1998), “Doomsday Rock” (1997), “Asteroid” (1997), “Meteor” (1979), and “A Fire in the Sky” (1978). Can you name others?

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  • Asteroid to fly “very close” to Earth
  • Close approach will be Sunday
  • Earth’s not in danger, NASA says

(CNN) — A newly discovered asteroid will pass “very close” to Earth on Sunday, NASA says.

The space rock is 60 feet (20 meters) in size. It’s expected to fly over New Zealand about 2:18 p.m. EDT (11:18 a.m. PDT / 18:18 UTC.)

It won’t hit Earth or any of the thousands of satellites orbiting the planet, NASA says. It will give astronomers and scientists a chance to study it.

This graphic shows the path the asteroid will take as it passes Earth on September 7, 2014. The space rock will come within one-tenth the distance from Earth to the moon.
This graphic shows the path the asteroid will take as it passes Earth on September 7, 2014. The space rock will come within one-tenth the distance from Earth to the moon.

The asteroid won’t be visible the naked eye, but amateur astronomers should be able to see it with telescopes.

The asteroid, called 2014 RC, was discovered August 31 by the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona.




CNN.com – Technology

A Scandu employee tests Scanaflo urine tests. The results are imported into a smartphone app by taking a photo of the paddle.
A Scandu employee tests Scanaflo urine tests. The results are imported into a smartphone app by taking a photo of the paddle.

  • Contest seeks a real tricorder that can measure vital signs and detect illnesses
  • They are part of the $ 10 million Tricorder X Prize challenge
  • Many use smartphones, tablets to create mobile self-diagnostic devices for consumers
  • The gadgets could give people more control over their own health care

(CNN) — In an old office building at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, there’s a room stacked high with plastic containers of synthetic urine. Researchers dip small white paddles into the liquid, wait for a grid of squares to change colors, and snap a photo with a custom smartphone app.

It’s all part of a futuristic self-diagnosis kit from startup Scanadu, which is competing to be the future of DIY health care.

Scanadu is one of 10 teams taking part in the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize contest to create an affordable, handheld device that consumers can use to diagnose their medical conditions at home. The goal is to make a working version of “Star Trek’s” tricorder, the television show’s fictional diagnostic device. In the series, the ship’s doctor would wave the portable black box over a patent’s body and immediately know if a person had broken bones, a disease or if they were going to die.

The real-life tricorder must weigh less than 5 pounds, monitor five vital signs and detect 15 medical conditions. It should let people measure their own blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, oxygen saturation and respiratory rate. Each system will be able to diagnose common health conditions including diabetes, anemia, sleep apnea and pneumonia.

“We’re asking teams to put together an aggregation of technologies that’s never been done before,” said Dr. Erik Viirre, the technical and medical director for the Tricorder X Prize. “We’re spurring things to market faster, better and cheaper.”

The multiyear contest is run by X Prize, a nonprofit organization that attempts to accelerate major technological advances. Last week, the judges narrowed down the field of 41 teams to 10, which now have until April to create working prototypes for consumer tests. The three groups that make the most successful tricorders will split a $ 10 million prize.

In 2005, Walter De Brouwer’s 5-year-old son jumped out of a window and fell 36 feet to the ground. After a year in emergency rooms, operating rooms and the ICU, De Brouwer had a whole new perspective on hospitals. He saw firsthand how powerless patients often were. Inspired by the less invasive medical devices from science fiction, he moved to Silicon Valley and started Scanadu.

” ‘Star Trek’ was not TV, it was a business plan,” said 57-year-old De Brouwer.

Scanadu is already close to having working prototypes of its tricorder system. In addition to the Scanaflo (a single-use urine test) the company has created the Scanadu Scout, a palm-sized disc you press to your forehead or temple for 10 seconds to take vital signs, including blood pressure, temperature, heart and respiratory rate.

The readings are imported to a smartphone, analyzed and tracked over time. De Brouwer’s vision is to have a constant collection of data that creates a baseline for each user. That information will allow the Scanadu app to detect issues early, even before there are noticeable symptoms.

These types of devices are not meant to replace doctors, but to fill in when in-person medical care is not available, affordable or necessary.

Every day, Dr. Basil Harris sees patients who have waited too long to seek treatment, often because they lack insurance or a primary care giver. There’s a steady stream of them at the Chicago emergency room where he works, showing up days after the first symptoms of serious illnesses.

Harris, who also has a Ph.D. in engineering, leads the Tricorder X Prize finalist team Final Frontier Medical Devices. His tricorder combines a regular tablet computer with a separate Bluetooth gadget that takes vitals and runs other tests. The companion tablet app walks the patient through the same types of questions Harris asks every patient who comes into his ER.

“It does everything you would expect a normal physician to do,” said Harris. “What an ER doctor does is make diagnoses. Doing that is somewhat an art and somewhat science.”

His team is also working on a novel approach to a neurological exam. Using the tablet, they can test users’ vision, picking up on subtle defects caused by illness. For example, if a person has suffered from a hemorrhagic stroke, they might lose some vision on just one side. The tests could detect the issue and tell the person to seek medical help immediately, cutting down on the chance of permanent disability.

Inventing a new medical device is only the first step to getting it into the hands of real people. Perhaps even more useful than the money is how the X Prize is working with the Food and Drug Administration. Getting regulatory compliance for a new product is notoriously difficult and expensive, and it requires clinical trials. But the FDA is working closely with the X Prize organization.

The X Prize will also manage the vigorous final tests that determine which devices will win. Each team must produce 30 working prototypes of their tricorders for consumer testers. They’ll be used and reviewed by people who have one of the conditions the tricorders are required to detect.

The final teams hail from six countries. They include doctors, engineers, undergrads, entrepreneurs and researchers, and all have unique approaches to the technology. Many, like Scanadu, Final Frontier and Slovenian team MESI Simplifying Diagnostics, are creating small gadgets that work with existing mobile devices. Some are taking a more traditional approach with things like blood pressure cuffs and finger pricks. The Danvantri team from India is working on a low-cost device worn around the neck specifically for developing countries.

One thing they all agree on is that this technology’s time is now.

“This device, whether it’s mine or someone else’s, is coming,” said Harris. “It puts the information in the hands of the consumer where they can make actionable decisions. It really levels the playing field.”




CNN.com – Technology