The World Cup 2014 final is approaching, and that means one thing: time to deck yourself in the colors of the team you want to win. If you’re looking for another way to show your support, you can tweet to vote on which flag colors are shone on the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.
To cast your vote, you’ll need to include #ArmsWideOpen and the hashtag of one of the finalists [spoiler alert: Argentina and Germany] in your tweet. Voting started today, July 9, and runs through July 12. The Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro will light the statue from 7-9pm on Saturday. The team with the most votes will get more time, though the results will change in real-time as more fans vote.
It’s not every day that your tweets have an effect on a 100-foot religious icon.
Thumbnail credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images
If you’ve ever nearly ended up under an SUV or been doored by a sleepy minivan-driver, you’ll appreciate the MyBell. Designed by the folks at MyBell.co in Brooklyn, the $99 horn allows you to add up two digital audio files and multiple custom light patterns that will blast drivers with 105 decibels of noise and 110 lumens of light. The resulting cacophony should keep you out from under anyone’s wheels.
The team, Peter Pottier and Valentin Siderskiy, are avid cyclists. Siderskiy is an electrical engineer as well and they’ve hired Steve Remy to manage the mechanical engineering. They are in prototype stage right now but they aim to ship the horns to backers by February of next year. Early birds can get the street blasters for a $99 pledge.
“I set out to try and create a new audio signaling system, one which would be more effective than a traditional bell while simultaneously being friendlier than a popular alternative – the Air Horn,” said Pottier. “The customization feature dawned on me when I realized that sounds were relative to their surroundings – one sound might not have the same effect depending on different regions and cultures.” That’s the system lets you can drag the Ride of the Valkyries onto your device and scare passersby with a 100-decibel horn section. It connects to any bike or scooter with an easy-off latch system. Unlike the similarly cool Orp Horn, the audio and lights are both customizable so you can play the Knight Rider theme song with a slowly pulsing LED accompaniment.
Pottier knows the world needs this horn. He was recently hit by a car in Brooklyn and, had he had one of the prototypes on his bike, he would have been unharmed. Instead, he spent a little time in Brooklyn Hospital where they checked for broken bones. Luckily he’s OK, but without a signaling system, most city bikers are potential road meat.
Perhaps you could even add songs and sounds that could comment on others’ driving? Cee-Lo Green anyone?
More: Ring MyBell
Today I switched from a BlackBerry Q10 to an iPhone 5s. After almost singlehandedly trying to save the physical QWERTY, I feel compelled to explain why.
It isn’t because of the ribbing I get from my TC colleagues every time BlackBerry issues more bad news. It isn’t because the only people I know who still use a BlackBerry are either VCs or angel investors. And I’ve yet to make the blogger-to-VC career move (here’s hoping).
It isn’t even because the keyboard on my Q10 has developed a hardware fault whereby occasionally it mistakes one key press for two, which makes keying in my lock-screen password a whole lot of fun. That’s right, folks. Even BlackBerry can’t seem to make a reliable hardware keyboard.
And it definitely isn’t because I’ve suddenly mastered typing on glass, despite having a physical disability that makes certain touchscreen interfaces and on-screen keyboards more challenging (see my email to Steve Jobs on the subject).
No, the reason I’ve finally given up on the BlackBerry — and with it my trusted physical QWERTY – is likely the reason every other BlackBerry user abandoned ship. Apps. Glorious apps.
In the end, I’ve decided to make a tradeoff. I’m willing to sacrifice typing speed and a little dexterity, in return for having access to a much wider range and higher quality of apps. Blame it on the day job.
What’s interesting is BlackBerry 10 does support Android apps — kind of.
The trouble is the Q10′s screen size makes many of those apps run poorly or not at all, with UI elements being squashed or cropped. It was enough to get by for a little while (and a technically impressive feat), but it only got me so far. The tipping point came this week while trying out a Wi-Fi-enabled lightbulb for a smarthome post I’m researching. I was able to dim the lights using the startup’s Android app running on my BlackBerry but couldn’t turn them back up again, leaving me stuck in the dark for a few hours.
Then I saw the light.
I ordered my iPhone 5s just a few hours ago, and it wasn’t without a heavy heart.
I’ll definitely miss BlackBerry 10′s gestures and the majority of its UI (I once had the privilege of chewing the fat with one of the ex-founders of TAT, the team behind much of that work — sorry guys).
I’ll also undoubtedly miss BlackBerry 10′s ‘openess’ in terms of side loading apps and full access over Wi-Fi to the phone’s storage. I definitely don’t relish being back in Apple’s closed ecosystem.
At the same time I’m grateful the iPhone in its current form factor exists. At one point in time, as the physical QWERTY was getting sidelined, the market was flooded with iPhone copycats. In some ways it still is. But, actually, as phones have gotten bigger, it’s Apple’s device that feels, well, traditional. Steadfast was Jobs’ assertion that the iPhone needed to remain narrow for one-handed operation.
It’s the size factor — and that iOS still tends to get first preference from newly launched startups — that largely ruled out Android for me. The closest to getting my hard-earned cash was something like the HTC One Mini, but even that is too wide. In a sea of “phablets,” a “mini” Android smartphone invariably comes in larger than the iPhone 5s, or with lower specs and build quality.
The iPhone 5s also feels remarkably light.
What I’ve come to realise is, although I get on better with a physical QWERTY and the non-touch screen area it affords when gripping the phone, equal to this is the right width, height and weight. In that sense, like BlackBerry before, it’s now Apple who looks like the holdout.
Unless, of course, the rumours of a much larger iPhone are true.
Geocaching is a fun activity that involves finding little things hidden in the real world. The kids and I try to do it when we travel and we usually end up circling a bush for a few minutes before we all go and get ice cream. However, if you’re Greg Mayer you get down and dirty and create a crazy watch that can point you to distant GPS coordinates like some sort of computerized Mercury leading you into high adventure.
Like the DIY cellphone we talked about this week, this device is made of off-the-shelf components and can be recreated at will. It cost about $60 to build and required a bit of coding.
The idea to create this little contraption came from my Geocaching adventures with my nieces and nephew: my little device currently tells me where a dozen or so caches are located in Windsor, Ontario, but I’ve also configured it to point me towards coffee shops and other places closer to where I live.Each light in the device corresponds to a target within 1 km of my current location. Notice that as I rotate, the lights hold their approximate directions of the targets. Red indicates close, blue indicates very far away.
Simple projects like this one are truly inspiring. While we’re all fussing around with smartphones, the idea that we can create standalone, single-purpose devices for various uses – navigation, notification, and the like – is fascinating. And, while this device is obviously very fiddly, it’s clear that this hardware can be stuffed inside a smaller case in order to a create a truly self-contained navigation system.
This is the first of a new class of digital accessories – devices that aren’t that smart but work quite well for a specific purpose. As jewelry companies and other makers get in on the act, expect to see smart devices hidden inside stuff that used to be dumb.
Go here to read the rest: This DIY Geocaching Bracelet Shows The Power Of Wearables
Andrea Ayres-Deets is the Lead Writer at Crew, an invite-only network connecting short-term software projects with handpicked developers and designers. Andrea writes about psychology, creativity, and business over on the Crew blog.
I spend all day on a computer. No, wait, that’s an understatement. I spend nearly every waking hour of every single day in front of a digital device.
By 4:00 p.m. my eyes are dry, bloodshot, and begging for relief. They are out of luck though because I have maybe four or five hours left of work here.
When it’s really bad, I can actually hear myself blinking.
The majority of us spend all of our work and free time in front of one form of digital device or another. It’s not difficult to protect your eyes from damage caused by the light emitted from screens, it just requires some knowledge and minor adjustments.
Four hours, Seven hours, more than ten? Most of us spend around 6-9 hours a day on a digital device, another 28% spend more than ten hours a day in front of one type of screen or another.
Your eyes can begin to feel strain in as little as two hours. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how good your eye sight is, all of that screen time isn’t good for you.
The eyes clean and moisten themselves each time you blink. Computer use reduces your blink rate by as much as five times. When you are on a computer you also more likely to have incomplete blinks. That is when a blink does not fully cover the cornea of your eye. This can result in eye strain, fatigue, and headaches.
Sound like anyone you know?
Light influences everything from our hormone secretion and heart rate, to our cognitive abilities. When we get too much, or not enough of the good kind of light, these biological and behavioral processes are effected. First things first, what happens when light first hits your eyes?
Well, most light passes through your cornea, lens, and macula:
Cornea and Lens: responsible for absorbing much of the UV light that enters our eyes with the lens absorbing most shorter wavelength light.
Macula: absorb around 40% of high energy blue light.
The cornea, lens, and macula absorb electromagnetic radiation up to 460 nanometers (nm). Anything above 460 nm—like light from your computer screen—cannot be absorbed and that’s a problem. The 460 nm—1400 nm range is known as retinal hazard region. Light in that range goes directly into your retina and that can cause damage.
Blue light (or high-energy visible light) is bad for you when you are trying to sleep and it’s equally bad for you when you are working. All of your electronic devices give off this high-energy visible light (HEV).
Blue light is able to pass through what is called the retinohypothalamic tract, or pathway. This pathway is responsible for regulating our circadian rhythm a number of other biological and behavioral processes.
Because of how sensitive our eyes are to blue light, it is believed that it effects our behavioral and biological processes more than other types of light.
Early research into rat retina’s shows that the damage caused by blue light occurs in the rhodopsin. Rhodopsin is located in the rod of the eye and it is involved in our first perceptions of color. It kind of looks like a tangled up phone cord:
Here’s where it gets interesting/terrifying:
So these rhodopsin are normally purpley-reddish in color, but when they are hit by light, they bleach. Rhodopsin decomposes when it is exposed to light, the bleaching is rhodopsin being changed into another compound.
It is only when you remove yourself from light that they regenerate into new purpley-reddish proteins. This is the natural cycle and it needs to happen in order for your vision to work properly.
Blue light causes rhodopsin to regenerate photochemically (meaning it happens in the presence of light instead of in its absence). The blue light causes your rhodopsin to become unbleached very quickly, much more so than when it occurs naturally. This allows more light to enter the retina before it is ‘ready’ which can cause damage to the sensitive cell tissue in your eyes.
So you take the cumulative effects of blue light and regular light and what you are left with is a big old mess. Our eyes don’t need any more help with wear and tear, it happens naturally as we age. Digital devices can compound and intensify this damage.
Okay, now that we’re all sufficiently depressed…
Here are seven simple things you can do right the eft now to help protect your vision:
You want your computer screen to be the brightest thing in the room. If it’s possible you want to have your light mimic that of a fire, this means turning off or reducing overhead lights.
Make sure that your desk laps (task lighting) is setup to provide you with indirect light, you want your office space to have as few ‘bright spots’ as possible.
Glare usually means there is one spot on your screen that is particularly bright. Your eyes have trouble adjusting to the brightness of the glare with the rest of the screen which can result in discomfort.
You could ask your employer for one of those handy-dandy anti-glare computer screens. If that’s not your style make sure your computer screen is away from a window and clean it regularly.
You should definitely avoid exposing yourself to blue light at least 2-3 hours before bed, as it disrupts your circadian rhythm. During the day you can try programs like flux which adapts the color of your computer screen to the time of day.
Look away from your computer or screen every 20 minutes and focus on a distant object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
Most of us have our desks setup completely wrong, I’m especially guilty of this. I like to scrunch my neck up and hunch over my screen like a ghoulish fiend. Unsurprisingly, this is bad for you.
Retinal is processed vitamin-A, and retinal is essential to the process your rhodopsin goes through when you perceive light. The average human needs between 700-900 micrograms per day…or 5,000 International Units (IU).
Sweet potatoes, carrots, leafy greens all have high levels of vitamin A in them, so get to noshing.
If your eyes feel tired, it’s not just you being annoyed with your work. That means that are actually tired. Don’t try to write off eye fatigue as something else because like most health issues, this one isn’t likely to get better when ignored.
If you feel eye strain or headaches, take a break. Try blinking slowly for ten times to re-wet your eyes. You can also trace a figure-8 pattern with your eyeballs, and cup or palm your hands over eyes. The idea is to give your eyes some variation which can provide you with some relief.
A few other tips for the not-so-right-now:
Try to have regular eye exams to keep track of your eye health and note any changes in your vision.
You could also look into buying some computer glasses, but having an eye exam first will help determine your need for such gadgetry.
And please, remember to wear some sunglasses when you are outside too.
After I finished research for this article, I may or may not have immediately done the following: purchased computer glasses, drank a ton of carrot juice, purchased lubricating eye-drops, and installed flux on my computer.
Overboard? Perhaps. If there’s anything I can do to help protect my eyesight, even a little bit, I figure it’s worth a shot.
We all want to work hard, but we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our health in order to do so. Making some of the changes I listed above can ensure that you can both work hard and protect your eyes at the same time. Woot!
Excerpt from: 7 things you can do right now to protect your vision
Make way for another smart light in the room. Ion, currently in production-ready prototype form seeking $20,000 from the Kickstarter community for its final push to market, is best described as a digital updating of the 1960s classic slice of kitsch called the lava lamp.
(It’s clearly no accident that Ion’s Michigan-based makers have named their company lava.)
Lava lamps are of course very long past their best. Those waxy innards aren’t quite as viscous as they used to be. And, well, let’s face it, they were always pretty dumb — reacting purely in an organic fashion to rising temperature, and lacking any user controls beyond the on/off switch.
Fast forward some half a century and Ion wants to update the lava lamp for our control-freakish times. This digital mood light is way more controllable and also reacts to its environment — thanks to Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, a bank of 40 tri-colour LEDs, a microphone, audio processing and capacitive touch sensors. The latter allows the current mood to be changed by tapping on the top of the lamp.
Plus there is the now pre-requisite app where users can select different colours to match their mood, much like Philip Hue‘s light recipes.
Except with Ion it’s not just colours on tap; users get to choose from various light displays — aka “moods”, which are basically different coloured flashes, pulses and spins (given aptly headachey names like ‘Pulse’, ‘Plasma’ and ‘Strobe’). The lamp will ship with 15 different moods out of the box — but lava says they plan to keep adding more as the Kickstarter campaign goes on, and after Ion ships.
The app also lets Ion owners set the brightness and speed of these displays, so you can dial down or up the headache-factor. Ion’s makers have built a website where you can remote-control their prototype to test the moods out yourself.
The flagship feature of Ion is called ‘Rave’ mode — which does kind of hint at the demographic lava is targeting here. Rave mode utilizes the audio processing abilities of the lamp, meaning it listens to the music you’re playing and generates a real-time light show that’s in sync with your phat beats. In other words: party in your basement!
Low frequencies produce reds, mids produce greens, and highs produce blues. Every time a beat is detected (kick drum, bass, etc), you’ll see a bright pulse of light. Using the app, you can customize the emphasis of each color as you see fit.
Ion can also be have more subtle uses, though, such as notifications — albeit, it’s still taking the concept of hardware smartphone add-ons, like myLED or FLASHr, and sizing it up so that new Facebook missive or weather alert is rather harder to miss.
Another use for the lamp is as a visual alarm clock — if waking up to a strobe is your kind of thing. There’s also an open API for developers to play around further. Lava says Ion can be controlled by a Raspberry Pi, as well as an Android or iOS device.
So how much is Ion going to cost? Its current Kickstarter entry point is $199, with an estimated delivery date of this August. The $20,000 in crowdfunds being sought by lava is needed to finalize Ion’s firmware, build the iOS and Android apps, and scale production, it says.
See more here: Ion Is A Wireless Smart Light That Reacts To Touch And Tunes
Reporters and industry watchers go nuts when an S-1 is filed for an initial public offering because there are always a few surprises to be found while digging through the numbers.
The Box IPO filing this past week was no exception. Along with details on Box’s revenue (growing quickly) and bottom line income (still in the red), the filing revealed that Aaron Levie, Box’s well-known and charismatic co-founder and CEO who is indisputably the face of the company, held a smaller stake of the firm than outsiders might have expected.
The S-1 indicates that Levie’s ownership of Box prior to the offering stands at 4.1 percent, and when his unexecuted stock offerings are taken into account, his overall ownership is 5.7 percent. It’s a stake that’s worth more than $100 million, which is of course a lot of money. But Levie’s holdings seem relatively small in light of his contributions to the company and the 25.5 percent stake held by VC investor Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
Someone took to Quora to anonymously wonder, “Aaron Levie is down to a 4% stake heading into the Box IPO. How does he feel watching DFJ and USVP laugh to the bank after 10 years of sweat, blood, and tears?”
Surprisingly, Levie himself pitched in with a reply:
“So far, I have yet to bleed while building Box (well, one time I was late to a meeting and cut myself shaving). And honestly, if anyone is regularly bleeding while building a software company, I would have some serious questions about their strategy and if they’re executing properly. Definitely lots of tears and sweat though. Start your company because you want to change the world, and the rest is gravy.”
It’s a response that’s equal parts funny, clever, and earnest — fun without breaking any big rules (and there are a lot of those, for a company that’s officially on the road to an IPO.) In short, classic Levie.
For more classic Levie, you can watch his fireside chat with TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington from our Disrupt Europe conference this past fall. It was a lively and solid conversation about Box’s past and future that’s fun to re-watch in light of the IPO news this week:
Originally posted here: Box CEO Aaron Levie Takes To Quora About His (Sorta) Small IPO Stake: It’s All Gravy
With all the hubbub surrounding 3D printing as of late, it’s easy to think of it as something new. Something that, before 5 or 6 years ago, only existed in Sci-Fi novels.
Surprise! 3D printing has actually been around for decades. In fact, the first kinda-sorta functional 3D printer prototype was built way back in 1984. This year, its inventor, Chuck Hull, is being inducted into the National Inventors Hall Of Fame.
This puts him up in the ranks, in the U.S. Patent Office’s eyes, with folks like Thomas Edison, Jobs/Woz, the Wright Brothers, Einstein, and Eli Whitney.
In 1984, Hull had a realization: if you pointed a highly focused UV light at a special, goopy material (called a “photopolymer” ), the material would instantly turn solid wherever the light would touch. If you did this repeatedly, layer by layer, you could “print” an object into existence. He dubbed it “stereolithography“, and bam! 3D printing was born.
3D printing has come a long way since 1984, of course. Materials — and the objects being printed with them — have gotten much, much stronger. We’ve developed new techniques, like laser sintering (which companies like Tesla use to print their prototypes in metal) and FDM extrusion (think Makerbot, which uses quick-solidifying melted plastic to print its layers). Most importantly, the software has gotten easier to use and the hardware has gotten cheaper — and it’s only going to get better.
But it all started in ’84 — and for that, Hull is finding his place in the National Inventors Hall Of Fame.
(To connect some dots here: when you hear people talking about those “important 3D printing patents” expiring that’ll open the floodgates for affordable 3D printers in the home, they’re often talking about Hull’s patents and those owned by his company, 3D Systems.)
Another name you might recognize, inducted this year: Actress Hedy Lamarr, who, along with composer George Antheil (also being inducted), invented one of the earliest forms of frequency hopping — a technology that, while initially created to help keep the Navy’s torpedoes from getting jammed, can now be found in everything from WiFi routers to Bluetooth headsets.
A new Kickstarter project debuting today offers a lower barrier of entry to those interested in testing the smart lighting waters. At just $25 for an entry-level pre-order of a single unit, the LuMini is the cheapest way to get started with a smart home lighting system, albeit with some trade-offs compared to category leaders like the Philips Hue.
The LuMini comes from TABU Design, a Hong Kong shop that makes the Lumen Bluetooth smart bulb. The full-size Lumen is fairly large, though, and has a 40-watt equivalent output all for $69. The LuMini has the lower retail cost, but it’s also less powerful: TABU Design says it’s ideal for a “night lamp,” but doesn’t specify how many lumens it actually outputs. It uses 3 watts, compared to 7 watts for the standard-sized Lumen, so you can expect it to be probably around half as bright.
With a companion app, you can control the light color, brightness and scheduling, but the difference from most other connected lighting systems with the LuMini is the Bluetooth connectivity: It uses the low-power standard introduced in Bluetooth 4.0 to connect, which greatly simplifies the connection and setup process, but which also has some disadvantages in terms of range (20 ft. maximum) and the ability to remotely connect to your lighting system, which allows you to control bulbs like the Hue from anywhere with connectivity.
The BLE approach still allows for things like proximity activation, however, and it can even be set to trigger light-based notifications for incoming calls. The real innovation here is on price, however, since this is a long-lived LED bulb (rated at 30,000 hours) that will retail for around $30. Also, it’s a very small bulb, whereas others like the LIFX smartbulb have been criticized for their larger-than-normal size.
The TABU Design team hopes to ship the LuMini in April this year, which isn’t that much of a stretch when you consider that they’re already actively shipping the original Lumen, which is sold via its website and through Amazon. The project is seeking $50,000 in 30 days, and hopefully it gets there, because what this market really needs is more price pressure to drive mass market adoption.