Suicide prevention and awareness – there’s an app for that


I would like to preface this post by saying that I am not a doctor. I also would like to say that although I cannot relate to those suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts, I have supported loved ones who overcame mental health issues. Today marks the end of Suicide Prevention Week, which peaked on Suicide Prevention Day, September 10. Unfortunately, suicide and other mental health illnesses are often taboo topics that aren’t discussed except when they are news-worthy, like during this week or the untimely death of Robin Williams. However, awareness about depression and suicide prevention are topics that need to be discussed at any time of year because they are serious issues. According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is the third leading cause of death among persons aged 15-24 years, the second among persons aged 25-34 years, the fourth among person aged 35-54 years, and the eighth among person 55-64 years. Overall, it is the number ten killer in the United States, and for every suicide death, there are two to three attempts. Depression is a complicated illness that cannot be summarized in one blog post, but luckily there are some websites and apps that can help spread awareness and serve as conversation starters if you are concerned about yourself or a loved one. #1 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline This website serves as a go-to resource for anyone suffering or watching someone suffer from severe depression. It has statistics and resources, as well as a list of numbers to call by state. #2 TalkLife TalkLife is a community to talk about depression, self harm and life’s challenges. I personally like the design, but that is only a trivial detail compared to the anonymous community support it provides. The app has only four or five star reviews, and the those that have reviewed it have positive things to say. See some of the reviews below:

#3 ASK about suicide to save a life The ASK app provides a guide for talking to a loved one about depression and suicide. Although it’s features are a little obsolete, it’s content is not. It provides warning signs and links to ASK training. It is also in English and Spanish, with subsections for Veterans and LGBTQ.


The app that knows when you’re girlfriend really isn’t ‘fine’

Researchers at Faunhofer IIS in Germany are currently developing an application for Google Glass that is able to detect and analyze emotions. The app is called SHORE, which stands for Sophisticated High-spec Object Recognition Engine, and allegedly its software can recognize both subtle and obvious emotions by reading facial expressions. SHORE can also predict the age of the person, plus or minus about a few years.

SHORE has tremendous real-world applications, especially aiding those with Autism to better recognize how people are feeling.

Although the software appears to have a long way to go before it is able to distinguish between emotions better than most humans, it does prompt a concern about privacy in the digital age. How will corporations or other people manipulate you when they are able to identify exactly who you are and how you’re feeling? Although SHORE only recognizes faces and emotions but not identities, it is not unthinkable that in the future information about your emotions could be sold to advertisers by a similar application.

Take a first-hand look at SHORE in the video below:

Minority Report sequel may come to the small screen

Minority Report

You can’t have a discussion about modern-day science fiction without mentioning Minority Report. The Steven Spielberg movie depicts a terrifying future that maybe hits a little too close to home right now amidst recent privacy concerns. It also became a benchmark for how we can interact with technology and even inspired the creation and design of new products, like Leap Motion. The best part of all of this is that the science fiction classic may be back as a television series on Fox.

Fox allegedly snagged up the pilot from Steven Speilberg’s production company. It’s set 10 years after the Precrime ends in DC and will follow the journey of one of the Precog’s transition into society. Although no one knows if this show will even air, but I know that if it does I’ll be watching.

Read more about the announcement here.

Apple’s Watch is not the Droid you’re looking for.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Apple announced Watch today. It does a lot of neat things, including some health-related stuff. You should read all about it, but this is all I have to say…

This isn't the Droid you're looking for.

This isn’t the Droid you’re looking for.

Why I have a love/hate relationship with my UP by Jawbone

Photo courtesy of Frederik Hermann

Photo courtesy of Frederik Hermann

If you’re a wearable tech user like me, there are probably some things you love about your device… and some things that don’t quite live up to your standards.

I can’t speak for all wearable tech users, but from what I’ve seen, it looks like people use their device for a few weeks, but as the novelty wears off, the device mysteriously disappears from their wrist.

For anyone seriously considering buying a smart wearable device here are some things I love and don’t like about mine, the UP by Jawbone.

Love: It Gives You Goals
When you sync up your band with your smart phone, UP by Jawbone provides excellent feedback and tracking up the number of steps you took and the quality of your sleep. I love it though because it goes one step further and suggests challenges and goals you can opt into. For example, if it sees you are consistently making your normal steps gaol, it prompts you to push yourself even further by adding a few hundred extra steps. These challenges are great because you can opt-into them and test out whether you’re ready to set a new goal to strive towards.

↓ Dislike: The Feeling
I think UP by Jawbone feels tight on my wrist. Jawbone does make their band in different sizes to help provide a proper fit, but I still find it hard to forget that I am wearing the band and sometimes subconsciously take it off. I don’t blame Jawbone for this feature though because I believe it’s the best they can do with modern technology. If you don’t like anything weighty or constricting, then it might be worth waiting a year or so until newer, better quality wearable tech hits stores.

♥ Love: The Sleep Settings
My favorite feature hands down about the UP is its ability to monitor your sleep cycle and wake you up accordingly. I love power naps and regularly use the UP’s built-in nap function. Without it, I tend to sleep for too long or wake up drowsy, but the UP ensures I get the perfect 20 – 30 minute snooze. Moreso, it is much more pleasant to be woken up with a gentle vibration on the wrist than the sound of a traditional alarm. Added points because the silence doesn’t wake a sleeping partner.

↓ Dislike: The Charging Process
Whenever I stop wearing my UP, it’s because the battery had died, and I don’t charge it again. I have lost several chargers and sometimes it’s a while before I can only charge the device on my personal computer. Although this inconvenience may be stronger for me than others, I wish that Jawbone included wall chargers when the UP is purchased. Once charged, however, the band’s batter lasts for a week.

Overall, the Jawbone UP, like most wearable tech devices in their current form, is a great device to keep you aware of your wellness but not an essential to the Fit Geek’s life.