The Importance Of Setting Technology Boundaries For Kids

Kids today benefit so much from technology, but sometimes it’s important to take a break. Image courtesy of Mireille Hayward of Mimi’s Journey to Health.

Kids today benefit so much from technology, but sometimes it’s important to take a break. Image courtesy of Mireille of Mireille’s Journey to Health.

Editors note: This article is by Mireille from Mireille’s Journey to Health. I highly encourage you to read some of her great posts.

Technology is advancing so quickly.  We are able to do more than ever.  We are living in the digital age.  Our kids are growing up in it.  The things they are able to do on a computer are amazing!  It’s so natural to them.  At the same time, it seems to be consuming so many of them.  According to www.childrenstech.com, there are over 40,000 apps for kids!

When I was in school, there was a computer lab.  It was one room, and it served the entire school.   Just the other day, I was attending a parent teacher conference for my 6 year-old.  I had him, along with my other two children with me.  As I entered the classroom to meet the teacher, she handed them each an ipad to play games while we talked.  She had enough iPads for her entire class!  I saw that, and I thought to myself, “Wow! Times have changed!”

It seems wherever I go, I see kids playing on tablets and phones.  I truly feel that kids will benefit from their exposure to technology.  It’s going to be a huge part of their future.  However, in addition to being able to tap the screen on a tablet or phone, they need to function in the real, physical world they live in.  Play time needs to consist of more than tapping a screen or moving a joy stick.  They need to be up and moving around playing, without a screen involved.  They need to be able to entertain themselves without having a phone or tablet to play with.  So many kids feel like they need to have digital entertainment at all times.  It’s crazy!  Whatever happened to imagination and creative play?

It’s hard to set ground rules, especially with so many grey areas, such as educational apps.  I’ll be honest, my 6 year-old studies his spelling words with an app on the iPad.  It seems to be the most effective way we’ve found for him to study.  I’m definitely not opposed to them using the tablets and the phones.  Technology is advancing fast, and what better way to keep up with it, than to grow and advance with it!  What they need to find is balance, so they are not consumed in this digital, technological era.

I’m not going to recommend or support anyone’s recommendation for a maximum amount of time kids should be exposed to technology each day.  Each child is different.  Each day is different.  Be aware of how your kids are spending their time, what they’ve accomplished that day, and their overall attitudes.  Homework and chores should always come first.  Kids should have time for active, imaginative, creative play, as well.

Some signs your kids might need to put down the tablet for a while:

  • They’re trying to play it at the dinner table and in the car – specifically short, local car rides
  • They struggle when they’re asked to do something creative or imaginative
  • It’s all they want to talk about
  • They don’t want to do anything else
  • They become moody, argue, and have an overall negative attitude

There are no one-size-fits-all, hard rules.  You know your child better than anyone.  If they seem to be consumed by the “tech world,” have them take a break for a few days.  Take them to the park.  Draw together.  Have them help make dinner.  Make it fun, not like a chore.  Build a fort.  You see what I’m getting at, right?  Do something fun together.  As parents, it’s easy to hand a tablet to our kids to keep them busy so we can do what?  Work on our computer, check things on our phone, or play Candy Crush.  Perhaps, your doing real work or getting laundry done.  It’s still so important to find time to teach our kids how to play and be creative, even in a digital world.

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NailO Puts The Power Of Technology (Literally) At Your Fingertips

A new wearable device, NailO, turns the user’s thumbnail into a miniature wireless track pad. Here, it works as a X-Y coordinate touch pad for a smartphone. Image courtesy of MIT Media Lab.

A new wearable device, NailO, turns the user’s thumbnail into a miniature wireless track pad. Here, it works as a X-Y coordinate touch pad for a smartphone. Image courtesy of MIT Media Lab.

Wearable tech meets nail art in the latest invention from MIT.

NailO is a track pad that fits on your thumb, and it can control the technology around you. By simply making gestures with your other fingers, you can use the device to covertly send messages, add additional functionality to your smartphone, or help when you’re hands are full or dirty.

For instance, if you’re cooking a recipe, but can’t reach over to switch a page on your tablet, you can simply swipe with your index finger to make the virtual page turn. Or, you can use it to create a “finger-painted” smartphone drawing.

NailO comes in various colors and patterns, like other forms of nail art, that can match your personal style. Although, I think the full design of the finger wearable will be improved in future iterations.

Right now the device is just a prototype, but the researchers have plans to turn it into a commercial product.

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Pillsy Knows If You’ve Taken Your Medicine

Screenshot from Pillsy's website, www.getpillsy.com.

Screenshot from Pillsy’s website, www.getpillsy.com.

An estimated 50% of people don’t take their medicine as prescribed, according to a New York Times article, so if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re one of them.

I know first-hand it’s very easy to forget to take a pill. If you stay out later than expected or even if you just have a lot on your mind, you may not even notice you’ve skipped your dosage. With some medications even one missed dose can have dramatic consequences, and Pillsy wants to make sure you don’t take that chance.

Pillsy is a combination of an app and pill container or pouch. You place the medication you need to take into their smart storage system, which syncs automatically with your phone or tablet if its nearby. You can use that app track your dosage, share your data, and monitor all your medications in one place.

The system can tell when you’ve taken a pill and will remind you via your smartphone only if you forget. It also tracks when you’ve taken a pill in a diary, so you or someone else can refer to your medication-adherance history as needed.

Pillsy is starting its foray into the medication-tracking market as a birth control tracker. You simply place your pack in the smart pouch, and the system knows once you’re taken that day’s pill. In addition to the diary feature, the birth control app will offer concise instructions on what to do if you happen to miss a pill (or two or three).

Neither the birth control tracker nor the more broad tracker are out yet. Pillsy is focusing on the  birth control app and pouch first, and you can sign up as an early adopter on the BC pill’s website, www.getpillsy.com. You can also sign up to learn more info about their general pill tracker from their general website, www.pillsy.co.

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A Sensor That Detects Spoiled Meat

This MIT device, based on modified carbon nanotubes, can detect amines produced by decaying meat. Image credit: Sophie Liu

This MIT device, based on modified carbon nanotubes, can detect amines produced by decaying meat. Image credit: Sophie Liu

MIT researchers are at it again – this time by inventing a sensor that detects spoiled meat.

The sensor, which was developed by a team of chemists, is portable and can detect gases emitted by rotting meat. This allows consumers to determine whether the meat in their refrigerator is safe to eat.

The researchers put their sensor to the test and found that various mets last over four days in the fridge but decay at different rates when left out. They recently published their findings in a scientific journal and have filed a patent for the technology, hoping to license it for commercial use.

The chemists foresee their sensor being used on “smart packaging” that displays more accurate safety information than an expiration date. They also hope it can cut down on food waste because people throw things out that aren’t bad, just based on the expiration date.

The sensor may also be incorporated into a wireless platform developed by the same lab that enables a smartphone to read the freshness of the meat, making it easy for consumers to tell whether or not to cook that piece of chicken.

This isn’t the first sensor that the lab has detected for freshness either. The lead researcher and others have also created one to detect the ripeness of the fruit.

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Researchers Created A Treadmill That Sucks Less

The new treadmill changes pace automatically. Image courtesy of Military Health.

The new treadmill changes pace automatically. Image courtesy of MilitaryHealth.

Let’s face it – running on treadmill sucks. You’re in one place, looking at the same things, and, well, it’s just not the same as running outdoors. But researchers from Ohio State have created a treadmill that sucks a little bit less – it changes pace with you.

This may not seem like much, but the new treadmill is designed to match how we naturally run. When you’re outdoors or on a track, you can change pace without even thinking about it, but if you do so on a treadmill, you find yourself hitting the top or close to the edge. Not anymore.

The automated treadmill uses sonar to tell where you are on the belt and adjusts automatically. If you pick up speed and get closer to the front, it speeds up with you, and if you slow down, it does to.

My only question is – why did nobody do this sooner?

“If you’re running outside and you want to speed up or slow down, there is no button to push. It is the same with this new automated treadmill,” Steven T. Devor, associate professor of kinesiology at OSU and one of the treadmill’s developers, said in a press release.“It is seamless and feels completely natural. You just go.”

The treadmill is now a final prototype and in the process of being patented. Devon said it should be ready for commercialization soon.

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Kurbo Helps Kids Eat Healthier

Kurbo encourages kids, teens, and their parents to learn about nutrition and eat healthier. Images courtesy of Kurbo.

Kurbo encourages kids, teens, and their parents learn about nutrition. Images courtesy of Kurbo.

Trying to eat healthier is a challenge for adults, and even more so for children and teens. With rising rates of obesity, highly processed school lunches, and more people staying sedentary, there are so many challenges kids (and adults) face when trying to get and stay healthy. Kurbo wants to help.

Kurbo is a mobile app that helps kids and teens make smarter food choices. Unlike calorie-counting systems, Kurbo uses a “traffic light diet” developed by Stanford scientists. The app groups foods into red, yellow, and green categories based on how good they are for you.

KurboScreenshot4

The  diet encourages users to consumer fewer “reds,” which includes processed foods or ones that are high in sugar and fat; eat “yellows,” like whole grain breads, in moderation; and go all-out for nutritious “green” choices like fruits and vegetables.

The app sets a goal number of “red” foods per week, and kids are encouraged to log they traffic light color of the foods they eat as they go. Like Weight Watchers, Kurbo does not restrict any foods. Kids can still have sweets and treats, but are reminded to eat them more mindfully. And the reviews for the system are positive – even from adults who want to eat better.

The Android and iOS version of the apps are free to download and for the first week, but you’re charged for a personal coach there after. Plans range from $25/month to $75/month depending on how interactive coaching you’d like.

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Want to stay up-to-date with latest health/tech trends? Follow us to get emails when new posts get published, then follow Crunch Theory on Facebook and Twitter.

Jawbone Releases The UP2

Introducing the UP2. Image courtesy of Jawbone.

Introducing the UP2. Images courtesy of Jawbone.

Last week Jawbone released the newest addition to its popular fitness wearable line, UP2. At $99, the UP2 is one of Jawbone’s cheaper wearables, but that doesn’t mean it’s short on value.

So this is a tad confusing, but the UP2 is the successor to the UP24, and it’s about half the size.  (The order went UP, UP24, UP3 and UP MOVE, now UP2 and soon UP4.)

Although it’s designed to be an entry-way into the fitness tracking world, the UP2 comes with all features you’d expect from a Jawbone tracker. It still automatically tracks your activity and sleep, and the app still provides a relatively easy way to log what food you eat. It’s also still shower-resistant, so you can wear the band 24/7.

Other features include:
• Smart wake alarms for power naps or normal sleep
• Bluetooth connectivity for real-time updates
• 7-day battery life (!!)
• Vibrations for alerts and reminders, like when you need to take a pill or have been sitting for too long

The new UP2 comes in two different colors and styles.

The new UP2 comes in two different colors and styles.

The UP2 also has Smart Coach, which learns your habits and suggests ways to live a healthier, more productive life. For example, if it notices that you take more steps when you go to sleep earlier, it will prompt you to set a goal of going to bed a little earlier that day. Talk about using data to make you a better version you!

In addition to the UP2, Jawbone announced the upcoming UP4. The tracker, which will retail this summer, has the same features as the UP3, including heart rate monitoring.  Jawbone is also partnering with American Express to bring a tap-to-pay feature the tracker, the first fitness wearable to do so.

To learn more about the entire UP line, check out Jawbone’s website.

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Want to stay up-to-date with latest health/tech trends? Follow us to get emails when new posts get published, then follow Crunch Theory on Facebook and Twitter.

Zazzy Lets You Design Your Own 3D-Printable Jewelry

Screenshot of Zazzy.me

Screenshot of Zazzy.me

Zazzy is a website that allows you to create your own 3D-printable jewelry. As the site’s motto says, “You do the chic, we do the geek.”

The process is simple: pick your jewelry, design it, and then Zazzy prints it for you. There are several types of jewelry that you can pick from to design, including necklaces, bracelets, and rings. For most pieces can customize the text, font, color, and some symbols; for others, you can design the shape as well.

The website is intuitive to use, but taking the design you’re imagining in your head and translating it to the jewelry can be a tad challenging. (For reference, check out my attempt to make a peace sign above.) I admit it’s easier to create text-based jewelry, which you can already do on other websites.

For those who are more talented in the design arena, Zazzy has also launched a marketplace. Artists can  upload sketches, choose their material, set profit goals, and then open online stores.

The marketplace is also great for those who want some 3D-printed jewelry, but don’t have the patience to hand-craft the design themselves (like me). Plus, there are already some creative statement pieces for sale. I recommend checking out Atomic Lotus in Silver by Scott Lewis, which is depicted above.

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In 10 Years Your Kitchen May Not Have A Fridge Or Stove

Screenshot of the Table For Living video on Vimeo.

Screenshot of A Table For Living video on Vimeo.

In August 2013, IKEA and IDEO brought students from various international universities together to answer some important questions: What will life around food look like in 2025? Will we be able to help people like healthier, more sustainable lifestyles?

It was up to the students to re-imagine life and the kitchen in 10 years.  In the end, the students’ ideas were featured on the collaboration’s website, Concept Kitchen 2025. The students share a very interesting and optimistic view of where we’ll be in the next decade. Below are two that are particularly mind-blowing.

A Table For Living
What is A Table For Living? One that acts a phone charger, kids toy, stove top, coffee warmer, and tablet, of course. The students who designed this concept table really imagined it as being the center of kitchen life and functional in many, practical ways.

The Table For Living can do quite a bit, including suggesting recipes based on the food items you place on it. You can also pick a meal you want to make, and the table will project various versions of the recipe based on your ingredients, and how long you want to spend cooking. Oh – and the designed table also measures out some foods for you.

In addition to being your new cooking helper, the table is designed to have induction built into the top, so that you can cook food as you’re making and prepping it – right on the same surface.  It can also charge phones or serve as a way for kids to animate their toys.

‘Casual Technology’ Shelving
What if your kitchen shelves kept your food cool? Well, in another design to come out of the program, they can.

The ‘Casual Technology’ shelving uses storage containers that can be cooled using induction, meaning that you may not need a fridge in 2025. Just place your food and beverages inside the boxes, and the shelves can keep them at just the right temperature.

Even better, the containers are designed to work with the Table For Living so that you can grab that piece of leftover pizza from the shelf and heat it up in its container right on the table. Now that sounds convenient.

I encourage you to check out other concepts from that came out of the program. Although these technologies will probably not make it to the consumer in their current forms, IDEO and IKEA do know how to get things done, and in 10 years, we may see products similar to these in our kitchens.

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A Deodorant That Makes You Smell Better The More You Sweat

What if you could smell better the more sweat? | Image courtesy of Dustin Gaffke.

What if you could smell better the more sweat? | Image courtesy of Dustin Gaffke.

There’s good news for those of you who want to take a lunch-break run but don’t want to stink up the office afterwards. Researchers have created a deodorant that makes you smell better the more you sweat, which makes it the perfect topic for this week’s #FitnessFriday.

Scientists at Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland, have developed a deodorant that releases its aroma when it comes into contact with moisture, like sweat. Basically, the more you sweat, the nicer, you’ll smell.

The researchers created this so-called ‘perfume system’ by tacking a pleasant fragrance onto an ionic liquid (salt in the form of liquid), which has no smell. The ‘perfumed ionic liquid’ releases its aroma when it comes into contact with water, allowing more of the perfume’s scent to be released onto a person’s skin.

The deodorant also has the ability to, well, deodorize. It can remove the unpleasant odors that come from sweat because the compounds that are responsible for sweat’s stank are attracted to the ionic liquid. When the stinky compounds attach themselves to the deodorant, they lose their potency.

Needless to say, the researchers saw the potential for their invention to sell, and they are already working with a perfume development company to come up with product ideas that could eventually be sold commercially. If you’re feeling brave, you can read the journal article, called Pro-fragrent ionic liquids with stable hemiacetal motifs: Water-triggered release of fragrances, here.

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