Science Says You Should Watch More Cat Videos

Lil Bub (whose owner Mike Bridavsky helped distribute the survey via social media). Image courtesy of Mike Bridavsky/www.lilbub.com

Lil BUB (whose owner Mike Bridavsky helped distribute the survey via social media). Image courtesy of Mike Bridavsky/www.lilbub.com

Cat videos were viewed almost 26 billion times on YouTube last year alone, so it is no surprise that almost everyone loves to watch furry felines, like Grumpy Cat or Lil BUB. However, science is giving us another reason to tune in – watching cat videos online actually boosts your energy and decreases your negative feelings, according to a new study.

Jessica Gall Myrick, an assistant professor at the Indiana University Media School, surveyed almost 7,000 people about how viewing cat videos affected their mood. After watching cat-related online media, participants said they felt more energetic and positive, and had fewer negative emotions, including anxiety, annoyance, and sadness.

Jessica Gall Myrick. Image courtesy of Indiana University.

Jessica Gall Myrick. Image courtesy of Indiana University.

Overall, the participants agreed that the pleasure they got from watching cat videos outweighed any guilt they felt about procrastinating (many watched videos at work or while studying). Myrick says the results suggest that future research could explore how online cat videos might be used as a form of low-cost pet therapy.

“If we want to better understand the effects the Internet may have on us as individuals and on society, then researchers can’t ignore Internet cats anymore,”stated Myrick in a press release.  “Even if they are watching cat videos on YouTube to procrastinate or while they should be working, the emotional pay-off may actually help people take on tough tasks afterward.”

To learn more about the study, it was published in the latest issue of Computers in Human Behavior.

How To Pick The Right Brand Of Sunscreen

Image courtesy of Jeff Wilcox.

Image courtesy of Jeff Wilcox.

June means the official start of summer, whether you’re counting by the end of the school year or the official calendar date. Americans will trade in jackets for towels, and days cooped up for those spent lounging by the pool. But regardless of whether you’re wearing short shorts, a wide-brimmed sunhat, or stylish maxi dress, there’s one thing you should not leave the house without – sunscreen.

Chances are, if you’re like most Americans, you do just that. A recent study found that only 14% of men and 30% of women regularly wear sunscreen, putting themselves at risk for skin cancer.

The rate of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, has risen 250%  for children, adolescents, and young adults since 1973, according to the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. And it doesn’t matter if you burn or not,  by not using sunscreen, you’re putting yourself at risk for cancer.

“Anyone can get skin cancer, so everyone should take steps to protect themselves from the sun,” stated Dr. Mark Lebwohl, president of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

So what is the ideal brand of sunscreen?

According to the AAD, it’s one that is broad-spectrum, water-resistant, and has an SPF of 30 or higher. Be sure the sunscreen says those words on the label, or else you may just be getting protection against sunburns and not against skin cancer and early aging.

Although the AAD’s website doesn’t list specific sunscreens, here are a few that meet that criteria: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer, Banana Boat Ultramist, Coppertone Sunscreen Lotion Ultra Guard, Sun Bum Lip Balm.

You can learn more about picking the right sunscreen, preventing skin cancer, and sunscreen application tips on the AAD’s website.

Infographic courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Infographic courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatology.

3 Technologies That Will Change The Way We Charge

Image courtesy of Jim Bauer.

Image courtesy of Jim Bauer.

Utilizing ultrasound, RFsignals, and superspeed, three companies are trying to change the way we charge our devices.

#1 uBeam Wireless has created a way to charge devices wirelessly through ultrasound. The prototype uses ultrasound to send electricity to devices up to 15 feet away. All it takes is a receiver on your phone, and your device receives electricity like WiFi. The device isn’t out yet, but you can learn more about it from TechCrunch and The New York Times.

#2 Nikola Labs turns RF signals (like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and LTE) into power for your device. The company has created an iPhone case that can wirelessly charge your phone wherever you go. According to TechCrunch, the case  converts wasted energy from the phone and converts it to battery life, powering it up to 30% longer. Nikola Labs will launch a Kickstarter campaign with the case soon.

#3 Nucleus Scientific wants to charge a phone in the amount of time it takes to fill your car’s gas tank. Their new Intelligent Energy System “reduces battery charging times from hours to minutes while extending lifetimes considerably,” according to the company’s website. The technology is still patent-pending.

5 Reasons To Meditate Daily [Infographic]

Meditation has countless health benefits, including the following five.

Reasons to Meditate

Ready to start meditating? There are plenty of apps and services to help you get into a routine, including the highly-reviewed Calm and Headpsace. Read more of the editor’s take on meditation (and other) apps here.

Learn more about the science behinds the facts: reduces stress, keeps your brain sharp, alleviates chronic pain, improves focus, helps you sleep better.

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Three Apps For Better Financial Health

Apps like Digit can help you save, even when you don't know where to start. | Image courtesy of Digit.

Apps like Digit can help you save, even when you don’t know where to start. | Image courtesy of Digit.

We live in the 21st century, but most apps that deal with money are living like it’s 1999. If you want to find high-tech ways to save better and more efficiently, you need to check these out. After all, the majority of Americans stress about money, and stress is bad for your health.

#1 Digit
In case you didn’t know, Americans are bad at saving. Really bad. In fact, 60% of Americans between 18- and 40-years-old saved absolutely nothing in 2013, according to the Federal Reserve. And adults under 35 actually lost 2% of their savings that year.

Digit wants to change that by automatically withdrawing savings from your account. The service goes like this:

  • Sign up for Digit
  • Digit analyzes your spending habits
  • Every two to three days Digit automatically withdrawals $5 to $50, depending on what you can afford to save
  • When you need the money, you text Digit, and it’s back to your account within the day

With 128-bit bank-level security, you don’t have to worry about hackers any more than with a normal bank, and any money you put in is also FDIC insured up to $250,000. Digit is also so confident in its savings algorithm that if you need the money ASAP, and Digit took out too much, you don’t have to pay any over-draft (taking out too much money) fees.

The service is mainly done through text messaging, which can be considered a pro or con depending on the person. In addition, the money Digit saves doesn’t earn any interest (Hint: that’s how Digit makes its money.)

Summary: If you’re not saving any money now or are not disciplined enough to put cash away, then Digit is for you. But you’re already regularly saving and want to make decent (in today’s world) bang for your buck, you should consider putting your savings into a high-earning savings account through an online bank, like Ally.

#2 LearnVest
LearnVest is online budgeting, goal-setting software that accurately monitors your savings, spending, and loans, so you can see your actual net worth in real time.

The website connects to your bank accounts and acts like a one-stop portal for your finances. Through LearnVest, you can create a budget and set financial goals.

Like other budgeting software, LearnVest uses a “folder” method, where you can place expenses into appropriate categories like groceries, entertainment, or transportation. The website does try automatically place expenses where they should go, but sometimes you need to enter the folder yourself .LearnVest also breaks down your budget into fixed and flexible income so that you can easily see how much you have in each category.

What separates it from others in the category is the ability to set and track goals. Then, as you add money toward the goal, you can visually see your progress. The only downside is you can only set one goal per savings account, so you may have to get creative and combine multiple goals into one.

SUMMARY: LearnVest is great for people with multiple online accounts who want an easy way to see there expenses, savings, and debts in one place. While it is a good budgeting app, it’s not a great one, but you can set goals through the app and visual track them.

#3 YouNeedABudget
YouNeedABudget is an oldie but a goodie, and it’s constantly making best budgeting apps because if you have the time, it will teach you discipline.

One of the best and worst features of YouNeedABudget is that you have to manually enter every transaction. I’m sure by now the software could easily link to your bank accounts (it doesn’t) and get that information, but the real power of it is that you know exactly how much you’re spending each month. The catch is that you have to have the discipline to use it regularly.

If you can get in the habit of inputting your expenses, YouNeedABudget is one of the best monthly budgeting programs out there, helping you to break down spending by category and microcategory. It also automatically does the math and carryovers for you, so you just need to do line-by-line expenses.

Summary: YouNeedABudget is good for people who are discplined time-wise, but aren’t so budget-savvy. It’s also good for visual learners who need to see exactly how things break down, and for people who don’t want their account information directly linked to a program. It’s not so good for people who just want an overview of their finances or don’t have the patience to enter things item-by-item.

Did I miss your go-to finance app? Share your favorites (or least favorites) in the comments below!

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Zazzy Lets You Design Your Own 3D-Printable Jewelry

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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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.

Maven Is Reinventing The Doctor’s Visit

Screenshot of Maven in the iTunes App store.

Screenshot of Maven in the iTunes App store.

You’ve been wanting to visit the doctor about [fill in the blank], but between work, family, pets, friends, chores, and whatever else, you haven’t been able to schedule an appointment. I’m all too familiar with the scenario, and now there’s a new telemedicine app here to help – Maven.

Maven is a new telemedicine app designed (mostly) by women for women. The app allows you to book and pay for an appointment with a qualified health and wellness practitioner from your smartphone. Then, you can virtually meet with your provider via video chat.

The app features a whole slew of doctors and other practitioners for whatever issue you’re having. Nurses, physicians, pediatricians, dermatologists, psychologists, and pregnancy specialists are just some of the professionals screened by Maven to answer your questions. That way, you can get peace of mind when your baby is sick for the first time or a prescription for the flu you suddenly came down with.

Maven is also focused on building relationships between practitioners and clients. In a video with some of their medical staff, one of the professionals said, “I find my patients like to text me with follow up questions and concerns after the visit.” I wish I could do that with my normal doctor.

Appointments can be booked for 10 minutes all the way to 1 hour. The app lets you know the cost up-front, and appointments start at $18.

Maven is currently only available for iOS devices (boo!). If you run Apple, you can download it from the App store, but if you’re running Android like myself, I guess we’ll just have to wait until Maven is released on Google Play.

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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.

The Coolest Clock Is Wrapping Up Its Indiegogo Campaign

Image courtesy of Coolest Clock.

Image courtesy of Coolest Clock.

Is the Coolest Clock the coolest clock? Perhaps. This customizable clock is a projection system and one of the more revolutionary time-keeping devices in recent years.

The Coolest Clock doesn’t look like much before it’s turned on – just a plain, white semicircle. But once it’s attached to a wall and powered up, the clock displays much more than just the time.

Using a projection system, the clock displays real-time information, including the weather, breaking news, calendar alerts, and social media updates. It also includes various, customizable displays that can also change size so that the clock adjusts to your needs and preferences.

The clock is controlled by a smartphone app, so that the display can be easily changed. It can also display information from your device, like your location or your latest photos to help you stay connected with loved ones when you’re away from home.

The Coolest Clock is wrapping up its Indiegogo campaign this week. It’s already been successfully funded (by far), but you have a few days left to pre-order the clock for $199, which is $100 off future retail prices. The clock is expected to ship at the end of 2015.

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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.

The Momento Pearl Is Reinventing The Locket

The Memento Pearl stores digital memories, accessible by any NFC-enabled smartphone.

The Memento Pearl stores digital memories, accessible by any NFC-enabled smartphone.

Lockets are meant to store precious memories, an occasion or person that shouldn’t be easily forgotten. But in a digital world, the locket hasn’t gotten much of a redesign – until now.

Galatea has created The Momento Pearl, a modern locket that digitally stores pictures, audio, or text. Using an app, you can record a message on a high-tech ‘pearl’ that can be played on any NFC-enabled smartphone.

The Memento Pearl smartphone app.

The Memento Pearl smartphone app.

The app looks simple, and the concept is brilliant. The question is whether the technology will be around as long as a picture in a locket.

However, it could be worth a try since the sterling silver necklaces start at $130. If a sterling silver necklace doesn’t sound appealing to you, the company is also putting the technology into various materials and styles, including rings and earrings.

Their Kickstarter campaign was successfully funded last week, with the original shipment scheduled to go out in time for Mother’s Day (awwww). They’ll also be sold on pearls.com later this year.

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Handiii: The Bionic Arm That Costs Less Than $300 To Make

Handiii, the bionic hand that may change the industry. Image courtesy of Exiii.

This bionic hand may shake up the whole industry. Image courtesy of Exiii.

The future is here my friends, and it looks like Handiii, a robotic arm that can be 3D printed and controlled by the electrical activity in your muscles.

Handiii demoed at Maker Faire 2014. Image courtesy of Exiii.

Handiii demoed at Maker Faire 2014. Image courtesy of Exiii.

Handiii can perform simple tasks, like handshakes, pointing, or holding and releasing a ball. In a demo video with Ruptly TV, a representative says that the arm can be programmed with additional commands.

The electronic arm works through a smartphone connection and a EMG sensor, a device that can read the signals your body sends when you intend to move a muscle. You may have seen or heard about EMG sensors that work with video games or health technology.  Your smartphone then interprets these signals, causing the arm to perform different motions.

Exiii, the Japanese technology behind the arm, demoed it at this year’s SXSW. According to Exiii’s website, the creators wanted to design a reasonably priced, but still useful prosthetic limb. Most bionic arms with the amount of Handiii’s functionality cost $10,000 – $40,000, but Handiii was able to manufacture theirs for under $300.

Handiii is customizable. Image courtesy of Exiii.

Handiii is customizable. Image courtesy of Exiii.

Because Handiii is 3D printable, you can customize the colors, texture, and other aesthetic features of the bionic arm, and new parts can be reprinted as necessary.

You also don’t need to be an amputee to use the device. Handiii can be remotely controlled; however, the practicality of that is questionable.

The problem? Handiii isn’t available for sale yet. Exiii has yet to set a consumer price and is currently only selling their product to research institutions. BUT being able to even create a functional bionic arm for under $300 is a big step forward, and a sign that the prosthetic industry might be about to get a major overall.

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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.