A New Kind of Wearable Tech That You Won’t Forget When You Leave in the Morning

Wearable technology is great because it connects you to everything you need while being discreet, lightweight, and portable. The downside is that your fitness tracker, watch, or glasses are easily forgotten when they are so small and seamlessly integrated into your daily life. One startup company is looking for a way to ensure that you don’t go about your day without your smart accessories. OMsignal is working on a few shirts that sense heart rate, breathing levels, and movement via electrodes sewn into the fabric. The data is gathered and presented in an iPhone app that will also track calories burned and steps taken. Wearable technology aims to add a small gadget to your outfit to add functionality to your normal attire, but soon, your outfit itself could make your Fitbit obsolete.

OMsignal’s shirt and gadget combination costs almost $100 more than a Pebble smartwatch now, but they hope clothing manufacturers will pick up the technology and integrate it into their own clothes. The shirts also more accurately capture the biological data from your workout since the sensors are closer to your heart and lungs than a wristband. Wearable technology is still very much in its early stages, and like all new gadgets, it has some kinks that still need to be worked out. I’m excited about this new development in technology and can’t wait to see where OMsignal, and so many other startups go with it.

 A New Kind of Wearable Tech That You Won’t Forget When You Leave in the Morning

Learn more about OMsignal here and let me know what you think in the comments!

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The Future of Green Energy

As technological advances are made at increasing speed, the need for clean, cost-effective, consistent, and efficient energy is becoming imperative to fuel the future. Sustainable energy sources now need extremely specific locations, times, and environments in order to work, and engineers are still facing challenges regarding storing and transporting the energy produced. One company has created a solution to the confining aspects of green energy, but only in regions that are warm year-round. While location is still a restricting factor in the efficacy of this new green energy production, Solar Wind Energy, Inc. has laid the foundation for a “bold yet brilliant” sustainable future.

 The Future of Green Energy

Solar Wind Energy, Inc. has found an innovative way to surpass the current limits on alternative energy production while fostering energy independence: the Solar Wind Energy Tower. The Tower combines the best aspects of both solar and wind technology to harness the natural power of downdrafts, a clean, renewable resource that will provide a myriad of benefits for the corporations and countries that invest. The greatest benefit of this new alternative energy source is that it can operate all day, every day of the year, unlike wind or solar power on their own.

The first Solar Wind Energy Tower will be built in San Luis, Arizona and will be able to produce 1,250 megawatts an hour on a hot summer day. It will be functional in 2018, and hopefully by that time, others in hot climates will experiment with the revolutionary technology too. The group of scientists, business professionals, engineers, and industry consultants behind this project hope to implement the Tower in places like the southern United States, Africa, the Middle East, and other locations where the weather is hot and energy independence is a goal. Check out the video below to learn more about how the Solar Wind Energy Tower works and why it may be the green energy of the future.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMMlmqohOJs

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The Bible of Barbecue

“All-in-one” is a phrase that’s used frequently to describe everything from computers to insurance plans, but never for a book. The company JWT Brazil changed that with Biblia Definitiva Do Churrasco: The Bible of Barbecue. I love amazing food and learning about new delicacies and ways to prepare old classics. This book, while only released to “master barbecue chefs” right now, is a masterpiece on its own: each page in the book serves a purpose in the preparation of the perfect barbecue, from prepping to serving. The book is a mix of artistic typography, useful tools, and culinary how-tos. Creating a meal is accomplished by deconstructing the book: tear out pages to season your steak, light your grill, and clean your countertop. A knife sharpener, cutting board, apron, and serving plate are all inside the wood-bound Bible. Check out the video below to see more of the extremely unique and useful all-in-one book.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9l1glIKMtqE

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Commercial Space Travel

Johannes Marliem2 Commercial Space Travel

Recently, Virgin Galactic was cleared by the U.S. government to begin commercial space flights. For $250,000 people can buy a ticket to space. The first flights will take place this year and will launch from Spaceport in New Mexico where they will bring people to the upper edges of the atmosphere.

Many children grow up wanting to become astronauts, and while many never get that opportunity, Sir Richard Branson, a famous entrepreneur, is making space flight a dream come true for them.

I can only imagine the breathtaking sites passengers will see on these flights. While many won’t be able to afford this kind of trip, I hope this will spur more innovation that allows the masses to reach outer space. Here’s to hoping the inaugural flights go well!

Check out more pictures of Virgin Galactic’s spaceship here.

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A Small Victory for Orangutan Conservation

 A Small Victory for Orangutan Conservation

Orangutans are a critically endangered species which means that a great deal of news about them is less than optimistic. There are, however, moments of great hope due to committed conservationists, primatologists, and zoo programs. In May, one of those moments occurred when 16-year-old Mei at the Cameron Park Zoo gave birth to her first baby, a girl. Mei and Kerajaan (or KJ) are Bornean orangutans whose habitat is being devastated in their native country. The birth of their daughter is cause for great celebration because the number of orangutans in the world is decreasing, leading to extinction if action is not taken. The Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas is taking great care to ensure that the new baby properly bonds to her mother and is cared for by her parents and zoo staff. The road to species recovery is long and difficult, but small victories like these make the hard work absolutely worth it.

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We’re Not the Only Species Who Feels Bad about Eating That

 Were Not the Only Species Who Feels Bad about Eating That

The Department of Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota recently found that our brains are a lot more similar to those of mice than we thought. Regret is a cognitive behavior that humans express when they feel sorry about something they have done. Until recently, we believed that only humans felt that emotion. Scientists at the University of Minnesota have found some proof that rats, too, feel regret, evidenced by brain activity similar to humans’. When people realize that they have made a mistake and feel badly, the orbitofrontal cortex region of the brain is active. Because rats’ brains behaved the same way during the studies and tests, researchers were able to ascertain that rats were feeling regret like we do. This finding has undoubtedly left scientists worldwide wondering what other “human” characteristics we share with the rest of the animal kingdom, and will spur years of fascinating research and scientific growth.

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Printing Food

 Printing Food

Where does technology, food, and sustainability meet?

When you print your food.

That is right, using 3-D printing technology printing edible meals has jumped from the world of the “Jetsons” to our plates. 3-D printing has started a revolution over the past few years, it can be used to make anything from musical instruments to innovative prosthetics. It is changing how we assemble the objects in our world and bringing about an age where less and less is impossible. So how will this change food? Apparently a lot.

The particular 3-D printer that can generate meals, called Foodini, was unveiled in April. It will be available for home and professional kitchen use within the year (for $1,300).  To be honest it actually seems very convenient–even nostalgically futuristic. Want a cookie? Print it. Can’t get to the local pizza shop before it closes? Print yourself a slice.

So what does this technology mean for our world as a whole? Will the 3-D food printer usher in an age of food that doesn’t use up environmental resources? The possibilities point to yes. Given a chance there seems that there is a way to use this technology to help create a sustainable food market. “Imagine being able to grow, cook or prepare foods without the negative industrial impact – from fertilisers to packaging. The production chain for food would nearly be eliminated,” says Homaro Cantu, a chef who has used 3-D printers for his sushi production. Conventional production of course will not disappear overnight, but it does raise the idea of a new future for food production, packaging, and politics which has not changed much in a long time.

To add another question, what will happen as 3-D printers are introduced to a commercial market? We’ll just have to sit back and see.

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Ever-Changing Home Technology

Johannes Marliem7 Ever Changing Home Technology

I read a story recently in the St. Paul Pioneer Press describing how a man was alerted via phone that his home’s furnace was not functioning properly, and it was minus 14 degrees outside at the time. Thanks to an internet-connected temperature sensor on his thermostat, the man was able to replace the batteries in thermostat and restart his furnace in a timely manner.  Think of the damage that could have been done. Pipes could have burst leading to severe water damage in the home.

A Minneapolis tech startup is at the forefront of this technology. SmartThings made the sensor that detected the man’s furnace not working properly. It never ceases to amaze me that so many Minnesota-based companies are innovators in the technological world. Just another great reason to love this state.

Technology is evolving so rapidly, and in the process is making our everyday lives much easier. We are able to control the environments of our homes at the convenience of our fingertips using smart phones. We can lock our doors, open our garages, set the room temperature, turn on the lights and more all with the press of a button on our phones.

I wonder when the first all “smart home” will be built, if it hasn’t already.

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The California Orangutan Alliance

 The California Orangutan Alliance

In May a new cooperative project was announced that would bring together two amazing organizations that are committed to preserving orangutans. The California Orangutan Alliance is the partnership between two NGOs, The Orangutan Conservancy (OC)  and The Orang Utan Republik Foundation (OURF), that will strengthen conservation efforts in Indonesia. Both of these NGOs have many years of experience behind them, and years of work ahead of them, and have come together for their common goal. United, they will protect orangutans and their habitat through research, education, public awareness projects, and on-the-ground efforts. I’m overjoyed to see that even halfway around the world from Sumatra and Borneo, people are coming together to help those great apes.

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Is Bitcoin Becoming Legitimate Currency?

 Is Bitcoin Becoming Legitimate Currency?

Bitcoin is the perpetually controversial digital currency that is radically changing the way we think about banks, payments, and financial systems. The ability to make instant worldwide payments with little to no processing fees, as an open source service that functions collectively without a central authority, shakes the foundational ideology of the global financial system. Bitcoin is slowly catching on for peer to peer transactions, and has even been picked up by major retailers such as Tiger Direct, Overstock.com, and WordPress. This begs the question: is Bitcoin appropriate for all types of transactions?

Recently, the FEC (Federal Election Commission) approved the use of Bitcoin for political donations. This landmark decision was one of the first by a government agency regarding the use of the virtual currency. The advisory opinion, authorized by a 6-0 vote, said that Bitcoin can be accepted as donations and purchased by political committees, but cannot be used to acquire goods and services. The stipulation is that the digital currency must be converted into U.S. dollars before it can be deposited into an official campaign account.

The Libertarian party has already been accepting Bitcoin since last year, but since the ruling, the currency may become more popular in the political world. There are still a plethora of regulations and policies surrounding the acceptance of the new type of donation, such as a $100 cap, and many who see the decision as risky. The FEC Chairman Lee Goodman views the situation differently; he said, “I think it’s important for the FEC to embrace technology and innovation, and that’s what we did”.

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