iSwimband Offers Portable Drowning Detection

iSwimbandAquatic Safety Concepts has introduced the iSwimband. It has been described as a wearable “appcessory” for swimmers. The purpose of iSwimband is to reduce the incidence of preventable drowning.

It is intended as an added safety measure that parents and caregivers can use when children are swimming or using a bathtub. It is not meant to be used as a replacement for diligent supervision.

The iSwimband is wearable Bluetooth sensor that is worn by a child or toddler. It can be worn as a headband or attached to a swim cap or water goggles. If a child has been submerged for too long a period of time iSwimband will alert a parent or caregiver through his or her iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. It comes with a free companion iSwimband app.

There is also a tamper resistant version of iSwimband that can be worn by toddlers. It is comes in the form of either a wristband or a clip that will send an alert if the toddler accidentally enters (or falls into) the water.

One iOS device can monitor up to 8 iSwimbands. The “appcessory” functions up to a 100 foot range (dependent upon environmental conditions). There is a one-time setup that only takes a few minutes.

Twitter Restores Block Functionality

Twitter logoTwitter very recently made a change to what happens when a user blocks another one. After receiving lots of feedback, Twitter announced that it was going to restore block functionality back to the way that it originally was. It kind of surprised me how quickly Twitter responded to user feedback on this issue.

Previous to this whole situation, a person who has a Twitter account could chose to block another user. Doing so prevented that other user from being able to contact them. A person who had been blocked could not:

* Follow the person who had blocked them
* Retweet anything from the person who blocked them
* Send a Tweet to a person who blocked them
* Send a direct message to a person who blocked them
* Read the Tweets of the person who blocked them (at least, not directly through their blocked account)

Twitter briefly instituted a change to its block functionality. In short, the new change would have worked more like a “mute” instead of a block. You block a person who is harassing you. The new change would mean you would no longer see anything that person tweeted. But, it would no longer prevent that blocked user from contacting you, retweeting your tweets, or sending you direct messages.

Lots of people on Twitter were very upset by this change. I saw tweets about it that included #RestoreTheBlock. For many people, Twitter felt a lot less safe. The new change meant that the people you blocked (so you could avoid their harassment) could go ahead and continue to threaten you.

Twitter responded by putting the block functionality back to what it was before the (brief) change. Part of Twitter’s blog about this situation notes that they want people to feel safe while using their platform.

It appears that part of the reason why they made the change was because Twitter was getting feedback from users who had been blocked – and who were angry about it. Twitter appears to have made the change to prevent “post-blocking retaliation”.

The new change would have prevented a blocked user from realizing that he or she had been blocked. Unfortunately, it would also have made Twitter unsafe for the person who did the blocking. Kudos to Twitter for its rapid response to users feedback about their desire to have the block functionality restored!

Morpher Folding Bicycle Helmet

Bicycle helmets are great pieces of equipment and take the brunt of an impact instead of your head in the unfortunate event of an accident. Most things that a cyclist is likely to hit are pretty hard, whether it’s a car, tree or the road itself, and a helmet can genuinely save your life. The sad fact is that in 90% of cycling fatalities the rider was not wearing a helmet.

However, the shape of a helmet means that they’re not that convenient to carry round in a bag or rucksack and take up lots of space. All too often the helmet gets left behind for the sake of convenience. In an attempt to solve this problem and save more lives, inventor Jeff Woolf has developed the world’s first folding bicycle helmet, the Morpher Helmet.

Morpher Helmets Open and Flat

 

As you can see from the picture above, the helmet folds flat from front to back making it much easier to carry around in bag with other flat things, like notepads, magazines and tablets. With an emphasis on safety from the start, the helmet exceeds all safety requirements worldwide and will be independently CE tested before the full launch. The inventor Jeff Woolf is no lightweight either having twice been awarded “British Inventor of the Year” and awarded an OBE for services to innovation and business.

To fund the production of the helmets, Morpher is launching an Indiegogo campaign. Early birds will be able to snap up helmet for US$59 (about GB£35) with a second tier at $79. The RRP is expected to be $110 so it’s a bargain but you will have to wait until April 2014 before the helmet arrives. The goal is to raise $35,000 over the next 47 days. As with all crowd-funded projects, bear in mind that there is not yet a finished product for you to buy.

Watch the video below to learn more about the Morpher helmet and the man behind it.


Looks like a great idea and I hope the project succeeds, especially as I’ve contributed myself for a Morpher helmet.

Frontline Airs Exposé on Cell Tower Deaths

Before you get too excited about the whole cellular radiation debate, which is mostly debunked by the way, this in-depth report was about tower workers falling to their deaths due to poor regulation of safety issues while climbing these monstrous metal towers (climbers are 10 times more likely to die than construction workers).  Frontline aired the show on PBS May 22nd and the entire episode is now available for streaming on their web site.

To nobody’s surprise all of the cell companies refused comment during the show.  In fact, we learned that virtually none of them have even been fined by OSHA for any of the accidents.  They are above responsibility thanks to layers of protection they have put between themselves and the actual contractors who do the dirty work.  Incidentally, many of those workers make around $10 per hour to climb hundreds of feet, mostly unprotected because that allows them to climb faster and get more jobs done.  One of the worst offenders turns out to be AT&T, who pushed hard for fast work to be done during their iPhone expansion.

While one retired AT&T executive did talk with the show, the other interviews are with contract companies and the actual workers.  You can watch chapter 1 of the episode in the embedded video below.  A word of warning – there are a few graphic images of bodies laying at the base of towers.

Watch Cell Tower Deaths on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

iOnRoad Warns Drivers of Danger

As well as being a really bad pun, iOnRoad is an augmented reality app that helps car drivers become safer drivers. Courtney gets into the fast lane to find out more about this app which was awarded a CES Innovation Honoree prize.

Available for Android smartphones now and the iPhone soon, the app uses the smartphone’s camera, GPS and accelerometer to provide warnings and guidance to car drivers as they drive. By looking at the white lines, the car in front and correlating data from the GPS and accelerometer, the app can warn about lane departures, tailgating and speeding. The iOnRoad includes a couple of other features, including reading text messages and a car locator.

Obviously the phone has to be mounted on the dash with a view to the front of the car, but you can test the app using the video here. The app is currently free with a charge of $9.99 to be introduced in the future.

Interview by Courtney Wallin of SDR News.

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Kidz Gear Volume Limiting Headphones

Volume Limiting Headphones

CES regular Jack Peterson talks with Todd and Don on the latest headphones for children from Kidz Gear.

Kidz Gear produces headphones with smaller headbands and ear cups to fit the smaller heads of children. This year they’ve brought to the market new wired headphones that have a built-in volume limiter that prevents children’s hearing becoming damaged through excessive sound levels. The headphones reduce the maximum sound level by about 20% into the 80-95 decibel range.

The new headphones are compatible with the iPad, iPhone and iPod ranges and include an inline remote  and mic control. They’re available from the Apple Store or direct from Kidz Gear for $29.99.

An additional new product in the same vein is a volume limit cable which can be added to already-purchased headphones to make them safer for children. Priced at only $9.99, there’s currently a special price of $5.99 showing on-line.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Don Baine, the Gadget Professor for the TechPodcast Network.

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Cellcontrol: Safe Driving

One of the biggest problems today is the use of cellphones by people driving. Todd Cochrane spoke to Chuck Cox CEO of Cellcontrol about their solution to this problem at CES 2011. It is a three part solution. The first part of the solution is to integrate the program directly into the vehicle. When the vehicle moves the program is activated. It then sends a message through bluetooth to the cellphones in the car.

The program is supported by a most major cellphones and other devices. The program and policies are easy to setup and manage. The policies are also very customizable depending on what is the safety policy of the company or individual is. Cellcontrol is targeting companies with large fleets first, before moving into the direct consumer market. Businesses not only have to worry about accidents causing higher insurance and law suits, but also about the company reputation.

According to Mr. Cox twenty eight percent of all accidents involve someone using a cellphone, Driving and texting is 4x more likely to cause a accident then driving while drunk. People are going to use cellphones in their car, the question is how do we make it safer.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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Spot adds SmartPhone Integration at CES 2011

Spot has been a leader in satellite rescue and communication devices. With a Spot device you can send a rescue signal via satellite, for several years now you have also been able to send short text messages as well through Spot devices. Now your smartphone can interact with a new Spot device essentially turning your smartphone into a Satellite Communicator.

This will allow people to send text messages to twitter of facebook in non emergency situations to send short updates on your adventures wherever you may be. I have said for a long time that if I was a world traveler that got of the beaten path that I would never leave home without a spot device. While the new integration to your smartphone is cool. The device will still work standalone when your in trouble or if your smartphone battery has died.

You can find more info at FindMeSpot.com

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Truly Hands Free with DriveNTalk at CES 2011

DriveNTalk won a Design and Innovation award for their new TALK SMART BHF-2000 this is a hands free device that is truly hands free. Simply by waving your hand you can answer your mobile phone while driving. Tap on the device and talk to it and it will execute a number of preset commands. DriveNTalk have been known for a long time in producing innovative hands free products. I am excited to see this come to market as I have a vehicle that does not have any hands free devices.

Check out the award winning DriveNTalk BHF-200

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Google Family Safety Centre

Google FamilyGoogle has setup the Family Safety Centre to help parents and teachers keep their children safe online.  After spending a little time in the resource, it seems to be a good introduction to online safety for children from a parent’s point of view.  If you need to know more, you can then take it further through some of the links.

The Centre has four main sections:

i) Google Safety Tools – information on Safesearch, which stops inappropriate material being returned in searches, and YouTube Safety Mode, which similarly stops age-restricted videos from appearing.

ii) Advice from partners – information from children’s organisations on cyberbullying, privacy, talking to strangers online, adult content and malware.

iii) Reporting abuse – if you find inappropriate material on any of Google’s properties (YouTube, Buzz, Picasa, Blogger), here’s how to flag the material to Google.

iv) Video tips from Google parents – a set of videos on YouTube from parents to parents.  In this section there’s also six basic tips for on-line safety.  Frankly, I think these tips should be more prominent as they’re good.
Keep computers in a central place
– Know where your children go online
– Teach internet safety
– Help prevent viruses
– Teach your children to communicate responsibly
– View all content critically

Each country has its own slight variant, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, US and UK versions – there are probably others for non-English speakers. The main difference seems to be the list of partner organisations that Google has worked with (and spelling).

If you are a parent, you should spend a few minutes having a read of the information here.