Tag Archives: safety

KiddieRail Saves Children on Stairs at Gadget Show Live



KiddieRail LogoWith our penultimate visit to the British Inventors’ Project at Gadget Show Live, I’m with Lesley from KiddieRail. She saw that for children banisters on stairs were too fat and too high for them to use comfortably so it’s hardly surprising to see that children under 5 have over 58,000 accidents on stairs every year in the UK, with larger numbers in the USA. As a result, she designed KiddieRail, a child-friendly height-adjustable handrail systems that grows as the child does.

KiddieRail

The tubular handrail is fixed to an existing banister or wall with special mounting brackets that hold the handrail in place. As the child grows up from toddler to pre-schooler and beyond, the handrail can be moved up to be at just the right height. The other clever feature of the mounting brackets is that they can support the handrail at any angle, whether the stairs are steep, shallow or even on a flat landing. If that’s not enough, if the child is holding the rail, they’re not putting sticky hands on wall.

The KiddieRail is expected to go into testing shortly and it’s hoped to be on the market before the end of 2016. The price hasn’t yet been fixed but the team is aiming at less than GB£100 for approximately 3 m (10 feet) of stairs. There’s more detail at the KiddieRail website where you can sign-up to receive updates on the project.


Texting while walking? German city has a solution



We’ve all seem people walking while staring down at their phones, even resulting in some hilarious videos. Even one that went viral a while back when a surveillance camera captured footage a woman in a shopping mall falling into a fountain while staring at the device in her hand.

Now a city in Germany thinks it may have found a solution, or at least a partial one. The town of Augsburg is embedding traffic lights in its sidewalks in hopes that pedestrians may notice while looking down and then not walk out into traffic.

This comes on the heels of a report that showed that 17 percent of pedestrians use their smartphone while in road traffic. To nobody’s surprise, it’s the younger generation that is affected by this phenomena the most. The study also reveals that Amsterdam has the lowest statistics, while Stockholm the highest.

The reports points out that “Across all cities and age groups, just under 8 percent of pedestrians were seen texting while crossing the street. A further 2.6 percent made calls, and around 1.4percent did both at the same time. Around 5 percent wore earplugs or headphones without speaking, so were probably listening to music. As expected, younger pedestrians tended to use their smartphone more frequently than older ones, with use being most intensive in the 25-to-35 age group at 22 percent. Gender-specific differences were apparent: While texting was most common among female pedestrians, men listened to music much more”.

Security firm Sophos points out that “Augsburg’s new pedestrian lights — which the city’s just trialing, at this point — eight LEDs begin to flash red when a tram approaches”.

We’ll see how this works. If it’s effective then we may see it implemented elsewhere, both in Europe and perhaps in the US.


Acticheck Personal Alert at Wearable Tech Show



ActicheckMany people in the UK will have seen advertisements in the past for emergency call necklaces and bracelets aimed at older people who live alone, providing them with reassurance that they can call for help in the event of a fall or other emergency. Typically these products are an older technology, relatively expensive and aesthetically uninspiring. Acticheck aims to bring the idea up-to-date with an inexpensive wearable solution using consumer technology. Andrew interviews Bill to find out more.

Acticheck Assure combines a ruggedised waterproof bracelet with a monitoring hub which connects back to a cloud portal using an broadband Internet connection. In the event of a fall or other emergency, the wrist alert communicates with the hub to send messages to relatives and friends asking for help. The portal can be accessed through desktop computer, tablet or smartphone to manage settings and view personal information.

Acticheck is available now for GB£239 which includes the hub, wrist band and a year of service. The wrist band does need replaced every year or so when the internal battery runs out at a cost of £89.

Acticheck

 


Fonebud Smartphone Companion at CES



Fonebud_CC_3_grandeDon Baine and Dix Chew, Co Founder, look over the the latest iterations of the Fonebud at CES. A minimal secondary handset for your smartphone that combines a Bluetooth headset with a USB charger and flashlight, the Fonebud goes in the hand while the expensive smartphone stays in the pocket.

For long calls, the Fonebud works like a Bluetooth headset to reduce RF exposure but as it’s a handset, you don’t look too nerdy holding it to your ear. In high crime areas, it reduces your loss if a thief tries to snatch the handset from your grasp. For additional safety, there’s a variant with a built-in panic alarm.

Three new versions are coming to market with price points from US$76 to US$99. The current Fonebud Essential Plus is available now from US$51 at Fonebud’s online shop.

Don Baine is the Gadget Professor and he holds classes at TheGadgetProfessor.com.

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Twitter’s new Policy Changes Aimed at Combatting Abuse



Twitter logoTwitter will be making two new policy changes. One is related to prohibited content. The other is about how they will enforce certain policy violations. The goal is to reduce the amount of abuse that Twitter users could find themselves subjected to.

More specifically, they have updated their violent threats policy. It now extends to “threats of violence against others or promot[ing] violence against others.” This change broadens the previous policy so that it is not limited to “direct, specific threats of violence against others”.

Twitter is also going to take steps to enforce penalties upon those who violate Twitter’s policies. Their support team has been given additional enforcement options that gives them the ability to lock abusive accounts for specific periods of time. Twitter’s blog further explains: “This option gives us leverage in a variety of contexts, particularly where multiple users begin harassing a particular person or group of people”.

In short, Twitter can lock a user’s account if he or she violates the Twitter Rules. Twitter can actually give users a timer “countdown” that shows exactly how long it will be before a person can use their Twitter account again. Personally, I think that this delay will effectively remove the instant gratification that some people appear to get from harassing others on Twitter. They won’t be able to fire off the next unpleasant comment – they have to wait.

Once the “countdown” ends, Twitter might ask the user to enter their phone number. An SMS with a verification code will be sent to that phone number. The Twitter account won’t be unlocked until the person is able to send Twitter the SMS code. After that clears, it is possible that Twitter will require a person to delete the Tweet (or Tweets) that got them in trouble in the first place. Don’t want to delete that Tweet? The account stays locked.

Twitter is also testing a new product feature that will help them identify suspected abusive Tweets and to limit their reach. The feature “takes into account a wide range of signals and context that frequently correlates with abuse including the age of the account itself, and the similarity of a Tweet to other content that our safety team has in the past independently determined to be abusive.”

My impression is that this new feature will be able to notice that a brand new “egg account” has been created, to note that it is sending out abusive Tweets, and to prevent the person behind the account from being able to continue to do so. In other words, an abusive Tweeter that got his or her account locked might not be able to immediately make a brand new “egg account” for the purpose of continuing to behave badly on Twitter.


Child Angel Keeps an Eye on Children



British Inventors Project

Continuing GNC’s coverage of the Gadget Show Live and the British Inventors’ Project, Child Angel is one of the smallest and most advanced child tracking device on the market. Made to be attractive to the child and easy to use in an emergency, the Child Angel wrist-mounted tracker provides accurate location monitoring by combining GPS, GSM and Wi-Fi hotspot triangulation.

Child Angel keeps children safe in three ways. First the parent can view the child’s location on a map using the Child Angel app on their smartphone or tablet (both iOS and Android). Second, the child can send a “Help Me!” alert by taking off the bracelet and third, an alert is raised if the child leaves a geo-fenced SafeZone.

The battery life is about 48 hours and the Child Angel can easily be recharged through the micro-USB. The Child Angel bracelet is available in different colours and can be customised with personalised covers, too.

The Child Angel should be available soon with a retail cost around £100.

Child Angel


iSwimband Returns to CES with Updated Product



iSwimband logoPool and water safety are serious concerns. iSwimband returned to CES in 2015 to talk about its updated product for swimmers. Imagine being able to receive an alert on your smartphone when a young child enters the water. Or imagine being able receive an alert when a more advanced swimmer has been underwater for too long.

Jamie spoke with Paul Newcomb for the second time in as many years about iSwimband. Paul talked about the updated iSwimband and how the band can be used in conjunction with a swimmer’s current set of goggles or swim cap. Paul also noted that iSwimband makes a customized set of goggles that easily allows for iSwimband integration, and that the company will soon be releasing a specialized swim cap that does the same.

Interview by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly for the TechPodcast Network.

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Ford SYNC 3 at CES



Ford LogoIn the good old days, cars had heaters and radios. if you were lucky it might have had a cassette player. Getting directions involved winding down the window and asking a local. Today’s vehicles have zoned environmental controls, multi-source AV, GPS with maps and drive train telemetry to three decimal places. All this is fantastic but while you’re figuring out the way to San Jose, you don’t have your eyes on the road.

Ford wants its drivers and passengers to have a great journey but to get to their destination safely, and in an unprecedented move, Ford invited customers to their advanced car simulator in Dearborn to help design the next iteration of their infotainment system. With over 20,000 pieces of feedback, Ford developed SYNC 3 with safety and ease of use at the fore. Big touchpoints keep hands on the steering wheel longer and voice commands now produce what the driver wants rather than purely what is said.

Todd chats with Gary from Ford about the company’s approach to the latest iteration of Ford SYNC, which will be available on 2016 model cars.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network

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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!