Tag Archives: smart phones

“Smart” Undies

In class on Tuesday, March 18, we spoke about the difference between front office and back office in terms of the potential for ICTs in education. On Thursday we spoke of ICTs for health.  This article is about technologies that keep you away from the office altogether—the doctor’s that is.  Most of these technologies are mHealth technologies, defined by Meredith on her blog here.  There are eight initiatives: “smart” pill bottles, health tracking briefs, ThriveOn for customized mental health help, wearable fall protection underwear, baby monitor clipped to clothes, smart footwear, smartphone thermometer, and Scandu Scout to analyze vitals on your smartphone.  These are all new concepts that were on display at a recent South by Southwest conference.  I am going to analyze the two types of technological underwear.  Pixie Scientific is the company that created the health tracking briefs, smart diapers that contain an indicator panel that tracks UTIs and monitors hydration to prevent disease.  These diapers sound like a great idea for public health, more so than the ActiveProtective underwear with 3-D motion sensors to detect falls.


However, if Pixie Scientific and ActiveProtective could combine the two?  How amazing!  They would be preventing UTIs by tracking hydration, injury with micro-airbags in the underwear, and a call for help.  The cons to these undergarments would be cost—Pixie Scientifics briefs are disposable and the infant version has been around for a while.  ActiveProtective must be brand new, because there is not any information online yet, but I can’t imagine micro airbags and whatever “call for help” technology is, is cheap.  Pixie Scientific seems to still be in its research stage.  I found a funding project for the program on indiegogo.  The company claims they will use the $21,491 raised to “fund manufacturing, a data-gathering study at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, and another study meant to collect data for FDA registration”.  Mainly these diapers will screen for: urinary tract infections, prolonged dehydration, and developing kidney problems.  According to UrologyHealth, approximately 40 percent of women and 12 percent of men will experience at least one UTI in their lifetimes.  I’m a big fan of these diapers because I’m a public health major, and if they can reach their stretch goals: to search for endemic diseases and screen for early signs of type 1diabetes, that would be a huge deal in terms of promoting higher quality of life through disease prevention.

Social Media Use in Developing Countries

Our class discussion this week made me nostalgic for the simple, old technology we grew up with. It seemed like we grew up in a time when technology was developing at lightning speed. It made me wonder if technology around the world is moving as fast. This article from LiveScience.com talks about social media use in developing countries versus the US. The data shows that while the US has the highest population percentage that uses the internet, 17 developing countries outrank the U.S. in the proportion of internet users who log on to social sites. In both the U.S. and Brazil, 73% of Internet users regularly access social networking sites. Egypt, Russia, the Philippines, Tunisia, Indonesia, Jordan, Venezuela, Nigeria, Turkey, Ghana, Mexico, Chile, Malaysia, Kenya, Argentina, El Salvador and Senegal all report social media use greater than 73% of Internet users. I thought this was very interesting because it seems like our society is obsessed with social media but apparently we aren’t the only ones.

The article also mentions that cellphone use is increasingly widespread outside of the US. Unlike us, however, most cellphone users don’t have smart phones. In China, for example, 95% of people have a cell phone but only 37% of those have a smart phone. In Pakistan, 53% of people have cellphones and only 3% use smartphones. Nearly every person I know in the US has an iPhone, so its interesting to see that not every society is obsessed with having the newest technology out there.

Smartphones in Post-Sandy Manhattan

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which affected my and well as many of my classmates families, I have become overwhelmed with reports of damage and destruction in my home town. Among the many articles I discovered in my search for aftermath information was this article from the Tech section of Huff Post, “After Hurricane Sandy, New Yorkers Struggle With ‘Obselete’ Smartphones.”

According to the article, Lower Manhattan is completely without power and twenty five percent of cell towers were wiped out. As a result, New York City residents have found themselves without cell phone service. In a world where we depend on cell phones so much, this has become a major problem for New Yorkers. I have been having trouble contacting my family since the storm hit, and I can only imagine the millions of other people having the same problem.

Interestingly, the article discusses how people are now having to rely more on older forms of  technology that have been over-looked for so long. These technologies include basic flashlights, which have recently become replaced by flashlight applications on smartphones. In a disaster when people have little or no battery life on their phones, these applications cannot be used and they must resort to regular flashlights. Additionally, New Yorkers have been lining up to use payphones! Payphones, which just a week ago so many New Yorkers just walked past almost forgetting their existence, are now a hot commodity in the city. The article also states how recently, New York City proposed plans to convert pay phone locations into WiFi hotspots, so they would actually be useful spaces. While on a normal day in New York City I’m sure many would be in favor of this, in the post-hurricane state, I am sure many are thankful to have them.

This has given me a real life example of many of the things we have discussed in class. Firstly, it makes me think about the reliance on cellphones. We talk about the positive impact mobile phones have been able to have in many areas of the developing world, and how many societies have started using mobiles as their main form of communication technology (especially those that have leapfrogged over land lines). However, if something like this disaster were to happen, clearly mobile phones would not be useful. It also makes me realize just how difficult disaster response efforts can be. While we have learned about the difficulties of disaster management in class, it wasn’t until I had this event occur and affect me so personally that I really understood the gravity of the situation.

It is amazing to think that no matter how advanced our technology gets, set backs like Hurricane Sandy will still challenge our progress. Smartphones, rightfully earning their name, are capable of incredible things for communication and development. However, we walk a fine line between relying on our mobile phones for useful applications, and completely depending on them. If we become too dependent, we may find ourselves in difficult situations just like Lower Manhattan is experiencing now.

Mobile Phones, Good Prevention Agents to Ward Off Another Gulf Coast Disaster

Click here to see PCMag’s article about how mobile phones are good tools in disaster prevention and management in more ways than one!

I found this article while searching for how mobile technology contributed to mitigation of the possible disaster as Hurricane Isaac loomed in the gulf this past fall. Some of the points that this article touched on I found to be very interesting and insightful on how the Isaac impact was different than the Katrina impact in terms of technology readiness on a mass scale. The article notes that today close to 50% of all American adults not only have mobile phone technology, but on top of this have the smart phone variant. The article notes how these smart phones, which include features like internet access, GPS, video and picture capabilities, and application abilities change how phones function as tools during a disaster situation. The internet provides up-to-the-minute updates on storm track and details, GPS provides rescuers and individuals with more data about where they are and describing locations, video and photos provide a format by which individuals can easily document the situation and also aids in insurance claims etc., and applications can provide news and information like what stores are open. All of these utilities would be extremely useful in a disaster type situation.

While reading this I also thought how this new demographic of the population with smart phone access.This could provide a new digital divide, between those with regular mobile phones and those with smart phones and what information and services they would each have or not have access to. The article states that in Katrina one of the issues was that the demographic breakdown of those who were most likely to have stayed and planned on weathering the storm, due to personal choice or lack of ability to evacuate, were also the same portion of the population who were least likely to have mobile phones. This population is the older, the poor, and the minorities. This is less of an issue now (90% of Americans have mobile phones now in comparison to 70% in 2005) but, the smart phone/regular mobile phone could provide a smaller disparity in a future disaster on the scale of Katrina.

The article also noted the benefit of a mobile phone simply for its ability to enhance communication of an individual and their support network. This additional connection to one’s family and friends can provide that extra push to encourage people to make the decision to evacuate ahead of the storm. Through text messages and phone calls the rate of influence of one’s social network increases.

Jibbigo Voice Translator App

The Jibbigo Voice Translator is a mobile voice translator application for smart devices.  It has state of the art speech recognition technology, a vocabulary of over 40,000 words, and NO internet connection necessary (my favorite part).  It does not need to connect to servers to function, so it will work fine in foreign countries where you need translating and may not have connection. It includes a dictionary, but it’s main function is to actually translate speech. All you need to do is speak a language (or have someone speak into it in a foreign language) and it speaks aloud in the language you choose to translate it into.  Right now, there are only 9 language pairs, only of which a few are major languages in developing countries, but in my opinion, if they have come this far- who’s to say they won’t develop language pairs for lesser spoken languages, and even regional dialects? My thinking for this application is that it would be really useful for development teams in foreign countries to use to communicate with the local populations.  In could also be helpful in learning new languages, and especially for people in developing countries to learn English.  What other uses do you think this APP could have? Would you consider getting it for your smart phone or IPAD?