Tag: apps

A Caffeine-Tracking App…That Doesn't Actually Track Your Caffeine?

By Veronique Greenwood | February 16, 2012 8:30 am


Sorry to tell you this, US Navy, but in our opinion, you’ve been had. This new app you’ve funded, dubbed Caffeine Zone, is not the best way to schedule your caffeine intake so as to maximize awesome and minimize double vision and crazy manic behavior.  Not by a long shot.

True, Caffeine Zone, developed by researchers at Penn State, does draw on studies that suggest that between 200 and 400 milligrams of caffeine in the blood is the sweet spot, the level at which that glorious productive high kicks in. Likewise, studies also say that having about 100 milligrams in the blood around bedtime puts you in the danger zone of insomnia. But when users type in when they plan to drink their caffeine, how much of it they’ll drink, and how fast they’ll drink it, the readout they get of their projected caffeine levels throughout the day sounds like a pretty basic chart that reflects how long caffeine hangs around in the average Joe, at least in this press release. It doesn’t take into account individuals’ metabolism, whether they’ve eaten recently, and all the other things that even the most dilletante-ish coffee addict can tell you affect the high.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

The App That Looks Both Ways for You

By Veronique Greenwood | November 30, 2011 1:50 pm

The average city street these days sports quite a number of people gazing down into their phones as they walk, unable to tear their eyes from a text or email, or gabbing away to their second cousin while checking their manicure. If you are among those who prefer to walk upright, watching for oncoming semis, you may have noticed that these people don’t look at walk signals to tell when to cross; instead, they wait until their peripheral vision picks up a phoneless pedestrian making a move for it. I am frequently in that pedestrian, and am not above making occasional false starts to watch people jerk like fish on a line. Sorry, folks.

But! A day is coming when these phone addicts may no longer need to watch you from the corner of their eyes to gauge when it’s safe to cross. Scientists at Dartmouth and University of Bologna have built an app that will alert these pedestrians when collision with an oncoming vehicle is imminent with a helpful series of vibrations and chirrups.

The app, called WalkSafe, uses the phone’s built-in camera to watch traffic and apply vision learning algorithms to identify car-like objects, going on to identify the object’s direction of movement and current speed. It can pick up cars as far away as 160 feet, and if the vehicle is moving at more than 30 mph, the phone will ring and buzz in warning.

However, the camera on the front of the phone does have to be facing traffic. If you’re gazing down into your screen to trade lulz with your bestie, even WalkSafe can’t save you.

[via Technology Review]

No More 'Jersey Shore': New TV Tells Advertisers, Retailers, and Everybody Else What You're Watching

By Veronique Greenwood | August 19, 2011 12:30 pm

Best friends!!

Modern life is about maximizing information overload. So while you watch your favorite shows on the boob-tube, chances are you’re also surfing the Interwebs, looking for that actor’s screen credits, buying the season on DVD, checking other people’s real-time reactions. Ah, but what if your TV pulled up all that stuff for you, and helpfully displayed it on your computing device of choice, a la Google Ads in your email? Wouldn’t that be…something?

Before the end of the year, just such a TV will be released by a start-up called Flingo—a TV that, should you opt in to the service, will note what you’re watching and customize what your computer shows you. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
MORE ABOUT: apps, internet, privacy, TV

Where the Ladies At? There's an App for That

By Veronique Greenwood | June 30, 2011 2:12 pm


Here’s a good use for augmented reality: directing clubgoers to the bars that have the best odds for meeting persons of their preferred gender. And how do you figure that out? Well, a start-up company called SceneTap is doing it with facial recognition.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Sex & Mating, Technology Attacks!

Need to Find the Big Dipper? There's an App for That

By Smriti Rao | April 29, 2010 1:58 pm

20091112-2-pocketuniverseThere used to be a time when you could easily impress a date by pointing to the night sky and dreamily rattling off names of major stars, constellations, and the like. Now, instead of cramming your head full of names or making up stuff as you go along, you can use your trusty iPhone to guide you through your stargazing.

There are a bunch of apps that you can download, depending on your interest level and degree of expertise. Most of the apps are based on augmented reality–so all you have to do is point your phone towards the sky and the app does the rest.

If you’re a beginner, Pocket Universe ($3) and Star Walk ($3) are recommended by The New York Times for iPhone users; while Google Sky Map is great for Android users.

With Pocket Universe, you can use the camera view to look at the evening or morning sky, and the app will overlay the labeled view over the real sky. (The iPhone’s camera isn’t good enough yet to pull off this feat with a dark night’s sky.) The app also plots the position of the sun, moon, and planets, displays 10,000 stars, and traces the shapes of the constellations. Pocket Universe also features a “Tonight’s Sky” option, showing you a list of planets you can spot with the naked eye.

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Apple App Store Backs Off Rejection of Pulitzer-Winning Political Cartoonist

By Smriti Rao | April 16, 2010 4:32 pm


Apple has asked the political cartoonist Mark Fiore to resubmit an application for his iPhone app “NewsToons” after a controversy erupted over the company’s earlier decision to reject the app. The initial rejection suggested that Apple put political satire in the same unacceptable category as pornography.

Earlier this month, Fiore created history by becoming the first online-only cartoonist to win a Pulitzer for his editorial cartooning on SFGate–the San Francisco Chronicle‘s news Web site. While the cartoonist impressed the Pulitzer jury sufficiently to grab journalism’s highest award, his work apparently didn’t charm the gatekeepers at Apple’s app store.

In December, they rejected Fiore’s bid to offer iPhone users the NewsToons app, an app based on his editorial works. In its rejection letter, Apple said Fiore’s satirical work “ridicules public figures” and was in violation of the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement, which bars any apps whose content that in “Apple’s reasonable judgment may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory,” reports the Neiman Nieman Journalism Lab.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

First iPhone App to Feature in a Film Festival

By Smriti Rao | April 12, 2010 6:27 pm

12With the scourge of Internet addiction growing ever more fearsome, a Boston-based company has designed a clever way to entice such addicts to once again join the outside world. The trick is allowing them to keep their eyes firmly glued to the screens of their iPhones.

The company’s app, called Walking Cinema: Murder on Beacon Hill, is built for a walking tour of that old neighborhood in Boston, kind of like a museum audio tour. But instead of hearing someone drone on drily about the various numbered stops, you follow the map and watch the place’s history unfold in a series of videos corresponding to their locations. The app has been so well-received that its videos are going to be screened on April 18th at the Boston International Film Festival–the first-ever app to make it to a film festival.

This particular app tells the story of the Parkman murder, in which wealthy Bostonian George Parkman is killed and his dismembered body is discovered under a dissecting vault at Harvard Medical School. Harvard instructor John Webster, who owed Parkman money, was convicted of the murder after a sensational trial and publicly hanged.

The app, with its tightly produced videos tells the story of the Parkman murder and, according to the creators, is a “page-turner mystery powered by your feet.”

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
MORE ABOUT: apps, boston, walking cinema

Augmented Reality Phone App Can Identify Strangers on the Street

By Smriti Rao | February 24, 2010 11:54 am

RecognzrAugmented reality, the blending of real-life environments with computer generated imagery, has provided a bunch of creative applications, including a virtual tattoo. Now, the same technology can be used to identify virtual strangers.

A new app called Recognizr, developed by the Swedish mobile software firm The Astonishing Tribe, lets you find out more about a person–including what social networks they are on and in some cases their phone numbers–simply by pointing your camera-phone at them (see video below). The app works by mashing up the latest in facial recognition software, cloud computing, and augmented reality.

But before privacy advocates storm the offices of The Astonishing Tribe, we should note that the app only works on people who have opted in to the system. People have to sign onto this service, submit a profile, and upload a picture to be picked up by Recognizr. So you needn’t scramble to delete all your pictures on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, since Recognizr works only by mining information off its own database.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

Is Apple Taking Sexy Back? Raunchy Apps Vanish From the App Store

By Smriti Rao | February 19, 2010 3:56 pm

organize-apps-20090909Is Apple trying to sweep sex under the rug? Online reports suggest that the tech giant is looking to purge the App Store’s shelves of sex-themed apps. Some tech sites have noticed that sexy apps like “Sexy Women” and “Exotic Positions” that were previously available are now missing from the App Store.

The case of the missing sex-apps surfaced when the developer behind adult-themed app “Wobble iBoobs,” Jon Atherton, received a notification from Apple saying his app was being removed from the App Store for being too graphic.

TechCrunch reports on the email Atherton received from Apple:

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
MORE ABOUT: Apple, apps, sexy apps

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