Monthly Archives: November 2016
Technology hasn’t erased the need for human workers – yet. However, it is certainly changing the way people work. Across all industries, automation has eliminated repetitive, mundane jobs, allowing professionals to focus on other work. Instead of processing thousands of invoices by hand, for instance, employees can use a portal to pay vendors and invoice clients, with all payments made electronically. This puts the employee in the position of merely managing payments rather than doing the hard labor to make them happen.
Wearable technology has long been associated with fitness, but with augmented-reality glasses like Google Glass, wristbands, and other wearables, there are numerous ways to arm employees with the tools they need to be better at their jobs. Here are some specific industries that stand to benefit from wearable tech.
The medical field is perhaps the biggest beneficiary of wearable tech right now. CES 2016 was overwhelmed with companies interested in disrupting the healthcare space. Innovators envision a not-so-distant future where a patient’s blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and body temperature can be monitored using wearable trackers. This might not only allow nursing home-bound patients to remain safely at home, but it may also let healthy patients know well in advance when health issues occur.
Vision care will also see major changes in the coming years. Innovations like 3D printing will revolutionize how you get glasses. Eyeglasses can already be purchased online, but 3D printing means customers could print their own frames at home after an online vision test. With a plastic grinding machine, glasses could even be ground up and fed back into the printer to create frames with a different shape.
Police officers put their lives on the line each day to do their jobs. When an officer pulls over a driver or arrives at a crime scene, it’s crucial to have access to information on every party involved. Currently this is done through the use of in-car laptops that allow officers to manually enter in a license plate number and wait for information to arrive.
However, technology has streamlined criminal information to make it easier for officers to access everything they need quickly. This information could eventually be incorporated into future verisons of a tool like Google Glass, where facial recognition software could give officers criminal information on everyone they encounter at a scene.
Educators have already turned attention to tablets to replace textbooks, although mass adoption will likely be years away. For wearable technology, augmented-reality glasses are likely to be the most useful, allowing students to record lessons for playback later. Teachers could also use a Google Glass-like product to incorporate facial recognition technology to help them remember students’ names at the beginning of a new school year.
Apple managed to split opinions more widely than ever this year. The iPhone 7 lost the headphone jack, the MacBook Pro refresh was disappointing for power-hungry professionals, and the desktop line of Mac computers hasn’t seen any love for years, suggesting to some that Macs on the desktop may in fact be dead.
Tim Cook put the record straight yesterday, however, and gave some hope to Apple fans desperate for a new desktop computer.
As reported by TechCrunch, as part of a wider post on an internal Apple employee message board, Cook was asked the question, “We had a big MacBook Pro launch in October and a powerful upgrade to the MacBook back in the spring. Are Mac desktops strategic for us?”
Cook responded by reassuring employees that, “the desktop is very strategic for us.” He went on to point out that, “The current generation iMac is the best desktop we have ever made and its beautiful Retina 5K display is the best desktop display in the world.” Most importantly, he confirmed that Mac desktops are not dead, “if there’s any doubt about that with our teams, let me be very clear: we have great desktops in our roadmap. Nobody should worry about that.”
There’s no detail beyond that. We don’t know when new Macs will be announced, and we don’t know if Cook is referring to the iMac, Mac Mini, Mac Pro, or all three. That’s a shame, as I think we’ve reached a point now where Apple is unfairly asking existing Mac owners to wait too long for their next hardware purchase.
Apple Inc.’s new wireless headphones could be a problem for recyclers, according to an electronics firm that took apart the device to review its component parts.
Apple has been promoting a more environmentally conscious image for the company after having come under fire in the past for constructing its devices so tightly that their components can be difficult to cost-effectively disassemble for recycling.
But Apple’s latest 4-gram wireless headphones, or AirPods, have glued-in tiny lithium batteries that make recycling difficult, said Kyle Wiens, chief executive of iFixit, the company which took apart the AirPods and has previously analyzed other Apple products.
“They’re basically saying this is the future of headphones,” said Wiens. He estimates Apple has sold 1.4 billion pairs of iPhone and iPod headphones, weighing about 31 million pounds. Given that the iPhone 7 ships without a traditional headphone jack, AirPods may signal Apple’s future.
“There could easily be a billion of these things over the next 10 years,” Wiens said.
Apple has said that the $159 AirPods can be returned to the company for recycling. A spokesman declined to comment further on recycling the devices.
The headphones, which Apple released last week after a one-month delay, have garnered positive reviews.
The AirPods contain three lithium-ion batteries, one in each pod and one in an accompanying charging case.
Recyclers can shred wired headphones and send them to a smelter that will melt them down for the copper inside. But the lithium-ion batteries in AirPods cannot be shredded because they could catch fire while being destroyed.
The AirPods carry regulatory markings that say they are not intended to be thrown away in the trash and should be disposed of as electronics waste.
Willie Cade, CEO of Chicago-based PC Rebuilders & Recyclers, who was briefed on the AirPods’ construction by iFixit, said the labor involved in removing the batteries would make it hard to cost-effectively recover any of the materials from the devices.
“I can’t do it by hand. It’s cost prohibitive,” Cade said, adding that the AirPods would need to go into a shredder, but that “there’s a relatively high risk of fire”.