We’ve been talking about wearable tech for 20 years, but 2015 looks like the year when it’s going to break through in a big way. These are some of the most exciting products you can look forward to over the next 12 months.
The big piece of tech everyone’s talking about this year is, of course, the Apple Watch. Even though no-one really knows what it does yet, Apple’s marketing know-how means it’s sure to be a game-changer. It’s not the only smart watch coming out this year, however, so keep an eye out for others, such as Android’s revamped LG G Watch R, which promises to employ 4G technology, and Xiaomi’s eagerly anticipated budget version, which will probably be no less smart.
The ultimate in training aids, Viper was originally designed for soccer players but can be adapted to many different sports. Strapped across the chest, it monitors both your vital signs and the movements you make, providing you with invaluable downloadable data that you can use to track your performance with a view to improving next time around. Already adopted by top athletes, it’s now available on the mainstream market at a competitive price.
A smart piece of crowdfunded tech, Skully is a helmet you can wear on your bike that will give you up-to-date info in a digital display right before your eyes, jet pilot-style. You can see how fast you’re going, how much fuel you’ve used, how far you are from your destination, how to get there, and what the traffic’s like on the way – all without taking your eyes off the road. The helmet also meets the usual crash protection standards.
In this brave new world, even babies are getting connected. Mimo is a smart onesie that comes with a green plastic turtle that lets parents know not only how well their babies are breathing but also how much they’re moving, how well they’re sleeping, and where they are in their sleep cycles. This can make it easier to optimize bedtimes and feeding times so that parents can enjoy a bit more uninterrupted eating and sleeping themselves.
The changing nature of mobile tech
All these new devices create challenges for the established app market. Will our old favorites still be able to work on smaller screens, or will they be superseded? The reality is probably a bit of both. With display technology also getting more interesting, thanks to flexible roll-up screens and mini projectors, small screens are no longer essential to portability. Specialized devices like the above are fantastic for specific sets of tasks, but many people are still going to want more flexible all-rounder devices that give them the power to build in new developments without making major new purposes. The sheer speed of advances in the quality mobile app market means flexibility is a big selling point, so we don’t expect to see more traditional mobile devices going away any time soon.
Watching the wearable tech market is going to be a lot of fun this year, but expect 2016 to be every bit as innovative.
No matter what type of industry you work in, to outpace the competition you’ll need to be able to stay up to date with the latest forms of technology. Whether this involves training your team in basic IT skills or bringing in outside tech consultants, there are a number of ways to make sure you don’t get left behind. Outdated technology can spell disaster for a small business, if important files go missing, your network crashes before a big client presentation, or your customers’ credit card information is stolen by hackers. And a failure to keep up with online and mobile marketing opportunities could cost you bigtime in terms of branding and revenue. So how do you stay up to speed as a small business owner? Here are a few ideas.
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Keep up with tech upgrades
Nothing will slow your business’s progress down like outdated software or hardware. If you’re working with servers that are a good decade old, this could bring your whole business to a standstill. Keep in mind that PC hardware and servers have a general lifespan of no more than 5 years, or even less if used frequently. You should be upgrading these as needed. Software should also be upgraded to the latest version whenever possible. You can take advantage of auto-upgrade tools for this, conducting a company-wide IT audit once a year to make sure you’re working with the most recent, high-tech tools.
Create a staff training program
Even if you’re working with the latest programs and brand new servers, this won’t do you any good if your staff isn’t trained to use them. Training is a necessity for all businesses, even if you have a dedicated IT department. Staff members that know the basics of security, networking, and website maintenance can save you a bundle over time, even if you must pay for a useful certificate of training and assessment yourself. With well-trained, well-informed employees and relatively new equipment, you’ll already be miles ahead of many competitors.
Compare file storage systems
If you have amassed a high volume of files, think about finding ways to reduce the physical space needed to store these. Cloud storage can be ideal for small businesses, easing the strain on your networks while keeping important files safe.
Bring in the pros
It’s tempting to save costs as you’re just starting out by putting your computer-savvy friend in charge of the IT duties, but as your business grows you’ll have more complex needs. Whether it’s for training purposes or overseeing your new digital marketing strategy, hire a pro. Ask for certification, references, and credentials to make a good hiring decision.
Don’t skimp on security
Perhaps the most important tech factor for businesses to consider is online security. Just because you haven’t made it big yet doesn’t mean that someone won’t try to steal your data – in fact, it may make you a more appealing target. Don’t rely on a free security app; pay for serious anti-virus software and a pro to make sure there aren’t already problems in your system. You need the latest malware protection to avoid a costly security breach.
By paying attention to these areas, you can help keep your business ahead of the tech curve and avoid getting bogged down by glitches and viruses!
The most common home improvement projects in any given year are bathroom and kitchen remodels, along with door and window replacements, according to the National Association of Home Builders Remodeling Market Index. Although these can increase the value of your home, none of them will make your home more safe and secure. Technology has made it possible to streamline processes in your home that used to require expensive equipment or hiring independent contractors to implement. But now, with the growing popularity of smart house equipment, you can eliminate many risks, while increasing its value at the same time.
The fear of spiders is one of the most common phobias around the world, according to Mental Healthy. And, despite mice sometimes being cute and fuzzy, you don’t want to see them roaming wild in your home. If this is one of your fears for your home, the Transonic PRO may be the perfect solution.
All you have to do with this gadget is plug it into the wall and let it transmit both sonic and ultrasonic noise that disrupts the communication, habits and habitats of pests. This is a green, humane and safe way to get rid of bats, mice, rats, spiders and even squirrels.
The Transonic PRO covers about a 3,500 square foot area. Plus, it is much cheaper and easier than hiring a pest control company to come out.
SmartThings Home Automation
The trick to a DIY home automation system is finding one that is compatible with all your different appliances, devices and components. SmartThings is one tool that can turn your smartphone into a universal remote control for your entire house.
The control panel, which is about the size of an air freshener, plugs into the wall and connects to your router with an ethernet cord. Once the app is installed on your phone, you just have to push a button to activate its “SmartSetup” function. It then scans your entire home for compatible components and adds them to the system. You’ll be able to turn lights on and off, lock doors and even detect floods from your phone through a moisture reading.
The basic hub costs around $100, but you can spend as much as you want to make your system as sophisticated as possible.
iTouchless Bio-Matic Fingerprint Door Lock
With this gadget, you’ll never be locked out again. Plus, you’ll never lose the front door key or have to put a spare under the rug that anybody can find and use. The Bio-matic Fingerprint Door Lock works much like a smartphone reader to unlock the door. But, it requires a pulse in your finger for an added layer of protection. Of course, you also can set a numeric password as a backup option.
The $300 cost is a bit steep, but worth the peace of mind.
Roman Shades From The Shade Store
A survey by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors found that after the front door, first-floor windows are the most common way burglars enter homes. To help counter this risk, use window treatments to make the inside of your house unknown to a potential burglar. For example, Roman shades from The Shade Store are great for both blocking out the sun and the view inside. This way, they don’t know what there is to steal or any obstacles that could be waiting inside your house.
The options are endless when it comes to keeping an eye on your home from your smartphone. Cameras can help you keep an eye on your kids when they play in a different room or when a babysitter comes to stay, let you see who is knocking at your front door or enable you to detect intruders when you’re away. For example, DropCam has a motion sensor and microphone to pick up audio.
The DropCam PRO costs about $200.