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Remember to Charge Your Eyeglasses

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Bifocal eyeglasses may go the way of the 8-track tape player. New electronic spectacles about to be released have tiny batteries and microchips that enable people who wear bifocals to turn on the reading power when it is needed and turn it off when it's not.

The new electronic eyewear is called emPower and will be on the market this spring in Virginia and North Carolina. The glasses are made by PixelOptics in Virginia and are estimated to cost $1,000 to $1,200 for the frames, lenses, coatings and charger. That compares to an average of $300 to $500 for a pair for regular bifocals.

An article in the New York Times outlines how the electronic eyeglasses work. The glasses have "an unusual insert in the bottom part of the lenses; liquid crystals, cousins to the familiar ones in television displays. The crystals change how the lenses refract of bend light, just as varying levels of thickness do in traditional glasses," the Times reports.

The article explains, "To call up reading power in the new glasses, users touch the side of the frame. Batteries in the frame send along a current that changes the orientation of molecules in the crystals. Touch the side of the frame again, and the reading power disappears. Turn it off to hit a golf ball; turn it on to read the scorecard."

The electronic glasses require people to charge them. A PixelOptics executive said the charge should last two to three days.

Last year, some 20.6 million pairs of progressive lenses, and about 16.2 million pairs of bifocals, were sold in the United States, according to the New York Times.

Dr. Larry Wan, a managing partner at Family EyeCare Center in Campbell, Calif., tested the glasses with 10 of his patients, all in their 50s. He said they were a hit, for example, with people who had been bothered by blur as they walked down flights of stairs while wearing their glasses. "With these," he said, "you can turn the reading power off, so they are safer and you don't have that distortion," he told the New York Times.

Is E-Mail Lame?

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Yes, if you happen to be under 25-years-old. With texting and online chats on the rise some Internet companies are revamping e-mail to try to deliver instant gratification to users. For example, Facebook is rolling out a messaging service that eliminates the subject line on messages after its research showed it was commonly left blank by younger users. Other companies are changing what is perceived to be the long process of signing into to an e-mail account.

The New York Times quotes Lena, a 17-year-old high school senior from California who said, "Texting was so quick that I sometimes have an answer before I even shut my phone." She added, "E-mail is so lame."

The Director of Engineering at Facebook, Andrew Bosworth, is quoted in the Times article as stating, "The future of messaging is more real time, more conversational and more casual. The medium isn't the message. The message is the message."

Some major e-mail sites, like Yahoo and Hotmail, are reporting a steady decline in the number of users. A study done by comScore finds the number of total unique visitors in the U.S. to major e-mail sites slide 6 percent since November 2009. It reports visits among 12-to-17 year-olds fell around 18 percent. Gmail is reported to be the only big gainer in the category and is up 10 percent from a year ago.

When passion and creativity meet technology


Many of you might have already seen this. But if you have not yet, it is worth to watch!! This music video from the 'Playing for Change' project was created more than two years ago. I was pleasantly surprised watching this.

As you see in the video, the project staffs traveled around the world, recorded parts of a song played by many street musicians and mixed them together making a wonderful song.

This project shows really well what can be done when we have passion, creativity with some knowledge in technology (and maybe some fund).

How about showing this to your class and ask them to do some creative things using technologies, which can make a little difference?

Many studies of creativity show that when exposed to creative role models, people are stimulated to increase their creativity, too.

Where Are My Notes?

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First graders to doctoral students know it's important to take good notes in class. Notebooks and the pencils may soon be going the way of the abacus thanks to new technology.

It can be convenient for people to take notes on laptops, electronic tablets, digital pens or other devices. The inconvenience comes when you don't have access to your notes on that particular electronic device.

A recent New York Times article highlighted some new innovations that allow smartphones, tablets, laptops and other technology to synchronize with one another automatically.

To illustrate the issue the Times gave this scenario:

Say you're sitting on a plane with your laptop, jotting down some brilliant words for that speech you're giving next week. Back at the office, those notes will never find their way to the copy of the speech you've stored on your desktop, unless, for example, you e-mail them to yourself.

Now companies including Simperium and Evernote offer applications you can install on your various mobile and stationary devices. The companies' servers gather and coordinate those notepads, keeping all the entries up to date.

The article elaborated on the services provided by Simplenote from Simperium and Evernote. It said Simplenote's specialty was typed text notes. Evernote can handle notes sent by keyboard, digital pen, scanner or camera phone.

Evernote offers a both a free and premium service ($45 a year) that work across most devices and platforms.

Sixth Sense computing

Have you ever watched a video about "SixthSense" on TED.com?
If not, watch it below. You will be amazed at the technology.

Here is description about the presentation from TED.com
' Sixsense' is "a wearable device with a projector that paves the way for profound interaction with our environment. Imagine "Minority Report" and then some."



If the 'SixthSense' becomes a common device like laptop computers, what would happen in our classrooms? How can instructors and students utilize this device in their learning experience? Maybe you will be able to see instructors and students interact with each other using this device and their motion will lead to some collaborative work such as virtual art painting. That is just one imagination of mine. Nobody can't tell or imagine exactly what will happen. But one thing is for sure. Technology is surely going further and further.

What the Heck is RockMelt?

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A new web browser designed by some of the team that brought you Netscape is being released and promises to help integrate your web surfing and social networking.

RockMelt makes it easier to keep up with friends, get news updates and access your favorite web pages from any computer, according to the company's website.

"Although most people spend more time using their web browser than any other program on their computers, most browsers have not kept up with the evolution of the web into a social media hub," the principle financial backer of RockMelt, Marc Andreessen, said in the New York Times.

RockMelt is built on Chromium, the open source project behind Google's Chrome browser. Its launch comes 16 years after Netscape introduced the first commercial Internet browser. RockMelt is the first browser to be fully backed by the cloud, according to the company's website.

A "share" button on RockMelt makes it easy to post a Web page, a YouTube video or any other items, to Facebook, Twitter or other sites.

Here's an explanation from the RockMelt website:

Share or tweet links often? Yeah, us too. No more wading through each site's goofy share widget or copy-pasting URLs. We built sharing directly into the browser, right next to the URL bar. Like a site or story? Click "Share" and BAM - link shared. You can use it on any site to post to Facebook or tweet about it on Twitter. It's just one click away. That easy.

Wherever you go on the Internet, RockMelt makes the Web a personal experience. Because RockMelt is the first browser you log into, it unlocks your Web experience with your Facebook friends, your feeds, your favorite services, even your bookmarks and preferences.

Like other browsers RockMelt is free and it plans to make money by earning a share of the revenue from web searches conducted by its users.

RockMelt's backers acknowledge that getting people to use their browser is a big challenge. They hope their product will create some buzz and the recommendations to use it will be spread through word of mouth.

5 Higher Ed Tech Trends to Watch in 2010

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Campus Technology

5 Higher Ed Tech Trends to Watch in 2010

* By Bridget McCrea
* 12/09/09

There aren't too many corners of higher education that technology hasn't infiltrated. From admissions to financial aid to the classroom and everything in between, nearly all aspects of college are being handled in some way by the applications, hardware, and gadgets that help institutions work more efficiently.

Don't expect much of that to change in 2010 as more technology is developed and introduced to the higher education market. To make your trend-spotting activities easier, we spoke with some higher education technology experts and came up with these five top tech trends to watch in the new year.

1. More Interactive Classrooms
The days when professors lectured to a class of blank, unresponsive faces are long gone. Today, both students and educators are tapping technology to make the classroom environment more interactive and dynamic. Purdue University's Web-based Hotseat application, which allows students to use handheld devices to interact with professors in the classroom environment, is just a taste of what's to come.

"Anything that helps make the classroom more interactive, animated and engaging--be it multimedia, streaming video or some other innovation--will be in demand this year," said Gregory Phelan, chair of the department of chemistry and associate professor at SUNY College at Cortland in New York, which is upgrading its facilities to include streaming video that professors can access via the server while teaching (rather than "carrying" the content with them into class). "We'll be there soon."

2. More Information at Your Fingertips
In an era when information just can't be produced quickly enough, electronic book readers, smart phones, search engines, and other tools will continue to create an educational environment where both students and teachers have everything they need at their fingertips. "This faster access to information is going to change the classroom dynamic," Phelan predicted. "It will impact the way in which lessons are taught, and how students do their work."

Phelan pointed to the colleges that are "handing out" tablet PCs to all freshmen as the frontrunners in the race to equip students with all of the information they need to succeed in school. Whether other universities follow that lead remains to be seen. "I'd really like to see more schools making that move," said Phelan, "and even further integrate technology into the college classroom."

3. Mashed-Up Technologies
Technological equipment and software that serves a single purpose has gone the way of the 8-track tape and will continue to fade in 2010 as more users learn to "mash up" their technologies into more useful packages. "Students are using every communication vector that they can get their hands on right now," said Ron Hutchins, associate vice provost for research technology and CTO at Georgia Institute of Technology's Office of Information Technology. "It just makes sense that they would mash those technologies together and make them more specific and customizable."

Take online maps, for example. Once thought of as standalone applications that help the user get from Point A to Point B in the fastest, most efficient manner, online maps can now be integrated into other applications, such as location-based e-mail programs. "These types of customizable, specific mashups," said Hutchins, "will become even more prevalent in higher education this year."

4. Breaking Out of Technology Isolation
One of the coolest uses of technology that Hutchins has seen lately can be found in Rutgers University's English department, which is equipped with an entire wall of touch-enabled whiteboards. Using precision positioning technology, the wall-mounted boards allow for unprecedented participation and collaboration among students.

"Students walk up to the wall and use their hands to manipulate items," remarked Hutchins. "It's like putting your whole body into a design project." Hutchins said such innovations also go a long way in getting students up out of their seats and interacting with educators, other students and technology in a meaningful way. "Technology can be isolating," he said. "I love the notion of integrating the classroom and making it more social. This is just one way to make that happen."

5. Capabilities That Go Beyond 1:1
Last year saw college students using more devices and technology applications than ever before, and universities scrambling to keep up with those tech-savvy students. Expect the trend to pick up speed in 2010, said Shannon Buerk, education design strategist at Dallas-based consultancy Cambridge Strategic Services. Netbooks, online education, social networking, smart phones and podcasting will continue to play a role in the typical student's life, as will "4:1 computing" as a replacement for the more traditional 1:1 (one device to handle one task).

"The traditional 1:1, standardized computing is too rigid in today's educational environment, where students are tapping into multiple technologies and switching gears quickly between them," said Buerk, who said she sees the university landscape as being ripe for even more technological innovations in 2010. "When it comes to [technology], there are no boundaries in the learning environment."

About the Author

Bridget McCrea is a business and technology writer in Clearwater, FL. She can be reached at bridgetmc@earthlink.net.

Pranav Mistry presented a new way of merging the "real" world with the computer, data-driven world. Especially exciting for me was the demonstration at minute 10 of adding an image from a physical book, and a paragraph of text from another book, into a digital piece of paper. Except it isn't really a digital piece of paper.... You have to watch it to believe it.

Mistry's invention, which he calls SixthSense, uses a pocket projector, a mirror and camera. The user carries a mobile computing device in her pocket. The stream from the projector is captured and brought back into the device. He also applied sensors on his fingers that are read by the projects interface. The hardware for the prototype cost about $350.

Pranav Mistry is planning on releasing the source code for his device so other industries, NGOs, and developers can extend his invention further. Imagine what will come from the crowd-sourcing of this invention.

Using Google Earth to organize and understand Flickr photos

USC's Interactive Media Division and the Institute for Creative Technologies have created Viewfinder, a program they describe as allowing users to "Flickrize�? Google Earth. As described on the website, the project aims to "craft an experience that is as visceral as Google Earth and as accessible as Flickr by integrating photos into corresponding 3D models (such as Google Earth) so that they appear as perfectly aligned overlays.�?

You can view a movie of Viewfinder to see what it can do.

Viewfinder is reminiscent of Microsoft Live Labs' Photosynth. But Photosynth relies on personal collections of photos, from what I can tell.

Using Flickr for source photos in Viewfinder adds a lot of power to the Viewfinder application. Flickr, as a collection, represents a huge amount of data and understanding of our (collective) surroundings. Flickr is fascinating now, and will be much more so in another 10 years, another 30 years. Adding Google Earth as a layer behind the Flickr collection extends our capacity to interact with and understand photos in Flickr.

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