Macworld Speculations

The Macworld Conference begins today in San Francisco, and the Macworld Expo opens tomorrow morning with Steve Jobs' keynote speech, where he customarily talks about everything Apple has done over the past year, then he utters the phrase280_apple_macworld_2.jpg everyone is waiting for: "One more thing..." when he then announces Apple's Next Big Thing. What's it gonna be this year? No one outside the company knows for sure, since the mystique is part of the hype. The publicity generated by the secrecy and speculation are worth more than its weight in gold for Apple. But there are plenty of predictions.

iTunes movie downloads. No real surprise here. Apple has made deals with 20th Century Fox and Disney already, and are in negotiations with Warner Bros. and Paramount. Movies are expected to rent for $3.99 for a 24-hour download. Apple hopes that movies from iTunes will boost sales of the Apple TV set-top box that transfers movies from your computer to your TV.

Subnotebook, a smaller, thinner version of the Macbook laptops. Forbes guesses a 12" to 13" screen and a price tage of around $1,500. Which is only twice what I paid for my entire Macintosh desktop setup.

3G iPhone. For a year now, Apple AT&T has said the next generation iPhones with faster 3G data service will be here in early 2008. Macworld would be as good a place as any to announce them. Just another reason to regret waiting in line for days to be one of the first to pay $500 for a first-generation iPhone.

Other possibilities are a touch-screen Tablet PC, advances in Apple TV, new software for the iPhone, and a new docking mechanism to insert a notebook into the iMac.

Engadget will be liveblogging the keynote speech Tuesday morning at this link.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
New Health-Monitoring Litter Box Could Save You a Trip to the Vet
iStock
iStock

Unsure if your cat is sick or just acting aloof per usual? A “smart toilet” for your fur baby could help you decide whether a trip to the vet is really necessary.

Enter the Pet Care Monitor: More than a litter box, the receptacle is designed to analyze cat urine for health issues, The Asahi Shimbun in Tokyo reports. Created by the Japan-based Sharp Corporation—better known for consumer electronics such as TVs, mobile phones, and the world's first LCD calculator—the product will be available for purchase on the company’s website starting July 30 (although shipping limitations may apply).

Sensors embedded in the monitor can measure your cat’s weight and urine volume, as well as the frequency and duration of toilet trips. That information is then analyzed by an AI program that compares it to data gleaned from a joint study between Sharp Corp and Tottori University in Japan. If there are any red flags, a report will be sent directly to your smartphone via an application called Cocoro Pet. The monitor could be especially useful for keeping an eye on cats with a history of kidney and urinary tract problems.

If you have several cats, the company offers sensors to identify each pet, allowing separate data sets to be collected and analyzed. (Each smart litter box can record the data of up to three cats.)

The Pet Care Monitor costs about $225, and there’s an additional monthly fee of roughly $3 for the service. Sharp Corporation says it will continue developing health products for pets, and it has already created a leg sensor that can tell if a dog is nervous by measuring its heart and respiratory rates.

[h/t The Asahi Shimbun]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
Apple Wants to Make It Easier for 911 Dispatchers to Figure Out Where You Are In an Emergency
iStock
iStock

A few weeks ago, I dialed 911 from a sidewalk in my neighborhood to alert the police of a lost child who had asked me for help. "What's your location?" the dispatcher asked. I had no idea; it was a small side street whose name I had never bothered to learn. I had to run to the end of the block and stare up at the street sign, and when the dispatcher wasn't familiar with the name, either, I had to spell it out, letter-by-letter.

Soon, it may not be quite so difficult to alert emergency services of your location. The Wall Street Journal reports that a forthcoming update to Apple's iOS will automatically send out your phone's location to emergency call centers when you're on the phone with 911.

The update is part of a partnership with RapidSOS, a technology company founded to make it easier for first responders to reach people in an emergency. It aims to make it as simple to find a 911 caller using a cell phone as it is to find one using a landline.

Landline systems can deliver your exact address to emergency services, but cell phone carriers currently only convey your approximate location, with even less accuracy than Google Maps or Uber can. It might be off by as much as a few hundred yards, which can make a substantial difference if you're waiting for life-saving care. The FCC has ruled that by 2021, all cell phone carriers must be able to locate emergency callers within 165 feet, 80 percent of the time—but that's years away.

The new update would come with iOS 12, which is expected to be released later this year. The data automatically sent by your iOS would be different from that data your cell phone carrier sends. It will use Apple's HELO (Hybridized Emergency Location), a system that estimates location based on cell towers, GPS, and Wi-Fi access, sending that information over to emergency call systems using RapidSOS's technology. RapidSOS isn't used by all 911 call centers in the U.S., but the company reports that it will be used by the majority by the end of the year.

In a press release, Apple promises that user data will only be available for emergency use, and that the responding 911 call center will only have access to your location data for the duration of your call.

I wasn't in a hurry when I called 911, and I had the time and the ability to jog down the street and find a sign to figure out where I was. In most emergency situations, the few extra seconds or minutes it could take to pinpoint your own location might be a matter of life and death. As more Americans give up their landlines and go wireless-only, better emergency services location tech will be vital.

[h/t MarketWatch]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios