Glo Pillow

Alarm clocks are a steadily recurring subject among mental_floss bloggers. I don't know if it's because some have a hard time waking up or if it's just a fascination with new and different gadgets. We are always searching for a way to make getting out of bed a bit more pleasant.250_glow_pillow.jpg

The Glo Pillow by Ian Walton and Eoin McNally is certainly different. The alarm is right there IN your pillow, and you wake by light instead of sound! Not just any light, either. It's a gradual brightening from inside the pillow, designed to mimic the natural way we would wake up to sunlight, if we weren't bound by artificial schedules.

The pillow uses an LED fabric substrate below the surface to wake the user using light. This substrate also functions as a display, showing the time on the pillows surface using the grid of LEDs below.

40 minutes before the pre-set alarm time the pillow begins to glow and gently brings the user out of sleep. This natural waking process helps to set the circadian rhythm or "body clock" and results in more healthy sleep/wake patterns.

There are advantages to waking up this way. Gradual wakening prevents a shock to the system and lets your sleep pattern come to a natural close, since the building light resembles the effect of sunrise. But I first thought of a more practical advantage: not waking up everyone else in the house! My kids can sleep through a siren in their rooms, but an alarm clock will wake me up several rooms away. A pillow that lights up won't even disturb someone in the same bed. Maybe. You can also press a button and use it as a night light. And a clock.

The disadvantages would differ from person to person. The Glo Pillow might be impractical for someone who ends the night hugging their pillow or holding it between their legs. It could be dangerous to wield in a pillow fight. How washable is it? And is it comfortable? You'd have to hold one to really find out, and the Glo Pillow doesn't seem to be available to consumers yet. But the biggest question is, would it actually wake up someone who already has a hard time with a conventional alarm clock?

TIME magazine name the glo Pillow one of the best inventions of 2007.

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Animals
New Health-Monitoring Litter Box Could Save You a Trip to the Vet
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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]

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Live Smarter
Apple Wants to Make It Easier for 911 Dispatchers to Figure Out Where You Are In an Emergency
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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]

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