Illoom Balloons

I remember seeing videos of sky lanterns released during the Taiwan Lantern Festival and thinking how beautiful, how amazing, how dangerous! The sky lanterns are made of paper, illuminated by candles, and released into the air to float as long as they will. This is something I'd like to try myself, if it weren't for the danger of setting the entire community on fire. That was my first thought when I ran across Illoom Balloons.
*
Illoom Balloons are lit internally by LEDs! Just one tiny LED per balloon makes it glow for up to 15 hours. You take each balloon, pull a tab to activate the tiny battery and light, then blow it up as usual by mouth, pump, or helium tank. They are safe enough for children (over three years old due to small parts) to blow up themselves. Used with plain air, these would make a nighttime party special as both decorations and activities. And not just kids parties, either -I can see them used at a wedding reception, concert, party boat, or picnic. After the party, keep them as a glowing reminder (meaning a night light) for as loilloom2ng as they last. With helium, they still make great decorations tied down or a memorable special effect when released, like the soaring illuminations of the Lantern Festival. This is one of the few gadgets I've written about that I might actually buy for myself.
*
Illoom Balloons are available in stores in the UK and will be soon in the US. You can order all blue, pink-purple-and-white, or mixed color balloons. £4.99 ($8) for a 5-pack or £8.99 ($14) for a pack of 15.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Animals
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
arrow
Live Smarter
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