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11 Innovative Gifts for Aspiring Scientists

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If you have a future professor or armchair astronomer in your life, these gifts will help them hone their skills and pursue their passion. We’ve covered all ages, abilities, and budgets so you can add to anyone’s laboratory.

1. Meet Science: Magnetism and Electricity App; $6.99

This middle-school-level phone app will give your budding physicists a head start on mastering two of science’s trickiest topics through a series of interactive animations and games.

Find it: App stores

2. 3Doodler; $99 

You can you use this three-dimensional pen for everything from arts and crafts to minor home repairs, but we like its potential for making more accurate scientific models and providing an opportunity for hands-on learning. 

Find it: The3Doodler.com

3. Micro Fi Wi-Fi Handheld Microscope; $219.95

The portable, ergonomic quality of this 80x magnification microscope isn’t even the coolest thing about it. A Wi-Fi module allows you to connect the feed to up to three smart devices—phones, tablets, or laptops—making it perfect for collaborative experiments or teaching demonstrations. 

Find it: Amazon.com

4. Veho Discovery LCD Microscope; $299.95

If your scientist isn’t a fan of squinting into eyepieces, the LCD screen on this microscope shows you what’s going on below, 1200 times magnified. Time-lapse photography capability allows you to create incredible videos of bacteria growth or decay.

Find it: Amazon.com

5. LittleBits Space Kit; $189

LittleBits creates modular kits that help children and adults alike understand electronics by building functioning systems. For this latest product, they teamed up with NASA to bring you the opportunity to build miniature models of the Mars Rover or International Space Station and carry out scaled-down versions of real NASA experiments. 

Find it: LittleBits.cc 

6. Mindflex Duel Game; $134.95

Okay, this head-to-head contest of “mind-eye” coordination is more recreation than education, but it’s sure to inspire even the most reluctant scientists to wonder about the future of technology as they control the movements of a foam ball using just their brain waves. 

Find it: Mindflexgames.com 

7. Elenco Snap Circuits SC-300 Physics Kit; $66.99 

Get kids as young as eight years old to understand the basics of electrical circuits with this brightly colored, easy-to-follow kit for building things like doorbells and a simple radio.

Find it: Amazon.com

8. LEGO Mindstorms EV3 31313; $349.99 

LEGO has come a long way from simple building blocks. This splurge set lets you build and control a walking, talking robot with an infrared sensor system and intuitive software that connects to either a remote control (included) or your smartphone. 

Find it: LEGO.com

9. Thames & Kosmos Eco-Battery Vehicles; $69.95

Toy cars are great, but can they teach you about sustainable energy sources? These customizable cars run on just magnesium plates, salt water, and the oxygen in the air. 

Find it: Amazon.com 

10. Genographic Project Participation and DNA Ancestry Kit; $199.95

Learn about your genetic ancestry while participating in real, ongoing scientific research about the origins of humanity. Find out if you’re descended from Neanderthals or Denisovans and get a detailed understanding of your own personal genome.

Find it: NationalGeographic.com

11. Star Walk App; $.99

Give the gift of unlimited astronomical information for less than the price of a stocking stuffer. Learn about the stars directly above you at any given moment and have your map update in real time as you move about. 

Find it: App stores

If we can get smarter, so can technology. That’s what innovation—like Intel®  RealSense™ technology with immersive chat and 3D scanning—is all about. Learn more here: intel.com.

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9 Surprising Benefits of Having a More Intuitive Interface With Your Computer
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While the keyboard and mouse have been computer users’ loyal sidekicks for decades, technological innovations mean that interacting with your computer is becoming more like interacting with anyone else. Having a device that responds to your hand gestures and facial expressions—thanks to technology innovation coming soon from Intel—has amazingly wide-ranging benefits.

1. It’s Easier to Work in Three Dimensions

When it comes to digital building and sculpting, gesture controls allow users to plan three-dimensional projects using three-dimensional movements in space. Since these gestures are more intuitive than moving a mouse, it’s easier for your device to predict your intent, which leads to more accurate, natural interactions.

2. It’s Easier to Play in Three Dimensions, Too

Gesture controls will revolutionize the way games are played. Instead of pressing buttons representing movements, players will simply perform those movements themselves, creating a more fully immersive experience. Look around virtual obstacles or swat at a digitized pinball, all while having your actions reflected on-screen.

3. These Controls Will Burn Calories

These gaming developments will add a welcome physical component to otherwise stationary PC gaming experiences, which will give our sedentary lives a nice boost. And, with the technology built right in to your laptop, you’ll be able to take these energy-boosting side effects to work with you. Freed from your keyboard and mouse, you’ll be better able to transition to a standing desk, which has proven health benefits. Compared to sitting, standing burns more calories, improves posture, tones muscles, increases metabolism, and increases blood flow.

4. It Will Make Our Wrists Feel Healthier

Not using a mouse is good for your health in other ways, too. As more people spend most of their days sitting and clicking around, this repetitive motion and static wrist position can easily result in tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome. Being able to control your PC with your gestures will reduce this strain. Cooler still, you can even remove your hands from the equation entirely—the game Cloak and Badger uses the emotion-tracking capabilities of Intel® RealSense™ technology to allow gamers to control the action with nothing more than their facial expressions.

5. It Will Be Easy on the Eyes

One more health consideration: eye strain. While you could rig your computer setup so that you can use a mouse while still maintaining the proper distance from the screen, it will be much easier to lean back and take your gesture-controlling hands with you.

6. It Will Make Making a Mess More Fun

Because gesture controls don’t require users to touch their computers’ delicate hardware, this technology will be great to use during messy projects. Whether you’re painting based on a photo or cooking from a recipe, hand movements will allow you to interact with your computer without cleaning up first.

7. It Will Make Security Easier and More Secure

Facial recognition software allows for the implementation of new types of biometric passwords, which in turn relieve users from having to remember pass codes of constantly increasing complexity.

8. It Will Let Kids Get a Head Start on Learning

More intuitive interfaces are naturally easier to learn, which will make educational computer usage possible for kids at a much younger age and allow them to focus on the material rather than the delivery system. This benefit isn’t just for kids—it can also help anyone who hasn’t quite gotten the hang of using the standard mouse-and-keyboard interface.

9. It Will Give People Renewed Voices

Facial recognition technology can be so finely tuned that it will allow disabled and paralyzed users to continue to communicate using only expressions and minor facial movements. The intuitiveness of this control not only makes computing easier, but also allows for continued interpersonal interaction that might be otherwise cut off.

Intel® RealSense™ technology enables front-facing 3D cameras to simulate human eyes to add a whole new dimension to your computing experience. Learn more here.

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11 Innovative Ways to Stick to Your New Year's Resolutions
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If you want to make 2015 the year your resolutions finally stick, you won’t have to tackle them on your own. Whatever you’re trying to make happen in the New Year, you can get a leg up with some help from technology.

1. Stop Smoking for Good

Quitting smoking is one of the best resolutions anyone can make, but it’s also one of the most difficult to stick to. Enter the Livestrong MyQuit Coach, which helps you create a personal quitting plan whether you prefer to quit cold turkey or reduce your nicotine intake gradually. You can set goals, track your cravings, and even share your progress with your friends on social media for extra support.

2. Find the Right Volunteering Opportunity

The New Year is a great opportunity to make service a priority, and the GiveGab app makes it easier than ever. GiveGab allows you to connect with fellow volunteers and helps you to find opportunities in your area. Connecting with others can keep you motivated and accountable, both of which are key for sticking with your resolutions.

3. Eat Healthier at Home

Whether your resolution is weight loss or mindful eating, Blue Apron can give you the tools to create healthy meals at home. For $60 a week, they’ll send you three recipes (and all the ingredients you need to cook them) for two-person dinners, each containing 700 calories or fewer. You’ll be able to reap the benefits of a home-cooked meal without all the guesswork.

4. Get Serious About Losing Weight

For those whose resolution is serious weight loss, there’s Rise, an app that connects users with their own personal nutritionists. For $10 a week—far less than a traditional nutritionist—you’ll work with a diet coach to create a personalized plan. You can track your meals by sending pictures and descriptions to your coach, who will give you feedback and suggest adjustments as necessary.

5. Stop Wasting Time Online

The Internet is a beautiful thing, but as anyone who’s ever gone down a Wikipedia wormhole while attempting to get work done knows, it can be a major distraction as well. If you have resolved to waste fewer hours procrastinating on the Internet, there’s the Freedom app. For $10, Freedom will block the Internet on your computer for whatever length of time you select.

6. Spend More Quality Time With Friends

Sometimes the resolutions that sound the most pleasurable can be the most difficult to implement. Spending more time with friends and family often takes a backseat to the realities of overbooked schedules. While Doodle, a service that promises to “radically simplify the process of scheduling,” can’t grant you free time, it can seriously reduce the amount of time spent wrestling with calendars. So if you want to make dinner with friends a priority, Doodle uses participants’ reported availability to determine a day and time that works best for everyone.

7. Get Your Finances in Order

The New Year is a great time to get serious about your finances, particularly for those with significant debt. The Pay Off Debt app uses the Snowball Method—paying off smaller debts in full before proceeding to larger ones—and allows you to track past payments, calculate time left in your repayment, and set reminders. For extra motivation, the app will display your progress on a bar graph so you can watch your debt shrink.

8. Put Your Brain to Work

If you’ve resolved to read more, Scribd can make finding books much easier. For $8.99 a month, Scribd gives you unlimited access to its digital library of over 500,000 titles. You’ll never be at a loss for a book that interests you.

9. Organize Your Life

Getting organized is a frequently made (and broken) resolution. Evernote can help make the prospect less daunting. As a virtual workspace platform, Evernote allows you to take notes, clip online articles, and upload photos of physical papers. You can even search for terms in handwritten notes. At the very least, Evernote will help you rid your home of some paper clutter.

10. Live a Greener Life

Going green is a great resolution for your health as well as the environment, but it can be tough to know where to start. With GoodGuide, it’s easy to put your money where your resolution is. Scan the barcode of a product and GoodGuide will tell you its environmental, social, and health impacts.

11. Get in Shape

Being more active and getting healthier go hand-in-hand, and both are resolutions that Basis Peak can help you achieve. The watch-like device tracks your steps, activity, and sleep patterns, and it can even analyze your sweat. Knowledge is power!

This year, you’ll be able to spend more time focusing on your resolutions and less time focusing your camera. Intel® RealSense™ snapshot will let you refocus photos after the fact, proving that hindsight really is 20/20. Learn more here: intel.com.

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