iStock
iStock

A Tablet for Seniors That Comes With Uber

iStock
iStock

My family spends a lot of time talking about how my grandfather, now 95, probably shouldn’t drive. But living in a suburban town means that without a car, any visit to see friends or go to the gym (because he still works out more than I do) is impossible. He could call an Uber, but he doesn’t have a smartphone and frankly, would be baffled by the app.

But maybe not for long. A new version of a tablet called grandPad—specifically designed for seniors—will come preloaded with a special version of Uber tailored toward the needs of older people, so that it can be used by even reluctant adopters of new-fangled tech.

As many as 43 percent of older adults report experiencing social isolation—which can have dire health effects. So in communities where people can’t walk out of their house and down the street to shop or go to the doctor or visit friends and family, older adults who can’t drive or have their licenses taken away are at a major disadvantage. Cabs tend to be uncommon outside of major urban areas, and public transportation options are more often than not abysmal.

grandPad

The Uber app for grandPad comes with a preset list of destinations that can be set by a caregiver or relative, and can be set to send real-time updates about the ride to a family member. So people who aren’t the type to regularly comment on their relative’s Facebook events (hi, Grandma!) don’t need a complete crash course on how to work an app that is more designed for New Year’s Eve revelers trying to get home at 3 a.m. than an 80-year-old trying to get to the pharmacy. If they are into technology, they can break open the app themselves, but with the large-format, simplified interface, they won’t have to strain quite so hard to see the tiny icons of mainstream apps.

Granted, a tablet-based app isn’t a perfect solution. Many people won’t want to go out for dinner or to the grocery store carrying a tablet so that they can call a ride home. But it’s one of the better options facing older people stuck in the suburbs without a car these days.

[h/t: Los Angeles Times]

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Sensorwake, Kickstarter
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Wake Up to the Aroma of Cappuccino With This Scent-Emitting Alarm Clock
Sensorwake, Kickstarter
Sensorwake, Kickstarter

Some people need an aggressive alarm clock to get them out of bed, like Simone Giertz's slapping robot, or the singNshock, which zaps you if you hit the snooze button. For others, a gentler wakeup call is what does the trick. That's what you get with Sensorwake, a new alarm clock on Kickstarter that gradually stimulates three of your senses to ease you into the day.

During the first minute of the alarm's three-minute wakeup process, it releases a pleasant aroma. You have your choice of scent cartridges, including cappuccino, peppermint, rose garden, chocolate factory, orange juice, and pine forest. A single cartridge lasts 30 days before it needs to be switched out.

After reviving your nose, Sensorwake activates its visual component: a soft light. For the final minute, the gadget plays sound like a traditional alarm clock, but instead of a blaring buzzer, you hear one of five upbeat melodies. If all that isn't enough to get you on your feet, you can hit snooze and wait for the cycle to start over in 10 minutes.

With more than three weeks left in its Kickstarter campaign, Sensorwake has already multiplied its original funding goal of $30,000. To reserve a clock and two scent capsules of your own, you can pledge $59 or more. Shipping is estimated for November of this year.

[h/t Mashable]

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Jason Dorfman, MIT CSAIL
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technology
MIT’s New AI Can Sense Your Movements Through Walls Using Radio Signals
Jason Dorfman, MIT CSAIL
Jason Dorfman, MIT CSAIL

New artificial intelligence technology developed at MIT can see through walls, and it knows what you’re doing.

RF-Pose, created by researchers at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), uses wireless signals to estimate a person’s pose through a wall. It can only come up with a 2D stick figure of your movements, but it can nonetheless see your actions.

The system, described in a new paper [PDF], uses a neural network to piece together radio signals bouncing off the human body. It takes advantage of the fact that the body reflects radio frequency signals in the Wi-Fi range. These Wi-Fi signals can move through walls, but not through people.

Using data from low-power radio signals—1000 times lower than the power your home Wi-Fi router puts out—this algorithm can generate a relatively accurate picture of what the person behind the wall is doing by piecing together the signals reflected by the moving body.

The system can recognize movement in poor lighting and identify multiple different individuals in a scene. Though the technology is still in development, it’s not hard to imagine that the military might use it in surveillance, but the researchers also suggest that it may be useful for video game design and search-and-rescue missions. It might also help doctors monitor and analyze the movements of patients with disorders like Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

This is just the latest in a series of projects using radio signals to mimic X-ray vision. CSAIL has been working on similar technology using Wi-Fi signals for several years, creating algorithms to recognize human forms and see motion through obstructions. In the future, they hope to expand the system to be able to recognize movement with 3D images rather than the current 2D stick figures.

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