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A Tablet for Seniors That Comes With Uber

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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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The Long Now Foundation, Vimeo
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Jeff Bezos Is Helping to Build a Clock Meant to Keep Time for 10,000 Years
The Long Now Foundation, Vimeo
The Long Now Foundation, Vimeo

Few human inventions are meant to last hundreds of years, much less thousands. But the 10,000 Year Clock is designed to keep accurate time for millennia. First proposed in 1989, the long-lasting timepiece is finally being installed inside a mountain in western Texas, according to CNET.

The organization building the clock, the Long Now Foundation, wanted to create a tribute to thinking about the future. Founded by computer scientist Danny Hillis and Whole Earth Catalog publisher Stewart Brand, the group boasts famous members like musician Brian Eno and numerous Silicon Valley heavyweights. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is putting up the $42 million necessary to complete the project, writing that “it's a special Clock, designed to be a symbol, an icon for long-term thinking."

Measuring 500 feet tall when it's completed, the clock will run on thermal power and synchronize each day at solar noon. Every day, a “chime generator” will come up with a different sequence of rings, never repeating a sequence day to day. On specific anniversaries—one year, 10 years, 100 years, 1000 years, 10,000 years—it will animate a mechanical system within one of five rooms carved into the mountain. On the first anniversary, for instance, the clock will animate an orrery, a model of the solar system. Since they don’t expect to be alive for many of the future anniversaries, the clock’s creators won't determine animations for 100, 1000, or 10,000 years—that'll be left up to future generations. (To give you an idea of just how far away 10,000 years is, in 8000 B.C.E., humans had just started to domesticate cows for the first time.)

Though you can sign up to be notified when the clock is finished, it won’t be easy to see it up close. The nearest airport is several hours’ drive away, and the mountain is 2000 feet above the valley floor. So you may have to be content with seeing it virtually in the video below.

Clock of the Long Now - Installation Begins from The Long Now Foundation on Vimeo.

[h/t CNET]

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Tynker
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Barbie Is Now Giving Coding Lessons
Tynker
Tynker

Mattel wants to help 10 million kids learn to code by 2020, and the toy giant is enlisting one of its most career-focused assets: Barbie. According to Engadget, Mattel is working with the coding education company Tynker to make seven Barbie-themed computer programming lessons.

Barbie has been a pilot, an architect, the president, and a computer engineer, so there may be no better character to teach kids the joys of coding. The lessons, arriving in summer 2018, will be designed for youngsters in kindergarten and up, and will teach Barbie-lovers more than just how to make apps. They’ll use Barbie’s many careers—which also included veterinarian, robotics engineer, and astronaut—as a way to guide kids through programming concepts.

An illustration depicts Barbie and her friends surrounded by cats and dogs and reads 'Barbie: Pet Vet.'

A screenshot of a Barbie coding lesson features a vet's office full of pets.

There are plenty of new initiatives that aim to teach kids how to code, from a Fisher-Price caterpillar toy to online games featuring Rey from Star Wars. This is the third partnership between Mattel and Tynker, who have already produced programming lessons using Hot Wheels and Monster High.

Kindergarten may seem a little soon to set kids on a career path as a computer programmer, but coding has been called “the most important job skill of the future,” and you don’t need to work for Google or Facebook to make learning it worthwhile. Coding can give you a leg up in applying for jobs in healthcare, finance, and other careers outside of Silicon Valley. More importantly for kids, coding games are fun. Who wouldn’t want to play Robotics Engineer Barbie?

[h/t Engadget]

All images by Tynker

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