A Free App Bringing Sight to the Blind and Visually Impaired

226541_2066754712732_918981_aMaking a big difference in someone’s life can be as easy as pulling out your smart phone for a few minutes every day. Really! A not-for-profit app makes life easier for those with vision problems by connecting them with sighted helpers through a smartphone app. Be My Eyes allows the blind to handle big and small tasks, while sighted volunteers get the joy of helping someone else in an easy and informal way at their convenience.

Be My Eyes harnesses the power of technology and generosity to connect visually impaired users with sighted volunteers through a live video connection. Volunteers lend their eyes to assist visually impaired users with a wide range of tasks, both large and small. For example:

  • Matching colors and clothing
  • Distinguishing between household or kitchen products; cans, cleaning products, shampoo, etc.
  • Determining departure or arrival of public transportation
  • Navigating in unfamiliar surroundings

The app is available for Android and Apple products to connect more visually impaired users with volunteers’ smartphones. The Be My Eyes community is growing with more than 38,000 blind or visually impaired users and more than 550,000 sighted volunteers from all over the world.

This video demonstrates how Be My Eyes works.

Want to learn more about lending your eyes and stay connected with this awesome app? Be My Eyes is on Twitter and Facebook. Plus you should check out the website at http://www.bemyeyes.org/. Please consider following me on Twitter too.

Check out this great way to help visually impaired people

Check out this great way to help visually impaired people

Smartphone App Uses Facial Recognition Technology to Locate Missing Pets

2010_tyd_photowinner_louiseTechnology is at work to help pet owners looking for lost animals. A cell phone app called Positive Identification of a Pet (PiP) issues alerts for missing pets. The PiP app uses facial recognition technology to find a missing pet. The owner can upload a picture and description of their pet. When the pet goes missing, an owner can activate a PiP alert. The alert is sent out to veterinarians and local animal shelters. The alert will trigger PiP technology to watch social media outlets for postings of pets that have been found. It uses a facial recognition system to find a positive match to a found pet in the database.
PiPPhones-1 The PiP app is a free download for all Smartphone users.  At the moment a pet goes missing, an owner can activate a PiP “amber alert” and immediately broadcast to animal control/animal rescue agencies, veterinarians, social media outlets, and other app subscribers within the local area that their pet has been lost. Simultaneously, the amber alert will trigger PiP’s technology to watch social media outlets for any posting of a found pet.
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Thank goodness, my dogs have not gone missing so I have not tried the PiP app; I opt for the old-school dog tag with my contact information and microchips on both of my dogs.

Pet microchips are available at the Animal Protective Association of Missouri, most veterinarian offices and many animal shelters. A study of more than 7,700 stray animals at shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to owners 52.2% of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with owners only 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5% of the time. It only takes a few minutes to have a pet microchipped and your information can be updated during the life of your pet.

Want to learn more about Positive Identification of a Pet (PiP) technology? Check out this video including some feedback from animal owners and rescue experts. Please take a moment and fill out the poll below.

Gender Matters in Mobile and Broadband Access

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It may seem like everyone from pre-teens to savvy seniors has a mobile device or access to broadband these days. But this is not the case around the world. In many nations, women have considerably less access to mobile technology and the opportunity it offers.

For example, in Africa and in South East Asia, there is a big mobile phone gender gap. About twenty percent fewer women have access to mobile than men. This is a big obstacle for women because access to mobile allows them to access to information about health, entrepreneurship and all sorts of opportunities and advantages.

With the backdrop of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, technology firms including Ericsson are working to highlight the potential of mobile technology in solving some of the world’s major challenges. Ericsson President and CEO Hans Vestberg appeared as a panel speaker at the Social Good Summit, where the main theme is #2030Now. You can learn more about the summit at http://mashable.com/sgs/

One of the aspects under discussion includes the mobile gender gap following a Broadband Commission Report on the results of the Working Group on Broadband and Gender. Anne Bouverot, Director General of GSMA, spoke on initiatives to bridge the gap: “When you think about mobile, you think that everyone has access to mobile but in particular in Africa and in South East, there is a big mobile phone gender gap – it’s roughly 20% less women that have access to mobile than men. And why it matters is because when you have access to mobile, you can have access to information about health, access to information about entrepreneurship and all sorts of capabilities.”

The Broadband Commission Report “Working Group on Broadband and Gender: Doubling Digital opportunities – enhancing the inclusion of women & girls in the Information Society” presents policy for promoting gender equality agendas in national policy-making, as well as practical policy suggestions to expand women’s access to broadband and boost female participation in the Information Society. The five policy recommendations are: integrating gender and national ICT and broadband policies; improving sex-disaggregated ICT statistics and measurement; boosting the affordability and usability of ICTs; improving relevant and local content online; and finally initiating an action plan to achieve gender equality in access to broadband by 2020. You can access the broadband report at http://www.broadbandcommission.org/Documents/working-groups/bb-doubling-digital-2013.pdf

Mobile technology and broadband is a gender issue in some areas.

Mobile technology and broadband is a gender issue in some areas.

Game of Numbers as Technology Unlocks Insights in Fantasy Football

Football is back and in offices and coffee shops, fans are talking about their favorite teams and their fantasy drafts. Even on late night television; Jimmy Fallon and drummer, Questlove, of the Roots shared fantasy football draft insights.

It is a serious matter for millions of football fans. Recent research by Intel shows 75 percent of fantasy football players demand real-time data, and two-thirds feel that technology is critical to helping them successfully manage their teams.

Tech tools can help teams determine how factors such as weather, time of day, travel schedules, team composition and the frequency of injuries could affect the likelihood of a win.  More than five million pieces of data from on-field sensors, video feeds and other sources will be collected and analyzed to give teams and fantasy football players a competitive edge this season!  STATS, one sports technology, data and content company, uses real-time scores, historical sports information and turnkey fantasy sports platforms. This information is provided to media companies and professional sports leagues, and to teams for game analysis and tactical coaching tools.

Check out this video on how technology and mobile connectivity are bringing fans closer to the game:


Tech tools change the fantasy football experience

Tech tools change the fantasy football experience

Social Media Savvy Seniors and Boomers Busy Online

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People are discussing photos they share on Pinterest, the blog on their travels or the app they are using to track their fitness and exercise schedule.  These conversations on technology are not restricted to the local social media clubs; they are hot topics for senior services communities like Laclede Groves near Saint Louis and coffee shops where baby boomers meet.

Social media savvy seniors and boomers are busy online.

Vibrant seniors and boomers are blogging and using Facebook, Twitter and Skype to keep up with families and friends. Social media savvy seniors and boomers may also be boosting brain power new research suggests.

Vibrant seniors and boomers are blogging and using Facebook, Twitter and Skype to keep up with families and friends.  Social media savvy seniors and boomers may not be the first to try the newest app or gadget; but are eager to adopt them once the technology is mainstream.  Older users on social media are active to discuss and share travel, health, hobbies or search for products, values, and discounts.  The social and digital contribution of these connected seniors is impressive! Baby Boomers are 80 million strong and growing.

In just five years, 50% of the US population will be 50+ projects Nielsen Research. (August 2012)

US Boomers’ Internet usage now is impressive:

– 33% of all online users

– 33% of all social media and Twitter

– 33% are heavy internet users.

Currently, there are about 21 million online seniors (those aged over 65 years old) in the United States according to Forrester Research, (June 2012).

Forrester finds 49% of digital seniors in the US are using Facebook.

– 91% of online seniors use email

– 59% have purchased products online in past three months

– 46% send/receive photos by email

– 44% play solo games online

– 24% sign up for coupons/freebies.

Staying connected online and through social media may be a great way for seniors to stay healthy. One recent study shows social media can give older adults a brain boost.  Researchers at the University of Arizona taught some seniors, over 65, how to use Facebook and then put them through cognitive and memory tests.  The new Facebook users fared 25 percent better on the tests than seniors who did not use the social network.

Boomers were raised in front of the TV and have always embraced media and technology. The size of the screens is now shrinking as they continue to grow with a constantly changing tech landscape that could help keep them young and connected for socializing, shopping and entertaining themselves on social media.

To see some of these savvy seniors in action on Facebook, I suggest you visit the Lutheran Senior Services page on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/LutheranSeniorServices.

Small Business Tip: High-Tech Help Gets Farmer International Attention!

One mid-west farm has several high-tech communications features at work today getting world-wide attention!  You see, Verizon Wireless is sponsoring Benton Farms’ quest to offer the world’s largest corn maze in Guinness Book of World Record’s.

 You can see a familiar face and slogan in the 54.428 acre maze open until November 1, 2009 at Benson Farms in Denton, Nebraska. The sponsorship is not the only high-tech communications link at the farm; the Benson family uses Twitter, text messages and other social media to let visitors to the farm know about special events and activities. You can visit the farm website at http://www.bensonfarms.com to sign up for updates.

 

Located a short drive west of Lincoln, Nebraska, the record-setting corn maze is a great place to get some fresh air, have some fun and enjoy a piece of the “good life.”  The huge maze holds 14.88 miles of trails in four phases ranging from easy to moderately difficult.  The easiest phase will require 10 to 20 minutes to navigate.  The most difficult phase will require 45 to 120 minutes to navigate.  One phase of the maze gets haunted after dark on Friday and Saturday nights beginning October 9th.

 Sponsorship of the maze is just one way Verizon is reaching out to small firms.  There are Verizon free Wi-Fi hot spot access at more than 14,000 locations nationwide, available to every Verizon business broadband customer.  Free Verizon Wi-Fi hot spot locations include hotels, airports, restaurants, coffee shops, retailers, convention centers and public locations across the U.S. For a complete list, visit http://www.verizon.net/hotspots.

Please follow me on Twitter to learn more about small business trends and events to give you a competitive edge in business at http://twitter.com/danitablackwood   To learn more about vital technology issues impacting your enterprise; head to http://www.sbtv.com/Technology

Small Business Tip: McAfee to Launch New Online Support Community

Small business owners and entrepreneurs will soon have the opportunity to link online with the world’s largest dedicated security technology company. 
blogpainMcAfee is working to launch an online support community so users can interact with each other to share ideas, discuss emerging trends and help resolve problems.  McAfee technicians, developers and product managers will be able to engage customers in new ways to enhance products and improve processes according to a media release.

Barry McPherson, executive vice president of worldwide support and services at McAfee, said the online community “will enable us to evolve beyond traditional phone and e-mail based services and focus more on collaboration with our customers through discussions, blogs, wikis, user groups and community polling.”

McAfee already monitors Twitter and Facebook. The online community, which will launch in the fourth quarter, will run on Jive’s social business software platform. Please follow me on Twitter to learn more about small business trends and events to give you a competitive edge in business at http://twitter.com/danitablackwood   To learn more about vital technology issues impacting your enterprise; head to http://www.sbtv.com/Technology