Adjust, Virtualize, and Measure

July/August 2016

Explore gadgets and mobile apps and test your tech knowledge.

Apps: The New School Supplies
These back-to-school apps will help you measure the world around you, brush up on programming skills, ace your next presentation, and make old-school calculations in a new way.


Multi Measures 2
See your world in numbers with this measurement toolkit app. With an altimeter, teslameter, decibel meter, seismometer, barometer (dependent on your device capability), compass, and more in one sleek app, you can quantify the world around you for school, work, or play. The app also includes high-precision basic measuring tools: a ruler, a protractor, a timer, and a metronome. If you find yourself in trouble or just want to pretend you’re in a James Bond movie, use the flashlight tool to transmit Morse code by sound and light. Free (Android, iOS).


Learn or review the basics of programming with bite-size lessons. Each instruction point can be viewed as text or as a video, and there is a question after each. If you have questions that the lesson hasn’t addressed, the “Discussion” button will show you questions, answers, and comments that other learners have had about that material. The “Try it Yourself” button brings you to the “Code Playground,” where you can edit and run the program. Languages offered are C++, JavaScript, Python 3, PHP, C#, Swift, HTML, SQL, and CSS. Free (Android, iOS, Windows).


Perfect your public speaking with this speech coach app. LikeSo will train you to minimize filler words (think um, like, and just) so that you can speak clearly and articulately and be perceived as more competent. Use TalkAbout mode to improve your improvised speech (the skill you use in everyday conversations and meetings), or choose FreeStyle mode to practice for your upcoming presentation. The app gives you feedback on the ratio of content words to filler words (your “articulate percentile” score) and on your pace in words per minute. US$0.99 (iOS).


MyScript Calculator
Graphical thinkers can digitally perform calculations just as they would on paper with this app that calculates what you write or draw with your finger or a stylus. It supports many of the operations and constants of a scientific calculator, and you have the flexibility of writing operations in different ways. You can save or reuse your answer for another calculation. See your history by clicking the clock, or clear your space by clicking the trash can. Free (Android, iOS).




Stand Up, Sit Down, Work, Work, Work
This adjustable smart desk encourages you to change to a standing position without breaking your concentration. It reminds you to stand up or sit down at time intervals of your choice by taking a “breath”—moving gently up and down once. You can track your time spent sitting and standing and see how many extra calories you burned by working on your feet (the desk connects with FitBit so you can send this data to your FitBit dashboard). Over time, the desk learns from how you interact with it and adapts to your tendencies. US$2,990.




Record and Relive the World Around You
Relive your favorite memories by capturing, editing, and viewing them in 360-degree VR video. The kit includes a camera, an app, an editing studio, and a viewing headset. The small camera is actually eight cameras in one, allowing you to record all around you, whether the camera is stationary or in motion. Your smartphone functions as your viewfinder; you can monitor the video capture with the Vuze app. Once you’ve shot your footage, you can render it in near-real time and produce 4K video using the Vuze software on your computer. Snap your smartphone into the VR headset and plunge back into the moment. Available for preorder; ships October 2016.




Business Stats
Trust in Autonomous Technology
Would you buy a self-driving car? Your answer to this question might date you. Generation Y (those born from 1977 to 1994) was the most willing group to trust autonomous technology in a recent study, whereas those born before 1946 were the most hesitant group. Autonomous vehicles have yet to earn the trust of a majority of generation X and baby boomers.


1. To ________ is to publish personal identity information about someone on the internet against that person’s will.
a. Phish
b. Dox
c. Cache
d. Page-jack

2. All of the following are related to location-based marketing except
a. CDN
b. VLC
c. SoLoMo
d. UBE

3. Which of the following is a reaction you can have to a post on Facebook (an update to the “like” button)?
a. yay
b. haha
c. scared
d. dislike

1. Correct answer: B. According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, to which the word was added in April 2016, dox comes from docs, the abbreviation of documents. 2. Correct answer: A. CDN (content delivery network) is a global network of servers delivering content to end users. 3. Correct answer: B. The “haha” reaction is accompanied by an emoji laughing so hard that its eyes are represented digitally by less-than and greater-than signs.


Photography by Paul Frenzel, Unsplash