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I recently moved to a new city, and I was very happy about it. My new job was paying for everything, including all the things that I needed in my new home. I even had a cell phone that was strictly for business, and I could receive and make phone calls as long as I was doing it for work. As far as a cell phone was concerned, I only needed one that I could use to call family members once in a while, but I didn’t have much family either. I was really trying to save up to buy a house, and every penny counted.

Although my new job was paying well, I just don’t believe in paying a lot of money for cell phone or Internet services. If I’m at work, I’ll use the Internet. As long as I don’t access any forbidden websites, then I’m allowed to use the Internet as I please. As far as my cell phone is concerned, I have access to it, but I needed a cell phone that I could call family and friends with. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, so I started searching for a low-cost cell phone provider.

I didn’t have to look far because FreedomPop has cell phone service that’s free of charge. I was excited about getting the FreedomPop service because it would save me at least $50 a month that I’d be paying to any other service provider. As long as I could stay within the 200 minutes I was given on a service plan, then I wouldn’t have to pay any money for the service. I already had a phone that would work with FreedomPop, so I didn’t even need to buy another phone. I also get 500 text messages free with FreedomPop as well as 500 MB of data.

Data wasn’t a problem because my company was paying for me to have Internet at home, just in case I needed to access files from the office. I was able to use the Wi-Fi on my Internet at home to give me additional data on my FreedomPop phone, so I was doing well when it came to staying in my 500 MB limit. I did have a dilemma that I didn’t think about until I went out to a store one day. Although I knew how to save on data usage at work and at home, what was I to do when I went shopping?

My idea was to sign up for FreedomPop’s Wi-Fi application, which I should’ve thought of in the first place. The application can be downloaded to my cell phone, and for only five dollars a month I’m able to access any FreedomPop hotspot that’s in my area. I’ll have unlimited use of the FreedomPop hotspots, and that means that I can ensure that I won’t go over my 500 MB data limit on my cell phone. FreedomPop has several ways to make it possible to spend very little money to receive great services. With FreedomPop I was able to get cell phone service that isn’t costing me anything extra, and the $50 a month I’m saving on these services is going to help me save towards a new house.

For anyone who loves to text, there is a bit of a limited experience offered with the traditional texting application built into mobile devices such as the iPhone and Android devices. This is namely the problem with international texting, group texting and other tasks that are just not heavily supported. While someone can make an international text from an iPhone, they are going to be hit with a large text fee from their carrier. In order to prevent this and to take advantage of mobile technology throughout the world, my friend Paul Mathieson shares some solid text applications new to the mobile world that can drastically improve how people interact with one another (examiner.com).

WhatsApp

This application has been around for a while now and it has the largest mobile user following. It now comes with a yearly subscription of around $1, which is about what it would cost to send or receive a handful of text messages internationally. Now, it is not able to make video calls or provide special emoticons or provide strong encryption, but it has the most users and is extremely helpful in this regard.

Kik

This application does not have location adding to the contacts but is great for textures who like to include visual stickers and icons with their international texting habits.

Viber

This is for someone who wants to make both text and audio/video calls internationally for free, as long as the other individual has such an application installed on their device.

Remember the sci-fi movies or futuristic TV shows that would show people being able to strap on headsets and immerse themselves in an entirely different world? Well, the fantasy has become reality. Facebooks’s $2 billion dollar projecthas been confirmed to be shipped out to stores in early 2016.

Sam Tabar (bloomberg.com) is excited to learn that a consumer version of the highly-anticipated and very long-delayed headset will be available the first quarter of the upcoming year, according to a tweet posted by company executive Nate Mitchell. “We are incredibly excited to announce that the Rift will be available to consumers in Q1 of 2016!” He wrote along with a photo of the sleek black headset.

Oculus was acquired by Facebook in 2014, and is the first of many companies that are striving to create quality, cost-effective virtual reality devices and define the way that people play video games. The full announcement of the Rift is sparse with details, not even including a price as of yet, but it does provide a brief description of what users ca expect that reads as follows:

“The Rift delivers on the dream of consumer VR with compelling content, a full ecosystem, and a fully-integrated hardware/software tech stack designed specifically for virtual reality. It’s a system designed by a team of extremely passionate gamers, developers, and engineers to reimagine what gaming can be.”

Hollywood has been trying to warn us for years that eventually technology is going to become self-aware and probably turn on its former masters (us) in order to create a utopian world for them (the machines). The next major step in this process is coming to fruition with the inclusion of drones with ‘memristors,’ or brains, in the loosest sense of the word. Essentially, these unmanned, flying computers would have a computer program on-board capable of ‘remembering’ where things are, spatially, in reference to itself. This ability could start with something as simple as registering that there is another drone in the air nearby. As the technology progresses over time the drone could be able to tell not only that there is a person within range, but also who that person is based on facial recognition software. Techy-savvy folks like Sam Tabar have learned that the applications for this new technology could range from military to Amazon delivery drones to precision agriculture.

The world of science fiction just merged into reality a little more. Boeing has taken out a patent on what could be the first step to force fields. The technology is called shockwave attenuation via electromagnetic arc and uses lasers to lessen the shockwave of explosions. The technology does not protect against shrapnel, but most military vehicles are armored anyway.

The explanation and diagrams that can be seen here explains how sensors will detect the explosion near the devise. This will activate the lasers to heat up the water or air between the vehicle and the explosion and form a plasma barrier. This barrier will deflect and negate the blast effect of the explosion.

A personnel carrier will have its shield activated by a roadside explosion that a tank’s sensors would be able to ignore. Brian Torchin has learned that the plan is to have a computer database that contains records of different bomb signatures attached to the sensors to determine the threat level and effect needed.

Image recognition is the method of identifying and recognizing objects or qualities in a photo or video. This tool is now developing in remarkable ways that directly affect people in their daily lives. The process of image recognition can now describe, in words, the content of the photo or video by using algorithms written by a collaboration between Google and Stanford University. This procedure works by incorporating two neural networks: image recognition and natural language processing. This means that people will be able to receive more accurate results when searching the internet for particular images and videos. While this development is not perfected, it is an exciting step in advancing image recognition technology.

Slyce, a leading image recognition provider, is using this technology is ways that will simplify and connect the world like never before. Through shopping, advertising, relevancy engines, and social media tags, this company provides intuitive technology that allows customers find exactly what they are looking for. Within the e-commerce system, they are able to locate what someone is looking for just by taking a picture. For example, a woman sees a billboard advertising a new movie, and really likes the shoes that one of the actors is wearing. By taking a photo of the shoes with Slyce, she is able to view that exact pair and/or similar shoes and purchase them. This is a powerful tool that will be used for buying, selling, and advertising internationally. Consumers should expect to see many companies using this in mobile applications in the near future.

What else does the future hold for this branch of technology? As research continues, it’s possible that it can aid the blind and artificial intelligence navigate their environments. In the future, the software managing the cameras will go beyond just physical recognition of humans, but also distinguish certain types of behavior, which could potentially alert the authorities automatically. The neural networks used in this kind of technology are inspired by the ways the human brain works, and can additionally be trained to discover patterns in information.

 

Sergio Cortes told me that virtual reality was one of the most commonly used buzzwords of the 90s. People had big dreams for virtual reality, but the technology of the time simply wasn’t up to it. But the big dreams of the 90s are starting to come into a more concrete reality. As they do, people are coming up with ideas which nobody would have thought possible. In particular, few people suspected that virtual reality might first appear in medical classrooms.

Medical Realities hopes to bring virtual reality tools to medical schools all over the world. They’re focusing on a device known as the Oculus Rift. The Oculus Rift was initially envisioned as peripheral for video game players. The project began with a small kickstarter campaign. Before anyone know it, the project had millions of dollars worth of donations. This has allowed the developers to take it into more complex directions than they initially intended. The focus on higher resolution and better display technology has also ensured that it can be of use to the medial industry.

For obvious reasons, it’s difficult and costly for medical students to hone their skills within an actual surgical environment. Even use of medical cadavers incurs a huge cost for schools. More importantly, the high cost also ensures that practice time for any given student will be limited.