You Might Actually Want to Wear Something Made From This Smart Fabric

The past couple of decades gave rise to smartphones, smart watches, and smart homes. Now, researchers are looking for ways to make smart clothing. To do that, they need a smart fabric that can conduct electricity, but the textiles they’ve come up with thus far don’t breathe well and are rigid. They’re uncomfortable, and this inhibits daily usage.

The Future of Fashion: 3D Printed Clothing
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Now, an international team of researchers has found a way to produce electrically conductive textiles that behave more like the ones we’re used to wearing. Their study has been published in npj Flexible Electronics.

With Andreas Greiner at the helm, a team of researchers from Germany’s University of Bayreuth and China’s Donghua University and Nanjing Forestry University set out in pursuit of a better smart fabric. They found that, through a special production process, they could create a nonwoven material that was very good at conducting electricity without compromising on comfort.

Unlike the process used to produce most smart fabrics, the team didn’t insert metal wires into a textile after it was already made. Instead, they used a modified version of classical electro-spinning — a process that has been used to create nonwovens for many years — to combine short electro-spun polymer fibers with tiny silver wires in a liquid. This mixture was then filtered, dried, and heated for a brief time to produce the smart fabric.

The researchers’ material has a number of potential applications. For example, a piece of clothing could be outfitted with solar cells that convert sunlight to warmth, heating up the garment on a cold day. Sensors embedded into athletic attire could track fitness or health metrics and relay them to a paired device. A pair of pants could charge the smartphone stowed in their pocket.

The fabric’s utility isn’t limited to clothes, either. In a university press release, Greiner suggested using the material as the seat covering on a plane or in a car. In that instance, passengers could charge their devices without leaving their seat. Anything that incorporates fabric could get a “smart” bump.

The post You Might Actually Want to Wear Something Made From This Smart Fabric appeared first on Futurism.

Futurism

Facebook should actually be Tinder too

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 There’s beauty in the double-blind opt-in. That’s the way you match with someone on Tinder. You like them, they like you, you both find out and get connected. But to date, the feature’s largely been trapped in dating apps that match you with randos or that not everyone wants to be on. That means this anti-loneliness technology is leaving some people out. Facebook, meanwhile,… Read More
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Overtime gets $9.5M to build a new style of sports network that young people will actually watch

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 ESPN may be going from a sure-fire cable bounty to something that needs a little more flexibility in a cord-cutting era — like launching a new streaming service in 2018. But an even more troublesome trend may be emerging among younger sports fans, according to Overtime CEO Dan Porter: they just aren’t getting the content the way they want it. Indeed, a recent study by the NCAA… Read More
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Is HomePod Actually the Best-Sounding Smart Home Speaker?

HomePod has been consistently rated as the best sounding smart home speaker since its announcement and its release. But you might not know that if you’ve only read Consumer Reports’ review — which rated HomePod’s audio quality lower than competitors like the Sonos One and Google Home Max..

CR wrote that HomePod’s sound was, overall, a “bit muddy compared with what the Sonos One and Google Home Max delivered.” That’s because, as CR puts it, HomePod overemphasized the low-end of music, calling it “boomy,” and added that the mid-range and treble elements weren’t as clear.

But that conclusion is in sharp contrast to most professional critical reviews of HomePod. So what’s going on?

Difference of Opinion (or Bias?)

To be clear, most media outlets and tech sites have rated HomePod very favorably. That includes Mashable, The Guardian, Recode, Pocket-Lint, Engadget, The Verge, TechCrunch, and What Hi-Fi, among others. Most of these tout HomePod as the best-sounding smart home speaker. By a long shot.

But, of course, there are exceptions. Along with CR, BuzzFeed and the Wall Street Journal didn’t concur with other reviews.

And David Pogue, a writer for Yahoo! Finance, conducted his own blind test and found the results inconclusive. Different listeners rated HomePod as the best for different songs, but they did not rate it the best across the board.

Interestingly, Pogue also noted that, to the best of his knowledge, no other publication had conducted a blind listening test of HomePod and other speakers. Looking over early reports, Pogue seems to be right.

Bias could certainly be a factor in how HomePod is being rated compared to other speakers — and it’s hard to account for that. And on that note, keep in mind Consumer Reports’ history of allegedly being biased against Apple products, as can be seen in a recent AppleInsider editorial.

The Bottom Line

It’s important to preface any discussion about audio quality the fact that audio hardware testing results can be contentious. Even if a speaker is rated consistently as “the best,” there will always be outliers. Any speaker is going to handle music differently, and music is also incredibly diverse. That goes for music listeners, too. Audio preferences are inherently subjective.

That was the general conclusion of Pogue’s review and blind test. And despite the inconclusive results of his testing, Pogue did note that HomePod “generally sounds better than any other smart speaker — but only somewhat.”

The truth of the matter is that, unless you were directly comparing HomePod to other speakers side-by-side, you’d be hard-pressed to declare a clear winner.

What that means for consumers is this: HomePod is going to be one of — if not the — best sounding smart home speaker on the market. Any difference between it and other comparable, excellent-sounding speakers is going to be nominal.

Frankly, audio quality is secondary compared to other concerns about HomePod’s features (and lack thereof). So, if it makes sense for you and your ecosystem, get a HomePod. Rest assured that you’d have to split hairs to find one that actually sounds better than it.

iDrop News

4 Apple “Features” That Were Actually Lies

apple-lied-about-features

Apple makes some of the best gadgets in the world. But when it gets something wrong, the company has a tendency to spin the mistake as a “feature” or tell aggrieved parties they are wrong. Apple founder Steve Jobs employed the infamous “Reality Distortion Field” to good effect, making some people believe the cons. But not everyone took a bite out of the poisonous apple. With Jobs gone, people are now willing to be more critical of the company than ever before. So let’s look back at some such instances where Apple’s marketing team (and the fanboys) went into overdrive,…

Read the full article: 4 Apple “Features” That Were Actually Lies

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