Are Apple’s rumored new iPhone features Android ripoffs, or revolutionary?

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Apple Touchless Control

After three consecutive years of iterative iPhone updates that included almost no design changes, Apple in 2017 released a completely redesigned iPhone. No, I’m not talking about the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, which recycle Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus designs for the fourth consecutive year. I’m talking about the iPhone X, which is a completely reimagining of the iPhone.

Now that the wheel has been reinvented, however, Apple is expected in 2018 to once again release iterative iPhone updates. Things will get a bit more interesting this year if Apple does indeed release two additional new iPhone models alongside its iPhone X successor, but all three phones are expected to feature the same design as the current-generation iPhone X. But if we look a bit further down the road, the company may be working on new iPhone models that are unlike anything we’ve ever seen before from Apple. I first discussed them on Wednesday, but I wanted to quickly revisit the topic following a wave of presumptive coverage from tech blogs.

Bloomberg on Wednesday reported that Apple’s iPhone engineers are working on some pretty interesting things that could hit the market in the not-too-distant future. As I covered yesterday, touchless gesture control features are reportedly being developed for upcoming iPhones, and Apple is supposedly even testing a new iPhone design that is curved instead of flat, like every iPhone that has been released so far.

Now, it’s important to acknowledge that those are the only two facts pertaining to Apple’s future plans that were included in that Bloomberg report (facts is italicized because the report cites only one anonymous source for each of those claims). Everything else was background, filler, or speculation, like the notion that Apple might be considering a curved iPhone design in order to “differentiate design” in a “crowded marketplace.” Coverage on other sites also included no additional facts, only speculation.

There’s nothing wrong with speculation, of course, but a narrative developed on many sites that seems like it could be way off base. The basic idea presented in posts like this one from my favorite blog Gizmodo (other than BGR, of course) is that Apple’s touchless gesture control and curved screens aren’t novel new ideas. Instead, they’re similar to things that were done on Android phones years ago.

This may be true. Apple may be cooking up pointless touchless gesture controls like we’ve seen on earlier smartphones. Apple might also be toying with curved phone designs merely to “differentiate” its phones in a “crowded marketplace.” Does that really sound like Apple, though? Does the company ever really do silly things like just to be different? Would Apple release a curved phone to differentiate itself after seeing that no one liked Samsung’s curved phone in 2013 or LG’s curved phones in 2014 and 2015? That sounds… unlikely.

What am I getting at here? In a word, chill. Until more light is shed on the internal projects at Apple that Bloomberg revealed, we have absolutely no idea why Apple is working on these new iPhone features, or how they’ll tie in with other new iPhone features. As I mentioned in yesterday’s coverage, these two features may actually be releated. Apple has been working for years on all sorts of exciting new tech, including displays with 3D holographic capabilities.

What if Apple is developing touchless gesture support in order to allow people to interact with objects that appear as though they’re floating in front of the screen? What if Apple is testing curved iPhone designs so that the sensors reading these touchless controls can detect gestures performed so close to the display? We don’t know, and we won’t know anytime soon. Until we get more information, however, let’s try not to jump to any conclusions.

Apple – BGR

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The revolutionary Minimoog Model D synth is now available as an iOS app

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From Kraftwek and Michael Jackson to Nine Inch Nails and Dr. Dre, the Minimoog has spanned musical genres and decades. Released in 1970, it was one of the first synthesizers to include a keyboard. It gave musicians the ability to step up to the instr…
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A Revolutionary New Way to Improve Your Diet and Health

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In recent years, the role of the bacteria and other organisms in the gut have become a major focus of those looking to improve health and wellness. Probiotic companies that promise everything from improved digestion to a better mood have made billions selling their products. However, every gut is entirely unique. What may work for you may do little for someone else, so it’s important to know exactly what your gut needs. A new company called Viome is looking to provide a high-tech way of making that happen.

viome

Viome is the only company that uses RNA sequencing to analyze your gut microbiome. This technology allows them to provide accurate personalized diet and nutrition recommendation for improved health and wellness. A customer sends a small stool sample to Viome using a simple home test kit that is delivered to their door. A proprietary artificial intelligence engine that was created by scientists, physicians and nutritionists will analyze it. Customers also do a metabolic test and complete a questionnaire about their habits to help further hone in on their needs.

Naveen Jain, founder and CEO of Viome, told Futurism that many companies use DNA sequencing to analyze your gut, but looking at DNA creates false information about what’s ailing you. He said by analyzing RNA, they can tell customers exactly which foods are good for them and which ones are not.

“RNA only gets created when something is alive and replicating,” Jain said. “Since RNA only lasts for a short time, every time you take the sample, you only see microorganisms that are alive.”

viome

Jain said Viome was able to offer RNA analysis, which is usually very expensive, because it teamed up with Los Alamos National Lab. That lab does research related to national security, and they were studying biodefense before Viome launched. They were researching the best way to quickly find out what’s making people sick if there’s a biological attack, and they developed technology that was much cheaper to use so it can be used on a large scale. Viome now brings that technology to the populace.

Once a customer has done their tests and completed the questionnaire, Viome delivers nutrition recommendations and other advice specifically tailored to improve their overall health. People who are looking to lose weight, eat better, feel better or improve other aspects of their health can benefit from such an analysis.

Dr. Helen Messier, Chief Medical Officer at Viome, said that “by looking at the microbiome using RNA technology we now have an unprecedented understanding of how these microbes affect one’s health.  We can precisely see whether an individual will benefit or be harmed by specific foods such as spinach. walnuts, protein shakes, broccoli, or beets which were previously thought to be healthy for everyone.  It is not about the food being healthy, but about whether it is healthy for you. This is all determined by your microbiome.”

viome

Studies have shown what happens in your gut also affects how you feel mentally, and vice versa. Have you ever had stomach issues and felt upset or gotten queasy before a job interview? We all have, and that’s because the gut and the mind are closely connected. There is actually a nerve called the vagus nerve that connects the gut to the brain to relay messages between them. If your gut is happy, it’s much easier for you to feel happy.

“This gut-brain axis is the connection between our gut and our emotions and behavior,” Jain said. “Microbes in humans are really controlling everything we do.

There is an ongoing debate over what specific diet and foods are good for the average person. In the era of new fad diets coming out almost daily, eating right can be very confusing. Viome makes conflicting food advice obsolete. You are now able to harness the power of cutting edge technology to know exactly what you need to eat to feel better, lose weight, end cravings and have more energy. What you eat can affect the gut significantly, so learning what foods you should eat is critical for your good health. Viome makes this easy, and you can use code FUTURISM20 for $ 20 off your order.

Disclosure: This is an affiliate post for Viome, and Futurism may receive a percentage of sales. Futurism editorial staff was not involved in the production of this post.

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Apple’s most revolutionary new feature won’t even be the best thing about iOS 12

iOS 12 Features

Due this summer in beta form, iOS 12 will bring over a highly anticipated feature that has been rumored for quite a while now, though there will be a big caveat. Running iPhone and iPad apps on Mac is only exciting news for those iPhone and iPad users who also happen to be Mac users.

But that might not even be the most significant feature of iOS 12, a new report explains. Instead, iOS 12 will bring Apple fans something a lot more important, and it’s a “feature” that you might not even notice at first.

Independent reports from a few weeks ago said that Apple’s software division has decided to focus on user experience in its next major software updates, rather than pushing out a ton of new features. Apple has faced plenty of criticism lately due to various software issues or feature delays, prompting many to wonder why the company isn’t deploying the same kind of near-perfect software experiences of the past.

A new report from Bloomberg says that Apple decided to fix its software issue by rethinking its launch schedule. Rather than setting unattainable goals for its software team, Apple will slow down the pace, going for consistency instead of software innovation.

iOS 12 will bring various novel features, including the ability to run iPhone apps on Macs; a new Digital Health tool that shows parents how much time children spend on iOS devices; Animoji support in FaceTime (as well as more Animoji); Face ID support on iPad; multiplayer support for AR games; a redesigned stocks app; upgraded Do Not Disturb mode; a new way to import photos into an iPad; and a new way to integrate Siri into iPhone search.

But several other features that were initially cooked up with iOS 12 in mind have been postponed to iOS 13 or later. The list includes a redesigned home screen for the iPhone, iPad, and CarPlay, and a revamped Photos app that can suggest what images to view. Some iPad-only features have also reportedly been delayed, including a multitasking mode that would let users run several tabs in the same app window, just like on Mac, as well as a feature that would allow users to run two screens of the same app side by side.

As you can see, Apple will continue to update its software annually, but without rushing developers to meet annual deadlines. This should lead to improved software experiences across platforms.

Going forward, Apple will work on the next two years of updates for iPhone and iPad, with engineers having the final say on whether new features are ready to be launched or should be postponed to next year. A person familiar with the matter said that Apple’s primary software guy Craig Federighi outlined the new strategy last month, thus corroborating what previous reports have claimed.

“This change is Apple beginning to realize that schedules are not being hit, stuff is being released with bugs – which previously would not have happened,” a person familiar with the matter said.

Come iOS 12, it may take a while for you to notice its biggest feature, assuming that Apple’s new strategy is successful. That’s because most iOS users spot bugs and inconsistent experience as soon as they happen, but not all of them observe the contrary.

Apple – BGR

Revolutionary Tech Lets Us See Inside a Beating Heart

Look Into Your Heart

A new imaging device developed by a team of researchers from University College London (UCL) and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) will allow surgeons to get an unprecedented look into the heart during minimally invasive procedures. Currently, doctors have to rely on external ultrasound probes and imaging taken before the operation to visualize internal soft tissue. This new development will allow surgeons to see the tissue internally, which will make heart procedures easier and safer.

The device, an optical ultrasound needle, was developed by a team of surgeons, engineers, physicists and material chemists with the goal of creating a tool to work with existing single-use medical devices. To that end, the team had to ensure the needle was sensitive enough to image centimeter-scale depths of tissues, all while moving about inside the body. Thus far, the needle has been successfully tested in pigs.

Dr. Malcolm Finlay, consultant cardiologist at QMUL and Barts Heart Center, and co-lead on the study, explained how the tool will help surgeons target small tissue that can be hard to visualize — but potentially disastrous to miss.

“We now have real-time imaging that allows us to differentiate between tissues at a remarkable depth, helping to guide the highest risk moments of these procedures,” said Finlay. “This will reduce the chances of complications occurring during routine but skilled procedures such as ablation procedures in the heart. The technology has been designed to be completely compatible with MRI and other current methods, so it could also be used during brain or fetal surgery, or with guiding epidural needles.”

Real-Time Imaging

The tool is actually a miniature optical fiber housed within a custom-made clinical needle. When inserted into the body, it delivers a brief pulse of light that generates ultrasonic pulses. The reflections of these ultrasonic pulses, which are produced when the light hits the internal tissue, are then detected by a sensor on a second optical fiber, enabling real-time ultrasound imaging.

The sensors were developed with help from work completed by a separate UCL study led by Dr. James Guggenheim, a research associate at the UCL Department of Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering.

“The whole process happens extremely quickly, giving an unprecedented real-time view of soft tissue. It provides doctors with a live image with a resolution of 64 microns, which is the equivalent of only nine red blood cells, and its fantastic sensitivity allows us to readily differentiate soft tissues,” said Dr. Richard Colchester, fellow research associate at UCL and co-author of the study.

The team behind the optical ultrasound needle hopes to enable the technology for clinical use in human patients. If successful, it could become one of the primary tools surgeons around the world use during surgical procedures involving the heart, such as the recently pioneered technique developed by Dr. David Wood. Wood’s aortic valve procedure (named 3M for having a “multidisciplinary, multimodality, but minimalist” approach) takes a minimum of 45 minutes to complete, with patients reportedly recovering in just a few days.

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A Revolutionary Sensory Tool is Transforming the Lives of Children with Autism

Too Bright, Too Loud

When my little brother was born in 1993, I don’t think my parents were the only ones who didn’t know much about autism. For the next decade or so, as they tried to understand why my brother seemed constantly overstimulated by the world and heartbreakingly inconsolable at times, they did what many parents of children who would ultimately be diagnosed with autism did: they tried to experience the world through their child’s eyes and body.

Autism was not widely discussed in the early ’90s, in part because there wasn’t much to discuss. The research was limited, and high-profile celebrity activists were few and far between. For those whose lives had not been directly touched in some way by autism (at least not yet), the general understanding of the condition was defined by cultural interpretations, such as Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man.

For families raising children with autism — whether they had been formally diagnosed yet or not — it was an interesting time. The emergence of the internet provided a vital tool for parents, giving them access to information beyond what they could dig up at their local library as well as the opportunity to carve out community spaces and connect with other parents.

Questions like “How do you deal with this?” or “What works for you?” are not unfamiliar to parents in general, but for parents of children with autism or sensory processing disorders of any kind, they can refer to situations more serious than the standard toy store tantrum. Parents were often desperate to help their child stop physically harming themselves (either intentionally or unintentionally) and to find something — anything — that might calm them in those moments when chaos reigned.

My family did what many others did: tried various things and hoped that something would stick. My brother was ultimately more high functioning and verbal than children with autism are expected to be, but that was only after years of diligent intervention. When he was very young, the tone of every day of his life (and ours) was dictated by how he felt. On a good day, his meltdowns were infrequent and no one got hurt. I try not to dwell on what the bad days were like — as hard as they were for me and my parents, I can only imagine how they must have been for him.

Temple Grandin & The Hug Machine

When I was in college, I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by Temple Grandin, one of the most well-known researchers in the field of autism and someone who is, in fact, autistic herself. During the lecture, she discussed a number of topics, but primary among them was perhaps her most significant contribution to the body of research on autism and sensory processing disorders: her “hug machine.”

A number of the hallmark features of autism involve sensory processing. Specifically, children with autism tend to become painfully overstimulated by a variety of sensory input: sights, sounds, tastes, tactile sensations, etc. This was a tendency that Grandin was well aware of in herself from an early age and one that I remembered afflicting my brother. He was particularly overwrought about fire alarms, would often tear off his clothes in public, and has more or less eaten the same foods every day of his life for more than 20 years.

Not unlike Grandin, he also had an interesting contradiction about touch. He did not like to be hugged and had a number of interpersonal struggles that made him seem “unaffectionate.” However, at the same time, he exhibited self-soothing behaviors that made it seem like he wanted to be wrapped up or held. In fact, if he was thrashing about in the throes of a tantrum, a firm hold not only kept him from hurting himself (or anyone in close proximity), it also seemed to calm him down.

image credit: temple grandin / autism wiki

Grandin, who loves animals, spent much of her research career working with livestock. Her fascination with them began on her aunt’s farm when she was a child, during which time she observed the “squeeze machine” often used by dairy farms to quell anxious cows as they’re being branded. From there, she developed the concept for her own such device for people. The prototype involved two air mattresses and a wooden framework that she could stand within and then control the degree to which she was compressed by the mattresses.

Grandin’s brilliant, systems-thinking mind reasoned that something about the “deep touch pressure” provided by the squeeze machines calmed both the livestock and herself. Her seminal paper on the topic, Calming Effects of Deep Touch Pressure in Patients with Autistic Disorder, College Students, and Animals, was published in 1992 — one year before my brother was born.

Deep Touch Pressure

Grandin’s research defines deep touch pressure as “the type of surface pressure that is exerted in most types of firm touching, holding, stroking, petting of animals, or swaddling.” As she notes, it’s important to distinguish this type of touch from light touching, such as tickling or the sensation of hairs moving on the skin of your arm. That type of touch stimulates the nervous system and puts it on alert, which can then cause a person to feel anxious. Deep pressure touch, however, has been shown to have the opposite effect: it calms you down.

“Research on autistic children indicates that they prefer proximal sensory stimulation such as touching, tasting, and smelling to distal sensory stimulation of hearing and seeing,” Grandin writes, citing a paper from 1981 that observed how children with and without autism responded to various sensory modalities.

Other research Grandin discusses concerning deep touch pressure therapy (DTPT) applies more broadly to “neurotypical” folks as much as those with autism spectrum disorders. We’ve long known that newborns need close human contact not just to thrive, but to survive infancy at all. Those early experiences with touch – particularly being held and comforted physically by a caregiver — have been linked not only to how a child develops mentally, but physically as well.

More recent research has shown that touch can have an almost miraculous influence on the health of preterm infants in neonatal intensive care units around the world. The impact reaches beyond babyhood, too — benefits can extend well into the first decade of a child’s life.

DTPT research has also been shown to be helpful for children and adults who are not on the autism spectrum, but may suffer from anxiety. Occupational therapists have known for decades that deep touch pressure can help not just children with sensory processing disorders, but those with hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder, too.

While there are certainly hug machine-inspired apparatuses in use, for those of us who don’t have the space (or wouldn’t even know where to start in terms of constructing one ourselves), weighted blankets are a more user-friendly and generally affordable option for providing the benefits of DTPT. And, since you can use them in bed, it’s also worth noting that weighted blankets have been shown to help with sleep, too.

In the conclusion to her paper, Grandin points out that deep pressure touch can’t be expected to work for everyone, and not every child with autism will respond well to it. Still, her initial research and the two-decades-worth of additional research that followed it have helped countless families. By bringing to light the power of deep pressure touch, she’s given those struggling to help their children live in a world that is, at times, quite literally painful to bear an incredible tool and the previously unattainable possibility of calm.

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