sneakerPrinceton University engineers seem to have developed the technology to harness energy through rubber, which will eventually allow things like your shoes or your pants to charge your new or refurbished cell phones.

A lot of what I read about the technology went over my head, but the gist of it is that ceramic nanoribbons will be inserted into silicone rubber sheets, which will be used to make shoes, clothes, etc., and the ribbons, when bent by actions like walking and breathing, harness energy. Apparently, these ribbons are really efficient and can harness about 80% of mechanical energy and turn it into electrical energy.

Besides the fact that it would be really cool to be able to charge your phone by taking a bike ride, the technology will prove extremely valuable to people with internal instruments like pacemakers. No longer will these people need to undergo surgeries just to have the batteries on their devices changed because the devices will be constantly charged through daily activities.

Picture 2

Yesterday, Apple updated their policy to allow Voice Over IP calling over wireless networks like AT&T, which could seriously shift the longstanding paradigm that is the new and refurbished cell phone industry. The ban of VoIP has been holding companies like Skype and Google back for years, and the lift of the ban should usher in a heard of companies looking to capitalize on the VoIP market.

A company called iCall is now the first VoIP application that works on the iPhone and iPod Touch over cellular 3G networks and is now available for download at Apple’s app store.

Arlo Gilbert, the CEO of iCall, said, “I applaud Apple’s decision to allow iCall to extend its functionality beyond Wi-Fi and onto the 3G networks. This heralds a new era for VoIP applications on mobile platforms, especially for iCall and our free calling model. I hope that now more developers will begin using our VoIP as a platform to integrate VoIP into their applications.”

Hopefully, this means Skype will have a Blackberry app in the near future!

apple-creation-0097-rm-engWell, I’m not quite sure what this means for the new and refurbished cell phone industry, but Apple released their newest product, the iPad, today. The iPad is basically a cross between and iPhone and a Macbook, allowing the user to access the web; email; manage pictures, music, and videos; and play video games.

The iPad is 0.5 inches thin, weighs 1.5 pounds, has a 9.7 inch display, has a 1.4 GHz Apple A4 Chip, has WIFI, has Bluetooth 2.1, has an accelerometer & compass, and is available in 16GB – 64GB Flash storage. The battery has a reported 10 hours of usage time and over a month of stand by time.

You can sign up for data plans for the iPad through AT&T. The rates are: 250MB of data a month for $14.99 or unlimited access for $29.99 a month. It can be used via WIFI for free at any AT&T Hotspot, and the iPad requires no contracts. The prices are shown below.


What seems to have most non-“Apple” people excited is that the iPad is going after the Kindle market. Apple has partnered with Penguin, Macmillion, Simon & Shuster, and others to deliver iBook, which allows you to download and read books on the iPad, navigate pages, and alter fonts. The iBook store functions just like iTunes, so it should have no problem digging into the Kindle market.

apple-creation-0308-rm-engThe only thing the iPad doesn’t do, as of now, is make phone calls. With companies like Skype eager to take Voice over IP to the next level, however, it probably won’t matter for long.

(Dark Blue) States that have banned texting - (Light Blue) States debating over passing the ban

(Dark Blue) States that have banned texting - (Light Blue) States debating over passing the ban

Texting from your new or refurbished cell phone while driving is obviously not a responsible thing to do, but the number of state legislators who feel that you are not responsible enough to govern your own actions while driving is steadily increasing.

19 states (Shown in dark blue on the map) have already banned texting while driving, and 23 states (shown in light blue) are currently debating over passing the ban.  AAA’s director of state relations, Justin McNaull, believes that at least 12 more bans will pass in 2010. He feels, “There’s clear public disapproval of the behavior, and there’s strong public support for a law.” The president of FocusDriven, Jennifer Smith, says, “I’m kind of at a loss as to why every state doesn’t have a no-texting law. That’s a no-brainer.”

According to the department of transportation, 5,870 people, 16% of all highway fatalities, died in distracted-driving crashes and 515,000 were injured in 2008.

While I do agree that texting while driving is extremely dangerous, I don’t, realistically speaking, see people turning their phones off until they get home. Hopefully more car manufacturers will follow Ford’s lead and incorporate safe ways to use your phone without ever having to take your eyes off the road.

haiti-uscg-rescue1-660x440I’ve been reading several articles over the past few days about how new and refurbished cell phones have been saving lives in the aftermath of the earthquake that hit Haiti last week.

Dan Woolley, an American filmmaker, was trapped for 65 hours in the ruble of the Port-au-Prince hotel with a severe gash in his leg and a head wound. While trapped, Woolley downloaded the American Heart Association and Jive Media’s Pocket First Aid & CPR app, which instructed him to use his shirt to make a tourniquet to stop the bleeding from his leg and to use his sock to stanch the bleeding coming from his head wound. The app also informed him that it would be dangerous to fall asleep if he felt himself going into shock, so he set the alarm on his phone to go off every 20 minutes to keep him awake.

The 4636 shortcode for Haiti relief has been saving lives on a daily basis as well. Anyone in Haiti in need of help can text their needs to 4636 and within ten minutes, action is taken. On Tuesday, a text was received from a school that had collapsed but when a rescue team responded to the message, they were unable to locate the building. A volunteer group in Boston, Ma quickly pinpointed the location of the origin of the text and relayed the information to a local rescue group in Haiti, who was then able to locate the fallen school. The coordinates in the message were accurate to five decimal places.

1765772958-padding-protect-pedestriansThe New York Times recently published an article about how the amount of people injured by walking into something while distracted by their new or refurbished cell phones is on the rise, which was both funny and kind of sad as I’ve definitely run into a few stationary objects mid text.

According to the article, more than 1,000 people visited the emergency room in 2008 because of a walking/running accident that occurred while they were using their cell phone. Apparently that number had doubled from 2007, which was twice the number from 2006.

Jack L. Nasar, a professor of city and regional planning at Ohio State, points out that the actual number of injuries incurred from being distracted by mobile phones is much, much higher, but most of the injuries aren’t serious enough to warrant a visit to the emergency room, so they go unrecorded.

The night after I read this article I visited my favorite restaurant, and the waitress told about how she had just walked into the corner of her coffee table because she was texting her boyfriend. I can’t help but laugh at myself every time I walk into something, but I guess it would be a lot different if it were an oncoming bus that I stepped in front of. Note to self: Look up more often while texting.

Copyright © 2007-2010 TheBlueDot, LLC and BlueDot.
All Rights Reserved. BlueDot and the BlueDot logo are registered trademarks of TheBlueDot, LLC,