Web-worthy news for this week includes a high-tech improvement to the stethoscope that records and amplifies, and may help diagnose heart conditions. We look at a new camera that captures your whole experience with spherical photos and videos. Uber wants people to deliver packages for local same-day retail delivery. Those Amazon Dash buttons are still kicking! Brainy kids can assemble computer screens to use with their self-built computers. Also, we can all learn basic coding on Thimble. And last, a smart tool for the mixology-challenged.
Shazam my beating heart
After 200 years with no major changes to the stethoscope, the FDA approved Eko Core for medical use this week. This device attaches to a standard analog stethoscope, amplifies the heart and lung sounds, and transmits them wirelessly to an iPhone app. It gives medical professionals ability to hear enhanced sound, see visual soundwaves, and easily save and share the data with other healthcare professionals. The added layers of information may give doctors added confidence, since they are not relying solely on the human ear to detect murmurs and artery blockages, thus avoiding costly, unnecessary cardiology referrals. Eko’s next step is developing algorithms that analyze and compare the audio data gathered from all Eko devices, in order to detect abnormal heart conditions, much like using Shazam on patients’ hearts. This feature and Android compatibility are coming soon.
Photos in 360°
You can capture yourself and everything around you in spherical photos and videos taken with the Ricoh Theta S camera. The camera will be available for purchase this October for $349. The camera’s shape is flat and rectangular, similar to a television remote, and has a 190° lens on each side. The images captured by the two lenses overlap and are seamlessly “stitched” together. The camera is super simple to use: with only four buttons and a Wi-Fi connection, the 360° images appear on your camera’s screen via the Theta app, where you can navigate and zoom around the scene. The app also allows you to post photo links on social media, upload to Ricoh’s gallery, or to YouTube, which now supports spherical video playback. Ricoh has also partnered with Google Street View to publish user-created spherical photos.
I can Uber that over to you
In addition to moving people and food, it is reported that Uber will start moving retail packages as soon as this Fall. Same-day express delivery via Uber will roll-out with high-end retailers in New York City and San Francisco. Specific businesses who will use Uber for delivery have not been announced, but apparently Apple turned down Uber’s bid to deliver their products. There have also been reports of efforts to collaborate with e-commerce companies Shopify and Bigcommerce, so that Uber delivery options might be integrated into their software, rather than Uber dealing directly with each retailer.
Free magic buttons!
Remember the sort of silly-seeming Amazon Dash buttons that you could buy for $4.99, and use to buy more stuff on Amazon? Amazon is now offering a rebate for the price of the button when you make your first purchase using the button. They have also added a handful of new products that utilize a Dash button, including Orbit chewing gum. Does anyone really buy chewing gum online? Sarcastic customer reviews remain curiously absent from Amazon’s website. However, one hacker’s re-purposing of the button made news when he programmed it to track his baby’s dirty diapers.
When I was a kid, we had to build our own computer screens
Kano, maker of creative computer kits designed to help kids experience assembly and coding, announced that it will have a build-your-own screen kit right in time for Christmas shopping. Like the computer kit, the screen kit is a simplified plug-and-play setup, comparable to following the instructions for a LEGO kit, but with a functional finished product, and lots of learning along the way. When finished, the display is a portable, 10.1-inch, high-def LCD screen, with a display stand that doubles as a handy storage area for the computer and keyboard. The kit also includes a storybook that explains the history and science behind computer screens and incorporates the assembly sequence. This sounds like a fun project for my favorite curious, smart kid. It is available for pre-order ($110) until September 11.
Online coding lessons
The smart swizzle
For this week’s bit of fun, there is now a digital bartender’s tool, the MixStik, that will help you make the perfect cocktail. With a Bluetooth connection and a companion iOS app, the nearly waterproof (so long as you do not stick the wrong end in liquid) LED light stick first helps you measure the volume of your glass. Then, you select a drink recipe and insert the MixStik into the glass. Color-coded LEDs show you how much of each ingredient to add. It will be available on Kickstarter on September 29, at a very affordable $39, and is projected to ship in March 2016. Let techie happy hour begin!
Any tech news we missed? Let us know in the comments below!