Friday, April 25, 2014

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Technology On The Horizon: New Gadgets Can Make Low-Tech Activities Fun

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In part four of his week-long series "Technology On the Horizon," NY1 Tech Beat Reporter Adam Balkin focuses purely on fun, as he shows us some new items that can make even the most basic, low-tech weekend activities a little more efficient.

Technology just won't be happy until it plays a part in everything you do. Even if you try to take a jog to get away from technology, there it is, helping to make your jog more productive.

Gamin International's new Forerunner 305 watch uses global positioning to not only keep track of where you run, it also helps you find your way back if you run too far or take a wrong turn.

“It's GPS, and it tells you exactly how far you've gone, and more importantly - for me, at least - how far you haven't gone," says Ted Gartner of Garmin International. “It tells you speed, pace, distance, and afterwards you can load a lot of this information onto your PC and track over time all of your progress in your training."

Think a nice relaxing book will take you away from technology? Think again. The new Sony Reader is an e-book about the size of a restaurant menu that can hold hundreds of titles.

“We have this electronic paper display technology that gives you a reading experience that’s very akin to reading on the printed page,” says Ron Hawkins of Sony Electronics. “It’s very low eye strain, [and] it’s readable in broad daylight, so it's as close to reading a printed page as you can get."

Though, without a built-in backlight, you still need a lamp to use it at bedtime.

Even convincing your child to learn an instrument seems easier through technology. The Piano Wizard hooks your keyboard into your computer and teaches lessons though games.

“We've basically taken and cracked the musical code,” says Chris Salter of Allegro Multimedia. “We've made it into just pitch and time, and the kids can see these game objects moving up the keyboard, and then they just know when to hit it because it's a color-coded system. And then we subtly transition them to musical notation, color-coded, and then finally the musical notation."

The funny thing about technology, though, is just as easily as it takes your entertainment needs into the future, it can just as quickly help you regain the past. If you're a gamer into the retro stuff but you just don't quite have space for a giant arcade unit, now you can get the same experience for just about a third of the size of those original units.

“A lot of people my age are looking to get back into some simpler games, something that's not quite as complicated as some of the Xbox or Playstation games, so we kind of came out with this to go into people's homes who have pool tables and foosball tables and stuff like that as part of their gaming area," says Boyd Wedin of PVG Tech.

Get one of those bill changers down there and you can even make some money when your friends stop by.

- Adam Balkin
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