Technology

Survey: Americans Spend Nearly Half Their Waking Hours Looking At Screens

For all the studies that tell us how important it is to limit screen time, does it sometimes feel that no matter where we are or what we do, there’s a screen in front of us one way or another? Perhaps it’s no surprise then that Americans spend nearly half of their waking hours looking at screens, according to a survey of 2,000 adults. More specifically, the survey found that 42% of the time Americans are awake, their eyes are fixated on a television, smartphone, computer, tablet, or other device. Supposing the average American slept eight hours a night (not even close to the case for most adults), the researchers calculated that people spend about six hours and 43 minutes a day staring at a screen. Over a typical lifespan, that’s 7,956 days. And the problem is only getting worse. Of those surveyed, 79% said their screen time has increased over the past five years, with four in ten admitting it’s grown “a lot.” Three in four participants believe they simply spend too much time in front of screens. In fact, 53% take breaks from the computer — by checking their phone. Another 27% admits to watching TV and looking at their phone at the same time. “We live in a digitally-connected world and these survey results show how digital devices have completely transformed our lives, no matter our age,” said Dr. Michele Andrews, an optometrist with contact lens manufacturer CooperVision, the company that commissioned the survey. “Digital eye fatigue is faced by millions of Americans every day because of this non-stop screen time.” Researchers found that the respondents were generally able to last about four hours before dealing with eye discomfort and requiring a break, but the average person still takes three breaks a day for relief. Of course, many people don’t have a choice, with three-quarters of respondents required to use a computer at the office. Yet despite the growing problem, only half of those surveyed felt that society as a whole has become more digitized and screen-focused over the past five years. The survey also found, likely to no one’s surprise, that millennials were most attached to their digital devices. Age plays a substantial role in the amount of time people spend on digital devices, with millennials being more screen-oriented than other generations. A whopping 92% of the 18 to 35 age group checks their phone immediately after waking up, compared to just 51% of those over 55. About three in five millennials also admit feeling “anxious and irritated” if they can’t check their phone, while only one in five baby boomers feel the same way. Meanwhile, as a whole, 73% say that all the screen time they log makes them feel lethargic, and 64% feel happier after getting a significant break from a screen. The survey was conducted by market research firm OnePoll.

A sign of the times…

Ford, Nissan, GM Put Tesla Under Pressure with Electric Vehicle Announcements

Ford, Nissan, and GM announced new moves into the world of electric vehicles, creating further competition for Elon Musk’s Tesla. CNBC reports that Tesla shares fell by 3.7 percent this week as auto manufacturers across the world revealed a new interest in electric car manufacturing. Ford chairman Bill Ford stated that the company plans to invest $11 billion in electric vehicles by 2022, hoping to add 40 different hybrid and electric vehicles to their current vehicle lineup. Ford CEO Jim Hackett discussed this with CNBC’s Phil LeBeau at the Detroit auto show on Sunday, saying: “We talked about a huge investment in electric vehicles. We have 16 models that are in design and development. We have a pretty big surprise coming next year.” Similarly, the CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra, told investors before the auto show that the company was working on a fully electric version of their popular Cadillac car, which is reportedly expected to be an SUV model. Nissan revealed that all future models from their “Infiniti” luxury brand will be “electrified,” meaning that they will either be entirely electric or a plug-in hybrid model. At CES in Las Vegas last week, Nissan also debuted their new electric car called the “Leaf Plus” which is set to be available for purchase in early spring and will drive approximately 226 miles per charge of its lithium-ion battery. Over the course of the Detroit auto show, Ford shares rose by 1.9 percent while GM’s rose 1.3 percent, Nissan faced technical difficulties when debuting one of their new cars on stage – their share price remained flat. Tesla recently announced that the company will no longer be taking orders for the popular 75 kWh battery version of their Model S and Model X vehicles, with the 100 kWh battery version becoming the standard model. At the same time, CEO Elon Musk promised that future models of their Roadster vehicle would be able to literally fly.

Polaroid. Walkman. Palm Pilot. iPhone?

The iPhone is arguably the most valuable product in the world, representing the backbone of Apple Inc.’s AAPL -1.03% half-trillion-dollar hardware business and undergirding its software-peddling App store. It remains the envy of consumer-product companies world-wide. If history is any indication, though, America’s favorite handheld device will someday take up residence with the digital camera, the calculator, the pager, Sony’s Walkman and the Palm Pilot in a museum. Although it’s hard to imagine the iPhone dying, change can sneak up rapidly on contraptions that are deeply entrenched in American culture. Consider it was as recently as the mid-1990s when I spent an hour a day during my senior year in high school in a room full of electric typewriters learning to type. Today, I spend most of my working hours using that skill to bang away on a keyboard, but I have rarely touched an actual typewriter in 25 years. “Over time, every franchise dies,” said Nick Santhanam, McKinsey’s Americas practice leader in Silicon Valley. “You can innovate on an amazing mousetrap, but if people eventually don’t want a mousetrap, you’re screwed.” Kodak, Polaroid and Sears are all examples from the recent past of companies that held too tightly to an old idea. Today’s tech giants, ranging from Netflix (having already reinvented itself to be dependent on advertising-free streaming video) to Google parent Alphabet Inc. (counting advertising as 86% of revenue), should take note of those painful demises to avoid the same fate. Apple’s mousetrap is anything but broken. Representing 60% of Apple’s revenue, the iPhone outsells 96% of the companies on the Fortune 500. The phone carries the bulk of the $545 billion valuation that Morgan Stanley assigns to Apple’s wider hardware business. Apple, for the better part of the 2000s, was the master of the next big thing: the iPod, the MacBook Air, the iPad, the iPhone. Apple wasn’t always first, but its products were easier to use, thinner, cooler. With the success of the iPhone since it arrived on the scene, the next big thing has been harder to find. Apple has had no breakthrough on TV, a modest success with its watch, a stumble in music and a lot of speculation concerning its intentions for autonomous cars or creating original programming. Now, as in a comic-book movie, we’re all left to wonder whether Apple’s greatest strength could be its biggest weakness? Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook acknowledges the latest iPhone delivery trends indicate his company faces a potential inflection point. “Apple has always used periods of adversity to re-examine our approach,” Mr. Cook said in a Jan. 2 letter to investors. Apple has a legacy of invention, Mr. Cook says. That’s something the Cupertino, Calif., company is eventually going to need. In a CNBC interview Tuesday, he pointed to rapid growth in services and “wearables”—such as watches or ear buds—as reason for optimism. Someday, Apple will be known more for its contribution to health care than its sleek gadgets, Mr. Cook says. Whatever shape it takes, Apple’s evolution will be closely watched if only because reinvention is so hard to pull off. A decade ago, Nokia’s dominance in handheld devices evaporated after executives failed to create a compelling operating system to make their pricey smartphones more user-friendly. Finnish executives have told me on several occasions that Nokia knew it needed to rapidly change, but lacked the urgency and resources to do it. There are success stories, to be sure. The Model T almost entirely underpinned Ford Motor Co.’s rise a century ago, when the Detroit auto maker owned roughly half of the U.S. car market. Without “The Universal Car,” Henry Ford likely would have been forgotten. A closer parallel to Apple is Microsoft Corp. Its best-known product, Windows, was so dominant that it drew extreme regulatory scrutiny while vaulting the Seattle software company atop the personal-computer market before cloud computing existed. Both Ford and Microsoft adapted and survived. Iconic vehicles like Ford’s Mustang coupe or F-150 pickup prove companies can live a productive life after the initial hit product fades. Microsoft’s transition to cloud computing with its Azure product, meanwhile, has vaulted the company back near the top of the race for the title of world’s most valuable company. Still, it’s a slog. “It’s hard to be a two-trick pony,” former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told me Thursday. “It’s amazing to do one. It’s super amazing to do two. Doing three? I have a lot of respect for a company that can do three tricks. … It’s just hard to come up with concepts that can make that happen.” He said Apple’s line of Mac products is one trick and the so-called i-Series (iPhone or iPod) was a second. “If they had stopped with the iPod, where would they be?” They succeeded because “they pushed beyond” with a phone. By all accounts, the iPhone’s run—nearing the dozen-year mark—has been remarkable, especially when you consider the average company in the S&P 500 remains in the index for only 15 years. Mr. Cook’s legacy, however, hinges on how well he pulls off Apple’s next act.

Indeed…  Thanks to John D. Stoll for that reality check.

Apple’s next iPhone may have a ‘secret weapon’

Apple’s next iPhone could feature powerful camera technology built by rival Sony. The so-called “3D camera” would turn the real world into a video game – using revolutionary augmented reality (AR) tech. Apple is tight-lipped about this year’s iPhone 11, to the point where we don’t even know the gadget’s real name. But a new report suggests Apple has shown interested in a three-lens camera system that could debut on this year’s iPhone. According to Bloomberg, Sony is “boosting production of next-generation 3D sensors”, which could revolutionize phone cameras. Apparently, this is “after getting interest from customers, including Apple.” The report notes that Sony will kick off mass production “in late summer”. Apple typically launches new smartphones in September, so the production timeline could work for a new iPhone. So what’s the big deal with Sony’s new camera tech? Smartphone makers are investing heavily in augmented reality, which overlays computer-generated images onto the world around you. Common examples include Snapchat filters, or the Pokémon you see in the Pokémon Go app game. To achieve high-quality AR, cameras need to be able to work out depth – understanding how far objects are away from each other. This makes it possible to place CGI objects much more accurately, so they seem more realistic. Sony’s system uses a “time of flight” method that sends out invisible laser pulses and measures how long they take to bounce back. This can create more detailed 3D models are a distance of up to five meters. With very accurate AR, it would be possible to turn the real world into a convincing video game. One example included a game where phone owners could use hand gestures to cast magic spells in a virtual game. Sony regularly supplies camera hardware for lots of rivals in the smartphone industry. It counts Apple, Google and Samsung among its customers, and controls about half of the camera chip market. Of course, there’s no guarantee that Apple will use any of this new camera tech in its next iPhone model.

Ready Player One…coming to an iPhone near you

Do you have Netflix face? How the blue light from your phone, laptop and iPad is ruining your skin

Look away now, because blue light from your mobile phone, laptop and other devices could be causing damage, premature aging and hyperpigmentation to your skin. According to experts, spending hours each day online could be having a drastic impact on the health of our skin – and it’s all to do with blue light. How long do you spend each day looking at a screen? From mobile phones to staring at our computer screens and tablets, we’re clocking up hours upon hours of time exposing our skin to blue light (otherwise known as high-energy visible light). According to Glamour, it’s having a detrimental impact on our skin, with 79 percent of us checking our smartphones before bed. Added to that, 28 percent of us will reach for our phones in the five minutes before we turn out the lights and over half of us check our devices within 15 minutes of waking up. According to Dr. Sweta Rai, a spokeswoman for the British Association of Dermatologists, light from your screens can “cause some pigmentation problems.” “They can give you a falsely aged appearance, we see that often in darker skin people,” she explained. “If you look at a pristine face and put brown spots on it it will look aged from sun damage. “There is some truth to the fact that blue light penetrates deeper into the skin compared to UV light. “And that is being studied at the moment as to what effect it does have.” The effect of blue light on our skin has led to several beauty brands launching blue light-fighting products. Earlier this year, dermatologist and clinical assistant professor at New York University Shari Marchbein, told Allure: “Visible light, especially in the blue wavelength, has become a hot topic in skin care, as there is mounting evidence that supports its contribution to photo-aging, including wrinkles, worsening skin laxity, and hyperpigmentation.” And it seems other practicing dermatologists have noticed a growing trend in accelerated hyperpigmentation. Dr. Engelman, consulting dermatologist for Elizabeth Arden told Glamour: “Women in their early twenties come into my office with heightened pigmentation.

Wow..  I guess we’re all screwed.  For more on this depressing article, click on the text above.

Apple spending $11B on Texas campus, data centers

Apple has announced that it is putting its cash pile to work. The technology giant will invest $1 billion to build a new campus in North Austin, Texas and another $10 billion for new data centers. It is all a part of a five-year investment aimed at creating 20,000 jobs in the United States. The Cupertino-based company said on Thursday it would also to set up new sites in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City, California and expand operations in Pittsburgh, New York and Boulder, Colorado over the next three years. “Apple is proud to bring new investment, jobs and opportunity to cities across the United States and to significantly deepen our quarter-century partnership with the city and people of Austin,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Talent, creativity and tomorrow’s breakthrough ideas aren’t limited by region or zip code, and, with this new expansion, we’re redoubling our commitment to cultivating the high-tech sector and workforce nationwide.” Apple has faced increasing political pressure to ramp up investments at home since 2016, when then presidential candidate Donald Trump targeted the company for using Asian factories for the bulk of its manufacturing. Data centers in North Carolina, Arizona and Nevada are being expanded. The new Austin campus will be located less than a mile away from its existing facilities, Apple said. Apple’s technology rival Amazon.com last month ended a months-long search for new headquarters, picking locations in New York and Virginia.

Great news!!   🙂

Virgin Galactic flies its first astronauts to the edge of space, taking one step closer to space tourism

Virgin Galactic completed its longest rocket-powered flight ever on Thursday, taking a step ahead in the nascent business of space tourism. The two pilots on board Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft Unity became the company’s first astronauts. Virgin Group founder Richard Branson was on hand to watch the historic moment. Virgin Galactic said the test flight reached an altitude of 51.4 miles, or nearly 83 kilometers. The U.S. military and NASA consider pilots who have flown above 80 kilometers to be astronauts. Test pilots in 2004 were awarded a commercial astronaut badge by the Federal Aviation Administration for flying a previous, experimental iteration of Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft design. Lifted by the jet-powered mothership Eve, the spacecraft Unity took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in the California desert. Upon reaching an altitude above 40,000 feet, the carrier aircraft released Unity. The two-member crew of Mark Stucky and Dave Mackay then piloted the spacecraft in a roaring burn which lasted 60 seconds. The flight pushed Unity to a speed of Mach 2.9, nearly three times the speed of sound, as it screamed into a climb toward the edge of space. After performing a slow backflip in microgravity, Unity turned and glided back to land at Mojave. This was the company’s fourth rocket-powered flight of its test program. Unity is the name of the spacecraft built by The Spaceship Company, which Branson also owns. This rocket design is officially known as SpaceShipTwo (SS2). Unity also carried four NASA-funded payloads on this mission. The agency said the four technology experiments “will collect valuable data needed to mature the technologies for use on future missions.” “Inexpensive access to suborbital space greatly benefits the technology research and broader spaceflight communities,” said Ryan Dibley, NASA’s flight opportunities campaign manager, in a statement. The spacecraft underwent extensive engine testing and seven glide tests before Virgin Galactic said it was ready for a powered test flight — a crucial milestone before the company begins sending tourists to the edge of the atmosphere. Each of the previous three test flights were successful in pushing the spacecraft’s limits farther.

Very cool!!  For more, click on the text above.     🙂