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A Digital Home Sweet Home
How many people you know started self or home improvement projects when the quarantine started? We were all stuck at home and trying to find something productive to do with our time, besides finally getting through the Netflix watchlist. In fact, "DIY home improvement projects" and "smart home" had a worldwide search peak on Google in April – right in the time when a lot of shops, restaurants, and bars were closed, and a lot of people had to spend their time indoors. So, it seems creating the right personal comfort zone is more than just having the perfect outdoor pouf for your balcony: With today's technology we have the opportunity to create a comfort zone online which translates into our offline world and it feels just like magic. Have a look at our tips and find out how you can create your own digital comfort zone and feel safe and sound online.
1. Convenience through Automation
Do you not love to be wakened by the sun rising, birds chirping, and the smell of freshly brewed coffee? With the right smart helpers, you can recreate beautiful Tuscany mornings in your own apartment in the middle of the largest cities. I use Alexa to automate some of my routines and make my life more convenient. All you need for the perfect Tuscany morning routine is a smart light, a normal coffee machine connected to a smart power switch, and your favorite sound to wake up to. I personally prefer bird sounds, as they annoy me the least in the morning. And then all that is left to do is to choose the settings on the Alexa app, like gradually brighten the light, have the birds chiming in. When I am done getting ready, my coffee has already been brewed and I can have some relaxing time for myself, drinking my coffee until I have to leave the house and get to work. You can create your smart routines with any assistant, be it from Google or Microsoft.
2. Use Productivity Apps
When I get too comfortable, I tend to slack and procrastinate. Which makes me feel unproductive and therefore less comfortable. To avoid this I tried using bulletin journals to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but this did not really work for me. A simple yet effective way for me is using productivity apps. Simple habit trackers such as HabitNow (Android) or Momentum Habit Tracker (iOS). If you don't want to use an app you can also organize your habits via Google calendar. I prefer it because let's face it, Google already has all my data and it plans the time I want to use for my goals, according to my free time in the calendar. Just press on the "plus" on your Google calendar app and choose "Goal". The system will then guide you through the target creation process.
3. Use the right hardware and software for you!Photo by James McDonald on Unsplash
It doesn't matter if you are an iOS, Android, Microsoft, or Linux user: use the right products for you. Check online and with your friends for recommendations, but in the end, it is you who has to use them. Make sure your devices are compatible with each other, so you are able to connect them with your smart assistant. Also, make sure your data is protected by keeping your software up to date and only chose trusted providers.
4. Have fun!
Another very important part: Do not forget to have fun with your smart assistant. Playing with your devices and trying out new things and skills is always the best way to understand what their real potentials are to make your life more convenient. Plus, what is comfort without the right amount of humor?
Gamers are using their voice to overcome accessibility problems
By 2023, there could be over three billion gamers worldwide. But for some people with disabilities, taking part in this wildly popular passion can be frustrating to impossible. Now, one piece of tech is out to make slaying dragons and building civilizations accessible to all. Will it change the future of gaming?
The AI-powered voice of a generation’s gamers<p>Since the world's first video game 'Pong' appeared in 1958, gaming has evolved in ways never imagined. But game accessibility is still a problem for as many as 30 million people in the US, because they have an impairment that means they come up against accessibility barriers when gaming. </p><p><a href="https://hellofridai.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Fridai</a> is changing all that. The voice-activated, AI-powered assistant gives advice on anything gamers with disabilities may need, from hands-free options to being reminded of the game's objective. In Defenders of Digital series two, episode four, Mark Engelhardt, Fridai's Co-founder and CEO, talks about how the technology uses AI to create a new interface between humans and machines.</p>
Because they know what they're talking about.
The prevailing wisdom is that the fast pace of automation, digital change and AI (artificial intelligence) will soon leave most of us jobless. Talking with some of the most successful tech entrepreneurs around the world, not one agreed with this dark premonition. Rather, they pointed to a different kind of future we should prepare for.
Breaking our addiction to devices and social media<p><a href="https://simby.com/" target="_blank">Simby</a> is a fully personalized, wearable AI technology that aims to break our addictions to our devices and social media while still giving us all the benefits of being digitally connected. Co-founder and head of product Andrew Doherty believes technology should benefit our lives and do no harm, and that users should have full control of their data. This 'sassy best friend' is still under development but coming soon.<strong></strong></p>
The buzz around Beep<p>Organizations can be as buggy as bad software, with minor frustrations putting a damper on everyone's concentration and creativity. Doing something about these problems can feel like swimming upstream, especially when management doesn't understand how much energy small annoyances suck out of their staff.</p><p>Katz Kiely is part of the team behind <a href="https://wearebeep.com/" target="_blank">Beep</a>, a system that rewards and recognizes people for raising problems and finding solutions in their business. It puts leaders in touch with their employees' real challenges, flattening the hierarchy and reconnecting people with meaning in their work.</p>
Growing a business like a garden<p>Author and tech entrepreneur Aaron Dignan knows exactly how hierarchy and bureaucracy hold back progress in business. He gleaned this wisdom from in-depth study of organizations known for adapting to change and getting fast results, like Spotify, Burning Man and Basecamp.</p><p>He's not only published these findings for the benefit of other entrepreneurs in his popular 2019 book <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Brave-New-Work-Reinvent-Organization/dp/024136180X/" target="_blank">Brave new work: Are you ready to reinvent your organization</a>? He's also founder of <a href="https://theready.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Ready</a>: An 'operating system' that helps businesses change their culture and see themselves <a href="https://medium.com/the-ready/the-operating-system-canvas-420b8b4df062" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">more as a garden than a machine</a>.</p>
Smartening up the factory<p><a href="https://cloudnc.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">CloudNC</a> is bringing safety and accuracy to factories with AI and autonomous manufacturing. Their clients manufacture parts for air travel, space exploration and defense, among other industries, where perfection is necessary every time.</p><p>Full automation in manufacturing also allows for on-demand production. This option is in high demand since COVID-19 has made the global market and labor supply hard to predict. Co-founder Theo Saville says <a href="https://cloudnc.com/an-interview-with-theo-saville-forbes-europe-2019-manufacturing-industry/" target="_blank">making manufacturing more environmentally sustainable is also top of CloudNC's agenda</a>.</p>
Blockchain on the farm<p>Agriculture is one of the fastest-changing industries on the planet, while soil depletion, habitat loss and methane emissions come to the fore in the public consciousness. Farmers often face little choice in how they operate because they're time-poor, isolated and face high set-up costs for change.</p><p><a href="http://www.agriledger.io/home/" target="_blank">AgriLedger</a> Founder and CEO Genevieve Leveille wants farmers to get the best price for their hard work, giving them more choice and making sure doing better for people, animals and the environment pays dividends. Using blockchain, AgriLedger brings users benefits like supply chain traceability, market information and access to finance.</p>
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