Crime used to mean things like break-ins and thieves swiping packages from your doorstep. But now there’s an increasing number of cybersecurity threats that are also crimes of opportunity. With more and more people using unfamiliar networks and doing lots of online shopping, bad actors have plenty of targets to choose from. By following these simple steps for data protection, you can keep your digital information secure.
(BPT) - Crime used to mean things like break-ins and thieves swiping packages from your doorstep. But now there’s an increasing number of cybersecurity threats that are also crimes of opportunity. With more and more people using unfamiliar networks and doing lots of online shopping, bad actors have plenty of targets to choose from. By following these simple steps for data protection, you can keep your digital information secure.
1. Be careful when using insecure Wi-Fi networks
If you’re traveling or out shopping, you may find yourself on an unfamiliar Wi-Fi network. Many stores, airports and rest stops offer free Wi-Fi as a convenience, but often those networks aren’t secured. That makes it especially risky to make online purchases because the traffic from your device can be easily monitored and stolen. If you are using public Wi-Fi networks, then browsing to any website, make sure your connection is encrypted and secure by looking for the lock icon in the top left of the address bar. Also, always double check that the address you are navigating to is what you expected. Many modern devices, like the ASUS NovaGo, now feature built-in LTE, which offers a more secure experience for your online shopping.
2. Don’t rely on passwords alone
Passwords and user IDs are a staple of cybersecurity, but they can only get you so far. To further ensure your data stays protected, consider using password management and verification apps. They let you use your face, fingerprint, eyes or other methods to access your data across devices. For example, the Microsoft Authenticator app adds an extra level of security with two-step verification that allows you to access your Microsoft account and apps quickly and securely without having to remember a password.
3. Avoid phishing scams
With so many companies emailing promotions, it can feel like your inbox is under assault. In fact, it very well could be. Some of those emails may be phishing scams designed to steal your private information. To protect your data, don’t click on any unfamiliar links and carefully review all notifications from your bank to catch any potentially fraudulent activity.
Remember, scammers can be sophisticated. They may use personalized emails to gain your confidence or replicate the style of a well-known financial services company. If an email or link looks the slightest bit suspicious, don’t click it. Go directly to your bank or other online account to confirm the information independently.
4. Back up your data
If all your data is stored in one place, it’s vulnerable. Bad actors can lock up your device and demand payment to release your files. That’s why backing your data up to the cloud is critical for protecting your files against ransomware attacks. The cloud allows you to safeguard your data and access it from multiple devices. Cloud storage services are secure and can also let you easily transfer your data if you’re upgrading to a new device.
5. Utilize privacy screens
Preventing people from looking over your shoulder and stealing your information is the simplest and easiest way to protect your personal data. When online shopping in public, use privacy screens to hide your information. Some devices, like the HP EliteBook x360 and HP Spectre x360, have integrated privacy screens that instantly shield your screen with the push of a button. If your device doesn’t come with one built in, you can purchase a privacy screen.
6. Keep software current
Using a modern operating system with the latest security updates and built-in anti-virus protection is the best way to ward off unwanted intrusions. Major tech companies continually upgrade software to account for the latest cybersecurity threats so you can be confident your data is protected. By keeping your software current, you can avoid many cyberattacks before they cause problems.
New year, new smart home innovations
(BPT) - Smart home products made major strides in 2018. More people than ever now use connected devices in their homes, and smart home hubs are constantly adding new integrations and capabilities. Research from Statista predicts that by the end of 2018, more than 45 million smart home devices will be installed in U.S. homes, fueling an exciting new phase for the smart home industry, offering consumers new and improved smart technologies and giving rise to a totally interconnected, easy-to-control environment termed the “smart home.”
This innovation looks to continue in the new year with increasingly intuitive products that make life more enjoyable and interconnected. Here are the new smart home products ready to change the way we live in the new year, coming out of the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
Laundry made easy
The calendar might have changed, but your laundry needs haven’t gone anywhere. Thankfully, smart home technology is making the chore a little easier with LG’s Ultimate Laundry Room.
The LG Styler is a first-of-its-kind steam clothing care system certified as asthma and allergy friendly(R) by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). The Wi-Fi enabled smart LG Styler reduces wrinkles and odor and refreshes garments with the fastest cycle on the market today — as little as 20 minutes — thanks to the gentle power of pure steam technology. Furthermore, LG TWINWash(TM) with SideKick(TM) pedestal washer, an industry-first innovation for laundry, allows users to tackle small loads that are a big deal and can’t wait or wash two loads at the same time.
With LG Styler for daily refreshes, the innovative LG SideKick(TM) mini washer for small loads that can't wait, and LG's award-winning top and front load washers and dryers, the LG Ultimate Laundry Room suite of products can be started, stopped or monitored from anywhere using LG’s SmartThinQ(R) app. Users will receive notifications when a cycle has finished, or they can download new cycles, check energy usage and quickly troubleshoot minor issues using Smart Diagnosis. For added convenience, these home solutions can also be controlled with simple voice commands using the Google Assistant.
Smarter home with smart displays
Laundry is just one example of how smart home technology is making life easier. By adding other connected appliances and devices, you can develop a true smart home ecosystem in which seamless integrations produce valuable efficiency. One of the best ways to anchor your ecosystem is with a smart display like the new LG XBOOM AI ThinQ WK9 Smart Display. The advanced smart display builds on the capabilities of a Google Assistant speaker with the added convenience of a touchscreen display and, in partnership with Meridian Audio, delivers high-fidelity sound, precise vocal definition and accurate bass, despite its compact size.
In addition to its audio and video capabilities, the WK9 enables control of other LG ThinQ products such as LG TVs and home appliances, plus more than 10,000 smart devices from over 1,000 brands that work with Google Assistant. By establishing a go-to hub for all your smart home devices, you can increase connectivity and create a fully integrated smart home environment.
Stay connected on-the-go
As innovation continues, smart home technology is branching outside of the home itself. With new products, you can receive notifications regarding your home from anywhere, making sure you never lose touch with the most important things in your life. The first full-screen smartwatch with mechanical hands, the LG Watch W7 allows you to connect and control your smart devices. With two mechanical hands and a micro gearbox, users can enjoy the full WearOS smartwatch experience with the essence and mechanism of a true timepiece. With mobile connectivity, your life becomes easier no matter where you are.
Smart home technology is all about making our lives easier and more comfortable. Whether you’re just doing laundry, looking to power your whole home, or even taking that control on the road, new smart home products provide a level of convenience that’s changing the way we live.
(BPT) - Do you think you could live without your mobile phone? What about the navigation and backup camera in your car? Could you drive as well without them? Could you get by without your smartwatch reminding you how often to get up from your desk to keep healthy or weather conditions for the day so you know how to dress?
Our obsession with technology and the information it delivers daily has progressed beyond the point of external mobile phones and smartwatches to implanted heart monitors and Fitbits. At one time, consumers were too paranoid to enter their Social Security or credit card number online, but now, they are willing to implant sensors and other wearable technologies into their bodies. In turn, companies are leveraging these devices to collect as much data about their potential customers as possible.
The latest fashion: Wearing data
Think about it: You’re carrying (and generating) large amounts of data everywhere you go with wearable and implanted technologies. This means 24/7 data collection for the companies that manufacture those devices, which in turn helps them create a 360-degree view of the patients, athletes or customers they serve with the appropriate products, services and marketing campaigns.
According to research by Talend, a cloud and big data integration software company, 33 percent of consumers already own wearables like the Apple Watch or smart clothing, and another 30 percent are expected to make a purchase within the next three years. That’s a lot of new sources of data for companies to utilize — and a plethora of information companies can use to more accurately define the preferences and needs of its customers.
How we’re using wearables
Topping the list of today’s most common consumer-use cases for embedded wearables is healthcare (57 percent), privacy (28 percent) and convenience (20 percent), all contributing to the rapid dissemination and uptake of these devices.
Healthcare is the leading use for implanted technologies, with the introduction of advanced-tracking devices such as Medtronic’s FDA-approved Reveal LINQ Insertable Cardiac Monitor with TruRhythm Detection, introduced in March of this year, which is designed to accurately identify abnormal heartbeats. This life-saving device is implanted just beneath the skin and communicates wirelessly with the patient’s bedside monitor, which uploads device data to the Medtronic CareLink network. Once the data is loaded, algorithms can be run to determine if the patient is experiencing slower than average heart rate, which can deprive the brain and other organs from getting enough oxygen. This advanced use of embedded wearables and machine learning helps physicians find answers for patients at risk of cardiac arrhythmias to better manage a range of patient populations.
Outside of healthcare, the second biggest use for embedded wearables is physical security. Several companies have started utilizing biochip implants to replace card keys and manual entry codes for employees. For example, Three Square Market offered employees implanted chips in July to make purchases in their cafeteria and break rooms, open doors, log in to computers and use the copy machine. Approximately 50 employees underwent the minimally invasive procedure, many of whom believe the chip is worth any potential discomfort, as it helps to streamline their daily processes. Though this may seem like a massive invasion of privacy for many, for others, biochip implants present a way to make life easier.
Establishing trust: Should you be worried about privacy of information?
While the results of Talend’s survey seem to point to the fact that consumers are getting more digitally comfortable, with greater trust from consumers comes greater responsibility for companies to understand the many ways they need to protect customer data.
According to Talend’s survey, the most likely scenario that would drive consumers to break up with a brand and take their business elsewhere is a breach of personal data. In fact, 78 percent of consumers want to be assured they have full visibility into what companies are doing with their data. But as implanted and wearable technology becomes increasingly common and technology improves, the trade-off between data privacy and convenience will only increase.
Consider a future of augmented reality where implanted contacts could allow you to visualize and interact with the world around you in practical ways, or a future with implanted audio wearables that translate languages in real time. Would that convenience and experience move you to adopt wearable technology even if it means relinquishing more of your personal information and privacy?
At what point of technology adoption do we all essentially become cyborgs, guided each day by the obvious and subliminal information being fed to us via embedded and external devices? The day of total automation may be here sooner than you think.
(BPT) - Bluetooth technology is steadily expanding the role of modern hearing aids from tiny marvels that make use of artificial intelligence to process sound into true, state-of-the-art multimedia hubs now capable of two-way communication.
The primary goal of hearing aids has always been to improve speech understanding. While this hasn’t changed, manufacturers are now building Bluetooth technology directly into the most advanced hearing aid microchips. This lets consumers directly connect to virtually any wireless electronic device, eliminating the need to wear a body-worn accessory.
Let’s take a brief look at how the latest Bluetooth hearing aids are transforming the way we live.
They can now directly connect to any Bluetooth-enabled phone
According to Dr. Elizabeth Thompson, director of business development and veterans affairs at Phonak, previous generations of hearing aids could only directly connect to an iPhone, which greatly limited people’s options.
“Pew Research Center found only 33 percent of American smartphone owners used an iPhone while a whopping 66 percent used the Android operating system,” said Thompson. “Furthermore, another study showed 38 percent of all Americans over age 65 still use a classic flip phone. Until now, there has never been a Bluetooth hearing aid that was truly made for all devices and allowed universal connectivity — including the ability to directly connect to an iPhone, an Android device (e.g., Samsung, LG), or even a classic flip phone that is Bluetooth-ready.”
Bluetooth hearing aids enable truly hands-free calls
The latest Bluetooth hearing aids allow you to answer a phone call with a simple press of a button on the hearing aid. Built-in microphones on the hearing aids themselves feature automatic voice pickup, allowing people to have two-way conversations through their hearing aids. Thompson stated this is the first time this has ever been done with hearing aids.
“This is indeed the first time a hearing aid wearer can have a true hands-free conversation without having to touch the phone at all,” she said. “This is especially convenient in the car, where your phone may be in a pocket or purse, or if you need to have a conversation while leaving your phone on the table or countertop, for example if you’re cooking.”
They stream wireless stereo sound directly from your TV
According to research firm Statista, Americans spend an average of 4.5 hours per day watching TV. And if you are or live with someone who has hearing loss, you probably know that sometimes the volume of the TV can become an issue.
“With a card-sized TV Connector, hearing aid wearers simply plug the device into the back of the TV,” added Thompson. “The ‘plug and play’ TV Connector instantly pairs with Bluetooth hearing aids, allowing viewers to stream high-fidelity TV sound in-stereo at their preferred volume level, independent of other viewers. Wearers have reported a markedly better experience in understanding dialogue, especially when the person on TV is talking fast.”
Bluetooth hearing aids are available right now
While all of these new advances may sound like the future, hearing aids with built-in Bluetooth technology are available today. For more information, visit tryphonak.com or find a licensed hearing care professional who has been specially trained in fitting the latest hearing aid technology.
(BPT) - Modern technology has revolutionized many aspects of our day-to-day lives. While it is hard for some to imagine a day without social media, smartphones and Wi-Fi, these were not available a mere 20 years ago. Technology has revolutionized the way we order food, purchase clothes and read books.
“Technology used to be considered a separate entity from arts and crafts,” said Stephanie Leichtweis, CEO of Fibre-Craft, a leader in creative activities. “We believe it is vital to incorporate these together, and are working to meld tech innovations with artistic expression to provide a nuanced version of online and offline activities.”
To see the full influence of technology on arts and crafts, Fibre-Craft has outlined some ways that classic crafts have been redefined by technology:
Art projects used to be inspired by books, classes and our own imagination. The world we found ourselves in dictated our crafts of necessity and the ones for fun. With the advent of social media, inspiration and creation are driven from many different platforms.
The way that we participate in arts and crafts has changed as we garner ideas from others and share ours with those not only in our neighborhood but around the world. "DIY and crafts" is one of the top three most-pinned and most-browsed categories on Pinterest, one of the leading platforms for inspiration, along with YouTube.
A recent survey found that nearly 40 percent of adults who worked on an arts and crafts project found inspiration on YouTube, and one in three turned to Pinterest. And when complete, individuals can also share their own finished pieces to inspire others as well!
Coloring + painting redefined
Coloring has been a pastime for decades; the first coloring book was published in the 1880s. It is a great activity for children, as it can provide hours of entertainment and is easy to take on-the-go. Just as painting “by numbers” updated a classic art form in the 1950s, newer technologies are giving coloring and painting a 21st-century twist.
The newest way to color has arrived with the launch of an art/tech hybrid — DabitZ. The latest series from Fibre-Craft, DabitZ merges the artistic spirit with innovative technology to take classic coloring to new heights with “dabbing.” Starter sets come with everything you need to try this photomosaic art form and to make your own masterpiece. DabitZ is inspired by the painting technique called Pointillism, so users don’t need to be talented artists to “dab it up.” Starter sets include templates called DabDesignZ, and the free DabitZ app can transform any picture into a template design as well. Simply take a photo, create a template, print it and dab it up, connecting technology to offline play and the world around us.
Capturing photographs is a treasured tradition that helps keep memories alive long after the moment has passed. As camera phones have become ubiquitous, they have reinvented how photographs are taken, shared and viewed. No longer do you have to wait to return from an adventure to share your activities — you can post on social media in the moment! And with high-quality lenses on phones and filters on apps, you can create images worth 1,000 words — and likes.
“Smartphones have made photographers out of all of us, and opened a range of possibilities,” Leichtweis said. “With the new DabitZ app, everyone can take photography to the next level and create their own personal masterpiece.”
Homemade gifts are one of the most treasured items to receive from a loved one, especially from a child. As they grow, many children provide handcrafted items to relatives, who can treasure these items for years to come.
Handmade items are increasingly trendy in home décor, fashion and foodstuffs. Those with special talents are able to capitalize on their craft, thanks to new online stores and marketplaces. This growing trend is a wonderful way to support artisans and causes whether at home or a world away.
With new updates to technology, how we create arts and crafts will continue to change as well. To try the latest arts update, visit www.DabitZart.com or www.FibreCraft.com.
(BPT) - Summer is almost over and the school bell is about to ring. To make sure you and your family are set up for success, equip your home with the best technology devices on the market. Consider this your gadget guide for the best school year yet.
Studies show that listening to music while studying can help with concentration. The new Sonos Play:5 is small but packs a powerful punch, giving your kids a soundtrack to homework time. The Sonos Play:5 streams over WiFi, not Bluetooth, so the music never stops — unless, of course you want it to.
Wi-Fi that works
With a bunch of new gadgets and more time spent on the internet, you’re going to need a strong Wi-Fi signal to make sure everything works properly. Gone are the days where a basic spider-looking router was the go-to networking solution. With smartphones, laptops and all kinds of connected home devices, it’s crucial to purchase a robust Wi-Fi system that will support all your gadgets. With the eero Home WiFi System you never have to think about Wi-Fi again. It ensures every room is covered with a fast, reliable Wi-Fi signal. Additionally, it comes with parental controls built into the smartphone app so kids won’t get distracted when doing their homework. eero also released eero Plus, a subscription service that at $9.99 a month (or $99 a year), offers enhanced security and advanced parental controls. As the number of connected devices in the home increases, so does the potential for network insecurities. eero Plus protects users from viruses, malware and phishing scams and allows parents to have confidence that their children can't access anything inappropriate while surfing the web.
With a new school year comes book reports, research projects and presentations. Gone are the days of notebook paper and library books, now it’s all about online resources. It might be time to invest in a new computer, like a MacBook Pro. It’s razor thin and feather light so your kids can easily transport it to and from school, plus it’s even faster and more powerful than before.
The newly released Amazon Echo Dot is just the sidekick you need to help get you through the school year. With a built-in speaker, it functions as an alarm clock in the bedroom, a homework assistant in the office and it can even order you a Domino’s pizza in the kitchen for your kids’ study sessions. The Echo Dot controls many of your smart home devices, makes calls, sends and receives messages, and provides information so you’ll never question the capital of California or how many centimeters are in an inch again.
Now that school is back in session, it’s likely that your kids will be coming home while you are at work. To help give you a little more peace of mind, install Ring, the video doorbell that allows you to see, hear and speak with visitors at your front door, all from your phone, tablet or computer. Now, at 2:45 p.m. you can actually see your kids walking through the front door.
(BPT) - When it comes to technology, smarter is better. There are smart watches, smart televisions and just about everyone has a smartphone.
So what about a smart home?
Smart thermostats and lighting timers represent the first steps toward smart home technology for many homeowners, but in a lot of cases, they were the only steps. Since then, technology has continued to develop, and today there are scores of home goods that can talk to one another while allowing you total control of your home from your smartphone, tablet or another device.
It all sounds so simple, so perfect, yet many consumers remain confused on how to make the most of smart home technology in their house. Instead of finding the installation welcoming, they see it as daunting and expensive.
This doesn’t have to be the case. Installing — and enjoying — smart home technology in your house is easier than you think. Follow these five simple steps and your home will be a smart home in no time.
* Determine what you’d like to control remotely or automate based on time. Having total control of your home sounds great, but it also leads to total responsibility and sometimes you don’t need all that. For example, lighting solutions are a popular automated option. The smart dimmer by Leviton allows you to dim and time lighting to meet your needs once you download the app, providing you increased functionality all from your smartphone or tablet.
* Select technology that works with your home. When you're shopping for products — like lighting switches — you should always be mindful of functionality. For example, does your home operate on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth? Understand the base functionalities of your home and you'll streamline your shopping process.
* Seek professional help. If you’re concerned about your ability to set up your smart home technology successfully, don’t be afraid to seek out some guidance. Call on your contractor to assist you in the installation. You can also download helpful guides and how-to instructions from the manufacturer’s website. The more information you have before beginning the project, the more comfortable you’ll be with the installation.
* Download the proper apps. The key to your home’s smart technology lies in the corresponding apps. Make sure you’ve downloaded the right one to match your system. Many smart home technologies offer both iPhone and Android apps to provide the functionality control you need.
* Set your schedule and optimize as needed. Your smart home is an ever-evolving machine, and the more time you take to continually customize your preferences, the more you’ll get from your system. Establish your initial schedule and then add voice control through Amazon, Google or Apple. Finally, don't be afraid to make continued improvements. You’ve already tackled the biggest hurdle of installing your system, and the ongoing small adjustments you add will make your system great.
To learn more about today’s smart homes and lighting technologies available from companies such as Leviton, visit www.Leviton.com/DecoraSmart.
(BPT) - What drives you in the search for the perfect PC? Is it premium design and the high-end components? Or are you a performance person where nothing but the best specs will do? And what about price? Do you worry that you'll have to sacrifice some of the things you want simply because they are too expensive?
There are many things to consider when looking for the perfect PC but price and performance are not mutually exclusive. With today's modern devices, you can have both. So start your search by focusing on the parameters below and you'll find the perfect PC that fits your needs, and your budget, in no time.
This is where your tech really shines, thanks to the latest advancements that separate the newest devices from their predecessors. Crafted from 100 percent aluminum, the Acer Swift 3 packs the power of a 7th Generation Intel Core processor into an ultra-slim .7” frame with full high-definition capabilities and 12 hours of battery life.
Meanwhile, the versatile Dell Inspiron 13 5000 Series 2-in-1 can transition from a laptop to a tent to a tablet with ease, and has a full high-definition wide-viewing angle display to play media powered by its Intel Core processor.
Finally, the HP Pavilion x360 allows you to work, write and play naturally on the touchscreen. It's a convertible 2-in-1 with an optional active pen, the enhanced experience of FHD IPS display and audio tuned by the experts at Bang & Olufsen. It also allows you to store millions of documents or hundreds of movies with up to 1 terabyte of HDD storage.
Powerful and portable
The size of your new device plays a huge role in how you use it. If you plan to travel with your device, then you’ll want a more compact model like the slim, lightweight, ultraportable 2-in-1 ASUS Transformer Mini. This powerful tablet features a comfortable, angled keyboard and a handy kickstand delivering 140-degree views no matter where you take it. Plus, channel your inner creator with Windows 10 Creators Update and Active Pen, which creates the feeling of writing with a pen on paper.
Whether you plan to carry your PC into that next business meeting or out with friends, appearance matters, and nothing tops sleek and stylish. The Samsung Galaxy Book 10 is a 2-in-1 with a gorgeous display and a brushed metal finish that’s sure to get noticed. And with the included Samsung S Pen, 10 hours of battery life and the ability to sync up with your Samsung phone, its functionality can't be topped.
Safe and secure
The more time you invest in your PC, the more important it is to protect it. The Lenovo Yoga 510 (Flex 4) keeps your content uniquely yours with a simple, secure log-in fingerprint reader and Windows Hello. It’s the perfect gatekeeper for a device with plenty of storage for all your most cherished keepsakes.
Personalized for you
Each of the devices mentioned above is available at an affordable price allowing you to find the perfect PC to meet your needs and your budget. Once you narrow in on the features and functionalities that are a must have for you to help you tackle your personal and professional to-do's, you'll find that there is a PC out there to fit your needs.
So don't delay. Start your search for your next device today, and put the power of state-of-the-art technology on your table, your lap or in the palm of your hand. Stop by your nearest Microsoft Store, microsoftstore.com, or your local retailer to find the one that's right for you.
Interested in Publishing on The Tech Idea?
Send your query to the Publisher today!