<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Tech News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/tech http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+5-KXAS+Logo+for+Google+News.png NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth http://www.nbcdfw.com en-us Sat, 31 Jan 2015 11:53:48 -0600 Sat, 31 Jan 2015 11:53:48 -0600 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Cutting Class? New App Could Blow Your Cover]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 16:08:09 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/smart+phone+generic+.jpg

Want to see if your college student is skipping class? There’s an app for that.

For $200 a year, parents, professors and campus administrators can use Class120 to check to see if a student is in class at the scheduled time.

The minds behind the app, which was debuted by start-up Core Principle this month, say the accountability app could help students stay on track with their studies and prepare them for being punctual once they enter the workforce. But some students say it gives parents too much control over the lives of their adult children.

Jeff Whorley, founder and CEO of Core Principle, developed the app after a conversation he had with a college professor that left him thinking that if colleges treated all students the way they treat Division 1 athletes, whose attendance in class is closely monitored, then graduation levels would rise.

“If we could get students everywhere to attend at least 90 percent of their classes, over 80 percent would graduate,” Whorley told NBC Owned Television Stations.

The app tracks if the student is in class, and sends an alert to the student’s parent or teacher if they do not show up to class for two days in a row. Core Principle can also call the student directly if a parent or teacher does not feel comfortable contacting the student. The app must be downloaded by the student, and it can only be used to track if a student is in class, not at parties or other activities.

Still, some have criticized the app for being too controlling over students who should be treated like adults.

"I would probably be more annoyed than anything," Natalie Pike told NBC affiliate WTHR. "I would feel like my life is being pried into."

But Whorley argues that in the post-college world, a recent grad will face immediate consequences if they do not show up or even show up late to work. More students, he says, need to be treated with similar consequences by having a teacher or parent point out that they are late and help get back on track before the entire semester goes down the drain.

“We don’t think this app is anti-adult," Whorley said. "It’s an introduction to the real economy.”

The app has made recent headlines, with coverage in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. In the last four days alone, the start-up has seen a huge increase in traffic from parents in Europe and Asia looking to track their children who are studying abroad in the U.S., he said. So far the app is available for close to 2,000 college campuses across the country that the company has geomapped.

Whorley hopes that in the future this app can work to take class attendance.

“The future of taking attendance is Wi-Fi or GPS where a professor looks down at a piece of smart technology instead of calling roll," he said.

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<![CDATA[College Students Will Have a Harder Time Cutting Class ]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 15:04:25 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/NC_attendanceapp0129001_1500x845__677564.jpg College students will have a much harder time trying to skip class now that parents and professors can track if they're in class or not. ]]> <![CDATA[Newsweek Criticized for Silicon Valley Cover]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:19:30 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Newsweek+sexism+in+tech+cover.jpg

Newsweek's latest exposé has social media in a frenzy over the choice of cover art.

To illustrate the "What Silicon Valley Thinks Of Women" article, the American news magazine created a cover illustration showing a computer cursor lifting up the skirt of a woman in a red dress.

Billed by Newsweek as a report of the "sordid, shocking and systemic" sexism in the Northern California technology hub home to Apple, Google and Yahoo, the attention-grabbing art has pundits and social media users questioning its appropriateness.

"Clickbait, designed to piss off women while pretending to investigate sexism in tech. Fail--but you know it," tweeted Jennifer Pozner, executive director of the analysis group Women In Media and News.

Newsweek editor Jim Impoco has not directly responded to the outcry but instead tweeted a line of approval taken from an Adweek review of the article, and also retweeted one commenter's reworking of the cover art to show the woman kicking the cursor away and her expletive-filled thought over the incident.


 



Photo Credit: Newsweek
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<![CDATA[Instagram Down for a 2nd Time This Week]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 08:15:21 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/158539421.jpg

The photo-centric social media site Instagram was down Wednesday night, just two days after it suffered a similar outage.

The website Is It Down Right Now showed the site as being down shortly after 10:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday. By 10:40 p.m. ET it said the site was back up and reachable.

The site went down on Tuesday around the same time that Facebook, which owns Instagram, suffered a widespread outage lasting roughly 40 minutes.

Instagram has about 300 million users, compared to Facebook's 1.25 billion.

Users took to social media on Wednesday night to report the problem and the pain of not being able to post their photos.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Sharing Streaming Media Passwords]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 17:21:07 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/streaming+passwords.jpg

It seems so easy! Type in your password and have access to countless video streams on a service you pay for—such as Hulu Plus, Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, HBO Go, or WatchESPN. And it seems just as easy to give your log-in to someone else.

Surprisingly, a newly released Consumer Reports survey shows that 46 percent of those asked share their passwords with friends or relatives who don’t live with them.

Is sharing your password illegal? Consumer Reports’ review of the terms of agreements finds that some seem ambiguous.

But Consumer Reports says that the companies don’t seem to be cracking down. However, business models are evolving—and next year things could be different.

As companies such as HBO and Dish Network begin to offer more online-only content, Consumer Reports says that they may get more protective of the revenue they get from streaming and a bit more interested in exactly who’s watching. But for the time being, they appear to be more interested in creating streaming media addicts.

Though it technically may be OK to hand out your password, you could get blocked unexpectedly. Netflix, like several others, limits simultaneous viewing. Each subscription plan is different.

  • Netflix is one to four screens at the same time, depending on your plan.
  • Amazon Prime allows two at a time.
  • HBO Go allows three at a time.
  • Hulu Plus allows only one.
  • WatchESPN, unlike the others, does not state any limits.

So if you don’t want to interrupt your own viewing pleasure, those limits should make you think twice before you give out your password.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.
 



Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Cell Phone Chargers]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 17:11:36 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cell+phone+charger.jpg

Nothing says misery like being out and about, away from a power source, and your phone goes dead. Lots of companies are tapping into that fear, producing products for portable power.

When you shop, look for milliamps per hour, or mAh. The average smart phone battery holds about 2200 to 3000 mAh. So it’s good to get a charger with at least that much.

The Anker Astro Mini, a sleek device for $20, has 3,200 mAh that’s more than enough to fully charge your phone. It works with both Apple and Android devices and fits into any bag or pocket.

For true techies who need to power up several gadgets on the go, there’s the TYLT Energi+ Backpack for $200. The battery holds over 10,000 mAh and has three ports — two for phones, one for charging a tablet. The cables run to plush-lined compartments that keep everything protected, including your laptop.

Another option is buying a charging case from companies such as Mophie and PhoneSuit. Consumer Reports tests show they can nearly double a phone’s battery life.

To keep your phone battery from running out of power, Consumer Reports recommends turning down your screen’s brightness, putting your phone in airplane mode if you are out of range of a strong signal and closing apps when you’re done using them.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.
 



Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Promotes MLK Day Volunteerism]]> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 09:06:15 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/8-22-2013-MLK-on-MEET-THE-PRESS.jpg

Apple is defending its policy on Martin Luther King Day, which will be observed nationally on Monday Jan. 19, after a Silicon Valley media blog called out the company for not making it a paid holiday.

The suggestion is that Apple is making a misstep, especially as tech companies are striving for greater diversity.

NBC Bay Area reached out to Apple, which confirms, while Monday is not a paid holiday, the company has encouraged employees to volunteer as a way to honor Dr. King. In turn, Apple, through its matching gifts program, is contributing $50 for every employee hour worked.

MLK Day is a federal holiday, which means government workers will have the day off.

In its article, Valleywag notes Bay Area-based companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and Yahoo all give employees the holiday off.



Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Annoying Car Controls & New Solutions]]> Tue, 13 Jan 2015 17:34:16 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/car+controls.jpg

The idea behind car infotainment systems is simple: Give drivers an easy-to-use way to access their phone, music and navigation all while still keeping their eyes on the road. But many drivers find the systems are too complicated or that they don’t always work.

The least reliable system, according to Consumer Reports’ survey, is Infiniti’s InTouch. More than one out of five Infiniti Q50 owners report a problem with the car’s InTouch entertainment system.

Infiniti issued the followed statement regarding the Consumer Reports study:

 

Infiniti closely monitors consumer feedback and third party evaluations, and, as a result, we take Consumer Reports’ reaction to our InTouch system very seriously, and have already taken several steps to improve customer satisfaction.

 

For example, we have recently made available to all 2014 Infiniti Q50 owners a software update which improves the overall performance of its Infiniti InTouch telematics and infotainment system, while also adding functionality such as in-car integration of Facebook, Google, calendar and e-mail. In the meantime, we will continue to work on improvements, as the ultimate satisfaction of our owners, has been and will continue to be, a hallmark of the Infiniti brand.

Kyle W. Bazemore, Senior Manager, Infiniti USA Communications

And some systems like the Cadillac’s CUE are just plain frustrating. There are no knobs so many functions are done using flush buttons that are temperamental.

Ford's MyFord Touch has been both unreliable and frustrating. So the company is introducing a completely redesigned system called Sync3 in 2016 models.

Carmakers are also working with phone manufacturers to make controls simpler. Apple’s CarPlay intergrates your iPhone into your car. For Apple users, that means the screen is familiar and you can use Siri’s voice commands. But for now, if you want Apple’s CarPlay, you’re going to have to get it on the aftermarket. And that can cost as much as $1,200. It will become available on many brand new cars.

Google’s Android Auto is set for release soon. Like CarPlay, it works with your phone, meaning Android users should pick it up quickly.

Consumer Reports says that the most intuitive infotainment systems come from Kia and Chrysler. They have easy-to-use touchscreens plus retain some familiar knobs and buttons.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.
 



Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Sony Set to Release New High Quality Sound Walkman]]> Wed, 07 Jan 2015 12:10:43 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ZX2_close_up.jpg

Is the Walkman back?

Sony has unveiled a new Walkman that it says will deliver a "pure sound quality for a more authentic, emotionally involving musical experience." But that experience will cost you.

The new ZX2 Walkman, revealed at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, will provide an "unparalleled listening experience" at a price of $1,119.99.

How will the device deliver such a high quality sound? The new walkman has an S-Master HX processor that enables it to carry songs in “high resolution,” meaning each song will be around 150MB, according to Time.

Most CD’s and MP3 players carry compressed versions of songs that are a fraction of that size.

The larger size will allow songs to have more detail, and consequently the device will provide “a more authentic, emotionally involving musical experience,” Sony said in a statement.

The Android-powered device also features a 4-inch touchscreen and a battery life of up to 60 hours.

It will also be able to reach apps through Google Play, though it isn’t meant to be a competitor of smartphones, according to Business Time.

The first Walkman, a portable cassette player, went on sale on July 1, 1979, and went on to become a defining product for Sony in the pre-Apple iPod and smartphone era. Other Walkman-branded players were later created for CDs, the Mini-Disc and MP3s.

More recently, an '80s-era Walkman was prominently featured in the blockbuster "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Sony's new Walkman ZX2 is set to hit the markets this spring, Time reported. 



Photo Credit: Sony]]>
<![CDATA[All About That Bass: Music at CES]]> Tue, 06 Jan 2015 01:43:09 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/160*120/IMG_2038_speaker.JPG

"Hey, Mrs. Carter."

Whoever it is that calls out to Beyonce in the song has never sounded better.

And neither has a ton of bass.

I'm listening to the newest speaker from the French company Devialet, and it's a revelation. In a CES that will no doubt be dominated by drones, and droning on, it's a pleasure to have just a little time alone with some terrific sounding music.

"Billie Jean," for example, is a song I've heard 435,000 times. It's a classic. But today I heard parts of it I never knew existed. Something about a high-end speaker from a company that builds them, and sells them for more than $20,000 a piece.

Devialet chose CES to bring its system to the masses. Well, the well-heeled masses. The "Phantom" is still going to about $2,000. Much less than the high-end model, but it's really made for audiophiles who want a stylish speaker to go with their pumping Bass. (Although, to be fair, it's not just the stuff I listen to that sounds great. Segueing into "The Girl From Ipanema" proves that quiet, smooth music can be improved with a quality system, too).

Devialet boasts dozens of patents to bring you the music. The speaker actually moves as the sound changes, thanks to air being pushed inside. It's cool to watch. But away from the technology, they say music is really about what you feel. Quentin Bernard, Devialet Product Manager, says "by bringing the product to a larger market, people will be able to rediscover the emotion of music. This is our goal."

It's a good goal, and the speaker sounds great. It's wifi-enabled, so you can stream your iTunes playlist, or your Spotify. Buy a few of them, and you can wirelessly listen to movies in your home theatre.

And if you can afford it, my advice is: Crank it up. Even fancy speakers are made to blast your "Yonce.

Scott Budman will be cruising CES. Get his updates by following him on Twitter: @scottbudman



Photo Credit: Scott Budman / NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Mood-Improving Lightbulbs]]> Wed, 31 Dec 2014 17:33:13 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cr+lightbulbs.jpg

LED lightbulbs are game changers. They promise to last anywhere from 23 to 46 years. And thanks to electronic circuitry and semiconductor chips, they have the potential to do more than just turn on and off.

Consumer Reports checks out several.

The Definitely Digital Good Night LED claims to improve your natural sleep because it emits less blue light than other LEDs. Although any light can suppress melatonin, the hormone that facilitates sleep, the human eye is particularly sensitive to blue light.

Using a machine, Consumer Reports measured the amount of blue light in the Good Night bulb and found it does have lower levels of blue light than other LEDs. But is that worth its $70 price tag?

Consumer Reports advice: Try a CFL. It costs a lot less than an LED and it gives off much less blue light. Consumer Reports recommends Walmart’s Great Value Soft White 60-Watt Replacement CFL at just over $1 per bulb.

If you have trouble sleeping, Consumer Reports health experts suggest turning off all sources of blue light such as smart phones, computer and tablet screens and TVs several hours before you turn in.

Consumer Reports also tested the $70 Definitely Digital Awake and Alert. It claims more blue light for improved alertness. Consumer Reports’ tests find it does deliver higher blue-light levels, but the light color is not all that flattering to your skin.

And Consumer Reports tested the LIFx LED bulb, which connects to your Wi-Fi and can be controlled using your smart phone. It changes color and even has a strobe-light setting. Of course if you just want to light a room, the $99 price tag is a lot to pay.

Consumer Reports says the Cree A19 Soft White Dimmable LED will light a room just fine for $8.50 per bulb.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.
 



Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Experts: WWIII Looks Like Sony Hack]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 08:03:12 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/N6P-SONY-KOREA-HACK-PKG---03282609.jpg

The term “cyber warfare” has been thrown around for years, with security experts wondering what the effects of a damaging cyber attack might look like. Now we know: a Hollywood studio left paralyzed, and the center of the tech world is wondering what's next.

As the billboards advertising Sony Pictures' "The Interview" were pulled down in Hollywood on Thursday, concerns about cyber terrorism shot up in Silicon Valley.

"World War III looks like this,” said Michelle Dennedy, Intel Security's chief privacy officer. She said technology is the new battlefield, and our gadgets are all potential targets.

"This is the wave of the future,” Dennedy said. “Bank robbers robbed banks because that's where the money was. Data is currency. Hackers are going for it because it's valuable."

What happened at Sony should, according to cyber security experts, be a warning to us all.

"This is the first time we've seen it at this scale,” said Truman National Security Project’s Mike McNerney.

The goal of hackers is not just disruption, it's fear, McNerney said. "This is different. The way they were able to combine this online attack that got them the attention they wanted, and then mix this with threat of physical violence, it's something we really haven't seen before."

But it’s likely something we'll see again, as hackers try to invade banks, retailers, anything with an easy to open virtual door.

"I think everyone needs to be worried about this," McNerney said, “whether it's an organization, government entity, or an individual.”



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Odd Google Searches That Trended in 2014]]> Wed, 31 Dec 2014 10:21:17 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/453920462.jpg

Google has released its 2014 list of its most common search requests. Many popular searches weren't surprising, like The World Cup, Robin Williams, and Disney's “Frozen.”

However, the search engine also revealed other searches that were also, somehow, popular this past year. People of the web turned to Google for odd info about dogs, beauty, diets, memes, fashion and famous selfies.

Take a look at searches that also trended in 2014: 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Getting WIFI Throughout Your House]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 17:17:59 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/wifi1.jpg

We’re dependent on Wi-Fi to access the internet in different parts of our homes.

But too often service is sluggish or there are dead zones. Consumer Reports has advice to help improve Wi-Fi in your house.

Many people get internet service through their cable provider. The signal comes in through a modem that connects to a router. Then the signal is sent wirelessly through the house.

So what can go wrong? Plenty, but Consumer Reports says start with where your router is placed.

Router signals do not go through walls that easily, so the fewer walls, fewer closed doors, fewer floors the signal has to travel, the better your chances are of getting the signal covering your entire house.

So if you’re having trouble, try moving your router and modem to the middle of your home. Your service provider may be willing to re-run the cable where you need it.

Also, check your service plan to make sure you’re getting enough internet speed. For U.S. homes, 10 megabits per second is the average, but you’ll need 20 or more if you’re playing demanding games online or streaming a lot of high-def movies at once.

If you’re paying for enough speed from your service provider and you’re still not getting good speed in your house or you have some dead spots, then there is a good chance it could be your router, and a newer, faster router could actually help.

One to look for is the Netgear AC1900 Nighthawk for $185. Consumer Reports says it’s good for larger houses and will handle several devices that are using Wi-Fi simultaneously.

For far less, Consumer Reports also recommends the Netgear N750. It costs $90 but doesn’t use the latest 802.11ac technology for the absolute fastest speed.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.
 



Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Make Charity Donations Count]]> Tue, 09 Dec 2014 22:02:56 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/dfw-generic-money-cash-02.jpg

For many, the holiday season is a time to give not only to friends and family but also to those in need.

In fact, 40 percent of charitable contributions are made in the last few weeks of the year.

Consumer Reports has found that some charities spend very little on the causes they promote. How can you determine whether a charity is worthy of your hard-earned dollars?

Another increasingly common way to give is buying from companies that donate part of the sales to charity. The downside—the company gets the tax deduction, not you. And it can be hard to determine how much money from the sales actually will go to the charity.

Consumer Reports says to do some homework before donating. Two reliable watchdog websites that are free—CharityNavigator.org, and the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, at give.org—let you know how much money charities give to the services and programs they support, and how much goes for administrative costs and fundraising.

Some of your favorite charities might not be rated on those national sites because they’re too small or too local. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give to them. You just should do more research.

First step: Check out the charity’s website to see its mission and accomplishments. And consider volunteering first. It’s a great way to ask questions and get to know the charity from the inside.

Another way to go is to give through a nonprofit fundraising federation, such as United Way, that checks out the charities it represents before allowing them to participate.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["Doorman" Keeps Online Orders Safe]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 02:42:56 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/1125-2014-Doorman.jpg

A San Francisco start-up wants to make sure you never miss a package again, or have one stolen off your doorstep. Doorman delivers boxes and envelopes to your door, when you are home.

“Shopping behavior online is changing dramatically,” said Co-Founder of Doorman Kapil Israni. “People are getting their toilet paper online. The problem is they're never home to get their package."

Doorman gives its customers an address to use when purchasing online. That package goes to the company’s warehouse, and customers are alerted when it arrives. The user can then respond with what time they’ll be home that night. One of the part-time contracted drivers then takes the package to your front door and texts you when they’re outside. Deliveries are made between 6 p.m. and midnight, seven days a week.

"This is our attempt to modernize the last broken piece of e-commerce,” said Co-Founder Zander Adell.

Packages arrive the same day they would if you ordered directly from a retailer. The cost is $4 per package, or $20 dollars a month. The hope, is you'll never miss a package again.

“There's nothing worse than getting a door tag. I'd rather get a parking ticket,” said customer Michele Mandell.

“If I'm not home, (other delivery companies) just return it. Then I have to take my car to the center and lose 3-4 hours,” said customer Loic Le Meur.

For now, Doorman is only available in San Francisco, but there are other options in the Bay Area.

Amazon has lockers you can ship packages to, and pick them up when you’re available.

If you ship through the Postal Service, you're urged to insure your package and make sure the box or envelope has to be signed for when it arrives. You can also track its progress online.

"One thing people do is have a trusted neighbor keep an eye out for their packages and say, 'hey, I'm expecting something, can you keep an eye out for it, and I'll do the same,” said USPS Spokesperson Augustine Ruiz.

The Postal Service announced its employees will begin delivering seven days a week through the holidays. USPS expects to deliver 12 percent more packages this holiday season than the same time last year. That equals more than 450 million packages.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[3-D Printing Gives Chance to Little Girl Born With Heart Defect ]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 08:31:49 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/195*120/11-24-14_Heart-Defect-Surgery-Hensel.JPG

Esther Perez was born with heart defects that could have taken her young life, but thanks to a series of breakthrough procedures at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the now-14-month-old little girl is thriving.

Using a series of conventional MRIs, 3-D MRIs and an incredible printer that reconstructed a model of the girl’s heart, doctors were able to plan her surgery, practice it and reduce her risks and increase her chances of survival.

That was the first miracle for her mother, Martha Perez, who found about her daughter's medical problem while she was still in the womb.

"I stop the pregnancy, or continue. Maybe the baby will be born for just five, 10 minutes, and then the baby maybe will be dying," she recalled, near tears.

Perez credits her faith with helping her to make it through the pregnancy, but when Esther was born, things looked bleak.

Her cardiologist said the baby just wasn’t getting enough oxygen to her body.

An early surgery provided a temporary fix, but as time went on it became clear a second, much more serious operation was needed.

Doctors decided the innovations could help, including creating a life-size model of Esther’s heart.

The paper-and-plastic model was an exact replica of Esther’s heart, so doctors could explore and strategize before the actual surgery.

"As soon as we opened the heart, it was exactly as I had seen before, so making the patch and doing the connections were quite straightforward," said Dr. Richard Kim, the cardiothoracic surgeon who operated on Esther.

Similar heart surgeries were done long before the 3-D technology was available, but doctors said it has helped increase the effectiveness and safety of similar operations.

Dr. Kim said Esther now stands a very good chance of having a healthy, normal life.

Perez said she’s grateful for the chance her daughter has been given.

"It’s a miracle," she said.

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<![CDATA[7 Tech Trends for 2015]]> Fri, 02 Jan 2015 23:53:59 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP836878317132.jpg

Will 2015 be the year of wearable tech?

The long-awaited Apple Watch will be making its debut in early 2015 and consumers will be able to get their hands on newly available 3D printers to make food and collectibles. Smart home devices are also among the hot tech trends in the new year, experts say.

“It’s a world of synced devices that will become mainstream in 2015," said Stacy Glasgow, a Chicago-based consumer trends consultant for market research firm Mintel. "It’s no longer about startups or early adopters. We’re seeing a lot of big retailers giving consumers smart products and devices.”

Glasgow said that in Mintel’s research, the company found that 59 percent of U.S. consumers were interested in using an app or device to control their home. About 22 percent already owned a wearable device already. “We definitely see that number in a position to grow,” she said.

Eric Openshaw, vice chairman and U.S. technology, media and telecom leader for Deloitte based in San Francisco, said that the wearable technology market is exploding but is probably going to be more important for businesses rather than consumers.

“I think there are huge benefits for the industrial user,” he said.

Coye Cheshire, an associate professor for the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley, said most of the trends we’re seeing have to do with playing with user data.

“It’s called instrumenting the experience,” he said. “It’s all these apps, such as fitness apps or other metrics, capturing user data and returning it back to the consumer.” The hype is exciting, but he said society is not quite sure what it really wants to know. “The assumption is that if there’s more of this data and you turn it back to the people it will equal better experience, but it remains highly unknown if that’s the case.”

Here's a list of seven tech trends for 2015:

TellSpec

The TellSpec is a small spectroscope that uses a beam of infrared light to figure out the composition of food and help users determine exactly how many calories and grams of fat, protein or carbohydrates they are consuming just with a wave of the device. The TellSpec shoots the information to a smartphone (Android or iOS) where users can see not only the vital stats of the food, but also if it contains allergens like eggs or gluten. The company has been busy scanning foods so the spectroscope has a full database and can identify traces of ingredients, according to Fast Company.

Cheshire seemed interested but not optimistic about the scanner. “Will some people carry them around? There are a small amount of people who are responsible for almost all the uptick of all devices,” he said of the new adopters. But will it be popular with the mainstream – that’s another story.

Wearable Technology

The Apple Watch will likely be a must-have for those who want both a status symbol and a stylish timepiece (they come in different colors, from sensible stainless steel to elegant 18K rose gold). Other wearable tech, such as Google Glass, have already made their debut and caused the public to crave more gadgets like it. Samsung is launching a new platform, Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interactions (also dubbed SAMI), to capitalize on wearables. Expect to see more offerings from Microsoft, Motorola, Jawbone and others, including the Polo Tech Shirt which also offers biometric readings with a designer label.

Gartner Inc. predicts more wearable tech will come on the market because our society is becoming increasingly mobile and wants it available in more environments, including work. Cheshire said that cheaper sensors are making it possible. “This is the early stage of wearable technology and different companies are trying to throw things at the wall and see what sticks,” he said. "If were playing futurist, I wouldn’t bet on many of these things being around in a few years."

Smart Appliances and Smart Homes

“Virtually every large appliance is looking at the ‘Internet of Things,’ from sensor technology to smartphones to home networks,” Openshaw said of today's smart appliances and machines. Both Nest and Apple have devised ways to tell your house to turn on lights, adjust the thermostat or record TV programs via your smartphone, and you can expect to see more in 2015.

According to GigaOm, small startups are also joining the smart home movement by adding Bluetooth so users can control light bulbs, outlets or even receive pictures with their smartphone of who is knocking at your door. Expect all these apps to work with voice integration, so you will literally be talking to your smartphone to start your dryer or start preheating the oven.

Digitized Dining

We’re all familiar with making reservations online with apps such as OpenTable or finding food online via GrubHub, but now more restaurants are letting you order your food online. Already Pizza Hut offers that capability (and receives half of its online orders from mobile devices) as does Panda Express. Some Chili’s and Applebee’s provide tablets for customers to order, while McDonald’s and White Castle are also working on a touch-screen customizing kiosk, which may do away with a cashier altogether.

“I think the trend is rooted to an unprecedented expectation for on-demand convenience,” Glasgow said. “It’s this new immediacy in shopping and food service.” She said to expect more “blurring” between online and brick-and-mortar stores.

Paying With Your Phone

The idea of “click and pay” with a smartphone has been around for the last few years, but perhaps it needed Apple’s new iPhone 6 to bring the mobile payment system to the mainstream. Security professionals say it's a "significant improvement over using a credit card" and Apple said it "doesn't collect your purchase history, so we don't know what you bought, where you bought it or how much you paid for it."

But there are still some issues. According to Consumer Reports, a reporter used his wife’s credit card after scanning it into his iPhone without impunity or questions and in October, Bank of America apologized for charging customers twice for purchases they made using the system.

Cheshire said that digital payment isn't enough to the transaction more seamless. “Paying by your phone alone doesn’t make it efficient,” he said, “but if you also make an order and pay for it with the same phone it can be.”

Life360

It may sound a bit creepy, and your teenagers will hate it, but keeping tabs on your entire family at all times is now a reality with this free Life360 app.

“If I had an application for (my kids aged) 11 to 12 so I could know what they’re doing, I would be thrilled,” Openshaw said.

Parents will likely love the “Places” part of the app that is literally a map that shows everyone in the circle coming or going from certain spots and alerts users when members have left or have entered a specific area.

“I think the social implication is that we’re raising our kids to know they can’t be trusted or trust people in general,” Cheshire said. Glasgow disagreed, saying that it may calm parental anxieties. “If I have an application for (my kids aged) 11 to 12 to know what they’re doing, I would be thrilled,” Openshaw said.

3D Printers

How would you like to have a printer that can create a gun or a pizza? Apparently many people are interested. The shipments of 3D printers will double in 2015 and double again in 2016, according to Gartner Inc. Previously the domain of scientific labs or universities, 3D printers have captured the interest of the masses perhaps because it can reduce costs and create facsimiles almost instantly.

“We see another trend that consumers are finding they enjoy making things on their own and I think 3D printing facilitates that,” Glasgow said, mentioning the beauty of 3D printer Mink which can create custom-colored eye shadow or lipstick.

Consumers may also be interested in exploring cuisine with the Foodini, a 3D printer that creates your favorite foods from “sweet to savory” according to CNN. Lynette Kucsma, co-founder of Natural Machines which creates the Foodini, says a consumer version of its product will be out soon and retail for around $1,000.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Company Unveils Electronically-Powered Skates]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 08:18:37 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/1121-2014-RocketSkates.jpg

Forget walking or rollerblading — how about rocket skating?

California-based company Acton has developed electronically-powered skates that can propel the wearer up to 12 miles per hour — no pushing required.

Founders said the idea was inspired by "Iron Man," "Inspector Gadget" and "The Jetsons."

"The idea of just being able to slide around the urban environment is very exciting," said Peter Treadway, co-founder of Acton. "It's kind of like a magic carpet for your feet."

The skates were released this week and sell for $500 a pair.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[FB Shuttle Drivers “Like” Union Bid]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 06:11:56 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/fb16.jpg

Shuttle bus drivers who take Facebook employees to and from Silicon Valley overwhelmingly gave the "thumbs up" to forming a union on Wednesday, after they had complained publicly for months about their low pay, split shifts and health insurance benefits.

Rome Aloise, secretary for the Teamsters Local 853 in San Leandro, said the vote was 43 in favor of unionizing and 28 opposed. A total of 16 of the 87 drivers who work for Loop Transportation - the shuttle company contracted to drive Facebook employees, did not vote.

"This will now give these drivers at Facebook, and most probably the drivers for all of the companies that use this type of service a chance at a piece of the pie," Aloise said. "This makes it possible for those that make Facebook successful to get to work comfortably, safely and in a timely fashion.  Hopefully the tech companies will step up and pay the "freight" so to speak"

The National Labor Board still needs to certify the election, and then bargaining can begin with Loop for a first-time contract.

In a statement, Loop CEO Jeff Leonoudakis said that the company didn't feel "our drivers' interests are best served by union representation."

But, he added: "Our drivers have spoken and we will now begin the negotiation process."

Leonoudakis reiterated that the company's drivers earn between $17 and $25 an hour and get full medical benefits valued at up to $714 per month per employee. One of the drivers' complaints is over their split shifts. They pick up Facebook employees about 6 a.m. and have to take them home sometimes 14 or 15 hours later - and are only getting paid for an eight-hour shift.

Leonoudakis said that the drivers can sleep at the Loop Transportation yard, or eat for free at Facebook's campus.

Facebook officials has not formally commented on the labor strife, indicating that the fight is not with their tech company, but with a third party contractor.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Consumer Reports: Best Cell Phone Services]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 06:45:54 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cell-data.jpg

The vast majority of people get their cell phone service from one of the four major wireless providers — Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint. But in Consumer Reports’ latest ratings, based on a survey of 63,000 of its subscribers, a new service called Ting scored much higher.

Ting bills for actual voice, text and data usage rather than charging a flat rate. It uses the Sprint network and is only compatible with Sprint phones and tablets. Right now that includes the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy SIII.

Two other smaller providers are also top-rated in the Consumer Reports survey. Consumer Cellular scored better than all the big providers, while Republic Wireless rated the highest for prepaid service.

Those three companies — Ting, Consumer Cellular and Republic — were the only carriers in the Consumer Reports’ survey to receive the highest marks for value for the money. The lowest ratings for value among contract plans went to AT&T, Sprint and Verizon.

Sprint also did worse in Consumer Reports’ survey for phone support, and the lack of knowledge and ability to resolve issues.

In response to Consumer Reports' survey, Sprint said the results are disappointing and it is committed to offering customers the best value in wireless. Verizon said it will continue to work to demonstrate value by providing excellent customer experiences. And AT&T said customer satisfaction is the reason fewer people are switching away from AT&T.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Google "Trekkers" Maps Hiking Trail]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 07:23:54 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/1118-2014-GoogleTrekker1.jpg

Google "trekkers" are helping you map out your next hiking trip and get a feel for being on the trail.

The backpack-type trekker carries 15 cameras and records the hiker's every move with the same technology used in Google Earth and Google Maps.

"The trekker takes an image as the person walks -- every two and a half seconds," said Deanna Yick, a Google Street View manager. "That enables us to get a picture of what a place is like and a feel for being there."

Hannah Lonergan recently went on a hike using a Google trekker.

"It's a lot heavier, you have an antenna, you have to watch out for low-hanging branches," Lonergan said when asked how a trekker compares to a regular camping backpack. She added that the trekker weights about 60 pounds.

The City of Monterey is working with Google to get trekkers on local trails.

"We feel like this is a great way to showcase Monterey County," said Tammy Blount, Monterey City Convention Bureau CEO.

Google officials said trekkers can handle privacy concerns on the spot. For example, if someone is hiking on the trial and doesn't want to be in the picture, the hiker can pause the camera and make sure the hiker's anonymity is preserved.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Tony Hawk Rides Hoverboard]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 07:28:20 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2014-11-17+at+3.26.35+PM.png

The hoverboard is reality, and Tony Hawk has taken a spin on it.

The pro skateboarder tested the $10,000 prototype Hendo Hoverboard after husband and wife Greg and Jill Henderson launched a Kickstarter to fund it. 

In the video, Hawk performs a few tricks on the board, which hovers an inch off the ground and uses magnets, though he also ends up falling several times.

Hawk had caught attention for another hoverboard video earlier this year — a fake video made by Funny or Die that featured the skateboarder, musician Moby and others riding boards high into the sky, in a prank for which Hawk eventually apologized.  


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<![CDATA[Fire Hazard Forces Recall of Tankless Water Heaters]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 06:35:14 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/hartford+fire+truck+generic.jpg

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled 29,000 tankless water heaters because of a threat of overheating and fire.

The recall involves all models of the single and dual Coaire and Quietside Brand Tankless Gas Water Heaters.

According to the CSPC, they are manufactured by Daesung Celtic Enersys and distributed by Challenger Supply Holdings.

The heaters were sold between July 2008-August 2014

There are 40 reports of units overheating, including two fires and four incidents where burns were left on the wall where the tanks were mounted.

If you own the unit, you're asked to stop using it and call Challenger Supply Holdings at 800.729.6118.

Click on this sentence for a link to the CPSC recall.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Great Tech Toys]]> Mon, 10 Nov 2014 17:39:07 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/CR+Tech+Toys+111014.jpg

Electronic toys are a favorite gift. But don’t think that children have to just sit glued to a screen. Consumer Reports ShopSmart magazine found four great tech toys that are loaded with creativity and will really engage the young ones on your list.

The $40 Leapfrog Leapband features “pets” that give kids activity challenges. It gets them up and moving, really active and engaged.

Crayola’s Virtual Design Pro kit is also $40. It has a colorful array of crayons, markers and stencils and a book full of car or dress designs. When you scan your drawings into a phone or tablet they animate. Models walk the runway and cars race through an obstacle course.

Another crafty device extrudes a thin stream of plastic that dries almost immediately so teens can turn their drawings into 3-D creations. The $100 3Doodler comes with 10 colors. Extra color packs are $10 each.

The $50 kit from MaKey MaKey is loaded with fun. The wired clips connect to a little circuit board and turn anything that conducts a current — everything from cucumber slices to bananas — into computer keys that play music.


Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.



Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Robot Technology Helps Diagnose, Treat Stroke Patients]]> Fri, 07 Nov 2014 17:02:42 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/robot+skype.jpg Doctors in North Texas say high-tech machines are helping to save lives. At Baylor Irving, a patient describes her experience of getting diagnosed with a stroke using the robotic device. Physicians at Baylor say early detection is also key, and urge anyone experiencing stroke-like symptoms to get to a hospital as soon as possible.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>