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Spectrum: Prioritize Digital Communications, LED Light Therapy

Plus, a new kind of fruit tree is popping up in Europe -- green- and red-colored solar charging stations.

The Total Package

The latest in wearable technology has it all — smarts and beauty. Ringly makes rings with 18-karat matte gold plating and precious and semi-precious stones that sync with an app that helps prioritize incoming digital communications. Available for iOS and Android, the ring vibrates to alert you of texts, calls, calendar alerts or emails, and can also be programmed to notify you of push notifications from social media platforms. Users can customize vibration patterns and alert colors based on which interruptions warrant grabbing the smartphone. Source: Fast Company

Shedding Light on the Winter Blues

Shorter days and darker skies bring depressed moods and reduced productivity for sufferers of seasonal affective disorder. But help could be on the way in the form of a new kind of light therapy called CoeLux from Professor Paolo Di Trapani of Italy’s University of Insubria. A decade in development, the system uses LED lighting along with sophisticated optical tools to reproduce the effects of the sun and its rays. Resembling a virtual skylight or wall-mounted window, the CoeLux offers three settings, emulating natural lighting conditions in different geographic regions.

Green Design Bears Fruit

A new kind of fruit tree is popping up in Europe, but don’t take a bite out of these strawberries. Green and red solar charging stations from Serbia-based Strawberry Energy first appeared in early 2013 in Slavija Square in Belgrade, Serbia. Other models from the company boast the same benefits without the brightly colored paint job. Built-in solar panels capture the sun’s energy, converting it to electrical energy stored in rechargeable batteries. Users plug in to one of many chargers built into the device, and access power for mobile devices in 15-minute intervals. In its first three years, the company amassed 300,000 users, saving enough energy to send a text to every citizen of Europe.  Source: Inhabitat, image via Strawberry Energy

Labs in the Lab

Compared to cats, most would call dogs relatively simple creatures. But Diesel, a yellow Labrador retriever belonging to North Carolina State University assistant computer science professor David Roberts, is revealing that there could be much more to learn. Diesel happily (how else?) sports a technology-laden vest, complete with motors, speakers, a microphone, a camera, Wi-Fi and GPS. Sensors on the vest measure the dog’s heart rate, respiration and muscle tension, while others detect radiation and gases.

But why saddle the dog with so much technology? Roberts and colleague Alper Bozkurt, also an assistant computer science professor at North Carolina State, say the vest could make dogs more useful in search and rescue operations by enabling them to safely move beyond their handler’s line of sight, and help improve dog training practices in general. “Computers can take a lot of the human error out of the process of training and communicating with dogs,” Roberts said. Diesel modeled the vest among the crowd at the White House SmartAmerica conference in June, where many technologies with potential in disaster response were on display. Source: Computerworld

Government Technology Editor Noelle Knell is a contributing editor to Emergency Management magazine.