Thursday, May 22, 2014

From Beyond Library Walls: Emerging Technologies and Apps To Explore

Printing in 3 Dimensions  Assembling an articulated model of a V8 engine.  3D printing, a 
rapidly-evolving emerging technology, was the subject of a presentation at the 2014 Texas Library
Association annual conference.  Photograph by Nick Crowl.  3D Printers in the Library: Toward a 
Editor's Note:  In addition to their myriad responsibilities at the libraries in Denton and Dallas, and at the Houston ARC, TWU Libraries staff members place a high priority on professional development--including training, conference attendance, and self-directed skills advancement.  This report, the first in a planned series on items of interest discovered beyond library walls, is from Yandee Vazquez, Library Assistant with the TWU Houston ARC.  Personally, I have my eye on the Pebble watch. Enjoy.  

This past April I was lucky to attend the annual Texas Library Association conference, and let me tell you, it was quite an experience!

No, it was not a group of dowdy-looking women scheming on the best way to charge you fines.  The conference, located in the lovely city of San Antonio, Texas, showcased some of the most interesting ideas, products, and resources available in the state. Two of the most fascinating, and fast-paced, presentations of the four-day conference looked at newly emerging technologies and apps.

Two particularly fascinating examples of emerging technologies discussed were wearable technologies and 3D printing

The area of wearable technologies encompasses the development and innovation of technology that can be worn on the body. Some, like the Pebble smartwatch or Memi bracelet, serve as notification devices that can be connected to a smartphone, email, Facebook, or other social media account in order to provide discrete, simplified access to those sites.  Others track the body’s feedback during the day to provide more information on health and/or fitness.  Ongoing research includes the development of a pacemaker powered by walking, and e-skin which can be used by robots to touch or as very sensitive touchscreen displays.  Considerable research is being done in this area, and the developments just keep on coming.

This area of emerging technology may be more familiar.  Being able to print objects whenever you need them is one of those things that seemed like it would stay in the realm of science fiction, or at least the distant future.  Current advances in the technology, though, have led to the development of usable printed wrenches, guns, food, clothing--even body parts.  Though there is still a long way to go before items can be printed quickly, cheaply, and efficiently, these developments could be the beginning stages of a revolutionary household and workplace appliance.

Cloudgoo connects files across multiple cloud accounts.
Fitbit and Gain Fitness are fitness tracker apps; Fitbit comes with an activity/sleep tracking bracelet.
Wickr provides military-grade encryption for sent information, giving the sender control over who can read messages and for how long--then deletes the information (including metadata.)
Doctoralia can help you find a doctor or hospital around the world.
Wello and its accompanying hardware, currently available on a limited basis, measures heart rate, blood oxygen content, body temperature, and other bodily functions.
Chorma is a chore-tracker that syncs between devices for easy organization of who does what around the house.
Tile tracks the location of any item attached to the accompanying tag.

These are just some of the amazing things I saw at the TLA conference this year.

Who knows what kind of things they will present in 2015?

~Yandee Vazquez

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

TLA sounds fantastic! What a wonderful opportunity TWU made available to Yandee; thanks for sharing!

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