Friday, 12 December 2014

How wearable devices could save your life

Google’s contact lens

Pioneering research projects are developing wearables that offer an accurate and non-invasive way to treat disease, says Jane McCallion

Smartwatches can track your steps and monitor your runs, but there’s more to wearables and health than simply fitness. Wearable devices are also being used to monitor and treat medical conditions in more accurate and less invasive ways than have traditionally been available. And, if predictions bear out, they could eventually lead to treatments for currently incurable diseases.

Samsung Gear Fit

Samsung Gear Fit

Samsung blends the twin worlds of smartwatch and fitness band - but the Gear Fit isn’t brilliant in either role

S amsung’s Gear Fit is the odd one out this month. Part smartwatch and part fitness band, it’s designed to straddle the divide between sports wearables such as the Fitbit and fully fledged smartwatches.

Unlike the more traditional-looking watches here, the Gear Fit has a curved rectangular display – and it’s gorgeous. Measuring 47mm from corner to corner, the crisp, 432 x 128 AMOLED touchscreen drips with rich colours.

Samsung Gear 2

Samsung Gear 2

The first Android Wear smartwatch is basic, but it’s reasonably priced and offers a large battery

It’s tough to tell the Samsung Gear 2 and Gear Live apart at a glance, but don’t be fooled – they’re quite di erent devices. The big difference is in the operating systems they run – the Gear 2 uses Samsung’s Tizen platform rather than Google’s Android Wear, and is restricted to working with only a select group of Samsung smartphones.

The Gear 2 comes in a choice of silver or bronze colourways, and the shapely metal body frames a 1.63in AMOLED touchscreen with a 320 x 320 resolution. It isn’t as bright as the LCD-based screens here, and nowhere near the brightness of the Motorola Moto 360’s gleaming, circular display, but the Samsung’s crisp panel is noticeably more colourful and vibrant. There’s no ambient light sensor, though.

Edit photos using free online tools


You no longer need software to turn your photos into masterpieces. Jane Hoskyn reveals the free web tools that outclass expensive Desktop programs

Photo-editing programs are digital dinosaurs. They' clog up your hard drive, take ages to open and, if you want advanced tools that aren’t incredibly difficult to master, they cost a pretty penny.

Online photo editors have advantages far beyond saving money and space. When you edit online, you’re working on a virtual version of your photo. Ihis means you can make fine-timed edits and add dramatic effects without degrading the original file. You can do whatever you want to your photo without destroying it, and export as many versions as you like.

Web tools also bridge the gap between storing, editing and sharing photos. If all your pictures are stored in Google Drive and shared in Facebook albums, it makes far more sense to edit them online, too. Many of the tools we mention here let you import photos directly (and securely) from your online accounts.

Dodgy recommendations

Dodgy recommendations

Stuart Andrews will be ignoring

There are many things I love about our all-digital, on-demand media age. I’m just old enough to remember when watching a movie at home meant waiting four years for it to be shown on TV, so instant-streaming video services are manna from heaven for a film buff like me.

Having grown up in a town where Woolworths was the only record store, I’m still flabbergasted by the choice available from the likes of iTunes and Amazon, while Spotify never ceases to amaze me. And while I like to support my local bookstore, I do have a Kindle Fire and a Kindle eBook reader and I’m not ashamed to use them. Convenience, price and choice count for a lot.