4 Unforgettable Inventions From 2016

4 Unforgettable Inventions From 2016

This year's historic leaps in technology include: Pokémon​ Go​, the Galaxy Note 7, fingerprint-sensor guns and virtual reality headsets!

Though 2016 has been a rocky year, it's ushered in a lot of new technology that is quickly paving the roadway to new inventions. Tech booms from the past have since assimilated into our daily lives, and the developments taken underway in 2016 are expected to do the same as we inch closer to the new year — some being explosively good while others, not so much.

1. Pokémon Go — 3/5

With about a 100 million downloads with the first month of its debut, Pokémon Go quickly became a sensation all around the globe. It fulfilled the childhood dreams of young adults and fueled the long lasting succession of its brand through the younger generations. Although the game has crossed bounds by crossing virtual reality with actual reality, it has a number of limitations that drain the hype as quickly as the game drains the battery life of your phone. Bugs result in wiped progress and system crashes that have frustrated players who are glued to it over a long period of time, but this craze in itself has lead to car crashes, accidents and other safety hazards. And according to Forbes, there are also "mixed feelings about In-App Purchases in games."

Needless to say, overall, Pokémon Go is a major success, and its release has been met with an enthusiasm unparalleled by other games.

2. Samsung Galaxy Note 7 — Flop

Things took an explosive turn in August with the release of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 which was recalled almost immediately after when several of them caught on fire with a few detonating — all because of the flammable lithium ion batteries (which, fun fact, also caught fire in hover-boards). The U.S. authorities announced a second recall in October, banning all Galaxy Note 7 phones from being taken inside airplanes after another close call with the triggered smartphone that began to emit smoke from within a passenger's laptop bag. Now, it is officially illegal to sell a Galaxy Note 7.

Samsung is hoping to rebuild consumer trust with the Galaxy 8 which may be introduced in 2017.

3. Fingerprint Sensor Guns — Prototype, 4/5

Although this isn't exactly a new concept, it's the first to actually work. A Utah company tried out the idea by manufacturing a fingerprint trigger lock, but this weighed the gun down and other issues soon made the weapon an unpopular pick for most gun owners. Then in comes 19-year old Kai Kloepfer, the first to design a fingerprint reader handgun with the fingerprint sensor built into the grip. After winning a grant from Smart Tech Challenges Foundation in 2014 for his design, Kloepfer has dedicated his time and efforts to perfecting his prototype, Biofire.

“Congratulations,” said Ron Conway, founder of Smart Tech Challenges Foundation, to Kloepfer. “You are going to save America. You are going to save lives. The gun companies won’t tell you, but the tech industry will.”

To support the finalization of the Biofire gun, check out Kai Kloepfer's website to help fund the project!

4. Virtual Reality Headsets — 5/5

March and April of 2016, respectively, marked the release of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive virtual reality (VR) headsets. Both were sold out in a matter of 20 minutes once the first batch was released, and they are still at the top of the holiday gift list this season. There have been very few technical problems found in both VR sets, besides complaints of motion sickness when the sensor is too slow to match human reflexes. Besides that, the headsets have opened the doorway to VR simulator experience in educational training, such as learning how to drive a car or test surgical equipment without endangering others' lives in the process. It also expands the realm of gaming and entertainment to new (almost frightening) bounds, like the option to watch a horror movie with a VR headset, which sounds like a thrilling idea to horror fans but may send others into cardiac arrest. As with every other technology that's come before it, VR headsets raise ethical questions, like:

Could this desensitize people to certain feelings and/or sensations, like violence?

Can it negatively impact health treatments and/or disrupt our perception of reality?

Should anything be done about the people who choose a sedentary life of virtual reality over actual reality?

Despite these reservations, VR headsets, Biofire guns, the Galaxy Note 7, Pokémon Go and an array of other technologies have all made 2016 a year of experimentation.

Who knows what we'll see next year — maybe the whole flying cars concept will finally take off!

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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Does Technology Make Us More Alone?

Technology -- we all love it and we all use it, but how is it affecting us?

In this day and age, it is near impossible to do anything without the use of technology. You can pay your bills, manage your bank accounts and even chat with a customer service representative all with the use of your smartphone.

Is the use of technology starting to take away from our person-to-person interaction? Think about how often you grab your smartphone or tablet and text your friends instead of picking up the phone to call them or, better yet, making plans to hang out in person.

Technology is supposed to make us feel more connected by allowing us to stay in touch with our friends by using social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter and of course, texting. But are our smartphones getting in the way of socializing? Does technology make us feel more alone?

There is a term that is commonly used, "FOMO" –– short for "fear of missing out." Yes, this is a real thing. If for some crazy reason you don't check your Twitter or Facebook news feed every 10 minutes are you really missing out?

The fact that we have become so dependent on knowing exactly what is going on in other people's lives is sad. We should be focusing on our own lives and our own interactions and relationships with people.

Technology is making us more alone because instead of interacting with our friends in person, we are dependent on using our phones or tablets. We start to compare ourselves and our lives to others because of how many likes we get on our Instagram photos.

We are forgetting how to use our basic communication skills because we aren't interacting with each other, anymore. We are too busy with our noses in our phones. Young kids are dependent on a tablet to keep them entertained rather than playing with toys. That is not how I want my children to grow up.

As a society, we will start to become very lonely people if we don't start making changes. We are ruining personal relationships because of the addiction to our smartphones and checking our social media sites every five minutes.

It's time for us to own our mistakes and start to change. Next time you reach for your phone, stop yourself. When you are with your friends, ignore your phone and enjoy the company of your loved ones around you.

Technology is a great thing, but it is also going to be the thing that tears us apart as a society if we don't make changes on how dependent we are on it.

Cover Image Credit: NewsOK

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Why Every Millennial Needs To Unplug Once In A While

Social media is fun until it's not.


I still don't know if I am technically a millennial or a gen-Z. I was born in 1999 which means I was technically alive in the 90s but have no memory before the 2000s. I never lived without the internet but I did live without smart phones, Apple TV and social media. I always had a computer in my home but all of my baby pictures are in a scrapbook, not on an iPhone. It seems like those born within the years of 1996-2001 were at an awkward, forgotten stage where the technology age was right on the cusp of what it is today.

It amazes me how quickly we have all become addicted to our phones. And since I grew up as cell phones evolved, I have been able to watch this progression unfold. I remember when we had flip phones, to blackberry-style phones, to iPod touches to iPhones. I remember going from having my phone in my backpack when I slept, to my bedside table, to in my actual bed with me. We look at our phones first thing in the morning, and right before we fall asleep at night.

We use our phones to communicate with others, and we feel lost without it God forbid we have to actually ask someone else for directions instead of using Siri. We use our phones for information, and feel anxious when we do not have access to unlimited information every minute of every day. And, we use it for fun. YouTube and Instagram have become the main entertainment sources for people my age, it seems.

And yet, the mental health crisis among people my age is becoming a crisis. I would be surprised to meet anyone my age who hasn't battled anxiety or depression at least a little bit during their life time. People can argue what the cause of this epidemic is, but most people agree that spending all of our time on our phones certainly isn't helping at all.

So, people try to unplug. They try to go a day, a week or even a month without using social media at all. They try not to look at their screens before they go to bed, and just read instead. They try to limit the amount of time they spend checking their emails or text messages. And for most, it is almost impossible.

We have so quickly become entirely dependent on these machines to live our day-to-day lives that it has become an addiction. However, being aware of the problem is the first step to actually fixing it. For all the flaws in our generation, we do seem to be critically self-aware of these flaws, and we actively try to fix it.

Of course it is not easy, and the use of social media is only growing. But I do believe that by unplugging as much as we can, we are trying to take care of ourselves in this digital world. So, next time you think about seeing what your friends are up to on Facebook, or next time you're getting ready to post that perfect picture to Instagram, take a pause, put your phone away, and take a breath. You'll probably feel better.

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