For the first time in human history we live in a way that makes it possible to say: “The future is here today.” Things that exceed the wildest dreams we had thirty years ago have long since become mundane, familiar and even kind of ‘meh.’ Every waking hour, new and fascinating ideas get turned into reality, but how do you separate out what is truly useful from the rest of the pack?
To help with that, we’ve prepared a list of 10 innovations that can seriously improve your life.
Keep down appliance “trickle charges”
Do you know that all your electronic appliances keep draining power whenever they are plugged in? Coffee pots, toasters, TV sets, you name it – whatever you have connected to the electric grid will add to your bill at the end of the month. How you can avoid it? Invest in smart power strips; they sense when a device is not being used and power it down. All in all, one of these will save you an average of about $100 a year.
Have remote control over your electronics
MModlet is a Wi-Fi outlet that allows you to control your electronic appliances remotely. While it can be used for virtually any device, the most obvious use is to turn on the air conditioning before you come home.
3. Optimize your sleep
Sleep is a much more complex phenomenon than many of us realize. It is divided into light and deep stages, and deep sleep is not supposed to be interrupted. The SleepTracker watch detects the transition between cycles and only wakes you up when you are in a light stage of sleep. That way you wake up refreshed and full of energy.
4. Look younger
For a long time, cosmetic surgery has been the only surefire way to rejuvenate your looks – and an extremely costly, unpleasantly invasive and not always safe way at that. Nowadays, however, you can use more affordable, effective and safe laser treatments, like the one offered by DermMedica clinic.
5. Overcome hearing loss
For ages incremental deafness has been a terrible fate, severely impairing people and robbing them of one of the most important ways of perceiving the world. With Miracle Ear this problem has been greatly alleviated. It is a great improvement over traditional hearing aids and has helped innumerable people reclaim the gift of sound.
6. Reduce the amount of garbage you send to landfill
An excellent device for reducing your household waste is the Food Cycler, which will turn all your organic leftovers into compost with the press of a button. This is an excellent way to reduce the amount of garbage you send to landfill, and you get easy-to-use fertilizer for your garden as a bonus.
7. Use your smartphone as a universal remote
Are you tired of always losing the remote control to your TV? Install a free app called Dijit and turn your smartphone into a universal remote that will always be on hand.
8. Check your groceries
Want to know what’s really in the food you’re thinking of bringing home? The app ThinkDirty gives you all the information you need about any toxic and harmful substances in the product you are about to buy, just by scanning its barcode.
9. Lock your doors digitally
If you don’t trust conventional locks, try Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt – a lock that doubles as an alarm system, that can be unlocked via your smartphone and lets you forget about keys forever!
10. Predict the weather
The aptly named DarkSky is more than your usual weather app – it predicts when it will start raining or snowing down to the minute, shows detailed weather maps and makes sure you always know whether to take your umbrella with you or not.
Technological progress is always fascinating, but the most fascinating aspect of it is the almost imperceptible ways it makes our everyday life easier. Be it a weather app or a biorhythm tracker – these are really the things that make us feel like we are living in the future.
A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done. Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.
Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.
Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.
So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.
Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.
Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.
is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.
Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.
Excel or Numbers
If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.
What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.
I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.
Evernote is free with a premium version available.
Access or Bento
If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.
Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.
You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.
Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper
All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.
I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.
What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.