10 Best Wearable Tech Devices for Back to School

Wearable technology is the next big thing, and tech-savvy college students will want to be in-the-know about these new and just launching consumer devices.  From sleep monitors to fitness trackers to GPS-enabled shoes, there are some truly incredible wearables now available for consumers to purchase.  Here are my top ten picks for back to school:

1) Vigo Energy Gauge

This Bluetooth headset is the perfect companion for all-night study sessions.  Vigo uses an infrared sensor and accelerometer to track patterns in your blinks and movements to learn when you’re the most alert and when you need a break.  The device can even give you gentle nudges to keep you alert when you need to be in the form of a soft pulsing vibration, a discrete LED light, or even your favorite pump-up song!  The Vigo app will also log and track your alertness data and provide you with visualizations and reports.  It’s $79 and ships out this October.

2) Nike Lunar TR1+

These amazing fitness trainers have pressure and motion sensors built in along with Bluetooth accelerometers.  The sensors work with the Nike+ Training app that offers Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced daily or weekly drills and workouts and the Nike+ Running app that tracks your jogging.  You can share your progress and get ranked on the Nike+ website.  What I love most about these trainers is that the sensors detect your weight distribution when you’re doing the exercises and will correct you if you’re doing a position or exercise the wrong way, so they are in essence just like having a robotic personal trainer!  They are $110 and are available in a variety of colors.

3) The Pebble Steel Smart Watch

This great-looking, 5 ATM water resistant watch can hold up to 8 apps at a time, displays texts and notifications from your phone, and will even pay for your latte at Starbucks!  The new and improved version of the Pebble smartwatch can control the music on your phone, track your fitness workout, and display your grocery lists.  You can change the watchface by downloading other designs and choose from thousands of apps in the official Pebble app store.  The Steel watch is $249 and is shipping now.

4) Smarty Ring

This fashionable stainless steel smart ring sports an LED display on the front that delivers notifications from your phone.  Similar to a smart watch, this wearabe enables you to make phone calls, screen your calls, receive text notifications, and control the music and the camera on your phone like a remote.  It’s waterproof, has a 24 hour battery life and is currently available for $175.

5) Lechal GPS Shoes

The Ducere Tech startup has created GPS-enabled “smart shoes” that literally mean “take me there” in Hindi.  These amazing shoes work via Bluetooth that connects to your phone. You just tell the app (for Android or iOS devices) your detisnation and they will vibrate the directions for you.  The best part is that if you like your current sneakers/shoes, you can just buy the insoles!  They range from $100-$150 and are available in red and black.  Perfect for those students who have trouble finding their way back to their dorm!! They won’t ship until the spring semester, but still made this list due to their uniqueness and affordability.

Read the full post 10 Best Wearable Tech Devices for Back to School on OEDB.org.

10 Remarkably Free Digital Tools for Educators and Students

1) Hemingway Editor


This is a free Web-based app that lets you paste in your writing to be analyzed and edited for optimal readability. The app quickly identifies hard to read sentences, passive voice, and overuse of adverbs. It also will instantly grade your work according to level of writing. I pasted in a couple paragraphs from my last article and got a grade 16 but needed to fix 6 hard-to-read sentences. I’ll be using this for all of my writing going forward! They’ve just released a desktop version for $6.99.


2) Coffitivity


I absolutely love the idea of this app, especially being a New Yorker. This creative app gives you the ambient noise of a coffee shop, university campus, or lunch-time conversations on your phone or Mac desktop. The best part? You can still use your music apps at the same time!!! This one is genius.


3) TheBrain


TheBrain combines the best of note taking, file synchronization and mind mapping apps to give you the ultimate digital memory. This app is perfect for anyone who wants to get super organized and have brainstorming tools at their fingertips. There are apps for Windows, Mac, IOS, and Android. The Wall Street Journal describes the app as “Software that thinks like you do”.


4) ZooBurst


ZooBurst is a ditial storytelling tool that lets you easily create your own 3D pop-up books and even interact with them via augmented reality. This is a fantastic app that’s quick and easy to use. Educators that want to teach lectures in a visual way or assign 3D books such as the one pictured above titled “the Battle of Hastings” will get a lot out of this free application


Read the full post 10 Remarkably Free Digital Tools for Educators and Students on OEDB.org.

10 Wearable Tech Gadgets Librarians (and everyone else!) Will Love

Wearable technology combines fashion and function in a way hitherto unheard of.  New and emerging devices are placing powerful computing abilities into the wardrobes of consumers.  The most recognizable of these emerging gadgets is Google Glass, (discussed below).  Here are 9 additional examples of wearable technologies that are truly unique:

1) Replay Social Media Jeans


These hi-tech jeans will update Facebook and Twitter with your current location and mood via a fifth pocket that interfaces with your smartphone.  Due out later this fall, they’ll be available in blue or black with the price range between $200-$250.  Read more here.


2) Novero Bluetooth Necklaces


German company Novero has recently released their Victoria collection, made up of “contemporary Bluetooth accessories in timeless jewelry form”.  These bluetooth necklaces are available for men and women and are geared toward high-end consumers at a price-point of $349 and $899 all the way up to $120,000 for some with precious stones.  Read more here.


3) Ruby Slippers

Click your heels and these GPS-enabled shoes will guide you home via a ring of LED lights on the shoe tip that point your way to your destination.  One shoe will light your way and provide directions while it wirelessly communicates with the other giving you a status bar indicating how close you are to your end point.  Read more here.


See the full post on iLibrarian for more.

15 Cool Ways Libraries Can Use Vine to Create Social Videos

Vine is a new social video application from the folks at Twitter that will let you create and share short and sweet 6-second videos that loop.  This exciting free app is available for both iOS and Android devices.  And libraries have already begun adopting this popular new format.  If you’re wondering what can be accomplished in a 6-second video, here are some ideas for ways libraries can use Vine videos:

  • #1) Highlight New Books

    Use these quick and looping videos to show off your new acquisitions, recent release walls, and other bookshelves.

  • #2) Showcase Library Exhibits

    What’s the best way to draw people into your library to see an exhibit? Show them a quick preview of the treasures they’ll see if they make the trip.

  • #3) Offer Micro Library Tours

    Just finish a renovation? Want to show off your improvements or just your library in general? Create a quick, looped video showing off the highlights of your library.

  • #4) Spotlight Library Events

    What better way to let people know about your fun and educational events than to show them quick video clips from the gatherings.

  • #5) Offer Instruction and Tips

    Not all library instruction can be accomplished in 6 seconds, but some quick tips for how to find resources or access materials can be demonstrated quite neatly in that time frame.

  • #6) Introduce Your Librarians

    Offer and online meet and greet through a Vine video post where you spotlight your helpful library staff.

  • #7) Show Off the Library’s Artists’ Books

    Vine videos are the perfect medium through which libraries with collections of artists’ books can really show them off to their patrons and beyond.

  • #8) Spotlight a Makerspace or Other Unique Space

    If your library has a makerspace, 3D printer, or other unique space or library service to offer, a Vine video is s great way to make it visible to the world.

  • #9) Aggregate Content into “Best of” Videos

    Why not spotlight the “best of ” a journal or publication, an author or actor through a Vine Video.

  • #10) Highlight Your Patrons and Their Work

    If your library shows off student or patron art work, etc. within the library, why not share it with the world as well?

  • more…

    I can think of a number of other great ways that libraries can utilize Vine videos. Has anyone created these types of videos for their libraries? If so, please post links to them and other innovative Vine videos in the comments!!

  • #11) Snaptshots of Professional Library Conferences & Events
  • #12) Quick Book, DVD, and App Reviews
  • #13) Behind-the-Scenes at the Library Vids
  • #14) Breaking News at the Library
  • #15) Mobile App Tips & Tricks



How to Get Started with Vine

Vine is relatively straight-forward to learn since it basically only involves creating short videos so if you’re just getting started you should be up and running very quickly. Here are some great resources with tips, tricks, and recommendations that will have you shooting videos like a pro.



Vine and Libraries

For more on the many different ways that libraries are making use of the Vine application, check out these great resources:

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10 Fun Ways to Feed Your Mind this Summer


1. Learn a new language

Summer is a great time to learn new things, why not study a new language?  There are plenty of free online tools to help you such as Duolingo that will guide you through learning Spanish, English, French, Italian, German, and Portuguese.  Once you’ve got some phrases down, check out a language learning meetup group in your area and test them out such as the French Language Meetup Group where local French language and culture lovers meet up for conversation and fun.  For more online resources for language learning check out 10 Good Sites & Apps for Learning a New Language.


2. Register for a MOOC – Massive Open Online Courses

Through free online courses offered by universities and educational programs you can study anything from the philosophy of the ancients to fashion and pop culture!  Check out this easy to use directory of over 10,000 free online classes here at the OEDb, or see a listing of 375 free MOOCs from great universities from Open Culture.


3. Watch Videos from Recent Conferences

Whatever your field there will be major conferences and events in which the latest and most cutting-edge developments and projects are discussed.  Much of these sessions can be found online either through YouTube or directly on the conference website.  Here are over 650 videos from the SXSW conference – the annual music, film, and interactive conference and festival held in Austin.  And here’s over 1,500 TED Talks, a global set of conferences presenting the most innovative ideas in the research and practice of technology, science, and culture.  


4. Create an Awesome Summer Reading List

The Goodreads application is chock-full of recommended reading lists including both Fiction and Non-Fiction book lists as well as lists for particular genres such as teen and horror, etc. You can also create our own.  You can also check out the Amazon Best Sellers as well as the ALA’s Recommended Reading page which includes links to ALA’s literature award winners and various notable reading lists for all ages.  But some of my favorite reading lists have been spotlighted in ALDirect such as 22 Pandemic Books to Read Before the H7N9 Virus Kills Us All , 20 Books for the End of the World, and Top 10 YA Books that Buffy fans will want to read .


5. Play an Educational Game

Remember Highlights?  The hidden picture game that was strangely addictive and could almost always be found at the dentist’s office?  Well, now it’s online and available as an iPad app along with many other brain-tingling educational games such as Math Ninja, Monster Physics, Civilization Revolution, and more.  Online eduational games are available for all age ranges from kids to adults.  To find some check out 30 of the Best Educational iPad Games, 50 Free Online Educational Games That Are More Fun Than You’d Think, and 50 Great Sites for Serious, Educational Games.


6. Learn how to play an instrument

With all of today’s online resources is easier than ever to take up a musical instrument and learn to play it for free, or nearly free.  There is a surplus of tutorial apps available for both iPhone and Android devices for nearly any instrument. For example if you wanted to learn the violin you could check out the Learn Violin app for iPhone, the Magic Fiddle iPad app, the Violin Lesson Tutor for Android, or FiddlerMan on your desktop.  There’s also a wealth of free YouTube videos offering instruction on the violin and other instruments.


7. Listen to Some Smart Podcasts

Feed your brain some educational podcasts from academics, researchers, and experts that you can listen to on the way to work, school, or at the gym.  Here’s a giant list of University & College Podcasts – Free Educational Podcasts to keep you busy.  And if that’s not enough check out 13 Smart Podcasts That Will Feed Your Hunger for Knowledge and Ideas and the The Top 5 Podcasts for Smart People.


8. Download Free Audiobooks

The leading provider of audiobooks is Audible which offers over 100,000 downloadable audiobooks, but there are also plenty of apps and websites which provide audiobooks for free. More than 3,000 public domain audiobooks and eBooks are available at Books Should Be Free.  There are also several mobile apps available with packages of audiobooks contained within such as the Free Audiobooks app for .99 cents which has nearly 5,000.  Here’s a great list from Open Culture: 525 Free Audio Books: Download Great Books for Free, and an article discussing the best websites for free audiobooks.


9. Install Educational Apps on Your Tablet

Thousands of educational apps such as the Khan Academy library of over 3000 free videos covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and hundreds of skills to practice, Shakespeare in Bits, Star Walk, Monster Anatomy and more.  Check out Apple’s Education Apps section, 48 Free Education Apps Sorted By Grade Level, and the Next Web’s 12 of the best educational apps of 2012.


10. Read Free eBooks

There are so many ways to download free eBooks for your iPad, Android tablet or other mobile device, why ever pay for an eBook?  You can easily search for your local library on OverDrive to see if they are offering free e-Books via their subscription service.  You can also check out this post I wrote in November linking to 5 e-Book Collections with Over 100,000 Free e-Books.  And if that’s not enough, check out: 225 Free eBooks: Download Great Classics for Free and the 20 Best Websites To Download Free EBooks.


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