Smartphone apps

4 Ways Mobile Technology is Improving Your Motorcycle Ride

Motorcyclist using cellphone

(Photo Credit: World Bank Photo Collection)

Whether you’re a casual motorcycle rider or a hardcore biker, your smartphone can make your riding experience even better.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 93,000 people were injured in a motorcycle-related accident in 2012, a 15% increase from 2011.  Texting while driving demonstrates a lack of responsibility, but using a smartphone to enhance the safety of your motorcycle? Smart move.

High-Tech Helmets

Motorcycle helmets are quickly becoming more high-tech.  Recently, Reevu, Skully and Nuviz revealed modern helmets that have GPS, cell phone, rear-view camera and music player capabilities.  The Skully Operating System integrated in the Skully AR-1 connects to an iPhone or Android smartphone via Bluetooth, allowing drivers to send texts and take calls through voice commands—no need to take your eyes off the road. Skully announced that the AR-1 will be released sometime in 2014.  However, if you just can’t wait for the release of the AR-1, BikeBandit carries Bluetooth communications systems and other helmets with advanced technology, including advanced ventilation systems and carbon fiber construction.

Tap2Pass

Current technology enables smartphones to help keep us safe from the moment we start our engines to the moment we’re back home.  It’s now possible to turn a smartphone into an automatic garage door opener.  The company Flash2Pass created the Tap2Pass receiver.  This receiver communicates with a smartphone through the Tap2Pass app.  The system can be installed on up to 7 phones, essentially giving every member of your family with a smartphone his or her own garage door remote.  The four digit PIN offers an extra layer of security in case the smartphone is lost or stolen.  Tap2Pass works with both iPhone and Android smartphones.

Vehicle-to-Pedestrian and Vehicle-to-Motorcycle Safety Technologies

Although still in the testing phase, vehicle-to-pedestrian and vehicle-to-motorcycle technologies will soon become a possibility, thanks to Honda.  With dedicated short-range communications technology, a smartphone can detect nearby pedestrians and motorcycles and alert both parties of a possible collision using auditory and visual warnings.  In other words, the driver’s smartphone communicates with the pedestrian’s smartphone to predict the chance of an accident.  An app specifically designed for V2P technology will be able to determine a pedestrian’s position, direction and speed.  And get this: the app will even tell drivers if a pedestrian is texting, listening to music or on a phone call.

Spot Connect

This handy little device turns your smartphone into a satellite communicator, something that comes in handy when you’ve lost all cell phone connection and are stranded in the middle of nowhere.  Spot Connect assists you in reaching friends, family, service providers, and, of course, emergency personnel. Notable functions include SOS mode, which discloses your GPS location to the GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center, and a Help Mode that sends custom or predefined messages to your chosen contact group.  Spot Connect isn’t just for emergency situations, however.  It also enables you to share your motorcycle adventures with family and friends on Google Maps.  They’ll be able to see your ride progress and know exactly where you’re located.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Kids and Technology: Set an Example While They’re Young

Children and Technology

(Photo Credit: Digital Trends)

As most parents know, your kids are watching you all of the time.  You don’t have to sit down and have a formal conversation with them to teach them things; even kids who seem like they rarely pay attention are observing and learning from your behavior.

As your kids start getting their first smartphones, tablets and laptops, you want them to be responsible. You don’t want them to spend all day in front of a screen, and you want them to be kind to others over the Internet.  One of the best ways to ensure that your kids are responsible with their technology is to be a great role model with your own devices.

With this in mind, the following tips can help parents set an excellent example with their use of technology.

One of the best things parents can do to be good technology role models is to turn their devices off as often as possible—and definitely during family time.  While you might be excited about your new LG Optimus or the latest iPhone and all of the features and apps that can help your busy schedule, if you are on it all of the time, then your children will mimic your actions when they get their own phones.

Moreover, each time we take a quick peek at our texts while aiding our kids with their homework, or each time we interrupt them to say, “I’m sorry, I have to answer this email really quickly,” we’re sending a clear message that we prefer technology over people, claims Dot Complicated.

When your children get their own devices, you will still want them to pay attention to you, so when they are speaking to you, make sure to be fully present with them.  Resist the urge to constantly check emails and texts, and instead give them your full attention.  You also can avoid the distractions by setting some family rules about screen time.  For example, no phones or tablets at the dinner table.  Be sure to follow the rules you establish.

Limit Your Game Time

Yes, you’ve been trying desperately to get past level 199 in Candy Crush so you can crow about it to all of your friends on Facebook.  However, as DigiParenthood notes, keep in mind that your kids are keenly observing how much time you spend playing games on your phone.  Show them the importance of discipline, and that work should come before pleasure by finishing your necessary tasks first.  Finish your chores around the house, help your kids with their homework and walk the dog all before sitting down to play a game.

Many time limit apps out there such as TimeLock, allow parents to designate a certain amount of time their child can use the device.  This is a wonderful tool for you to track how long they spend on the Internet each day, and you can set your own time limits to show your kids that you limit your game time as well.

Be a Good Social Media Citizen

We can talk to our kids about the importance of privacy on social media sites until we are blue in the face, but if our Facebook page is full of posts about personal experiences and situations, our words will probably fall on deaf ears.  Use social media very carefully, and never post anything you wouldn’t want your young children to see—because chances are they will.  Also, be kind and polite while online, even when others are rude; this will help to show your kids the importance of online etiquette.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison