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This week’s news segment is all about technology. You’ll read about radio frequency identification (RFID)-equipped robot butlers that can be used to help people with disabilities, a new virtual technology device that can give movie goers a total immersion experience and a new study that shows a link between excessive use of technology and a dumbed down state of mind.

  • Xiaomi Launches Blood Pressure Monitor

On Wednesday, Xiaomi launched its first foray into healthcare products, launching a smart blood pressure monitor. The blood pressure cuff and the accompanying phone dock were made in partnership with US-based iHealth Labs. The smartphone dock will go on sale in China exclusively on Xiaomi’s official website for US$32. Xiaomi says the app and dock allow users to track pulse rate and blood pressure, create a real-time measurement chart and make recommendations for improvement. (Tech in Asia)

  • Robot Butlers Used as Service Animals

Service animals are commonly used to help people with disabilities. But what about using a robot butler? Researchers at Georgia Tech have combined RFID tags, long-distance scanners, and a self-propelled robot to develop a method of locating objects in a real-world setting. With this technology, people with disabilities can ask the robot to help find items such as medicine or documents. Researchers say items of interest are fixed with unique RFID tags, and the robot has a long-distance RFID scanner mounted on either shoulder. The robot can then detect an RFID tag even from several feet away with scanners capable of penetrating cupboards to check the contents inside. (Extreme Tech)

  • Facebook’s Oculus Unveils New Virtual Technology Device

Who wants to watch things on 2-D surfaces when the alternative is a total immersion experience? Wanting to offer such experience, developers at Oculus have recently launched a virtual reality device that can transport audiences into the middle of the movie landscape. Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-simulated environment that immerses viewers in 360-degree worlds. It has long been used in video games but is now drawing in Hollywood filmmakers and studios such as Twenty-First Century Fox and Walt Disney Co. The device, called Oculus Rift, is currently sold to developers for $350 per headset.  Brendan Iribe, chief executive of Oculus, believes VR devices could be in the hands of millions of consumers within a couple of years. (VOA News)

  • Study: Too Much Technology May Decrease Brain Matter

It might seem like a no brainer, but scientists say your brain might be in jeopardy if you’re texting, typing or talking all at once. A new study conducted by scientists at the University of Sussex shows that multitasking with multiple technologies may change the structure of the brain and reshape brain activity. Researchers conclude that people who regularly use several media devices simultaneously have a lower density of gray matter in one particular region of the brain compared to those who just use one device. They pointed out that additional studies are necessary to determine if multitasking really does lead to reductions in gray matter but they did note that it is “plausible” that too much technology can literally be damaging your brain. (Guardian Liberty Voice)

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