Good vibrations: this bracelet lets you communicate without words

What if apps didn’t need a display to send you messages? Or what if you could talk to someone across the room without raising your voice? French wearable startup Novitact wants to solve these problems with its Feeltact bracelet, which the company showed off at CES in Las Vegas this week.

Feeltact is a bracelet that includes four buttons to send and respond to information, as well as multiple small cells that are capable of vibrating in a variety of patterns. The bracelet is connected to your phone via Bluetooth LE, and a dedicated app can be used to define what different patterns of vibrations mean.

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Novitact CEO Thibaud Severeni demonstrated the bracelet to me Thursday at CES by using the company’s own mobile app, which is capable of translating pre-determined alerts and text messages into vibration patterns, but the company also wants to release an SDK to let third-party app developers access the Feeltact bracelet. The bracelet is currently available for pre-order, and Severeni said that it may cost as much as €250 (almost $300).

That’s a steep price, but I nonetheless like the idea behind Feeltact. Non-visual mobile communication seems to make a whole lot of sense for wearables, many of which either have very small or no displays at all. Not every piece of information warrants a glance. Tactile feedback may be less distracting, and possibly even more immediate than a message that gets lost among too many notifications on your screen.

Of course, Apple is also exploring this idea with its watch. The company has said that Apple watch users will be able to send subtle vibration pulses to a loved one who is also wearing the watch to let them know that you are thinking of them. Severeni told me that his company is aiming for much more complex interactions through the sense of touch, but it may be hard for the company to compete with big guys like Apple, Samsung and LG. That’s why Novitact is also thinking about licensing its technology to manufacturers of smartwatches and other wearables.

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iOS 101: Take Control of Notifications

The notification system in iOS is useful, but it can get a little overwhelming sometimes. Luckily, there is a way to disable notifications on a per-app basis, so that you can retain notifications for useful things like to-do reminders while cutting down on less-useful ones.

Trackle’s New Trick: Human-Powered Discovery

Trackle, which enables users to set up alerts for a wide variety of topics such as new job postings, flight prices, home listings, local events and more, is building out community search and discovery service for that kind of information.

Work Smarter Using iPhone Push Notifications

iPhone OS 3.0 brings a lot of new features to the table, but I could’ve easily gone on living without all of them, copy and paste included, except for push notifications. Push is the killer feature that elevates the iPhone platform to a whole new level of usability, both as a standalone device, and as a piece of companion hardware to your existing workstation setup.

The iPhone has taken the place of an entire screen in my current home office configuration, freeing up a whole display for more productive use. Here’s a breakdown of the apps that make this possible, and how I use them.

Prowl: Get Any Growl Notifications Via Push On Your iPhone

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Remember when you had to click on an application to make it active, and hit refresh in order to find out if anything new had happened? It’s been a long while now, since most desktop programs can run in the background and notify you when something requires your attention. The iPhone approximates that same functionality via the newly introduced push notification features, though apps aren’t actually running in the background, so special support is required from app developers to enable it.

As far as I’m concerned, push has already been a game-changer. My iPhone is now my dedicated IM client, lets me monitor any and all Blue Jays games no matter where I am, and keeps me on-task with my to-do list. But that’s not all. Thanks to a new app called Prowl ($2.99, iTunes link), my iPhone can keep me abreast of pretty much anything, via my Mac and a useful app many will already be familiar with, Growl. Read More about Prowl: Get Any Growl Notifications Via Push On Your iPhone

Task.fm: SMS and Email Alerts With Natural Language Input

taskfmlogoThere are plenty of great apps out there vying to help the forgetful, from dedicated to-do list and reminder apps like WWD favorite Remember the Milk, to the task and calendar systems in Google Docs (s goog) and MS Office (s msft). New alerts and reminders app task.fm, launching into beta today, aims to be different by providing natural language, semantic text input as a quick way to enter tasks (for example, “dentist appointment at noon tomorrow”). It claims to support alerts sent via email, SMS and phone (through automated text-to-speech technology). Read More about Task.fm: SMS and Email Alerts With Natural Language Input

One Juicer: Managing the App Store Beast

There are many ways to keep on top of app releases. You could, for instance, just visit the app store on your iPhone and sort the lists by release date. You could also try AppSniper, an application designed solely with keeping tabs on iPhone releases and pricing. Or, you could go with a web or RSS-based solution, like AppShopper. Personally, I use a mix of all of the above, but I still feel like there’s something missing.
Read More about One Juicer: Managing the App Store Beast

Can a Green Shop Get Noticed Today?

springstar_logo.gif I’m working my fanny off in a green company called SpringStar. We’re focused on pesticide-free pest management. We’re not a start-up. We’ve been around since 1998, but a year ago we re-energized, changed management, etc. Today we’re using insect communications to lure and trap pests, confuse them so they don’t reproduce, or just to repel them. It’s neat stuff, high-tech chemistry and electronics brought to bear with patentable IP, etc.
Our trouble is: getting heard amid the din of ‘green’ pronouncements about energy deals these days. Read More about Can a Green Shop Get Noticed Today?