Photographer captures the eerie reality of our smartphone addiction

While working in a coffee shop one morning in upstate New York, photographer Eric Pickersgill was struck by the image of a family sitting together, but engaging separately with their own devices.

“I didn’t make that picture, but it exists in my mind as an image — a very emotionally charged image,” he wrote in a statement to Mashable.

This moment would go on to inspire Pickersgill’s latest project titled “Removed,” a series that takes the tech out of photos of people engaging with smartphones and tablets.

What’s left are eerie images of couples, families, friends and strangers staring blankly at their empty hands.

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Source: Mashable

Why It’s Hot

Well, this puts some things in perspective. Technology is so ingrained into our lives at this point — and we know it well, but we hardly ever take a step back. This is a great artistic expression of the need to separate ourselves from technology from time to time.



KFC has totally reinvented the chicken bucket

KFC is rolling out a high-tech chicken bucket to celebrate its 60th anniversary in Canada. The “Memories Bucket” is a chicken bucket that doubles as a Bluetooth photo printer, which connects to your phone wirelessly to print pictures. As the bucket states, all you have to do is “Snap. Select. Send. Share.” KFC’s Facebook account indicates the company will be giving “a few” of these special buckets away, so for now it doesn’t look like they will see a wide release. KFC bills it as a way to capture the family memories you make while sharing its chicken.

Why It’s Hot or Not?

Fast-food meets technology gimmicks are all the rage at the moment. Pizza Hut Hong Kong turned a pizza box into a working movie projector for your smartphone. (Both Pizza Hut and KFC are owned by Yum! Brands.) In Germany, KFC introduced the Tray Typers – a Bluetooth keyboard installed into food trays, which sync with customers’ smartphones and tablets. Now you can type without getting your phone greasy! Not sure we need to see pictures of our friends happily eating greasy drumsticks, but the creative merging of technology and packaging is innovative.

Smartphone Case To Charge Your Phone By Harvesting Energy From the Air

Who hasn’t looked down at their cell phone only to notice it’s on low battery or dying. For many, like myself, this is a daily occurrence. Despite this widespread annoyance, it seems battery technology has never been able to reach the modern smartphone’s demands.

Well Nikola Labs are stating that they may have the answer to this issue. The company claims that it can harvest energy from a mobile device’s ambient radio frequency (RF) signals and wirelessly convert that energy into direct-current power. To demonstrate the process, Nikola created a phone case that takes “wasted” energy from your smartphone—like the energy a phone uses while connecting to data and cellular networks—and turns it into power to charge your device.


To be clear, the case won’t save your phone from eventually dying but it may improve your battery life by 30%.

The company will launch its first case, for the iPhone 6, on Kickstarter this summer.

Why It’s Hot

If this case could actually work as the company claims it could, this could be a game changer for many reasons. First, it addresses the obvious issues of constantly dying cell phones but also begs the question, could we harvest unused energy for other uses?

Read more here.


Using smartphones as part of world’s largest telescope

Your smartphone is good for calls, email, tweeting, posting, photographing, referencing and searching. But now your device can be part of the world’s largest telescope.  According to an article in gizmodo, the idea is to create a network of 1 million phones, which would be able to detect cosmic rays.

Cosmic rays are elusive high-energy particles that are constantly bombarding the earth’s atmosphere in events called “air showers.”  But these showers are hard to detect because cosmic rays are so random.  Scientists don’t even know where they come from, although one speculation is they emanate from super novas. Smartphones can help detect them because the same silicon photodiode pixels within the phone that turn visible light into screen images can also detect high-energy particles as they cross the phone.

With an app called CRAYFIS (Cosmic Rays Found in Smartphones), data will be uploaded to the University of California and aggregated with data from all participating smartphones.  U of C will then report on occurrences, geography, and time. The app works only when the phone is charging (so no drain on the battery) and is connected to WiFi.

Why It’s Hot

With science budgets being cut, the ability to network and crowd source technology in pursuit of knowledge is an attractive and viable idea. And an extra incentive here — your name will actually be listed as a contributor if your phone detects a cosmic particle — has particular appeal in our selfie-driven age.

Smartphone Users Devote Time To Handful Of Apps


That people spend most of their (media) time on mobile devices on apps rather than the mobile Web is pretty well known by now. In fact, as of June, apps account for seven of every eight minutes of mobile media consumption, according to a new comScore report on U.S. app usage. The 52% growth in app use in the last year has led to a 24% gain in digital media time spent.

Why It’s Hot

The stat that is really eye-catching: 42% of all app time spent on smartphones occurs on someone’s single most used app. Almost three out of every four minutes spent with apps is devoted to a user’s top four apps. Those figures crystallize just how difficult it is for new apps to gain a foothold on a smartphone owner’s phone screen.

Facebook is the No. 1 app overall, in terms of time spent and audience size. The top apps across major mobile platforms are dominated by a combination of these six brands: Facebook, Google, Apple, Yahoo, Amazon and eBay. They account for nine of the top 10 most used apps, 16 of the top 25, and 24 of the top 50.

Nearly half the time spent in apps falls within three categories: social networking, games and radio. “The strength of these categories highlights that mobile devices are more heavily used for entertainment and communication than their desktop counterparts,” noted the report.

iPhone users spend more time with apps consuming media, with categories like news, radio, photos and social networking ranking high. Android users, by contrast, are more focused on utility apps like search and email as a result of the native presence of Google Search and Gmail.

Mobile advertising is booming. Advertisers are now shifting their dollars from traditional media to apps with high traffic. Google and Facebook are the top winners, accounting for more than two-thirds of the $17.96 billion spent in mobile advertising last year. Source: Mediapost

America Is Talking About Summer Vacations

According to the Adobe Digital Index Travel 2014 Report, Americans will book $61 billion online between Memorial Day and Labor Day, an all-time high, up 15% YoY. The increase in smartphone screen size and data speeds combined with vastly improved mobile travel sites and applications is driving this year’s increase in bookings. Since January 2013 bookings via smartphones are up 121%.


Why It’s Hot

With all those American travelers turning to smartphones, they are also talking about their vacation plans via social media like never before. Now that the summer travel season is in full swing, Adobe Digital Index examined 54 million+ social mentions on blogs, Facebook G+, Reddit, Twitter, DailyMotion, Flickr, Tumblr, VK, Disqus, Metacafe, WordPress, and YouTube, to find out which popular destinations are getting the most buzz. The top beach destination by buzz is San Diego. If social buzz equates to traffic, Yosemite National Park will be crowded this summer. Travelers planning a trip to Europe are talking about London and then Madrid, a close second. Summer is a difficult time to find large audiences via traditional placements. This data clearly shows the huge marketing opportunity within social media audiences this summer.