Insurance premiums fluctuate annually or every 6 months. It boggles the mind to consider what daily fluctuations would do to the consumer’s wallet if wrist monitors determined diet, pulse and heart rate along with other important health factors that vary day by day. Greater health monitoring would naturally put the gadgets in a gray area on privacy. They would be beyond giving doctors deeper access to your data, to giving health payers, the big name insurers like Aetna, Kaiser Foundation and also self-insured employers, open access to data creating detailed risk profiles on insureds and put a lid on cost. Some independent health insurance agencies are excited that wearable tech may help lower premiums for some of their clients.
Tech entrepreneurs in the health space say insurance companies are currently figuring how to best access the data generated by today’s fitness trackers.
“They don’t have the solution,” says Florian Gschwandtner, founder and CEO of the popular running app Runtastic. Gschwandtner held several meetings with U.S. and Austrian company insurers last year, before he understood they weren’t looking to partner him, but wanted advice getting access to fitness data generated by apps like his company. He no longer takes such meetings
Kelly Barnes, insurer consultant, who tracks healthcare for PricewaterhouseCoopers, says regular feedback from wearables would be valuable to health insurance companies. “I’m very confident we’re all going to be on insurance marketplaces in the near future,” she adds.
Tracking “gadgets” already play a role in car insurance for some Americans. Progressive, for instance, offers drivers a small device they can plug it into vehicle instrument panels so the company can monitor their driving over 30 days. Safe drivers are then eligible for a discount.
Barnes argues that insurers could do the same thing with health care, especially since a large portion of today’s $2.6 trillion health care bill is driven by at-risk behavior such as bad-diet choices that lead clients to obesity and diabetes. The concept is simple. The healthier people live, the lower their premiums go.
“I can see health care going that way,” added Barnes. “If you can take this wearable and I can see a constant level of activity and constant parameters on fitness activities, I’ll take points off your premium. I can set rates on a daily basis as opposed to just once a year.”
Individual premiums typically increase annually as older people are deemed more costly to the system. Insurers make these decisions based on aggregate profiles that include gender and age. But wearable devices could define more exacting definitives as sensors pick up details of an insured’s heart rate and stress levels.
The next generations of devices like the Fitbit, Google Glass or Jawbone Up are already preparing to play a bigger role in how individual-and-group health insurance costs are decided, tech developers and experts in the healthcare space have told Forbes, thanks to the growing data they’re generating about our bodies.
Today only one out of every 10 American adults own a fitness tracker, but these devices should grow much more widespread over the next decade alongside an explosion of sensors that can monitor everything from a person’s steps, his breathing to his heart rate, and apps that can sense the onset of chronic illnesses or stress. In the meantime, more employers are opting to monitor data generated by fitness trackers to the extent they can see it on a dashboard, and are holding their insured staff to account with rewards as part of an increasing number of alleged corporate-wellness programs.
Some are even exploring financial punishments for unhealthy behavior monitored by a wearable device. With health insurance costs on the rise, it’s not surprising that Fitbit’s sales to employers are now one of the fastest growing parts of its business.
A variety of technological innovations, such as smartphones and tablets, have proven to help improve the productivity of insurance field employees and property risk engineers. But aside from those gadgets, there is one other recent innovation that has the ability to offer enhanced productivity and, at the same time, give its users hands-free connectivity and access to massive computing power. It will allow that user to easily take down notes, compile photos of and collaborate with a remote specialist in the field. And not to mention that it is one more step further into human integration, portability and miniaturization. The piece of technology I’m talking about is the new Google Glass.
Google Glass has produced a lot of hype, and it’s actually gained mixed reviews from the masses. But still, a lot of industries are exploring the ways of how this gadget can help make jobs easier and more efficient. In the healthcare industry, for example, Google Glass can enable doctors and nurses to gain mobile access to patient information so that they can learn more about their patients’ cases without having to read their charts. And in banking, execs are trying to look at different ways on how this little piece of technology can be used to improve customer transactions like depositing and withdrawing money and completing payments.
That said, one insurance agent I spoke to says it’s high time that insurance companies consider what advantages Google Glass can offer them. And it actually can help in a lot of different ways. Google Glass can minimize the list of items claims adjusters and risk engineers carry to a certain scene, they can be provided with survey guidelines to ensure they don’t leave anything out during surveys, and they can also take photos and videos or take down notes via voice command, enabling them to do perform other tasks with their hands. A video conference can also be done between them and remote specialists, allowing specialists participate in risk surveys and view scenes first hand that could help them easily come to a decision. When this happens, insurers can do away with multiple site visits, enabling them to quickly turn their focus on their risk survey reports.
Apart from aiding in surveys, Google Glass can also help in the submission of claims. Customers will be able to share a first-hand view of a car accident scene, for example, so that claims adjusters can have more to go on than just lengthy, inaccurate interviews. Or customers can show them to claims service representatives that could simultaneously guide them through the whole process to ensure their customers avoid payout loss.
In short, the time it take to process claims settlements will be reduced but, at the same time, customers get to experience improved service. But those are just a few things Google Glass can help them with. There are many other avenues in which this device can be useful. But in order for insurance companies and their customers to reap the benefits of improved transactions stemming from the use of such an innovation, insurers must undergo careful preparation. And to avoid losing customers to more well-equipped competition, they should be thinking of preparing right now.
In the past year, the tech giant Apple was able to sell around 150 million iPhones, but the company would not have achieved such a feat without its suppliers, most of which are located in Asia. The company has had problems with their suppliers, though, as it has been found some years ago that the factories they work with have been hiring under-aged workers. Because of this, they’ve earned a bad reputation with labor rights organizations and are pressured to solve the issue. This year, Apple is happy to report fewer child labor cases.
Latest supply-chain report
Recently, Apple had just finished with their eighth annual supply-chain report. Part of the process is auditing the 451 plants they work with, which is run by the many parts suppliers they’ve hired. Past surveys revealed some rather disturbing news, however, because the company had found out about the recruitment of minors. And we all know that companies, big or small, have corporate social responsibilities they need to adhere to when it comes to labor law. Apple reveals that they found only 23 cases of under-aged works in their latest survey. Although it is disappointing to know that there are children out there slaving away in Apple-affiliated plants, you have to admit that it is a huge improvement from the 74 cases they’ve discovered the year before.
Another issue the tech company is plagued with is the use of materials, such as tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold. These materials are what many call “conflict materials” since much of their supply are regulated by armed groups in the different warzones in Africa – Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. And there have been groups calling the attention of Ale in hopes that the company would do away with the use of such materials. And so this is another concern they look into in their annual survey.
But Apple claims they do not use materials that are procured from third-party providers. “In January 2014, we confirmed that all active, identified tantalum smelters in our supply chain were verified by third-party auditors… we’re pushing our suppliers of tin, tungsten and gold just as hard to use verified sources,” the company said in an article published by Reuters.
No 4 hour work week here
In addition, there is also the issue of compliance to the standard maximum 60-hour workweek. There have been instances in the past where Apple had been criticized for not acting on its supplier factories’ long workweeks when they know that man have already been cited for failing to provide overtime compensation, as well as worker insurances. But as of the recent survey, they have seen a 95% compliance to mandates for the 60-hour workweek. The company said that “workweeks exceeding 60 hours have been a persistent problem for the electronics industry and reducing excessive overtime remains a priority.” They also added, “We limit workweeks to 60 hours, except in unusual circumstances. And all overtime must be absolutely voluntary.
Just like any other plants, grass has its own seeds. Grass seeds are planted in a piece of bare land such as lawn, garden, pasture and reclamation area in order to make it naturally beautiful. In addition, it gives some benefits both to humans and the environment.
However, in order to make any piece of land a real beauty, one should determine the kind of grass that can grow within a particular area. Depending on your location, climate and yard condition, you can find a grass seed that is easy grow and maintain for less effort. Nowadays, it is quite easy to find grass seeds that are perfect either for warm or cold season.
Benefits of Growing Grass
Just like fruit bearing trees and flowering plants, grass has several advantages to humans. There are times when we tend to ignore the grass because of the thinking that it’s not much of help to us. Many people believe that grasses are only clutter and should be removed from the garden or lawn. Little did they know that it performs some roles that can benefit people.
- Beautification – A bare piece of land only becomes attractive when decorated with trees, flowers and grasses. With the help of grass seeds, any idle land can be turned into a nice garden or lawn in just a short time. Combined with proper trimming, preparation and after care, any kind of grass can give a natural beauty.
- Soil Erosion – Just like trees, grasses also help the environment by controlling excessive water from the ground. Grasses have roots and this is the reason why they can help in holding up the soil to prevent it from eroding and from damaging some plants.
Technological Advances for Grass Seeds
So that grass seeds can provide more benefits to people and the environment, there are a few innovations and advancements developed that are now made available.
- Drought resistant – Water may not be present in all households. In some African countries, drought is a common scenario, but this should not limit people from using grass for various purposes – commercial or for the beautification. Given this, there are several types, which can live with less water or even midst drought and these are the Bermuda grass, Buffalo grass, Zoysia and Fescues.
- Fast growing – The process of landscaping a piece of land takes a while. To ease up the burden, use grass seeds that can grow easily. In as fast as 14 days, you can already see a garden with luscious greens and this is because of technology.
- Sturdy breeding – Just like what botanists do with flowers and plants, grasses can also be cultivated. Different kinds of grasses are tested and put together in order to come up with a good breed that is sturdy and multiplies easily. Aside from having a unique grass seed quality, breeding is also done for commercial purposes. In fact, the availability of different grass species is a great advantage for businessmen.
Disease-resistant – Aside from low maintenance, it is also important that grass type chosen is disease-resistant. When the grass can’t be easily attacked by insects and pests, it is considered as one of a kind. In addition to its attractive appearance, the grass should also be free from insects and various diseases that can kill it after sometime.
Anything is possible in this day and age. In the fashion scene, 3D printers are revolutionizing the catwalk. 3D printing brings exciting opportunities for fashion designers and clothing brands. The technology allows clothes-makers to create a piece of clothing by simply typing a code into a printing machine. Clothes can be customized and made to fit a particular body size. This gives everyone the chance to create their own design exactly as pictured. Customers can simply visit their favorite shops, enter the style they want and specify their body measurements so orders could be printed out.
Still in its early stages, materials used for 3D garments are mostly nylon, plastic or metal, and in some cases yarn. Nonetheless, technology is advancing at a rapid pace and materials are getting better every day. At the moment, creations are projected towards the art but it’s only a matter of time before they penetrate the high street too.
Amazing 3D-Printed Clothes that Compliment Your Skin and Body Shape
Who doesn’t want to wear a perfectly tailored piece that flaunts your gorgeous skin and figure? You will no longer need to search for the best dark spot corrector to hide your skin’s blemishes – the design will take care of that. The ability to produce wearable creation using state-of-the-art printing technology is something for the books. The fashion industry is grabbing more attention nowadays as it introduces the latest 3D garments on the runway:
Verlan Dress by Francis Bitonti – This dress was introduced during a three week digital fashion workshop last summer. The aim was to design a method of creating form on the computer that could be used on the body. Architect Francis Bitonti worked with students to create the final design using the MakerBot machines. Intricate patterning and silhouette were combined to produce a garment with geometric effects.
High-Tech Bikini by Continuum – Continuum, a San Francisco based clothing company, collaborated with 3D printing experts Shapeways to create the first ever 3D printed bikini that is ideal for swimwear. This high-tech bikini is made from Nylon 12, a strong, flexible, super thin, and waterproof material.
Voltage by Iris van Herpen – Dutch designer Iris van Herpen created this 3D printed collection called Voltage to showcase a fashion trend that combines fine handwork techniques with digital technology. Her Voltage Haute Couture collection gives us a peak into the future of fashion design. It clearly depicts an artistic expression that knows no boundaries.
3D Printed Gown for Dita Von Teese – New York designer Michael Schmidt and architect Francis Bitonti conceived and engineered this floor-length nylon gown through the process of 3D printing using selective laser sintering (SLS). The laser fuses the powdered nylon into form to create a material that can move like a textile. Schmidt tapped style icon Dita Von Geese to wear this specially created black lacquered dress cinched in at the waist, exaggerated at the shoulders, and embellished with Swarovski Crystals.
High-Tech Fashion in Today’s World
The essence of high-tech fashion in today’s time extends not just from the idea of function but in expressing the individuality of character and detailing the shape of the feminine body. Fashion is an expression of identity combined with emotions and desires. Clothes that flow freely on your skin and complement your body well are just as important in creating the right mood for the wearer.
Managing new leads and providing customer service to existing clients are two of the most time consuming and challenging aspects of being in business. By using the latest advancements in technology, entrepreneurs and seasoned business professionals such as lawyers, insurance agents and accountants can effectively manage both areas.
Apps for iPads and iPhones
Apps that use this type of CRM technology offer several benefits for professionals who are constantly on the go and trying to effectively manage their business. These include:
- Organizes leads
- Sorts and categorizes leads
- Identifies potential leads and prioritize them
- Increases productivity
- Improves customer service
Apps are designed to enhance marketing strategies as well as improve the level of customer service a business provides to their clients.
When it comes to marketing, converting leads into bona fide customers is the key to success. SalesForce uses both CRM technology and cloud computing resources to turn a curious person into a satisfied customer. Apps allow business professionals to respond in real time to possible leads. This shows the potential customer that their time is valuable and the person on the receiving end is willing to take the time to respond quickly.
Marketing apps that track and monitor leads also give the business person the ability to respond while the customers’ interest is at its peak. Keeping them interested entails a fast response and the willingness to provide the information they need as quickly and efficiently as possible. Striking while their questions are fresh in their mind gives them the impression that the business is ready to serve at a moment’s notice, not just when it is convenient for them. Cloud storage devices help to maintain active and ongoing lists of repeat customers. They also record which companies provide the most referrals.
By using resources stored within the cloud, the business can provide customers with information concerning past purchases, discontinued products and a host of other types of information. Apps put an abundance of information in the hands of the user even when they are away from the desk or out of the office.
CRM Technology and Tools
Apps from SalesForce help business professionals monitor where the new leads come from, how many of them are consistently turned into viable transactions and what types of advertising and marketing strategies produce the most leads. They can determine which leads should be a priority and which ones aren’t. With the use of cloud storage programs that save information generated through the mobile apps, data can be retrieved from almost any type of device that has downloaded the needed software.
SalesForce1 Platforms can be used to create personalized apps that will provide the type of tools needed by each company. For companies who must track hundreds of possible leads a day, CRM technology provides apps that will collect the information, sort it, categorize it and distribute the leads to the right person within the company. Apps can be created to undertake almost any task a business professional requires.
Technology has the ability to give each business an advantage. Business owners don’t need an IT degree to enjoy the benefits of using apps and CRM tools. All they have to do is determine what type of tools they need and let the professionals do the rest. SalesForce puts the ability to effectively manage leads, customer service and information distribution in the palm of a person’s hand. With these easy to use apps and tools, a professional can turn their company into a successful, well-managed business.
The new technology that was first created to help teenage drivers become safe and responsible, is now being utilized by car insurance companies and agents to observe their customers’ driving habits. While insurance companies claim using the new “telematic” devices is solely to help drivers save money, keep their cars out of the shop and reduce wear and tear , customers are on the fence as to whether the new technology offers them beneficial advice on their driving habits or a commercialized invasion of privacy.
When the technology first became available, parents loved the idea because it gave them an accurate view of their teenage driver’s habits on the road. The devices showed where they went, if they obeyed the speed limit and whether or not the knew how to brake effectively. Unbeknownst to the new driver, the device basically tracked every move they made, including how often they changed the radio station.
Teenagers who were proven to be excellent drivers would sometimes apply for insurance discounts if they maintained good grades and reported no incidents of accidents or traffic violations. Parents could review the information provided by the digital devices and plan accordingly. In cases where it was obvious the teen needed more experience before setting out on their own, parents could plan on providing them with one on one supervision while driving.
Although parents appreciated and welcomed the knowledge about their childrens’ driving habits, they are not so eager to divulge the information when it pertains to their own usage. New telematic devices record almost every action performed by the driver. GPS tracks their every move, documenting each location and the times when they arrived and left.
Acceleration and braking patterns are checked as well. The benefits of this type of documentation is better fuel efficiency and less wear and tear on brake pads and rotors. Proper use of the brakes helps to prevent excessive pad wear and helps them to last much longer than if a driver is constantly riding them.
The biggest glitch involving the use of the new tracking devices is misuse of the information they provided about the driver. Users worry that their information will be used to raise their insurance rates or influence their ability to get quality car insurance. It was discovered that the National Security Agency was guilty of several incidences of invasion of privacy. It was unclear as to whether telemetric devices were used in each incident, but the practice itself has given rise to the publics’ unwillingness to expose themselves to the risk of losing their privacy.
For those who choose to use the new technology, insurance companies are able to tailor their insurance policies to the exact needs of each of their customers. Those who drive safely, take less risks while on the road and obey traffic laws are more likely to have lower premiums and deductibles than individuals who constantly push the limits of their vehicle and the law.
Although most agree that the devices may be a little excessive in the amount of information they collect, customers are more concerned about how that information will be used in the long run.
So are insurance companies spying on you?
Realtors are beginning to recognize the value of using the newest trends in technology when selling or listing homes on the real estate market. Using technologically advanced tools helps realtors reach a much wider audience as well as improve how well a home is perceived by prospective buyers. At www.charlesbarnes.com future realtors are taught how to use specific sales techniques as well as the newest in technology to enhance a home’s image and gain the advantage by using every resource available to them.
Multiple Listing Services – Real estate agencies can reach a much larger number of buyers by using a Multiple Listing Service. These services allow homes to be placed on their lists so that other companies can show them to their clients. When a home sells, the original listing agency receives a portion of the proceeds of the sale just as the agent who actually sold the property.
Virtual Staging and Digital Enhancements – Virtual staging and the use of digital enhancements can revitalize a vacant property showing many possibilities using a variety of furniture types and decorating styles. Images of the property can be uploaded and changed as often as the realtor chooses depending on the needs and wants of clients interested in viewing the home or property.
Global Marketing – Multiple listing agencies and worldwide capabilities of the internet allow for people from all over the globe to view and virtually tour homes online. Pictures and videos can be taken, digitally enhanced and then sent almost anywhere using a laptop, smart phone or other telecommunications device. This type of split second availability allows individuals to purchase homes in other countries without ever visiting them or taking a physical tour.
Social Networking – Social networking is another viable tool that many realtors use to reach out to large numbers of people at the same time. By posting a picture of a home on their Facebook or Twitter page, individuals from all over the country, and even the world, who have liked their page can view the property. If they are interested, the realtor only has to upload a file and send it to the buyer via a text or email message. This provides them with a first hand view of the property as well as all of the commercial details. Bids can be placed over the phone or in an email allowing for the entire transaction to take place via a virtual connection.
Mobile Technologies – Cell phones and tablets are quick becoming a technological resource many realtors depend on. Easier to use than a laptop, tablets are more convenient when realtors are constantly on the go. With much the same capabilities, tablets allow realtors to access files, create documents and send information through emails, just as if they had used a laptop. Cell phones are also able to perform many of the same tasks that laptops can using mobile apps.
Technology has opened up an entirely new world for realtors who were once limited to selling property to individuals in their own little corner of the world. With the newest technology at their fingertips, they are able to sell homes to almost anyone, no matter where they happen to be.
Industries are always looking for new, more efficient ways to train their workers. Offering the option to take classes gives them an alternative to the conventional classroom training programs most technical schools offer.
Benefits of Online Training
Both companies and employees benefit from online courses. Technical programs offered by companies such Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER).give employees the chance to learn what they need to know while staying on the job. Some of the benefits of online classes include:
- Classes can be taken when it is convenient for the employee
- Students can return to the program if they need to brush up on procedures and techniques
- Allows the student to remain on the job while they are taking the classes
- Students can take classes at home instead of traveling to a technical school
In some of the longer, more extensive classes such as the 40 hour certification course, 32 hours of the training can be received over the internet. The last 8 hours must be taken in the classroom and will cover hands on training techniques that cannot be taught online.
Topics Covered by Online Classes
Online classes concerning hazardous waste deal with several facets of the process. One of the most important topics covered in online classes is the clean up and removal of hazardous waste. Government regulations stipulate that specific methods of clean up must be used depending on the toxicity of the substance that has been spilled. The Title 40 Code of Federal Regulations and sites covered by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 govern how hazardous waste is stored and cleaned up at each site.
Any individual who works with hazardous chemicals or runs the risk of exposure, must take classes to ensure they know how to properly contain and clean up spills or leaks. Once they have successfully completed their technical training, they must take an 8 hour refresher course each year to keep their certification current.
Several types of classes are offered for online certification. They include:
- Emergency Medical Service – able to treat MRSA, anaphylaxis, staph
- Bloodborne Pathogen Class
- HAZMAT Emergency First Responder – Level 1 and 2
- OSHA Respiratory Protection – Level 1 and 2
- Individualized Training for Specific Chemicals – Asbestos, hydrogen sulfide and chemical spills in confined spaces
Classes are designed for different skill levels. Level 1 classes offer basic information the employees can use in an emergency situation. Level 2 classes are an extended version which provides highly detailed procedures and techniques that are used during the clean up process. Individuals who complete Level 1 and receive their certification are encouraged to return to take the Level 2 course when they have a chance.
The refresher course is mandatory and must be each year to review old procedures and receive information on new and improved techniques. Employees must remain certified if they continue to work with hazardous materials. Online technical classes allow companies to remain compliant with federal regulations as well as make sure their employees can protect themselves if a spill occurs on the job.
New French Bakery’s Innovative Approach to Producing Loaf
If ever you’re in Minneapolis, try to stop by New French Bakery, a bread company that offers high quality French, Italian and German goods. “Our breads match the quality of a small corner bakery in Vienna or Berlin,” says General Manager Imme Fernandez. But what makes this bakery a cut above the rest is the fact that they are able to produce 5,000 loaves of bread every couple of hours - thanks to a new technology.
Their facility is filled with high-tech machinery and by using wireless sensors that monitor time and temperature, they have found a way to meet production demands and still turn out quality products. For anyone starting a bakery, you might want to pay these guys a visit to get a glimpse of where the bakery industry is heading.
New French Bakery believes that smart technology can give them an advantage in the food industry. Business grew rapidly, and so they had to come up with a way to keep up with demand. Moreover, they had to submit themselves to accreditation and quality control programs to prove standardization. In their website, they said “we had to come up with a savvy way to meet this rising demand without sacrificing our quality and taste. We knew technology had to be part of the solution. A big part. So our founder Peter Kelsey worked hand-in-hand with the best European manufacturers to customize equipment to perform as extensions of a baker’s hands. Today, our technology is so ingenious and “hand-like” – the bread doesn’t even know the difference. Yet, we still remain true to our Artisan techniques – taking time with the bread and using only all-natural ingredients.”
The company also sought help from FreshLoc Technologies for one of its facility’s more unique features – RFID sensors. These wireless sensors gather information on time and temperature from within the facility and continuously transmit them to a secure system.
Who is Freshloc you might ask?
What this does is tell employees when a certain area in the bakery becomes too warm or too cold. Responsible employees can then make adjustments to remedy room conditions. This is especially important because time and temperature greatly impacts food quality and safety.
Of the network of sensors, Fernandez says “the hardware is easy to install, the software is easy to install, and it’s easy to teach new users,” a big part of why the management chose such technology to use in their facility. And not only are FreshLoc sensors useful in preserving the quality of their baked goods, but they also use during routine cleaning of flour silos and the monitoring of their temporary cold storage spaces.
Follow Me On Twitter!
Missile launch looks like hilarious fail until you see what happens next: When I started to watch this video ... bit.ly/1lBY88Y
Analyst you've never heard of says Apple could be obsolete in two years: A quote from CNBC's recent interview... aol.it/1pOhlqO
Amazon misses estimates in Q2 earnings with a big loss; stock falls after hours: Amazon saw a steeper-than-exp... bit.ly/1nxRepr
Jimmy Fallon and Robin Wright Turn and Face the Music: Jimmy Fallon and Robin Wright boast many talents, incl... on.mash.to/1ry4X12
What's Cool and New at Comic-Con's Preview Night: A Look Inside: Comic-Con's buzzy, newsy movie panels really ... on.mash.to/WJLWgN