This has been quite the week for gaming news. Microsoft started it off by announcing the newest generation of Xbox consoles, the Xbox Series X and the Xbox Series S. Sony got in on the action by unveiling the PlayStation 5. But the biggest news came from Facebook. Earlier this summer, Facebook informed us they were discontinuing the Oculus Go, and now they tell us that the Oculus Rift S is also on the chopping block. Is this the end of Facebook’s foray into virtual reality?
The answer to that question as it turns out, is a resounding no. Facebook’s big gaming news was not that they are pulling the Oculus Rift S per se, but rather why they are doing so. They just announced the successor to the Oculus Quest, aptly named the Oculus Quest 2. In the 48 hours or so this information has been made public, the device has gotten some of the best publicity and reviews I have ever seen for a video game console. (Presumably all the online reviewers had been under embargo until the info leaked and then was made official at the Facebook Connect 7 conference). Here are just a few of the article titles: “The New Oculus Quest 2 Is the Best Way to VR–by Far“; “Facebook’s Oculus Quest 2 is outstanding“; “Oculus’s new headset is the first real VR rival for Xbox and PlayStation“; “The Oculus Quest 2 Has Finally Realized VR’s Promise and It’s Only $300“; “The $299 VR headset to rule them all“. You get the idea.
As I’ve said in the past, what with a pandemic going on and most people confined to their homes, this should be VR’s time to shine. That’s yet to happen, but perhaps the Oculus Quest 2 will mark at turning point. At just $300, it is remarkably accessible, and as the winter months approach families may grow tired of the same old board games and Netflix shows. At the very least, the Oculus Quest 2 should give people something to do. As Facebook says in its official video announcement, this is “a great time and a great device to get started on” if you are new to VR. We know the former to be true. We’ll have to wait until October 13 to find out about the latter.
Wearable Thermometers Are Here To Stay
With the days of COVID-19 hopefully numbered, we can start to look back at some of the products and devices people relied during these scary times. It will be interesting to see which items will fade away and which will remain popular even when this is all said and done.
I think the so-called “wearable thermometer” is here to stay. These tiny home medical devices attach to just under your armpit and continuously monitor your body temperature. Unlike a regular thermometer, which provides a snapshot of your temperature and therefore of your health, a wearable thermometer gets a constant reading. That means it can alert you as soon as a fever begins to develop, sensing an immediate deviation from the norm.
In recent years, parents have discovered the use of wearable thermometers, since these simple machines can tell you if your baby sick even when the baby can’t. However, the thermometers are no longer just for babies. People have realized that at a time when health is paramount—both for protecting yourselves and those around you—it is important to know immediately when someone may have contracted a deadly virus. By the time you start to exhibit more obvious symptoms, who knows how many people you may have infected?
Right now, one of the best wearable thermometers out there is the VAVA Smart Baby Thermometer. Although marketed as a baby thermometer, it also clearly states it is meant for “kids and adults.” I expect that in coming years you will see this line more frequently with a devices which was previously intended for newborns. Especially as the designs get better and they become more comfortable to have on throughout the day, the wearable thermometer will become an essential part of public health.
Although the VAVA thermometer does not have an accompanying mobile app like some of its competitors, it is extremely simple to use: the alarm will beep immediately as soon as temperatures start to rise. It has a battery life of 24 hours, so you can monitor temperature for long stretches of time without worrying about charging. And by using medical-grade non-woven adhesives for its silicone patch, you can expect a much more accurate reading than anything you might wear on your wrist or other body part.
Is It Time To Buy A UV Phone Sanitizer?
As parts of the country continue to open up after a year of lockdown, more interpersonal interaction is inevitable. If you are not one of the lucky few to be eligible for a vaccine, then of course you should wear a mask when out in public. But wearing a mask does not 100% protect you (or those around you) from COVID-19, so there are other considerations to keep in mind when planning your reentry into the civilized world.
Consider a UV phone sanitizer. These nifty pieces of technology were popular buys at the beginning of the pandemic, but for most people exposure to others was so limited that it was not a particularly good value unless you were a frontline worker. Now you might expect to see people a little more often, so these useful machines are again something to consider.
There are dozens of UV phone sanitizers available on Amazon, but the belle of the ball is the PhoneSoap 3. In addition to ridding your smartphone of 99.99% of bacteria in mere minutes, it also features a USB-C charger so you can clean and power up your phone simultaneously. (The marketing folks at PhoneSoap seem to want to call their device a “UV-C” as a result, but I don’t think that is going to catch on).
The effectiveness of UV radiation in killing harmful microbes is undisputed; it is the same technology used to clean thousands of medical instruments in hospital settings every day. The only question is: Is sanitizing your smartphone necessary?
Perhaps not. It almost certainly wasn’t when the farthest you ventured out of the house each day was to your mailbox. But now that our collective situation may once again approach something resembling normalcy, it is a good time to remember that your phone is one of the dirtiest things in your entire house. Throughout a typical day your phone is exposed to more germs than even your toilet.
With a light finally visible at the end of the tunnel, wouldn’t it be better to be safe than sorry?
NYT Asks: Do Blue-Light Glasses Work?
Folks, people are wearing blue-light glasses, and the New York Times is on it.
In a hard-hitting exposé in the Style section, the Grey Lady perceptively notes that blue-light glasses have gotten more widespread in the past year, as quarantining has forced people to spend more time in front of their computer screens. The article goes on to interview “experts,” most of whom agree that blue-light glasses, most of which are laughably inexpensive, are nonetheless a waste of money.
Look, I’m not here to tell you that the $10 specs you bought from some random Chinese factory on the internet are actually exactly what you need to relieve eye strain and improve your sleep. I got so-called computer glasses years ago, and I’m under no illusions that they’ve done anything whatsoever for my ocular health.
But that’s kind of the point—what is the Times doing pretending that this is some sort of new trend? For years, people have been telling themselves that this magic eyewear from the internet will absolve them of the guilt that comes from being enslaved to their laptops and smartphones. Everybody knows that spending too much time glued to a screen is bad for them, but just like with the gazillion dollar pharmaceutical industry, they’d prefer throwing money at a problem as opposed to addressing the root issue. Welcome to America.
The most striking thing about the paper of record’s feigned credulity on the topic of blue-light glasses is that the very question was addressed in the Wirecutter, all the way back in 2017. For those keeping score at home, the New York Times purchased the Wirecutter in 2016. I’m not sure what new research needed to be conducted in 2021, when navigating to this helpful URL would have done the trick: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/blog/what-are-computer-glasses-and-do-they-work/
Or if you don’t want to waste time reading regurgitated “news” articles, you could just spend the sawbuck and make the decision for yourself. Go right ahead: there’s nothing stopping you.
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