Staff picks for the week of Feb. 29, 2016

Staff Picks GeneralGet ready to LEAP into the future with these top technology articles picked by our staff. From useful tips on battery life to 3-D-printed vertebrae, we’re covering it all. Read on for your weekly dose of staff picks.

Tips and myths about extending smartphone battery life (Read by Camillia S.)

For many of us, smartphones are a larger part of our lives than we’d like to admit. We take photos, tweet, email, watch videos, and so forth, and all of this activity leaves our phones dead before we make it to the end of the workday. Thankfully there are ways to lengthen your battery life that don’t involve buying one of those bulky backup battery packs. This article busts myths and provides tips on how to get the most out of your battery. I practice most of the methods, but I didn’t know that closing your apps doesn’t help if your battery is low. If you never go anywhere without your phone charger out of fear of the battery dying, this is definitely worth a read!

MasterCard to use the power of selfies to protect your online shopping (Read by Heidi B.)

Soon your selfie will do a lot more than get you social media likes: It will protect your identity. This summer MasterCard Identity Check will begin using biometric methods, like facial recognition, to better secure online transactions. When shopping online, customers will fill out their credit card information as usual; then they’ll receive a notification on their smartphone asking them to verify their identity with a fingerprint scan or by taking a short selfie video. This extra layer of e-commerce security is just the latest example of how biometrics are being deployed to protect customer data. It certainly sounds like a good idea to me!

Want to clean up India? Turn trash into free Wi-Fi (Read by Alex H.)

Frustrated by the overwhelming amounts of litter and lack of Wi-Fi they experienced at a music festival in India, two entrepreneurs found a simple solution to both—a smart garbage can. Knowing that one of the best ways to get people to do something is to incentivize them, the garbage can was created to reward people with 15 minutes of free Wi-Fi every time they throw something away. This sort of “conditioning” feels a bit Pavlovian to me, but free Wi-Fi for doing something that benefits the environment is definitely a win-win.

Australian surgeon inserts 3-D-printed vertebrae in world-first (Read by Jen P.)

In this world’s-first surgery, Dr. Ralph Mobbs detached a man’s head from his neck and replaced the top two vertebrae with a custom 3-D-printed implant. Even more impressive, the operation was performed through the patient’s mouth. It sounds like something out of an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” or “ER.” (Who remembers that show?) I’m so glad to see technologies being adapted to achieve the seemingly impossible.

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