Staff picks for the week of Dec. 19, 2016

 

Happy Friday! Here are the most interesting tech stories our team read this week.

An exoskeleton for the elderly (Read by Alexandria H.)

Super suits aren’t just for Batman and Superman; soon they’ll be for your grandparents too.

A company called Superflex is developing a new type of exoskeleton to help seniors walk, sit, and stand. The suit — what they call “powered clothing” – is made of elastic muscle technology that flexes in conjunction with your real muscles. While the concept seems far-fetched, the technology isn’t the hard part. The challenge is marrying the technology with fashion that’s attractive, comfortable, and easy for the elderly to use. If you’re thinking the super suit would be a great gift for grandma or grandpa this holiday season, you’ll have to wait a little longer. The finished product won’t be ready until mid-2018.

AT&T is adding a spam filter for phone calls (Read by Alexandria H.)

Few things are more annoying than picking up a phone call from an unknown number only to hear an automated voice on the other end of the line. And while the national Do Not Call registry is an attempt to curb these unsolicited calls, it often falls short. AT&T has taken matters into its own hands with AT&T Call Protect, a new service that screens for fraudulent calls and either blocks or delivers them with a warning. The spam filter is a much-needed service to protect against phishing and other social engineering attacks, and I’m hopeful other providers will adopt it as well.

2016 in review: The year’s best apps (Read by Camillia S.)

One of my favorite things about December is the end-of-year round-ups of the best movies, shows, music, and now apps. There are roughly 4 million apps available for download in the Apple and Google app stores, but a mere nine made this author’s list. I don’t have any of these installed, but I’m now considering a few. Take a look at the best apps of 2016 — maybe they’ll change your 2017 for the better!

Choosing a child’s first smartphone (Read by Heidi B.)

I’m not a parent, but I know that in the age of mobile technology, choosing a child’s first smartphone is a conundrum many parents face. What’s a mom and dad to choose – Apple or Android? This column delves into the pros and cons of each system’s parental controls and security measures, as well as ways to prevent little Billy from racking up your credit card bill with in-app purchases. There are even some links to helpful articles about “cell phone parenting.” Enjoy and happy decision-making!

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