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Date: Sunday, 02 Feb 2014 14:00
At the recent 2014 CES Show, Sony debuted a new Blu-ray player, the Sony BDP-S6200 ($180) that based on preliminary feedback is now the player to get. Its main selling feature is a “dual-core” processor that significantly speeds operation.

Like the previously recommended Sony BDP-S5100, the Sony BDP-S6200 features integrated Wi-Fi, supports 3D, and offers a good selection of online content, including Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, Netflix and YouTube, and built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi.

The Sony BDP-S6200 is considered a top Blu-ray performer, featuring startup times that are “MUCH quicker,” according to one early buyer. In terms of video quality, the same reviewer notes he’s been “amazed every time.” Sounds like a clincher to us.

Author: "Michael Tchong" Tags: "Featured, Review, audio, sizzlin, video"
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Date: Wednesday, 15 Jan 2014 06:40
In the world of digital cameras, the digital SLR (DSLR) represents the crème de la crème. But like any technology, the performance bar is rising quickly. Nowhere is that more evident than in the new Nikon D3300 ($650), which offers remarkable performance for a low price.

While the Nikon D3300 offers a minor performance increase over its predecessor, the D3200, it’s the package in toto that makes the D3300 our recommended DSLR. And we’re happy to report that the Nikon D3300 has not disappointed us.

While Ubercool readers know that we in the past have focused primarily on mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera (MILC), after testing the Nikon D3300 we have come to the conclusion that this is one of the finest cameras we have ever had the pleasure of using.

There are many instances when you may need the full feature set of a DSLR, in particular in studio flash applications, and that’s where the D3300 with its compact dimensions and low price shines. By adding a Nikon AS-15 hot shoe adapter, the D3300 can fire any external flash system.

The Nikon D3300 offers these key features:

  • Body – Nikon’s chief focus has been to reduce the size and weight of the D3300. The D3300’s new carbon-fiber body weighs just 655 g (1.4 lb.). When used with the new AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II retractable-barrel kit lens, the combination of camera and lens measures 124 mm wide (4.9 in.), 98 mm high (3.9 in.) and 126 mm (3 in.) deep. The reduction in size is modest, with a decrease of 0.1 inch (3mm) in width and 0.2 inches (5mm) in depth. The result is a camera that feels remarkably light.
  • Lens – A brand-new AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II kit lens features a retractable design that helps make body and lens 30% smaller and 25% lighter than that of the 3200. We were able to take some very nice photographs that showed this lens’ ability to capture great images of excellent color and sharpness.
  • Performance – The Nikon D3300 offers the same 24.2-million pixels as 2012’s D3200 but Nikon removed the sensor’s optical low-pass filter (OLPF) and therefore captures sharper, more detailed images.
  • Sensor – The Nikon D3300’s DX-format CMOS sensor is coupled to an EXPEED 4 image processor, which allows for improved ISO noise reduction and auto white balance, faster burst shooting and movie capture, plus improved battery life. The D3300 can now shoot still images at 5fps, up from 4fps and also offers for full HD (1080p; 1,920 x 1,080 pixel) video capture at a 60fps rate, compared to the 3200’s 24 or 30fps. ISO now goes all the way to 25,600.
  • User experience – Nikon has added a “Guide Mode,” which lets users capture images by simply following directions displayed on the LCD monitor. The Guide Mode works astonishingly well, greatly simplifying the use of the camera. The D3300 is also features special effects modes that can be applied to both still images and movies.

Unfortunately, the Nikon D3300 still forgoes in-camera Wi-Fi, a feature of the pricier Nikon D5300, in favor of an optional WU-1A wireless dongle ($60). But that’s just about the only downside we can find in this otherwise excellent camera.

After trying out the kit lens, the next challenge was finding another lens that might have a little more reach than the 18-55mm. That required a deep dive into Nikon’s treasure trove of optical wonders.

Our research uncovered an outstanding zoom, the 18-140MM F/3.5-5.6G DX, which received a DxO Mark score of 16, plus raves from visitors to Amazon.com, B&H Photo and Nikon. We have summarized our findings in a handy five-page PDF (3.8MB) that highlights the top 15 Nikon lenses for the Nikon D3300. We hope you find it useful.

Nikon Lens ComparisonDownload our Nikon lens comparison for DX DSLR cameras to help you choose from among 15 top-ranked lenses for the Nikon D3300 (PDF; 3.8MB).

Author: "Michael Tchong" Tags: "Featured, News Release, digital cameras,..."
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Date: Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 08:43

CES has become U.S.’ default technology show where marketers from all walks of life preview new technology trends for the coming year. As USA Today put it “It’s becoming increasingly clear that the road to the future of cars passes straight through CES.”

  • Connected Car – Of all the connected car technologies shown, Audi previewed a useful future feature, Intelligent Traffic Management, that was able to tap into the Las Vegas traffic control center, to display what the next traffic light on the road was about to do.
  • Connected Home – Belkin introduced its LED Lighting Starter Set ($129), which At $129, the set comes with two LED Smart Bulbs and the WeMo Link. The package lets you schedule and dim the lights from anywhere using the WeMo app, which uses a Wi-Fi signal to control appliances with your smartphone. Belkin also showed a connected crockpot, that can be controlled from your mobile app, and that’s not a bunch of crock.
  • Curved TVs – This could well turn out to be a fad but both LG and Samsung showed high-definition TVs featuring a curved screen. In some cases, the TV screen bends with the touch of a button, giving users the option to watch programs with a flat or curved display.
  • 4K TVs – Many a vendor claimed that this would be the year that Ultra HD TVs, or 4K TVs, would take off. Read our report on the Sony Reference Standard.
  • Wearables – LG unveiled Lifeband Touch ($180), a smartwatch that connects with Android and iOS devices and can show a variety of information on its OLED display, including time, calories lost, distance traveled and other physical activity data. The company’s other CES wearable was a pair of Heart Rate Monitor earphones that tracks heartbeats by measuring signals from the inner ear.
  • 3D Printers – CES brought new low-cost printers from 3D Systems and MakerBot, the Cube 3 ($1,000) and Replicator Mini ($1,375), respectively. But the coolest 3D printer may well be the ChocaByte ($100), which prints in chocolate.
  • Soundbars – CES brought a number of new soundbars, including the LG SoundPlate LAB540W ($TBD), which includes a built-in Blu-ray player, WiFi, HDMI and a wireless subwoofer, effectively making it a 4.1-channel setup with 320 watts output. A cheaper version, the SoundPlate LAP340 ($400), without Blu-ray player is already available in the U.S.
  • Virtual Reality – At its second CES, Oculus showed a new version of its Oculus Rift featuring a new AMOLED screen with low persistence, and positional tracking, which allows users to lean and move within the game environment by simply moving their head. But what generated the most excitement was a new prototype — known as “Crystal Cove.”
Author: "Michael Tchong" Tags: "Featured, Trend, audio, auto, home, sizz..."
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Date: Sunday, 12 Jan 2014 21:51
The battles fought over display IQ, or image quality, are legend. Plasma claimed better blacks. LCD offered vivid colors. But if ever there was a 4K TV panel that impressed observers at CES 2014, it was the Sony Reference Standard, Sony XBR-X950B.

The Sony XBR-X950B offers deep blacks and vivid colors, boosted by what Sony calls X-tended Dynamic Range technology, which it says leads to “unprecedented brightness” and a “truly brilliant picture quality.” We definitely saw the higher peak white and deeper blacks Sony claims its technology delivers. That red dress in the picture above literally jumped off the screen.

Available this Spring, the 85-inch XBR-85X950B and 65-inch XBR-65X950B 4K Ultra HD TVs feature full-array local dimming (FALD) LED backlighting, Triluminous quantum-dot illumination technology, HDMI 2.0 with 2160p/60 capabilities, with decoding via the HEVC codec. The Sony XBR-X950B series also offers active 3D technology, Wi-Fi, screen mirroring with NFC OneTouch, and comes equipped with MHL 3.0.

Pricing was not announced but is sure to seriously tax your wallet but then again, what price glory?

Author: "Michael Tchong" Tags: "Featured, News Release, sizzlin, video, ..."
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FOMO   New window
Date: Tuesday, 31 Dec 2013 18:13
When a Taiwanese tourist walked off a Melbourne pier while checking Facebook in mid December 2013 it was testament to the power of screen, which so strongly sucks users in they’re oblivious to their surrounding. But it’s also indicative of the power of FOMO, or the Fear Of Missing Out.

Thankfully the woman was fine, but as she was retrieved front the water, she kept a firm grip on her smartphone throughout the entire ordeal.

The fact is social media is addicting, which is largely responsible for the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) syndrome. A new survey conducted by Harris Interactive for MyLife found that 56% of Americans are afraid of missing out on events, news and important status updates if they are away from social networks.

MyLife’s study also reports that 51% of people visit social networks more frequently than they did just two years ago. And 27% of study participants check out social sites as soon as they wake up.

Although 52% of respondents indicate that they have considered taking a “vacation” from one or more social networks in the past year, only 24% say they will likely follow through. FOMO clearly is force to be reckoned with.

Author: "Michael Tchong" Tags: "Featured, Trend, digital lifestyle, mult..."
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Date: Friday, 27 Dec 2013 22:35
When Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos famously showed off a delivery drone prototype on the U.S. television show 60 Minutes, he created a social media uproar. Much of the controversy centered on the unprecedented use of drones for such a mundane task.

Considered by many a well-timed publicity stunt, Bezos’ take on the future of delivery reverberates with the sheer potential of drones, also called UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles).

Consider this remarkable incident. After Twitter user @Jenk1907 posted a video on Vimeo showing an aerial view of Istanbul’s Taksim square, many were shocked by its abrupt ending: The ARDrone helicopter was shot down by Turkish police.

@Jenk1907’s video, posted above, is testament to the growing surveillance power of UAVs, especially considering that his ARDrone was essentially a camera-equipped toy.

While the word “drone” conjures up visions of Reapers and Predators used by the U.S. military its more consumer friendly connotation refers to small quadcopters equipped with cameras or imaging sensors flown by hobbyist largely for fun:

  • ARDrone – When Paris, France-based Parrot showed the first incarnation of the ARDrone at CES in 2010, it created a huge buzz. Here was a quadcopter that could be flown with an iPhone and featured two integrated video cameras to boot. The product went on sale at Brookstone for $300 on September 3, 2010.
  • 3D Robotics – Underscoring the growing popularity of drones, a startup founded by former Wired Editor Chris Anderson was able to raise a $30 million Series B round for its Iris UAV. The Iris features an innovative Pixhawk autopilot system and offers a GoPro-compatible camera mount, making the Iris an ideal platform for professional aerial imaging applications.

But for either Amazon.com or 3D Robotics to succeed with drones will require the assistance of the FAA, which is working on a small UAS (unmanned aircraft system) rule, covering any craft under 55 pounds. Currently, the FAA is expected to release a draft any day now.

As USA Today concluded, Give [programmable quadcopters] a decade and you’ll see them everywhere.

Author: "Michael Tchong" Tags: "Featured, Trend, digital lifestyle, robo..."
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Date: Friday, 27 Dec 2013 07:26
Federal Express, founded in 1973 by Fred Smith, was an overnight-delivery service idea that had garnered a C from a skeptical college professor, while Smith was a grad student at Yale.

Today, FedEx is a $46 billion behemoth, propelled by the forces of the Time Compression Ubertrend. Both FedEx and UPS were caught off-guard this holiday season because they didn’t fully grasps the fundamental forces driving Time Compression.

These market forces result in ever-later deliveries as consumers increasingly wait longer to complete their shopping. Consider the “just in time” philosophy now firmly established in society.

As far back as December 22, 2004, a holiday shopper exclaimed to KNTV, NBC’s San Jose, Calif. television station, that “Shopping three days before Christmas is not late, it’s early!”

That same year, then CEO of Toys R Us, John Eyler, noted that “Christmas shopping has come later every year for the past 20 years. Pretty soon we’ll have a two-day shopping window.”

A scant 10 years later and the two-day shopping window is here. And neither FedEx nor UPS were adequately prepared for the fast shift to online shopping. U.S. retail sales rose 3.5% this holiday season, signaling relatively weak sales, according to MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse.

But Americans stampeded online to buy holiday gifts, increasing pressure on shipping companies. Online shopping gained 10% this year to $43 billion, says comScore.

UPS expected to handle 132 million packages this holiday season, an 8% increase in volume. But proving the effects of Time Compression on holiday shopping, IBM Digital Analytics reported that online sales in the last weekend before Christmas jumped by 37% from the year before.

This means that UPS’ actual volume was somewhere near 134 million, suggesting that about 2 million packages were not staffed for, and probably delivered late.

Author: "Michael Tchong" Tags: "Trend, retail, sizzlin, time compression"
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Wearables   New window
Date: Thursday, 26 Dec 2013 06:56
As the Digital Lifestyle engulfs society, the convergence between fashion and technology is accelerating. And one Digital Lifestyle trend is one trend that’s not going away any time soon is wearable technology.

According to IMS Research wearable technology sales are expected to grow from 96 million devices in 2012 to 210 million devices by 2018, creating a $30 billion market.

ABI Research is even more optimistic, predicting a 2018 market of as many as 485 million wearable devices. Core market segments driving all this wearables growth include healthcare, fitness, infotainment, industrial and military.

Major wearable tech categories for consumers include:

  • Activity trackers – Of all wearable technology devices, 61% are fitness related. Arguably the best-known brand in this emerging segment is Fitbit, whose Fitbit Classic was launched in September 2008. That device, a clip-on, has been largely subsumed by the popularity of bracelet-type trackers, like Fitbit Force, Jawbone UP and Nike FuelBand.
  • Augmented reality – No product category has done more to propel wearables than Google Glass, a product that even at its lofty developer price of $1,500 has garnered a huge amount of publicity. The technical description for Google Glass is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD). Early applications include fitness, real estate, shopping and healthcare.
  • E-wear – Smart clothing, or e-wear, as we like to call it, is exemplified by Sensoria’s Smart Fitness Socks, which is actually a clip-on that is connected to a pair of socks. As more advanced sciences begin to offer the opportunity to interweave technologies within fabrics, expect this segment to take off.
  • Smartwatches – This wearables segment was trailblazed by the Pebble Smartwatch, a project that was auspiciously supported by a $10.3 million Kickstarter project. Pebble’s limelight will not last long now that the Samsung Gear smartwatch has launched, while Apple is also rumored to be entering the marketing soon. One out of five of U.S. consumers, or 20%, are “very interested” or “somewhat interested” in buying some type of smartwatch, reports Harris Interactive.

Of all wearable technology devices, smartwatches from Apple and Google are expected to push the innovation envelope the most. A watch that includes social media updates? We’ll take one!

Author: "Michael Tchong" Tags: "Featured, Trend, sizzlin, watches"
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Date: Sunday, 22 Dec 2013 00:12
From 2001 to 2010, the U.S. witnessed the largest influx of immigrants than at any other time in history. By 2050, the Latino population is expected to make up the majority of the U.S. population, with a 30% share.

The emergence of a Latino majority will have a major impact on American politics, business and society.

The fate of the Republican Party will unfold as the Latino community becomes the majority and comes of age amidst a changing American landscape.

Author: "Michael Tchong" Tags: "Trend, sizzlin"
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Date: Saturday, 21 Dec 2013 17:22
A growing number of Millennials are living at home for reasons other than home-cooked meals and free laundry. In 2012, 36% of young adults 18-21 were living with a parent, which translates into more than one out of every three young adults. That’s the highest rate in four decades.

High unemployment and the cost of college are two explanations for this growing trend, but far from the only reasons for the uptick of young adults living with their parents.

  • Market size21.6 million millennials lived at home with their parents in 2012, up from 18.5 million since 2007.
  • Demographics – Younger millennials, ages 18 to 24, are much more likely than older ones (ages 25 to 31) to be living with their parents, 56% compared to 16%. But since the onset of the 2007-2009 recession, both age groups have seen a rise in this living arrangement. And men are more likely than women to be living with their parents, 40% versus 32%.
  • Employment – Unemployment clearly affects this living arrangement. Unemployed millennials were much more likely than employed ones to be living with their parents, 45% versus 29%. In 2012, 63% of 18- to 31-year-olds had jobs, down from the 70% of their same-aged counterparts who had jobs in 2007.
  • Marriage – Marriage is another contributing factor. Between 2007 and 2012, the number of married 18-31 year olds dropped by 5%, from 30% to 25%. While 47% of those living with their parents are unmarried, only 3% are married. Men are 8% more likely to be living at home than women and overall, 78% of Millennials are happy about living at home.

Michael Rosenfeld, a social demographer at Stanford University and author of The Age of Independence, analyzed Census data back to 1880 and notes that, from a historical perspective, the Boomerang trend is overblown.

Rosenfeld’s research suggests that about 41% of singles ages 20-29 in 2005 were living apart from their parents, compared to 11% in 1950 and 19% in 1880.

Rosenfeld’s book preceded the 2006 movie Failure to Launch, which told the story of a thirtysomething slacker who suspected his parents of setting him up with his dream girl so he would finally leave their home (story image).

Based on the current trend of young adults moving home after college, it’s probably smart for mom and dad to think twice before turning their kid’s bedroom into an exercise room.

Author: "Michael Tchong" Tags: "Featured, Trend, employment, sizzlin"
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Date: Thursday, 19 Dec 2013 21:19
The mobile phone camera has propelled a huge trend around the world, taking pictures of one self in various states of dress or undress. The Oxford University Press paid the ultimate tribute, naming “Selfie” the word of the year.

And who was the poster child of the “selfie?” Repeat after me: Anthony Weiner. This U.S. politician created quite a stir when he was caught sending inappropriate selfies to women in 2011.

Self-portraits are the latest manifestation of a growing culture of narcissism, which got a big shot in the arm from the front-facing camera included in Apple’s iPhone 4. The ability to use the main screen to compose a selfie makes the smartphone the ideal tool for those looking to take a picture of themselves.

Oxford Dictionaries editors report that the use of the word selfie has jumped 17,000% since the same time last year.

That the trend is only accelerating is evident by the fact that even the President of the U.S. has been captured in an official selfie.

Digital cameras are increasingly addressing the trend with LCD screens that be swiveled 180 degrees, like our recommended Sony NEX-5T. Now stop saying that we’re being selfie-ish.


Author: "Michael Tchong" Tags: "Featured, Trend, digital cameras, digita..."
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Date: Thursday, 19 Dec 2013 18:14
You may or may not have met the object of your affection online, but chances are you definitely know someone who has! According to an October 2013 Pew Research study, 38% of U.S. adults who are currently “single and looking” for a partner are using online dating or mobile dating apps as their main method of match making.

But the glass is, unfortunately, still largely empty considering that only 11% of American adults either use online dating sites or mobile dating apps, leaving 89% of the adult U.S. population out of the equation.

Yet the trend continues to grow. New dating sites continue to spring up. Just take a look at the newest cadre of dating sites: Hinge, How About We, Grouper, The Dating Ring and Tinder, which is a mobile only app.

Tinder, is a perfect example of a fast-moving trend in online dating: socially aware mobile apps. The premise is simple. After launching the app and logging in with Facebook, you can browse profiles of other men or women.
No wonder, Tinder has captured the attention of millions of singles.

Each potential match is presented as a card and you can swipe right if someone interests you and left if not. Once both parties express interest, a match is made and a private chat connects the two.

The app is one of the top 25 U.S. social networking apps, generating 1.5 million daily matches with more than 50% of its users logging in multiple times daily.

The success of Tinder has spawned a host of knockoffs, like Twine and Carrot. Gays have their own hook-up app, called Grindr, which some suggest is leading to dating app fatigue.

But online dating doesn’t stop at mobile. If you thought the cyber dating world was just for the mainstream, you’re in for a surprise. From Mullet Passions to Gluten Free Singles, you’ll find a wide range of online matching services that cater to groups you never even knew existed.

The primary online dating trends are:

  • Market size – The U.S. online dating market is estimated to be a $2.1 billion business.
  • Market penetration11% of internet users, representing 9% of all adults, say that they have personally used an online dating site such as Match.com, eHarmony, or OK Cupid.
  • Mobile use – 7% of cellphone users, or 3% of U.S. adults, say they’ve used a dating app on their mobile phone. Flurry reports that the gap between desktop and mobile daters is shrinking quickly. In just one year, mobile app usage soared, going from 3.7 minutes in June 2010 to 8.4 minutes in June 2011, overtaking time spent on online dating websites.
  • Demographics – Online daters tend to skew slightly younger, 22% of 25-34 year olds vs. 17% of 35-44 year olds use online dating.

We’ve only got one question: Just how many online daters have gone on a date with someone who ended up looking nothing like their profile picture?

For more information, download the Pew Online Dating & Relationships report (PDF).

Author: "Michael Tchong" Tags: "Featured, Trend, digital lifestyle, inte..."
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Date: Wednesday, 04 Dec 2013 02:24
If you’re wondering what happened to Canon and Nikon, so do we. In the compact, non-DSLR category, Sony certainly rules, with the Alpha 7 and NEX-5T. And here we have the Sony DSC-RX100 II Digital Camera ($748), which is the most highly regarded pocketable digicam.

Sony’s best pocket camera packs plenty of technology into one small, portable product:

  • Sensor – The DSC-RX100 II boasts a 20.2-megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor backed by a BIONZ Image Processor which offers high sensitivity and low noise by using a back illumination technology. It also offers beautifully defocused backgrounds, with optical zoom capabilities of up to 3.6x.
  • LCD display – The DSC-RX100 II features a 3.0-inch 1.2-million-pixel LCD screen that displays your images clearly, even in direct sunlight.
  • Optics – A 3.6x optical Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 10.4-37.1mm f/1.8-4.9 lens provides a flexible 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 28-100mm.
  • Wireless – You can connect the DSC-RX100 II to your Android smartphone or tablet using the PlayMemories Mobile app, either via wireless or NFC connectivity.
  • Interface – The multi-interface shoe lets you attach accessories, including a viewfinder and a remote control.

Accolades usually reserved for SLR cameras have been showered on the DSC-RX100 II. You don’t need to turn a control ring to know why.

Author: "Michael Tchong" Tags: "Featured, Review, digital cameras, sizzl..."
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Date: Monday, 02 Dec 2013 06:33
There it was: the umpteenth TV commercial featuring a woman doing the housework. You fill in the brand: PAM, Tide, McCormick’s, or even hip Target — all relegate women to that subsidiary role of “happy homemaker.” You would think the Renaissance thinkers in advertising could come up with something more enlightening.

That enlightenment might include reviewing “A Woman’s Nation” — a recent report authored by Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress, whose first paragraph is telling:

“Earlier this year, the Center for American Progress decided to closely examine the consequences of what we thought was a major tipping point in our nation’s social and economic history: the emergence of working women as primary breadwinners for millions of families at the same time that their presence on America’s payrolls grew to comprise fully half the nation’s workforce.”

This whirlwind of change is being propelled by the growing power of women, which traces its roots to the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y. in 1848, but which got a big shot in the arm when Lucy Stone became the first woman to keep her own name after marriage in 1855 (see Timeline at end of story).

That the role of women has changed materially since the days so well-portrayed in such movies as Revolutionary Road is crystal clear. Yet, as The Shriver report duly notes, “What today’s 8-to-19-year-olds are taking in about the role of men and women in the workplace and society through the lens of various media…could affect the life and career choices of our next generation.”

Those career choices are multiplying daily. In India, the navy has now stationed its first female airborne tacticians, a move that places women squarely in combat roles. In the U.S., Kayla Kelly wants to be among the first women to serve on a U.S. Navy submarine.

Hillary ClintonIn her concession speech, U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton used a pointed analogy to describe the ascent of women: “Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you it has about 18 million cracks in it and the light is shining through like never before.”

The rising clout of the female gender is being propelled by an Ubertrend we’ve dubbed the “Woman’s Acceptance’s Factor” — a play on “WAF” — a 90s online phenomenon that’s a subtrend of this female uprising. The Woman’s Acceptance Factor is reshaping society in a number of ways:

  • Education — For the first time, American women passed men in gaining advanced college degrees as well as bachelor’s degrees, part of a trend that is helping redefine who goes off to work and who stays home with the kids. At colleges nationwide, women are walking off with a disproportionate share of honors degrees. That’s due to the fact that women now make up 58% of those enrolled in two- and four-year colleges and are, overall, the majority in graduate schools and professional schools too. Moreover, in two national studies, college men reported they studied less and socialized more than their female classmates. As a result, women now receive 52% of all high school diplomas, 62% of associate’s degrees, 57% of bachelor’s degrees and 50% of doctoral degrees and professional degrees.
  • Workforce — Women, for the first time, make up half (49.9% as of July 2009) of all workers on U.S. payrolls, reports The Shriver Report. This is a major shift from just over a generation ago. In 1969, women made up only a third of the workforce (35.3%), based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
  • Breadwinners — Only one in five families with children (21%) is made up of a traditional male breadwinner and female homemaker, compared to 45% in 1975, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. In 1975, four in 10 mothers with a child under age 6 (40%) worked outside the home, but by 2008, that share had risen to two-thirds (64%), according to an analysis by the Minnesota Population Center. A study, released in 2006, suggests that a full-time stay-at-home mother would earn $134,121 a year if paid for all her work.
  • Work equality — While the typical full-time woman worker brings home 77 cents on the dollar compared to male colleagues, the gender gap has narrowed – it was 59 cents on the dollar in the early 70s. Yet according a 2008 census by Catalyst, only 16% of Fortune 500 officers and 15% of directors were women. Unfortunately, the rising power of women has also fostered a negative side effect. Fully 40% of workplace bullies are now women, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute. And while male bullies intimidate men and women equally, women choose other women as targets more than 70% of the time. Meanwhile, in Hollywood, the ascendance of the likes of Kathryn Bigelow have ruffled a lot of male feathers.
  • Home life — Nearly all U.S. women, or 94%, are satisfied with their lives and ability to balance multiple roles and responsibilities, but only half of married/partnered women, or 51%, are satisfied with their sex lives, while 49% are satisfied with the division of labor at home, according to a Meredith/NBC Universal survey.
  • Politics — When they are all sworn into office in January 2013, New Hampshire became the first state in the U.S. history to send an all-female delegation to Washington.
  • Purchase influence — Boston Consulting Group estimates that women control $4.3 trillion of the $5.9 trillion in U.S. consumer spending, or 73% of household spending. In his book “Re-imagine!” Tom Peters suggests that U.S. women also control about $1.5 trillion more in business outlays. And that influence extends substantially outside of traditional “housekeeping” items, judging from the number of “WAF” online discussion threads. WAF was popularized by the Home Theater Spot, which provided men with a discussion forum for obtaining advice on how to obtain their better half’s approval before, or heaven forbid after, acquiring new gear. Humorously entitled “The Wife Acceptance Factor — Not in my house,” these online discussions provide an unusually intimate glimpse into the changing consumer landscape. The WAF phenomenon cogently illustrates just how much decision-making power women have gained at home.
  • Women only — From beaches in the South of France (top image) to hotels to travel organizations, women-only services are popping up worldwide.

The Woman’s Acceptance’s Factor is spreading globally. NPR reports that in many Asian countries husbands hand their earnings to women who give them a small allowance. The phenomenon even has its own saying: “A woman is a slave before marriage, but a general after.”

Yet the world of TV commercials, and Hollywood movies to a lesser extent, continue to subjugate women as “housekeepers.” Never mind that the new president of Chile is Michelle Bachelet, or that Oprah is media’s most powerful figure, or that female high-school teachers are zeroing in on their young, male targets with a zeal characteristic of men. And what about the parallel “cougar” trend?

The media frenzy accompanying the cougar phenomenon, which is a role reversal of sorts that has older women chasing younger men, has significantly reshaped the opinions of the sexuality of older women in society. Why there’s even a Cougar Convention planned for the fourth quarter of 2010 in Las Vegas.

Heading South “Heading South,” a tale about older single women visiting 1970’s Haiti in a female version of sex tourism, drew big crowds to theaters in 2006, and preceded society’s current fascination with “cougars.”

From the look of things, the Woman’s Acceptance Factor is truly shattering the glass ceiling. Now if only Madison Avenue would revisit this shifting landscape and begin casting men in home-keeping roles, we could all enjoy more pleasurable pursuits.

Woman’s Acceptance Factor Trend Gallery

Below are more phenomena that emanate from the WAF Ubertrend.

Debra LaFaveNo one rose to national prominence faster than Debra LaFave, a Florida school teacher who was convicted of sleeping with a young high school student. A woman acting like a man? A sure sign of the times.

Paris and BritneyIn the 60s the “Rat Pack” ruled Las Vegas. Today’s pack is four young women: Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie. And don’t let outward appearances deceive you, because these women have already created far more havoc than Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and crew ever did.

The consumer electronics industry is finally taking notice of the growing purchasing power of women and their concomitant WAF influence. Makers of electronics gadgets are designing products that appeal more to women, relying on sculpted designs that are less boxy and feature a broader color selection than the “I want to have it in black” male atmosphere that usually rules this marketplace.

Women are infiltrating all kinds of sports formerly reserved for men. Danica Patrick won the Indianapolis 500 “Rookie of the Year” award in 2005, when she burst onto the car racing scene.

Woman’s Acceptance Factor Time Line

Year Phenomenon
1848 First women’s rights convention held in Seneca Falls, NY.
1855 Lucy Stone is first woman to keep her own name after marriage.
1878 Susan B. Anthony amendment to grant women the vote is introduced in Congress.
1900 5.3 million U.S. working women.
1915 40,000 march in New York City suffrage parade, the largest ever in that city.
1917 Jeannette Rankin of Montana is first woman elected to U.S. Congress.
1920 19th Amendment is ratified, guaranteeing American women citizens right to vote.
1941 7 million women take jobs during war, including 2 million “Rosie the Riveters.”
1950 18.4 million U.S. working women.
1955 Daughters of Bilitis, first lesbian organization, founded in San Francisco.
1960 FDA approves birth control pills.
1967 Chicago Women’s Liberation Group organizes — first to use term “liberation.”
1969 California becomes first state to adopt “no fault” divorce law.
1970 Equal Rights Amendment is reintroduced into Congress.
1971 Ms. magazine first appears as an insert in New York magazine.
1973 Billie Jean King beats Bobby Riggs.
1973 In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court establishes a woman’s right to abortion.
1974 Ella Grasso is first governor elected without husband’s incumbency benefit.
1981 Sandra Day O’Connor becomes first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
1985 Wilma Mankiller becomes first woman chief of Cherokee Nation.
1990 Darlene Iskra is first woman to take command of a U.S. Navy ship.
2001 66 million U.S. working women.
2003 The first 3 Minute Dating cruise sets sail from Port Canaveral, FL.
2005 Women-owned businesses are fastest-growing segment of small business sector.
2006 Michelle Bachelet elected president of Chile.
2007 11-year-old girl leads police on a car chase at speeds of up to 100 mph.
2008 Hillary Clinton collects 18 million votes in U.S. presidential race.
2009 A young woman killed, called Neda, becomes the face of Iran’s revolution.
2009 Number of working women reaches 71 million, or 49.9% of total employed.
2010 Kathryn Bigelow becomes first woman to win Oscar for best director in Academy Award’s 82-year history.
2011 American women pass men in obtaining advanced college degrees.
2013 Women make up 20% of Senate and 18% of the House, records for Washington.
Source: January 22, 2013 Social Revolution
Author: "Michael Tchong" Tags: "Trend, sizzlin, ubertrends, waf"
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Unwired   New window
Date: Monday, 02 Dec 2013 06:22
When the Zenith Space Command wireless remote control went into production in 1956, few could have predicted that this revolutionary ultrasonic gadget would be a catalyst for a whole new era of wireless controls and devices, and the impending battleground for the couch potato generation.

Zenith’s ultrasonic technology has been replaced by infrared or radio frequency-controlled remotes that boast color touch-sensitive screens, internet connectivity, system automation and built-in TV guides, turning the humble clicker into an access point for the digital home entertainment center.

Another catalyst was Alliance Manufacturing’s garage door opener. In May 1954, the company decided to produce Genie — the world’s first mass-produced, radio-controlled residential garage door opener.

iPhone iDayA long line is forming in San Francisco. Breaking Dawn movie? Celebrity photo signing? No, it’s “iDay” — the line waiting to buy the first Apple iPhone on June 29, 2007. Some people even camped out while waiting for the popular smartphone to go on sale.

These wireless pioneers laid the foundation for the Unwired Ubertrend, a whirlwind that has gone far beyond serving couch potatoes. Unwired has created a culture that treasures such values as connectedness, freedom, convenience, convergence and most importantly, control (see Control Freak).

Here are the subtrends that Unwired propels:

  • Mobile phones – The mobile phone has become Unwired’s biggest exponent, with some 5.3 billion mobile phone subscribers worldwide. And now that 83% of Americans already own a cellphone and 35% own a smartphone, it’s the smartphone’s turn to revolutionize America’s mobile lifestyle.
  • CrackBerry – For many users, mobile e-mail has the same addictive quality as crack cocaine. In fact, the ubiquitous BlackBerry smartphone, now in use by 70 million corporate and consumer users worldwide, has become colloquially known as the “CrackBerry.”
  • iOS triumvirate – In June 2007, Apple joined the fray with the iPhone, which inundated the mobile phone market like a veritable tsunami. A staggering 145 million iPhones have been sold as of October 2011, plus 65 million iPod Touches and 40 million iPads. Together these three mobile devices constitute a 250-million-unit iOS platform for which 500,000 apps have been created, 140,000 available just for the iPad.
  • Mobile internet – The popularity of smartphones suggests that the mobile internet could one day be larger than the computer-accessed internet. When Mary Meeker was still at Morgan Stanley she predicted that within five years “more users will connect to the Internet over mobile devices than desktop PCs.”
  • Tablets – That forecast seems very reasonable now that the Apple iPad is becoming the wireless channel for such lean-backward media as magazines, newspapers and television. Analyst firm Ticonderoga Securities predicts that Apple will ship 45 million iPads in 2011.

Now that’s a wireless world that would have made Zenith proud.

Author: "Michael Tchong" Tags: "Trend, ubertrends, unwired"
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Date: Monday, 02 Dec 2013 06:11
Here’s a startling statistic: 69% of children aged 2-5 can operate a computer mouse, but only 11% can tie their own shoelaces. A Tampa 16-year-old jumps in front of a truck to save her iPod. Meanwhile, the U.K. government speculates that robots could one day demand citizen’s rights. Welcome to the Digital Lifestyle Ubertrend, the marriage of man and machine.

As technology become more tightly interwoven with the fabric of life, humankind is evolving rapidly with it. The computer is becoming us and we’re becoming the computer. Not convinced? When we get tired we “crash.” We love to multitask. And we tend to forget more, so we need “memory protection.” Those are three core traits of microprocessors, or the brains of computers.

Slim attaché cases have disappeared only to be replaced by carrying cases with wheels and retractable handles, better suited for that 10 extra pounds of digital gear you now carry. Feet sizes have also increased over the past 20 years to accommodate all that extra weight. In the past 20 years, the foot of the average woman has grown a full shoe size to an 8 or 9, up from a 7 or 8, The Wall Street Journal reported in July 2004.

Big Bang TheoryOne of the most popular comedy shows on television is CBS’ The Big Bang Theory — a story about four geeks and their digital lifestyle interactions that suggests that geeks are not only winning but are transforming the media landscape in the process. CBS scored another first: a TV show based on a Twitter feed, $#*! My Dad Says.

Automobiles are chosen based on their compatibility with Apple’s iPod or iPhone. Facebook updates can now be posted via GM’s OnStar system. iPads power the Equus owner’s manuals at Hyundai.

Almost a third of U.K. smartphone users think it would be worse to lose their handset than their wallet. A study of those aged 17 to 23 in 10 countries, including the UK, had participants spend 24 hours banned from using phones, social media, the internet and TV. They could use landline phones or read books.

One in five reported feelings of withdrawal resembling addiction while 11% said they were confused or felt like a failure.

Cadillac XTS and iPadNew Cadillac models, like the XTS pictured here, feature seamless dashboard and iPad integration, proving once again that the digital lifestyle is imbuing all aspects of the real world.”

More than 100 million people worldwide have donned avatars, or “digital masquerades,” to play in remarkable virtual replicas of our real worlds, such as Rexon’s MapleStory or Second Life.

Human dialog is being replaced by terminology infused by technology, from multitasking to crashing to googling to photoshoping to blirting (flirting by BlackBerry) to texting. Other activities, such as “pretexting,” depend on technology.

For many, e-mail enslavement resembles that of a cocaine addiction. In fact, the ubiquitous BlackBerry, now used by some 8 million consumers, is pointedly known as the “CrackBerry.” The result of all this digital interaction is that human relationships are being affected in ever so subtle ways.

The New York Times reported in August 2006 that “as the number of home wireless networks grows, laptops — along with Treos, BlackBerries and other messaging devices — are migrating into the bedroom and onto the bed.” In other words, technology’s most important tools are inserting themselves like a digital enfant terrible into the relationships of life.

In Jan. 2007, Kelton Research reported that 68% of Americans spend more time with their computer than with their spouse. That is easy when the computer is everywhere, it’s in the refrigerator, in your BBQ in your phone.

The BBC reported in 2006 that robots could one day “demand workers rights.” Echoing that sentiment, David Levy, an artificial intelligence researcher at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, speculated one year later that people would be marrying robots by 2050 and that Massachusetts would be the first state to allow it.

Pew found in August 2010, that four out of five adolescents slept with their mobile phones “in or near their bed.”

Robot love, anybody?

Author: "Michael Tchong" Tags: "Trend, digital lifestyle, ubertrends"
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Date: Monday, 02 Dec 2013 05:52
They stand in long lines eager to gain entry into one of the city’s celebrated nightclubs. Once they slip by over-sized, 350-pound doormen, they line up again at the bar, where they usually wait three-deep for a chance to scream orders at bartenders who make hundreds of $10 cocktails hourly. Welcome to Tao Las Vegas. Welcome to Generation X-tasy.

It could have been any city. Just fill in your favorite DJ-hosted affair. Clubbing has replaced traditional watering holes. In Chicago, the number of taverns plummeted from 7,000 in 1947 to just 1,321 today, as nightclubs redefined the entertainment experience.

And how could they possibly compete with Tao? Its 60,000-square-foot interior features a 20-foot golden Buddha, and enough stylish, scantily clad people gyrating on the dance floor to provide copious eye candy for any of the 600,000 annual diners who spend $70 on average per meal.

supperclubIn September 2005, San Francisco became first U.S. outpost of Amsterdam’s supperclub, featuring performers like “Fauxnique,” who add spice to the dining experience. (Photo courtesy: Colin Vincent for supperclub S.F.)

Immersive experiences have become de rigueur for attracting thrill-seeking patrons. In fact, Tao Las Vegas at the Venetian Hotel, is the highest grossing independent restaurant in the U.S., according to Restaurants & Institutions magazine, which has been ranking the top 100 for 24 years. In 2006, its first full year of operation, Tao netted $55.2 million, or $16 million more than its closest competitor, New York’s Tavern on the Green.

The experiential restaurant trend began in Amsterdam, where in 1990 supperclub began combining dining with exotic theatrical performances — the serving staff are accomplished artists — plus art, all enjoyed from the comfort of your own bed, ushering in two dining trends that would spread globally.

Generation X-tasy can be traced as far back as the bible, but a modern-day milestone was Nevada’s 1931 legalization of gambling. Gambling revenues boosted Las Vegas’ status as America’s Mecca of adult entertainment — reinforced by its telling tagline, “What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas,” a motto that has become a pop culture icon of sorts.

If Las Vegas is the capital of Generation X-tasy then Steve Wynn is surely its chairman. When Wynn opened the Mirage in 1987, he single-handedly put Las Vegas on its current course of palatial excess. The crown title now belongs to The Venetian, which with its 3,025-room The Palazzo wing is the world’s largest hotel with a jaw-dropping 7,074 rooms.

“Moderation is a fatal thing,” Oscar Wilde wrote in an 1893 play. “Nothing succeeds like excess.” Were Wilde alive today, he would find plenty of evidence to support his prescient observation, and would be highly amused by that annual American ritual of Spring Break.

Each year, Cancun welcomes more than 100,000 visitors for Spring Break, which has transformed Cancun’s nightlife. In many U.S. seaside communities, Spring Break has actually become a legal specialty as lawyers help bail out the many arrested “party animals.” That party culture even spilled over to the apparel business in 2005 when Ted Baker introduced the “Party Animal Tuxedo,” a spill-resistant tux for dressy imbibers.

Party Animal tuxThe term “party animal” was elevated to a new cultural stature when apparel maker Ted Baker in 2005 launched the “Party Animal Tuxedo” — a spill-resistant tux lined with Teflon.

But Generation X-tasy rules far more than wanton excess. The cruise-line business has also experienced a sea-change shift, so to speak. Today, it’s not merely enough to provide passengers with comfortable sleeping quarters. Ships have become floating cities, replete with such eclectic attractions as a football-field-size version of Central Park, containing a town square with dining and entertainment, occupying five stories of the 16-deck “Project Genesis” ship, which is set to launch in 2010.

Oasis of the SeasRoyal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas will feature an amphitheater, called the AquaTheater, and a rock-climbing wall, able to provide outdoor entertainment to some of the ship’s 6,300 passengers, when it sets sail on December 12.

While the entertainment, travel and hospitality markets are most influenced by Generation X-tasy, the real estate market is also showing signs of adopting the trend. Joining such global gambling playgrounds as Las Vegas and Macau, the middle east is redefining itself through Dubai and up-and-coming Abu Dhabi.

Dubai’s man-made Palm Island, an island resembling a palm, quickly sold out, as home buyers fan around the globe in search for new experiences. Palm Island was able to draw such high-profile home buyers as David Beckham and Simon Cowell, who are part of a British contingent that makes up about 25% of the island’s 120,000 residents.

Palm IslandThe Generation X-tasy Ubertrend is encouraging consumers to venture further away from home in search of new experiences, which explains why groundbreaking projects like Dubai’s Palm Island quickly sold out, mostly to foreigners.

Palm Island is but one real-estate project that has its eyes set on luxury buyers. Generation X-tasy is chiefly responsible for propelling a global luxury market that reached $270 billion in 2008, according to Bain & Co., and is spurring a “price is no object” trend that has led to $2 million automobiles like the Bugatti Veyron or $62,000 lipstick from Guerlain.

The luxury set likes to stay in opulent quarters and it has found a ready supply of hoteliers who cater to them. The Ritz-Carlton Moscow opened its doors in July 2007 featuring the three-Michelin-star Jeroboam restaurant, which boasts a private wine room offering a $68,000 bottle of ’61 Grand Cru. A mere $600 gets you a “nightlife butler,” who helps guests avoid velvet ropes while exploring Moscow’s electric nightclub scene.

The overdoing it trend has also led to a peculiar new phenomenon: eating contests. Who could have ever imagined that someone might be able to consume 66 hot dogs, or more than 20,000 calories, in 12 minutes flat? Nathan’s International Hot Dog Eating Contest, which draws participants from all over the world who vie for its gluttony title, is perhaps one of the best barometers for societal excess.

Experiential can also be harrowing, like when it arrives in the form of “Parkour” — an acrobatic sport that originated in the streets of Paris and that was featured in Madonna’s “Jump” music video. Participants run and vault through an urban jungle equipped with nothing more than a pair of running shoes, bouncing off walls, jumping over roofs and using any human-built obstacle as part of their parcours (circuit).

ParkourParkour is an urban sport designed for Generation X-tasy: it involves racing through the urban landscape and using any obstacle as a springboard.

Dangerous sports, and we won’t even delve into the extreme fighting trend, are expressive elements of the Generation X-tasy Ubertrend. From the startling edifices of Dubai to the cavernous castles of Las Vegas to the “Fantasy Island” flavor of today’s theme parties, Generation X-tasy is driven by a need to stand out.

And the need to stand out gets greater with each introduction of something even more remarkable, something more extraordinary. It’s a trend that’s best illustrated every time someone sighs, with classic signs of ennui, “been there, done that.”

Author: "Michael Tchong" Tags: "Trend, generation x-tasy, sizzlin, ubert..."
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Date: Monday, 02 Dec 2013 04:29
In his groundbreaking 1956 book “The Stress of Life,” Hungarian professor Hans Selye, then living in Montreal, introduces society to the concept of “stress” — the first notable by-product of faster living. Appearing just eight years after the introduction of the McDonald’s and four years after the world’s first passenger jet flight, stress began its inexorable lifestyle ascent.

Today stress is pervasive. Seven out of 10 U.S. adults say they experience stress daily, according to the ADAA’s 2007 Stress & Anxiety Disorders Survey. More telling, 51% of teenagers now say they feel stressed out either all the time or sometimes, according to a 2004 MRI TeenMark survey.

But stress is but one modern phenomenon. Another trend influencing today’s lifestyle is a longer lifespan. An average person now lives two full generations longer than just 100 years ago, which will cause the 65+ U.S. population to more than double, reaching 82 million by 2050.

The trend has lead to the growing realization that 60 is the new 40, a trend that has garnered its own label: middlessence or troisième age (third age) in France.

With middle age redefined, people have to take much better care of themselves — the chief driving force behind the Fountain of Youth Ubertrend. This significant force is reshaping the way consumers around the globe choose to unwind, remain healthy and stay in shape, lifting the fortunes of the health and fitness and rejuvenation markets.

While the western world’s 450 million Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, are the primary drivers of the Fountain of Youth Ubertrend, their offspring will only reinforce this phenomenon, given that any child born around the millennium will live to be well over 100 years old.

This also explains why our youth- and celebrity-obsessed culture has helped shape a beauty and rejuvenation industry estimated to be a $128 billion in the U.S. alone. Here’s a capsule overview of all subtrends propelled by the Fountain of Youth:

Anti-aging Medicine
The anti-aging industry is currently estimated at $79 billion worldwide, according to the American Academy of Anti-aging Medicine (A4M).

A4M has reportedly certified more than 1,500 doctors in anti-aging medicine since 1996. And while no clinical evidence exists to support this avant-garde dabbling in non-FDA approved medicine, early patient feedback points to startling results.

“Age management” treatments include megadoses of supplements, such as DHEA, glucosamine, Omega3 and anti-oxidant vitamins C and E, bolstered by human growth hormone (HGH), plus a dose of testosterone to increase libido and energy.

Genotropin MiniQuickHuman growth hormone (HGH) therapy is an essential part of age-management techniques and is typically administered via easy-to-use syringes, which were originally designed for children, like Genotropin’s MiniQuick.

A placebo-controlled, randomized study of people 65 and older in 2003 found that growth hormones increased lean body mass and decreased fat mass, however some study subjects also experienced frequent side effects including diabetes and glucose intolerance.

While most HGH prescriptions are written for children, 74% in 2004 went to people ages 20 and older. Sales of HGH in 2004 totaled $622 million for legitimate and non-legitimate uses. Pfizer’s Genotropin was one of the HGH drugs reportedly used by baseball player Barry Bonds, who morphed from a skinny Pittsburgh player into a muscular San Francisco Giant, and who suddenly, at age 37, hit a record-setting 73 home runs in 2001.

Body Shaping (Minimally Invasive)
Non- or minimally invasive treatments, which require little or no downtime, so-called “lunchtime procedures,” are obviously strongly preferred by consumers and are rapidly gaining in popularity. Lasers and other devices that claim to “firm and smooth” aging skin are among the fastest-growing cosmetic procedures.

Some doctors who have used the equipment wonder about its effectiveness and criticize aggressive promotions by manufacturers, laser centers and medical spas. The UltraShape Contour 1, pictured at top, from Israel-based UltraShape, uses ultrasound technology to destroy fat cells. The Contour 1 is being used in Europe for “lunch-hour” procedures ($1,500-$2,000) and awaits FDA approval in the U.S.

Nevertheless, revenues for body-shaping treatments were estimated to be $4.2 billion worldwide in 2005, the last year for which data is available, and are expected to rise to $7.5 billion in 2010, according to Medical Insight, an Aliso Viejo, Calif. research firm.

Cosmetic Dentistry
Aging boomers and reality television shows that make over a person’s appearance have lead to double-digit revenue growth among some dentists performing cosmetic dentistry. In fact, elective dental procedures, which typically account for 20% of a dentist’s practice, are growing fast, particularly among women who account for nearly three-fourths of these procedures.

An American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) survey found a 300% increase in tooth-whitening treatments in the past five years. The media-propelled trend has become a $2.75 billion industry, according to AACD, equal to about 4% of the $70-billion-a-year U.S. dental industry.

Facial Rejuvenation (Minimally Invasive)
A recent article in The Archives of Dermatology concludes that three anti-aging treatments are clinically proven effective: the topical application of retinol, carbon-dioxide laser resurfacing and injection of hyaluronic acid, a moisture-retaining acid that occurs naturally in the skin.

Connective tissue cells, called “Fibroblasts,” secrete a complex group of polysaccharides and proteins that create collagen, which gives skin its shape and elasticity while supporting blood vessels that permeate it. Collagen tissue is maintained by a mechanical tension with these skin cells.

While skin naturally deteriorates as it ages, it’s sunlight exposure that inhibits the ability of fibroblasts to produce collagen. That explains why hands, face, neck and the upper chest area suffer more than unexposed skin, and also why light-pigmented people wrinkle more readily than others.

First synthesized in 1955, Accutane was approved by Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in September 1982 and became a best-seller for its maker Roche, who sells more than $300 million annually of the retinoid. It also has become a big headache for Roche as Accutane also harbors dangerous side-effects, particularly for pregnant women.

In cosmetics, retinoid forms of vitamin A are used as anti-aging chemicals, because once absorbed by the skin, retinoids help increase skin turnover, resulting in an increase in collagen and providing a more youthful appearance.

Demand for anti-aging injectables is also booming. In December 2003, the FDA approved the use of Restylane for smoothing wrinkles and enhancing lips, which resulted in a whole new rejuvenation category, dubbed “facial fillers.”

RestylaneMedicis Pharmaceutical’s Restylane and Perlane are widely considered leaders in the facial filler market. Allergan, best known for its Botox anti-wrinkle serum, received FDA approval for facial filler Juvéderm in June 2006, and is quickly gaining ground.

As doctors and patients become more familiar with the art of filling, facial “remodeling” is destined to become a major market force. The U.S. facial filler market is already worth about $250 million a year, estimates San Mateo, Calif.-based BioForm, triple the figure of just four years ago.

Restylane, manufactured by Medicis Pharmaceutical, is a gel made of an organic material that eventually breaks down, in this instance hyaluronic acid found in roosters’ combs.

New to the market is Allergan’s Juvéderm, which competes with Radiesse, a cosmetic treatment made by BioForm Medical, and market leader Restylane.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reports that the number of minimally-invasive cosmetic procedures rose by 9% in 2007, to nearly 10 million procedures, with a big jump in demand for hyaluronic acid fillers, including Restylane, Hylaform and Juvederm.

The top five minimally-invasive procedures were Botox (4.6 million, up 13% from 2006), hyaluronic acid fillers (1.1 million, up 35%), chemical peel (1 million, down 4%), laser hair removal (906,000, up 2%) and microdermabrasion (897,000, up 10%).

The popularity of Botox, an injectable muscle relaxant that smoothes foreheads and crows feet, has resulted in $1.4 billion in sales for maker Allergan in 2008, according to the company.

BotoxBotox, one of the most poisonous naturally occurring neurotoxins in the world, reportedly generated $1.4 billion in worldwide sales for drug maker Allergan in 2008.

When the Food and Drug Administration approved Botox for cosmetic use in 2002, it helped spark a cultural phenomenon that included Botox parties, Botox gift cards and, of course, Botox humor.

Pharmaceuticals
The quest to reinvigorate the body and spirit has gone beyond meditation and massage. Wonder drugs are helping many stave off destiny. Heart disease is now better managed with statins, anti-cholesterol drugs, a $25 billion global market.

Research shows that adults who multitask regularly have more memory complaints than their older parents, according to psychologist Denise Park at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At least 12 biotech companies are working on a drug to combat this trend.

At the biotech forefront is Irvine, Calif.-based Cortex Pharmaceuticals, whose Ampakine CX717 clinical trials have drawn widespread media attention.

CortexIrvine, Calif.-based Cortex Pharmaceuticals is testing Ampakine CX717, a drug that reportedly can improve memory after just 12 weeks of one capsule daily.

Another fascinating phenomenon is caloric restriction. Research shows that if a mouse’s daily caloric intake is reduced by 30%, it will live at least 30% longer than its normal two-year life span. Apparently, a stressed body produces protective substances that extend life.

Two Cambridge, Mass.-based biotechs are working on drugs that mimic the beneficial aspects of reduced caloric intake, Sirtris Pharmaceuticals and Elixir Pharmaceuticals. Just four years after being founded, biotech start-up Sirtris was acquired by GlaxoSmithKline for $720 million in April 2008.

Plastic Surgery
The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) reports that cosmetic procedures were down 7% in 2007, compared to 2006 when they were up 34% over 2005, a market estimated at more than $13 billion in the U.S. alone.

Women to continue to account for the majority of procedures, with 81% of all surgical procedures and 82% of all non-surgical procedures performed on women. The number one ranked procedure on women in 2007 was facelifts, followed by blepharoplasty (eyelid), and rhinoplasty (nose) earning third place.

Spas
The stresses of modern living have driven record numbers to spas. Between 1999 and 2003, U.S. spa revenues more than doubled, zooming from $5 billion to $11.2 billion, while the number of spa outlets jumped from 5,300 in 1999 to 12,100, according to a January 2005 report by the International SPA Association.

Spa treatmentSpas are a $47 billion global market and the fourth-largest U.S. leisure industry, taking in more revenue than ski resorts, amusement parks and box office receipts combined, Frommers.com observed in a May 2006 article.

There are 71,600 spas worldwide employing 1.2 million workers, according to an SRI International study commissioned by the Global Spa Summit trade group. The 55-nation survey found that spas are a $60 billion business, with operating revenues of nearly $47 billion (capital investment makes up the other $13 billion). Most spas are located in Europe with 39% of all spas, followed by North America with 30%.

Yoga
Yoga, bubbling under the surface for more than 30 years, has exploded. An estimated 16.5 million Americans now practice this 5,000-year-old art, according to a February 2005 Yoga Journal/Harris Interactive study.

That’s more than triple the number a decade earlier when a 1994 Roper poll found 6 million yoga practitioners. Yoga practitioners now spend $3 billion annually on classes and products, notes Harris Interactive.

Author: "Michael Tchong" Tags: "Trend, fountain of youth, sizzlin, ubert..."
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Date: Monday, 02 Dec 2013 04:10
Rodney King’s 1991 beating was a watershed moment in modern history. Not only was it groundbreaking because police violence was captured on video, but it also helped propel a new Ubertrend, Voyeurgasm, which points to a future where just about everything will be captured by digital cameras or camcorders.

Since then, an explosion in high-profile events have been captured on video, including Beyoncé tripping on stage (since removed from the Web with Sony’s assistance), the Concorde crash, September 11, Paris Hilton’s “sex-capade” and President’s Bush’s shoe-throwing incident, O.J. Simpson’s infamous car chase, plus countless other police-car chases, and violent teen beatings.

Voyeurgasm dates back to the beginning of humankind itself, but with the assistance of manmade tools became a force over the past few centuries. The painting was the first device to help budding voyeurs catch glimpses of others, in robes or not. Then, in 1839 Louis Daguerre came along with his daguerrotype and ushered in the photographic revolution that allowed any consumer to capture images on film.

But it was high-definition camera technology that dramatically raised the quality of broadcast television and home videos, many of which are bound to end up on mass media. Expect these concurrent trends to significantly turn up the graphic volume now produced by the world’s videophiles.

But there’s no question that digital technology, specifically camcorders; mobile phones equipped with cameras and video; webcams and surveillance cameras have helped whip this Ubertrend into a frenzy. In February 2005, the world’s videophiles gained an outlet, YouTube, that in four short years has grown into a medium that serves 14.3 billion videos each month, according to Comscore.

Sanyo DMX-HD2000Sanyo’s new DMX-HD2000 is the latest in a series of compact camcorders that delivers “full” high-definition video, 1080p progressive video at 60 fps, using a state-of-the-art SDHC card (stores up to 32GB without moving parts). Once tools like these get in the hands of the YouTube generation, all eyes will be on us.

In fact, it’s the video camera that will be built into every mobile phone sold in the very near future that will make it possible to record virtually every live event and distribute it automatically.

The first inkling of this came on new year’s day January 1, 2009, when a bystander used a cellphone to catch a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) police officer killing 22-year-old Oscar Grant. That mobile phones will soon catch every police misdeed was also underscored by a video that caught a New York police officer knocking a Critical Mass bicyclist right off his bicycle in front of horrified bystanders.

Of course, Voyeurgasm has also been a boon for the police themselves, catching an endless string of people red-handed in the midst of everyday crime. Madeline Toogood beating her daughter in 2002 was one of the earliest examples of child abuse caught on surveillance video. That has been followed by a flood of other captures, like that Orlando woman who was caught “power-washing” her child in a car wash last year.

But surveillance cameras have also done their share of spreading the good news, as when one camera on duty recorded the miracle landing of US Airways Flight 1549 for posterity.

Because video cameras are omnipresent, being among peers is no longer as safe as it used to be, as Prince Harry found out when he mocked gays and Asians in a secret video that somehow made its way to the press. Michael Phelps discovered much the same when he was caught smoking a bong during a college party at the University of North Carolina.

The Internet in particular has been a boon for Voyeurgasm, or “digital rubbernecking,” as you might call it. On President Obama’s inauguration, CNN alone streamed 21.3 videos of the inauguration.

Expect Voyeurgasm to completely remake media, as the YouTubes, Facebooks and Flickrs of the world conspire with billions of camera phones, digital cameras, camcorders plus surveillance cameras to create a brave new media experience where just about anything goes.

Our national obsession with celebrities led New Scientist magazine to conclude in 2003 that one-third of Americans were suffering from something it called “celebrity-worship syndrome” (CWS), a figure that’s probably around 50% by now, judging by the massive amounts of publicity that blogs like Perez Hilton and TMZ.com have attracted with their celebrity-peeking adventures.

Britney SpearsThe “pixel paparazzi” now stand at the ready for any opportunity to capture a Britney Spears “oops I did it again” moment so treasured by a celebrity obsessed culture.

Voyeurgasm’s impact on media consumption is already well-documented. In 1992, MTV debuted “Real World,” a show about seven strangers who share a house, which started the reality show trend in earnest. “Big Brother,” created in the Netherlands by Van der Mol Studios, became a big hit in the U.K. in 2000.

“Big Brother” was buoyed by the popularity of peeping-tom webcams, like JenniCam, and was quickly followed by a series of me-too shows, such as “Survivor” and “The Bachelor,” proving that people do indeed like to watch. Today, a plethora of reality shows clog the airwaves.

The public’s fascination with celebrities combined with reality shows produced a logical fad, “celebrity reality,” popularized by the 2003 MTV show “Newlyweds,” a reality show based on a celebrity couple. That unleashed “The Simple Life,” “The Osbournes,” “Celebrity Fit Club,” “The Surreal Life,” “Hogan Knows Best” and our favorite vomit-inducing reality NBC’s “Fear Factor.”

Today, reality shows have are a standard staple among TV viewers. Our look-at-me culture has fueled a dizzying array of TV shows, ranging from the bizarre to the outrageous. VH1’s “Flavor of Love,” starring Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav, featured a “spitting” incident that defined the term “voyeurgasmic.”

Another change brought on by Voyeurgasm is the growing role of transparency in everything we do. From public disclosure to glass-walled bathrooms to see-through restaurant kitchens, society is rapidly vaulting towards a future where being able to see one’s innermost processes will become an essential element. Transparency certainly shaped the Obama presidential campaign.

The Emperor HotelBeijing’s The Emperor Hotel, designed by internationally-renowned designers, Graft Labs, shows how Voyeurgasm has even infiltrated hotel design: a growing number of hotels now feature transparent showers and bathrooms.

In the past few years, the video surveillance industry has experienced growth rates of 15% to 20% a year, double the rate of just three years ago, reports JP Freeman CEO Joe Freeman, a security consulting company in 2003.

London now has more surveillance cameras monitoring its citizens than any other major city in the world. In all, there are some 500,000 cameras in the city, and one study suggested that in a given day a person could expect to be videotaped at least 300 times.

The city’s highly visible cameras are posted on corners of many buildings, on new buses and in every underground station. And since 2003, the license plate of every car driving into central London during weekdays is being recorded as part of a program to reduce traffic congestion. London charges a fee to cars it records but also uses the videos to catch and fine cheats.

As “cams” become cheaper and sharper, it’s only a matter of time before virtually everything is captured digitally. Still, as Rodney King’s case proved, Voyeurgasm can often have beneficial results.

Author: "Michael Tchong" Tags: "Trend, sizzlin, ubertrends, voyeurgasm"
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Date: Friday, 29 Nov 2013 20:49
Once Nike jumped into the market, it was only a matter of time for other sportswear manufacturers to join the wearables market. Under Armour has now introduced its Armour39 wearable, which promises to improve your willpower.

The Armour39 tracks critical performance measures such as heart rate, intensity, calories burned and, ostensibly, willpower in real-time, which allows you to review your performance across workouts:

  • Components – The Armour39 ($100) system consists of a chest strap, module, watch (sold separately: $200), plus mobile app. Body data collected is transferred to the module, which fits in the strap. When the module is synced with your phone the data is transmitted to your mobile device.
  • WILLpower – One of the neat features of the Armour39 System is WILLpower, which determines what a user is capable of by sensing how one moves and recording heart beat and delivering precise measurements to the module. It then scores your performance and sets the bar higher to improve your score.

Like the Nike Fuelband SE we reviewed, the Armour39 measures your body’s performance, with Under Armour approaching it from a more sports approach.

Author: "Michael Tchong" Tags: "Review, sports, wearables"
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