‘Smart’ Traffic Lights Could Cut Commute by 60%

Here is some good news for commuters and anyone who has a short traffic fuse. Someone has finally “built the better mousetrap” of the traffic light world, and it looks as if the days of spending over 165 hours a year sitting at red lights may be quickly going the way of the dinosaur.

In-Dash Traffic Lights

traffic lightThere are currently two developing ideas vying for the title of Traffic Savior. The first idea involves the elimination of traffic lights completely. Engineers would develop an in-dash system that would alert one vehicle to the presence of another. Using this advanced wireless communication technology, the system would be able to assess how much traffic is coming from any direction. Drivers who find themselves amidst the largest group of cars at an intersection would receive a green signal on their dashboards, giving them permission to proceed through the intersection. Those drivers on paths less traveled would be sent a red signal. Essentially, where the heavy traffic goes, the heavy traffic flows. Engineers working on this system will soon tackle implementation, real time simulation and detection of pedestrians and cyclists as well as a number of fail safes to prevent collisions.

SMART Signal

The other breakthrough making the rounds in traffic circles is SMART (Systematic Monitoring of Arterial Road Traffic Signals) Signal technology. This is a system that gathers data from different points across a traffic grid for real time analysis of travel time, stops and intersection delay. Engineers monitoring this data (again, in real time) can consider preset metrics that would signify a necessary change in red light duration. For example, a traffic light that consistently hosts a line of no less than 15 cars would have its green time extended by a few seconds to allow more vehicles to pass through. Once the line shortens, the engineers would set it back to normal with the flip of a switch. This is already gaining traction as there is similar technology in play at over 100 intersections in Minnesota and California.

The Bottom Line: Sanity

With this advance in communications technology, our time spent in traffic could be cut by as much as 60%. That means we’ll suddenly have an extra half-hour a day – multiply that by 365 days a year – to spend with our families, get work done, or enjoy the hobbies and pursuits that make us truly happy. Car drivers around the world deal with commutes to work, school and the like – making this commute shorter and less stressful would be heavenly. Can you imagine if long lines of stopped cars were a thing of the past?


The Bottom Line: Economic Uplift

Aside from the ramifications on everyone’s personal lives, Americans would be saving billions at the gas pump. In addition, if the city of Toronto, Canada is any indication (where gridlock costs an estimated $10 billion annually), getting people to work faster means macro-level economic uplift as well.

The Bottom Line: Shallower Carbon Footprint

Lastly, there’s a huge environmental aspect to this technology. Spending less time in traffic means, of course, less time with the engine running, and that means less carbon emissions from our nation’s city streets. This has some saying that the Smart Traffic Light just may be the next giant leap for mankind in regard to climate control.

7 Fearless Tech Predictions For 2013

Digitizd takes a fearless look at the future of tech in 2013 - photo by By Geoff Wong

Digitizd takes a fearless look at the future of tech in 2013 – photo by By Geoff Wong

Predicting the future is always risky because the future has a tendency to make even smart people look foolish. Fortunately looking foolish never stopped us here at Digitizd from plunging into places the wise fear to tread!

2012 had some interesting but not earth-shaking changes in the tech world. Marissa Mayer jumped ship from Google to take over the top spot at Yahoo, RIM hit the skids, Microsoft released the most unpopular operating system since Windows ME and Apple released the wildly popular iPhone 5. Overall a relatively quiet and fairly predictable year in tech.

Expect 2013 to be another year of incremental evolution as opposed to a generational leap forward. While there will certainly be exciting new technology rolled out in 2013, particularly in fields such as 3D printing, we’re most likely to find 2013 to be a year of consolidation in technology rather than advancement.

With that here are our 7 fearless predictions for 2013. The first few can be summed by simply saying Google will take over the world.

Android Will Continue To Dominate The Mobile Market

For better or worse Google has pretty much taken over the internet and Android will own more than 40 percent of the smartphone market by the end of 2013, leaving iOS even further in the dust at just under 18 percent.

Google Fiber Will Reach Out

2013 will see more rollouts of Google Fiber and hopefully the first ones outside the Kansas/Missouri region. Google fiber, which offers blazing fast connection speeds integrated with entertainment and communication technology has the potential to be the most disruptive force in internet technology in the home since dialup was replaced by DSL and cable.

While 2013 won’t be the breakout year, it will be the year that it becomes clear that Google fiber will eventually roll over the consumer market like a tsunami.

Cloud Services Will Expand

As a former software engineer the term “cloud” sets my teeth on edge. What business is calling “cloud services” today is really just the evolution of the web site, which morphed into web services, then cloud services and here we are.

Never underestimate the power of convenience and being able to blame someone else when things stop working and that is the biggest selling point for business looking to outsource IT services.

Several Major Cloud Outages Will Mar 2013

As demand for off-loading basic IT functions grows, so does the demand on our aging internet infrastructure. When the government handed over the internet to private companies it was with the expectation that those companies would pay for infrastructure upgrades. Instead what those companies, mainly telecos, tried to do was reap tremendous profits, invest very little in infrastructure, prioritize their own internet traffic and charge customers at both ends of the pipe.

As demand on the cloud grows, so do the opportunities for massive failures and service disruptions. With investment in infrastructure far behind demand, expect that rubber band to snap with gut-wrenching results for many companies.

Streaming Will Go Mobile

Sirius XM will see competition rise from an unlikely source, streaming services to smartphones and tablets. Smart phones are already able to replace specialty gadgets like GPS units and music players, next up will be your in-car satellite receiver as companies like Amazon allow you to stream playlists on demand from your phone hooked to your car’s entertainment system.

The only thing standing in the way of that reality are phone data plan caps. Look for some of those barriers to start to fall in 2013.

2013 Will Be Another Bad Year For Cable Subscriptions

Cable companies have, thus far, been able to avoid the looming threats to their dominance and focus on reaping massive profits from over-priced bundles. But consumers, sometimes already paying for redundant services, will find ways to thwart the cable company and drop their duplicate services. With Apple TV and Netflix joining a legion of online entertainment options, the cable’s days are numbered.

Cable companies today are in the same position newspapers were in the early 2000s; in a place where they will have to adapt or watch their core business continue to erode.

3D Printing Will Go Mainstream

3D printing will go consumer when someone bundles a low-cost 3D printer with consumer-friendly 3D printing software. What replicators did for the Star Trek crew, 3D printers will do for many hobbyists and shade tree inventors. Rapid prototyping and model production will take hours where it used to take days.

Whether does amazing things in the new year or merely evolves down a predictable path, a very happy new year to you and yours from all the gang here at Digitizd.

10 Awesome Tech Tumblelogs

The thing I love about Tumblr (though, oddly, I’m not writing this on Tumblr – that’s a different story, I guess. I do have one!) is how simple it is – if you want to post links, photos, quotes, and the like without any hassle or extra features, Tumblr is absolutely the way to go.

Since it’s that simple, there are a lot of people using Tumblr to do awesome, techie-style things. These sites, since it’s so easy to post, become huge repositories of awesome information, links, and ideas. Whenever I’m looking for something cool and technical to read or write about, these sites are usually my first stop.

My reading list:

Minimal Mac – all about doing more on your Mac, with less bloat and more beauty.

One Thing Well – Awesome software, that all does one single thing really well.

Simple Desks – Pictures of people’s desks. Much more fun and interesting than it sounds.

Chris Bowler’s Log – The blog of Chris Bowler, a great guy and founder of Fusion ads – he’s got a keen sense of both tech and design.

Marco Arment – Lead developer of Tumblr and creator of Instapaper, he’s alternately interesting and hilarious.

Simple Bits – Design, technology, and various other things from a terrific and well-known Web designer.

Drew Vigal – Andrew DeVigal is the multimedia editor at the New York Times, and has smart takes on all things technology. I found him, for instance, thanks to the $.69 iPad stand.

mnmal – All things minimalism, a lifestyle that is more necessary in technology every day.

Bridging The Nerd Gap – A brand new site, where Brett Kelly is presenting technology and gadgets in a way that everyone can use and understand.

Ron’s Evernote Tips – I like Evernote too much. Guilty. This is a great, frequently-updated repository of little tips and tricks to get even more out of Evernote.

I love Tumblr, love these blogs, and would love more of them. What other good ones are out there?

Foursquare is Fun, Social, and Useful

Post by David Pierce. Find me on Twitter.

I’m a serial early-adopter, and a fickle user. That means it takes basically nothing to get me to try something, sign up, and drink the Kool-Aid for a few minutes. It’s also incredibly hard to convince me, as a user, to keep using your product and devoting my time to you.

This is particularly true for social networking applications—I try a ton, and quit almost all of them. Most of the time, social networks don’t have any real value unless everyone you know is using them, and most don’t have any value even if everyone is. But Foursquare? Foursquare’s different. I’m hooked, and I don’t care who knows it.

Continue reading

The Tech I'm Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving!

Since it’s a holiday, and I don’t want to give you too much to read today (unlike every other day…) I’ll keep this one short.

This Thanksgiving, borrowing the idea from Lifehacker, here is the technology I’m thankful for.

Evernote– For remembering everything I’d forget otherwise.

StumbleUpon– for endless hours of enjoyment.

Windows Live Writer– For making blogging possible. Continue reading

Be The IT Guy- Or Just Fake It

Computers break. Computers are stupid. Computers are yucky. It’s a torrid love affair.

Working out your relationship issues with your computer can be easier, though: Give the How-To Geek a once-over.

The How-To Geek is a one-stop answer for most of your computer questions and problems. Whether you want to know what in the world Ubuntu is, or to learn how to build your own computer, your answers are here.

Under the How-To’s umbrella, the one I like the most, there are six topics: Windows Vista, Windows XP, Microsoft Office, Firefox, Geek Stuff, and Ubuntu/Linux. In each of these categories are a number of different how-to’s and tips for getting the most out of your computer.

Frequently updated with tips and tricks about how to fix and tweak your computer, the site’s a really great place for even the least tech-savvy. For the most part, articles are simple and easy to read, without too much tech jargon.

Articles often use screenshots, which are particularly helpful for the times when they do use the tech jargon. Users also leave comments on the articles, which often clear up the things they don’t get right.

The other thing I really like on the site is the forums. They’re all user-based and moderated, and there’s a whole lot more information in them- nearly 29,000 posts on Windows Vista alone! With forums, you often have to do more digging to get to the useful stuff, but there’s a lot of good information hidden in the forums. Many other questions can be answered, and feel free to ask some yourself!

The Geek claims he’ll answer the questions you ask, and in fact many of the articles that have been written come from reader-submitted questions. Join the forums or send an email, lend your expertise, and you’ll get some questions answered.

Instead of Google being the first place to turn when you have a tech question, make it the How-To Geek. Check it out here.