Are Smartwatches and Fitness-tracking Wearables Medical Devices? Should They Be?

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By: Matthew Jurgensmeier

Pedometers have been around for hundreds of years. More advanced GPS-tracking devices are much newer, and have been gaining popularity over the last decade. The first real “smartwatch” that could pair with a user’s phone emerged around the year 2012 and the market has exploded since then. Now, smartwatches can be seen nearly everywhere. Smartwatches provide convenience and ease of use for activities that range from answering phone calls and paying with a credit card to tracking heart rate and activity level. However, when these devices blur the line between something designed for convenience and a medical device, consumers should be aware that they aren’t buying an FDA-approved medical device. While the information provided by these devices may be useful, the accuracy of the information is contested. Given the dubious readings from these devices and the lack of governmental oversight, it is unlikely that a mass-marketed medical device exists.

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ATTENTION COLLEGE APPLICANTS, COLLEGES ARE WATCHING YOU

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By: Michael McNeil

Around 20 million people will apply to college this year, and when they do, colleges will be watching them. Using big data analytics software from companies like Technolutions Inc., schools will know when an applicant opens an email, how long they spend reading it, and whether they click on any attachments or hyperlinks. They will see when an applicant visits their website, what they look at, and how long they stay on each page. They will know when an applicant visits their school, calls and asks for information, or RSVP’s to an event the school is participating in. All this and more will be tracked, annotated, and measured, so that the college can assess the applicant’s “demonstrated interest” in attending their school.

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Netflix Choosing Its Own Adventure in Bandersnatch Lawsuit

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By: Ariana Morello

After two years in the making, on December 28, 2018, Netflix released the long awaited Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.  For those who are unfamiliar, Black Mirror centers around technology and its potential consequences, often providing a bleak look into a dystopian future.  Due to its interactive and non-linear form, Bandersnacth was the first-of-its-kind and became widely popular with Netflix fans.  The movie follows protagonist Stefan as he attempts to become a famous video game creator.  By employing interactive storytelling, Netflix gives viewers the ultimate power; allowing them to choose between two scenarios, scene by scene.  The options range from tame scenarios, such as what Stefan will have for breakfast and what music he will listen to, to the morbid where viewers decide if Stefan should kill his father and what to do with the body.  As viewers choose each scenario, they subsequently seal Stefan’s fate.  Choices made earlier in the movie impact later options, with some storylines only reachable by a specific series of choices.  As a result of this new concept, Bandersnatch has gained mass popularity, with many viewers watching and rewatching the hours of footage to achieve different endings.  Amongst this mass popularity however, publisher Chooseco LLC (“Chooseco”) has filed a lawsuit against Netflix for trademark infringement due to Netflix’s use of the phrase “Choose Your Own Adventure.”

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Status Update: What’s going on with drones?

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By: Noelle Symanski

A Brief History

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, have been around for over a century. The first unpiloted aerial operations took place in 1849 when Austria attacked Italy using balloons equipped with explosives. Initially, unpiloted aircraft were used for military operations. The United States developed the Ketterig Bug during World War I. The unpiloted plane would be pre-programmed to a destination, where its wings would then detach and the body would deliver a 150-pound bomb. During World War II, B-17 and B-24 bombers were used as unpiloted aircraft. Pilots initially got the aircraft off the ground and then parachuted out as the UAVs continued to their destinations. However, none of the 50 manufactured UAVs were ever used in combat.

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The CRISPR Era: A Promising Future with Dark Implications

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By: Ben Cashdollar

In November 2018, a Chinese researcher claimed that he created the world’s first genetically edited babies, a pair of twin girls who are purportedly immune to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The scientist, He Jiankui, “feel[s] proud” of this accomplishment, a stark contrast to the highly critical reaction of the scientific community at-large. While the scientific accuracy of Jiankui’s claims remains in dispute, this story is an undisputed harbinger of a new era, one where human-kind can wield scientific understanding to alter with impunity the genetic code of any living organism. This newfound ability raises several pressing ethical concerns, and underscores that our society is woefully unprepared to address the challenges created in the age of genetic editing.

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