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5 Ways Technology Will Bring Us Closer to the Outdoors

5 Ways Technology Will Bring Us Closer to the Outdoors

An old Greek myth claims that Prometheus, a Greek Titan with an affinity for the human race, stole fire from the ancient gods on top of Mount Olympus and gave it to mankind, enabling early men and women to accomplish feats previously impossible for them. The use of fire provided humans with a prehistoric means of harnessing large quantities of energy, methods that still stick with us today. Cars, cooking, and manufacturing all still owe much to spurred combustion, making fire one of the first and longest-lasting forms of technology in existence.

For all its humble roots in nature, we tend not to think of most modern technology as “natural”. Here are five ways that technology is bringing us closer to nature, and one way it might drive us away from it forever.

1. Drinking Poop Water with Portable Water Purification Devices

we go to extremes to demonstrate confidence in the donations we distribute (life straws demonstrated here)
    Image via Wikipedia

    It took the mastery of fire to truly tame water, and for a long time in human history, boiling water was the only way to sterilize it and make it potable. For a liquid as imperative to survival as H2O, and considering that a majority of the human body consists of water, it’s surprising that technology has taken so long to create a portable purifier. Utilizing a charcoal and iodine filter with an advanced membrane, products like the LifeStraw have been created as the the aquatic equivalent of flint and steel: a piece of technology that provides instant access to water.

    Portable water filters now allow the avid outdoorsman/woman to go further and longer than they ever have before, freeing them from the weight of water as cargo or the unnecessary expense of energy boiling water. Imagine possessing a straw that would allow you to drink out of virtually any water source, wherever you go (including “poop water”). Brooks and streams all become nature’s cross-country water fountains with technology such as this, and murky wells can effectively support and sustain life in simple, rural villages. That’s powerful.

    Other, more advanced pieces of equipment utilize UV rays to eradicate harmful microbes and bacteria from drinking water (though it’s worth noting that they are nowhere near as heavy duty at sanitization as the LifeStraw yet). Much like most traditional purification devices will need a change of filter, a UV purifier will eventually run out of battery — as will most any other piece of tech you take into the wilderness.

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    2. Charging Anywhere with Portable Power Sources and a Global Power Grid

    “If it weren’t for electricity, we’d all be watching television by candlelight.” – George Gobal

    The problem that most futurists face when they think about technology and the great outdoors is the same question most iPhone users face after a day’s worth of heavy use: the damn devices lose their charge so quickly! Silly jabs aside, the eternal struggle for more battery life may be witnessing its final days. For those that want to pay homage to Prometheus, the VOTO charger is basically a power strip with a tail that converts carbon and hydrogen into energy once engulfed in flame, and the BioLite CampStove is a miniature twig-consuming furnace that internalizes the process (though it’s not very powerful). For those that fancy themselves more of an Icarus than a Prometheus, portable solar power chargers are cheap and effective — but what if you never had to charge any of your devices again?

    Wireless power for mobile phones is set to revolutionize the industry. By the end of 2016, it’s predicted that most major Android phone manufacturers will follow Samsung’s lead and include wireless charging as a standard in all new phones. While current wireless charging utilizes a mat that you rest your device on, companies such as Ossia are already building prototype “charging hubs” that will power your devices from up to 30 feet away.

    If distanced wireless charging ends up working well, there’s no reason that an advanced network of charging hubs couldn’t manufactured and juiced up to create a global wireless power grid. Your cellphone would never need a charge again. But what good is a cell phone in a wilderness with no internet access or service?

    3. Project Loon Keeps Us Crazy Connected

    ~0001
      Image via YouTube

      Connectivity is the future. Urban centers sprawl across the globe, connected by highways and power lines like steel and concrete nerve cells. Clearly, those connections are growing at a rapid pace, even if they aren’t visible. Think about the fact that you are able to pick up a hunk of metal and plastic and use it to talk with somebody on the the other side of the earth in real time. Of course, there are still places in the world where internet can’t be accessed, or where internet isn’t affordable to for the natives — but Google aims to change that.

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      Project Loon is an R&D project that uses high-altitude balloons to deliver internet access to otherwise unreachable areas. The potential applications here are endless, and as the reliance of standard technological devices on the internet grows, so too will the internet. Eventually, wilderness rescue might use it to hone in on missing persons’ cellphone signals, meaning that missed steps and bad falls in the woods won’t be as fatal.

      Innovations with results such as those will leave us hard-pressed to fathom a time when we weren’t connected to the internet — though not everybody thinks this is such a good thing.

      4. Cameras, Drones, and Wearables, Oh My!

      While the most traditional outdoorsmen and -women may decry the use of modern technology in the back country, more people have been drawn to the wilderness because of tech recently — cameras, to be exact. A recent study has shown that a trend in hunting, fishing, and back country activities like skiing and snowboarding has been declining, while photography, especially in groups, has risen. A new form of photography, however, has been attracting an increasing number of practitioners. As materials and models become more inexpensive, drone art, like the kind seen in this YouTube video, is growing in popularity.

      Still, why fly a drone when your drone could fly itself? That’s the question Team Nixie asked when they entered Intel’s “Make It Wearable” contest. Think of the Nixie like a GoPro mixed with a drone, mixed with a wristwatch. Currently, it’s designed to detach, fly out, take a picture, and then return to the wearer. Watch the video below:

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      Wearable tech and automation will continue to grow and mesh — some say to the point that we’ll all be integrating tech into ourselves. Not to worry. That won’t become a trend for a long time.

      5. Augmented Reality Will Change Your World

      On the horizon, however, is augmented reality (AR). This new technology aims to overlay images and pictures on top of the real world, sort of like a real life heads-up-display. If you’ve ever seen Iron Man, where Tony Stark plays with and seems to pick up and play with holograms — that’s augmented reality. While we’re still a ways away from manipulating and tossing around holograms like footballs, the HUD-style systems are just around the corner. In fact, DARPA, the military’s R&D department, are currently funding research into contact lenses that provide augmented reality solutions. Think Google Glass, but without the wearable device.

      Whether it’s through contact lenses or glasses, augmented reality has the potential to positively alter many different activities. Hiking, rock climbing, and paintball/airsoft all have begun experimenting with augmented overlays, usually through phones, or the in-visor HUD and GPS of advanced paintball masks. Some think that AR may even help get more kids outdoors and learning about nature with programs such as this one at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (RMA) National Wildlife Refuge. But what if instead of getting more people outdoors, technology causes people to alienate themselves from nature?

      -1. Virtual Reality… and the Death of the Outdoors?

      ~01
        Image via Wikipedia

        Perhaps the most mind blowing technology set to hit shelves this year is Virtual Reality (VR). Development kits and headsets have already been sent out to the public, and even Volvo has developed an app that is supposed to work with an Android phone and Google Cardboard to provide an immersive VR experience. The entire VR market, which doesn’t actually technically exist yet, is predicted to be worth over $30 billion by 2020. That’s a lot of cash.

        The question still remains, however: will technology and VR keep us placated and happy to the point where we never enter the outdoors again? Maybe even never leave our living rooms again? Linden Labs, the firm responsible for the virtual worlds in Second Life might like to think so. Project Sansar is Linden Labs’ attempt to create an immersive secondary reality accessible through VR headsets by the end of 2016. If their original property is any indicator, Project Sansar may become the new addiction of the future with certain users seemingly putting more care into their second life than their first. Much like fire, Prometheus’s gift to mankind, technology will burn us if we don’t control it properly.

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        On the other hand, until they can simulate the smell of the earth rising up or the feel of droplets on your face during a warm rain, plenty will still operate in a real life over a virtual one. Nevertheless, technology is, and always has been, a slippery slope.

        What are your experiences with technology and the outdoors?

        Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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        Andrew Heikkila

        Owner-Operator of Earthlings Entertainmnet

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        Last Updated on February 1, 2019

        18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2019 Updated)

        18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2019 Updated)

        No one can dispute the countless benefits technology has brought us. It’s undoubtedly allowed us to connect, perform, improve and leverage our resources beyond what was once imaginable.

        If you’re not taking advantage of one of the hundreds of time management apps and tools out there, you’re definitely missing a trick.

        But with so many apps to choose from, how do you know which ones to use? Well, this will depend on your needs, but we’ve put together a list of 18 of the very best time management apps that can help you with the most common time management challenges.

        Let’s dive straight into the list…

        1. Rescue Time — Use your time wisely

          If you have doubts that you’re using your time sensibly, this app will send you weekly reports to indicate what things are stealing your time. You may be shocked to discover how much time you’re actually wasting.

          Download Rescue Time

          2. Remember The Milk — Keep on top of all your tasks

            If you’re struggling to manage everything you have to do, and you work with many different devices, then this is the app for you. It’s a great free tool which is compatible with your mobile, computer, Gmail, Outlook, etc. It helps you to manage your tasks easily, and reminds you of them – wherever you are.

            Download Remember the Milk

            3. Focus Booster – Boost motivation to complete tasks

              This app is based on the principles of the Pomodoro Technique, and is aimed at individuals who procrastinate and feel overwhelmed by tasks. It’s designed to enhance your focus and remove any anxiety you might have with time pressures.

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              Download Focus Booster

              4. Toggl – Keep track of time spent on projects and tasks

                This is a great alternative to time-sheets, if you need to track how much time you spend on different projects. Effective time management starts with being clear on exactly how much time you actually spend on your projects and tasks, and then through analysis, working out how you can manage them more effectively.

                Download Toggl

                5. Dropbox — Store and send large files easily

                  There are many apps that allow you to transfer content from your computer to other devices – but Dropbox is free and easier to use than the others. With the Dropbox app, you can even access and share important files on the go.

                  Download Dropbox

                  6. Evernote — Keep all your notes in one place

                    Evernote is a free productivity tool that allows you to capture all your ideas, thoughts and images in many different ways (e.g., with voice, notes or images).  You can even record your meetings, interviews, speeches and ideas, create lists, add voice or text attachments, and share your files with friends. You can also sync Remember The Milk with Evernote to really optimize your time.

                    Download Evernote

                    7. Mind42 — Focus on tasks at hand with mind mapping

                      Mind mapping is a great productivity technique, and Mind42 is the best free mind mapping app currently available. It helps you to become more organized by focusing your thoughts – thereby gaining clarity on what needs to be done.

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                      Download Mind42

                      8. SyncBackFree — Back up and sync your files effortlessly

                        This free software allows you to back up, restore and synchronize your files easily. It not only saves you time now – but also in the future. If you have never backed up your files before, you should definitely take a look at this pivotal tool.

                        Download SnycBackFree

                        9. MyLifeOrganized (MLO) — Manage your to-do lists effectively

                          Check this out if you find it difficult to manage all your tasks, to work with your to-do lists, and to organize your goals. This task management system helps you to target what you should be focusing on to reach your objectives. It automatically generates to-do lists, with priority actions for your immediate attention so that you can track your progress methodically.

                          Download MyLifeOrganized (MLO)

                          10. 1Password — Have all your passwords remembered

                            This app allows you to keep all your passwords in one encrypted database, protected by one password. This saves you time when you forget your passwords and need to retrieve them. It also allows you to use various passwords for different accounts so you don’t compromise on security.

                            Download 1Password

                            11. Pocket — Keep your eye on the ball

                              When you’re surfing the web, it’s easy to get distracted by enticing and fascinating websites. Use this tool to save your ‘finds’ to access and read later on at a convenient time which will not impact on your immediate work.

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                              Download Pocket

                              12. [email protected] — Boost your attention span

                                This amazing app combines neuroscience and music to boost your productivity. According to the developers, it’s possible to increase your attention span by up to 400%! Ideal for those who find it difficult to focus while studying, working or reading.

                                Download [email protected]

                                13. Launchy — Interact with your computer in a smart way

                                  This small and simple tool allows you to launch your documents, project files, folders, and bookmarks with just a few keystrokes. This makes life so much easier as you don’t need to go through the start menu to access what you want.

                                  Download Launchy

                                  14. Forest — Boost your focus by growing a forest

                                    This unique and fun app helps you stay focused and on-track. The concept is simple: whenever you want to focus, plant a virtual tree. If you stay focused, the tree will grow. If you lose focus, the tree will die. As the app’s name implies, you can grow multiple trees to create a virtual forest!

                                    Download Forest

                                    15. Trello — Track your projects in a highly visual way

                                      This is a hugely popular app that you may already be familiar with. It works by allowing you to create cards for tasks that you need to complete. Each card moves across the Trello board (which is typically broken into columns such as To Do, In Progress, and Completed) as your start, work on and complete the associated task.

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                                      Download Trello

                                      16. Wunderlist — Digitalize your to-do lists

                                        Purchased by Microsoft in 2015, Wunderlist is an easy to use, feature-packed to-do list app. From planning a holiday, to sharing a shopping list with a partner, or managing multiple work projects, Wunderlist will keep you on top of all your tasks.

                                        Download Wunderlist

                                        17. TimeTree — Have a shared calendar with your family

                                          This app allows families or teams to share multiple calendars and appointments. So, whether you’re planning a party, or run a local sports team, Time Tree can keep everyone up-to-date with all current and upcoming activities and events.

                                          Download Time Tree

                                          18. Todoist — Capture and order all your tasks and activities easily

                                            Todoist is close to being the ultimate digital to-do list. It’s available via browsers and apps, and lets you schedule all your tasks and activities. Each item can be flagged for priority as well as given a due date. There is also a neat option to add notes to any of your tasks.

                                            Download Todoist

                                            The above list covers what we consider to be the very best time management apps and tools. And the good news is – that many of them are completely free of charge! So, what are you waiting for? Select the ones that will be the most valuable to you – and begin boosting your productivity now!

                                            Oh, and one more thing… Take a look at a couple of our other articles that will help further streamline your time management:

                                            40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone and 20 Quick Tips For Better Time Management

                                            More Recommended Productivity Experts on Lifehack

                                            • Leon Ho — The Founder and CEO of Lifehack, which he share productivity hacks to make life easier
                                            • Carl Pullein — A renowned productivity and time management coach
                                            • Mark Pettit — A Business Coach for ambitious entrepreneurs who want to achieve more by working less

                                            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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