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5 Overlooked Technologies That Can Make Your Life Easier

Updated on December 10, 2014

When we imagine the future of technology, you might see a world where swarms of drones navigate the sky, replication is an ease as 3D printers are as commonplace as televisions, and the most laborious of tasks around the home are handle by personal robotics, all synchronized by a few taps on your choice of wearable device. As fantastic as the future of technology promises to be, one unfortunate side effect of the mainstream focus on what we’ll call “sexy tech,” is the number of useful innovations that go unnoticed and overlooked.

Technology has the power to change our lives in extraordinary ways. We have a wealth of information, and millennia’s worth of entertainment at our fingertips. Advancements in technology make our lives and our work easier, providing innovative solutions to the problems we face. Consider the devices on this list, as you may find the overlooked solution that will make your life easier.

GPS Pet Tracking

Many of us tend to treat our pets as part of the family. It’s not surprising that we’re prone to a state of panic when we can’t find our companions, and the thought lingers in the minds of even the most cautious guardians, that a negligible slip can lead to disastrous ends. However, the improvement of a particular technology may help to ease these concerns.

GPS pet tracking devices have become so convenient that they should be commonplace. By attaching a small transponder to the collar of your pet, you are given the ability to track their location in real time from your mobile device. The tracking technology is even innovative enough to send a text and email alert if your pet gets out. Some pet tracking systems allow for multiple pets to be tracked with ease, and can even monitor your pets activity throughout the day, providing insight to your pet’s rest and activity schedule.

Not to be confused with the common microchip implant that can be scanned at a shelter to identify a pet with owner information, GPS pet tracking provides a map with your pets location, with the ability to send alerts when your pet gets out. Confusion of the two technologies has led to this advanced solution being overlooked. With improved technology, the tracking attachments have become smaller and less obtrusive to pets; a factor that may have pushed for an avoidance of earlier, bulkier GPS pet tracking devices.

Micro Flash Drives

The dynamic we see in technological advancements today, is either making devices as large as possible, or as small as possible. With digital storage devices, we’re now seeing both simultaneously. We see capacities souring, with the introduction of the first 1 terabyte flash drive by Kingston, while physical size drops drastically for convenience.

Most USB flash drives on the market are long and skinny, easy to carry, but very easy to lose when carrying or to damage when in use. There are however, a variety of “micro drives” available, which offer generous storage capacities, while the drive itself is only slightly larger than the standard USB connector. The compact size of these micro storage devices make them ideal for a variety of uses such as home entertainment, car audio, laptops and compatible mobile devices.

Micro flash drives are overlooked quite often because stores tend to favor the “traditional” or “standard” size drives that their customers are used to, though that may be quick to change as the market continues to shift focus to mobile and tablet devices, and micro flash drives improve in speed and capacity. USB storage devices also compete against other compact storage standards such as SD cards and external hard drives, but USB micro drives are the best solution for combining compact size and compatibility.

4G LTE Modems

If you’re a smart phone user, you’re probably familiar with using mobile data anytime a WiFi connection isn't available. With transfer speeds constantly improving, and a data connection available virtually anywhere within a vast and growing mobile network, you might wonder why all of our devices can’t take advantage of the internet connection that’s constantly surrounding us. What seems like the future of a freely connected world, is available today.

4G LTE modems are devices that work to send and receive data across the same mobile broadband networks as your phone. These devices can be used with any number of computers, laptops, and compatible tablets through a standard USB or networking port. Some service providers offer their own 4G LTE modems that can be added to a service plan and share data with your family network of devices. These devices are the ideal innovation for anyone needing a reliable connection where WiFi and wired networking are not available.

With the trend of WiFi networking being made available by businesses and public spaces, it’s easy to see how a 4G LTE modem may be taken for granted and overlooked as a technological advancement, but a large number of people can still benefit from these devices, as internet providers are still struggling to bring their services to more rural and sparsely populated areas. Business travelers can also benefit with the ease of mind that comes with carrying a paid broadband connection, not having to depend on the questionable availability and reliability of public networks when needing to stay connected.

Remote Start (Auto)

If driving to work in the frozen slush and snow of winter weren’t bad enough, you have to make your way to your vehicle early enough to start the engine and let it warm up before you can think about going anywhere. High end and luxury models don’t include this inconvenience however, but many overlook the fact that almost any vehicle can be equipped with a remote start, and today’s technological advancements make the process easier, while packing on the features.

Aftermarket remote start systems are often multifunctional, including alarm systems, GPS tracking, keyless entry, trunk release features when applicable, and more. Some systems have integrated apps for iPhone and Android devices that allow complete control for multiple vehicles with a few quick taps on a mobile device. Advancements in technology allow these features to be marketed at prices worth the added security alone, but continue to add the convenience of features attributed to luxury vehicles.

Earlier systems that share some abilities with the new, more advanced technologies were often complicated and expensive, whereas current market solutions provide ease and value. Even vehicles that already share some of these features as stock components can benefit from the complete package that many aftermarket systems offer. This is an often overlooked technological advancement that any vehicle owner should examine and consider.

Portable Scanning

If you live life on the go, travel for work, or own a small business, there’s a good chance that keeping up with all of your documents and receipts can be a bothersome hassle. Thankfully, there is a solution for digitizing documents from almost any location, with relative ease and no need for a bulky desktop scanner that would make traveling a nightmare.

While not an entirely new concept, portable scanners have kept up with the current trends in technology, allowing scans directly to smartphone and tablet devices so you can leave the laptop at home. Portable scanners with auto-feed devices are great for scanning loose paper documents, while “magic wand” style devices allow the freedom of moving the scanner along any type of surface, such as a book or newspaper. Some portable scanners offer a wand that is removable from an auto-feed dock, for the best of both. Another type of portable scanner is the pen scanner. As the name implies, a pen scanner usually looks similar in size and shape to an ink pen, but is used to quickly digitize lines of text from surface to device.

Portable scanning technology is often overlooked because of the “big and bulky” association with desktop scanners. Seeing the range of light and compact scanning solutions available today should quell that stigma. Another technological innovation that distracts from portable scanning is the wide use of constantly improving smart phones with high quality cameras and image processing power. Unlike cameras though, true scanning devices provide quality digitization regardless of the conditions that limit similar solutions, and being able to scan directly to mobile devices provides the same processing power to edit and adjust scans.

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