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Startup Spotlight: Heddoko, the Personal Trainer Undergarment

Heddoko, the first product from Montreal startup of the same name, is a smart compression undergarment that tracks your movement and visualizes your body in 3D in order to provide you with live training feedback and guide you towards optimal physical performance. It’s basically the personal trainer you always wanted, but could never commit to.

Sensors in the smart garments connect to instantly model your form and provide you with feedback that allows you to see, in 3D, exactly how you need to adjust in order to perform better and avoid injury. How exactly is this data conveyed? Like most of today’s wearables, Heddoko garments connect to the most important device in your life – your smartphone – and presents realtime data to the user through an app. The app also allows you to track your progress over time, share your performance with friends, and challenge and learn from the Heddoko community, making it possible for your workout to be a solo or team effort.

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“Our vision is to bring some of the [motion capture] technology that was limited to Hollywood and the gaming industry into the hands of athletes,” says Mazen Elbawab, CEO and founder of Heddoko. And though the technology is still being fine-tuned, it looks like Heddoko is poised to make a real difference in the self-driven fitness world. This is the first step towards augmented reality personal trainers, and holds possibilities for healthcare, rehabilitation, and even theatrical and performance applications.

Heddoko will be one of the startups featured at Startup Fashion Week, taking place in Toronto this October 7-9. Be sure to stop by the startup showcase on the evening of October 7th for a special presentation by Mazen and a demo of Heddoko!

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Hippy Talk and a Good Pair of Flare

flare_jeans_curvy_2014

Until a few weeks ago, I didn’t really like my hips. I mean, I liked them in high waisted jeans and tight dresses, but my daily dressing routine featured a recurring question: how do I deal with my hips? But that all changed when, after I lamented the fact that I can’t wear rompers because I have too much hip, my good friend Lillian said to me:

“What are you talking about? You can never have too much hip, just look at Kim Kardashian.”

And I couldn’t even say anything! Now when I think about my hips I’m like

Squats all the way. I’ve since embraced my hips and taken a liking to these rad flare jeans that I’ve had for years but have never worn. Here’s to body love!

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Food Phoneography 101 at Thoroughbred Food & Drink

Sage enjoying dessert at thoroughbred food and drink in Toronto

Last week I had the pleasure of joining Henry’s Photography at Toronto’s new “it” restaurant, Thoroughbred Food and Drink. Over a beautiful three-and-a-half-course meal we practiced our hand at photographing food, particularly with our phones, under the expert guidance of Ren Bostelaar, professional photographer and manager of Henry’s School of Imaging. Bostelaar calls this “Food Phoneography 101,” a lesson in mouth watering photography to elevate social media feeds with vivid, more professional-looking photos that are unique and appetizing.

“It’s all about breaking away from old habits to capture food in a whole new way,” says Bostelaar. Sound good? Here are Ren’s top tips, distilled down:

  1. Go for the Best Angle – instead of the traditional diner’s-eye-view of the plate, try positioning your phone at plate-level to capture steam rising from the dish, or from directly above to capture a geometric and texture-filled image of the food and table setting.
  2. Turn OFF the Flash – make use of natural light (try to get a table by a window!) when possible so you capture a natural look, not one flooded with harsh shadows and unnatural light.
  3. Take Advantage of Post-Processing Apps – while it can be tempting to be able to throw in a #nofilter tag, post-processing apps can give your photos an added pop.
  4. Add a Human Element – use a tripod and self timer, or get someone else to pick up the fork and knife, to get a shot of your plate with your hands and utensils in action. This adds life to the photo and makes the viewer jealous *ahem* adds more appeal.

Thoroughbred Food and Drink buttermilk fried seitan strawberry_cocktail_thorougbred_food_and_drink

Unfortunately, the table I was at had no overhead lighting, and the raw, old-style ambiance of Thoroughbred Food and Drink did not lend itself to well-lit photos, so most of my pics ended up blurry. And though I don’t have pictures of it worth showing, the food was amazing! I had an entirely vegetarian meal featuring buttermilk-fried seitan, broccoli “marrow,” zucchini salad, and my favourite, “Kung Pow Cauliflower,” a dish that transformed the bland, ugly vegetable into a delicious plate of flavourful goodness with a hint of spice and a distinct asian-inspired flair. I would most definitely recommend Thoroughbred Food and Drink to anyone who likes unique, playful, delicious food!

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Another highlight of the evening was the appearance of the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus! This was the first time I’d seen the devices in person, and I must say my expectations were spot on. If you’ve read my post following Apple Live, you know that I was wholly unimpressed by the keynote and Apple’s announcements. And with the recent reports of more than a few iPhone 6 Pluses bending in people’s skinny jeans, it’s not looking so good for Apple these days. Once the fanboys die out, who will buy their over-priced, closed-system devices? I digress. Henry’s guests from Bell brought in the phones for us to check out – here’s a look!

iphone_six_plus_size_comparison_sage_hand sage_iphone_6_6plus size_comparison_iphone_6_samsung_galaxy_htc_nokia_lumia_820There’s the full line up, every operating system we could find (no crackberries in the house, poor RIM). From left to right we have a Samsung Note 2, an iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus, a Nokia Lumia 820, and an HTC something-or-other. I find it funny that, when I pull out my Windows phone, most people ask, “Why do you have a Windows phone?” as though it’s a palm pilot or a pager or some other stone age relic. The truth is, I love the Windows OS because it’s elegant, user-friendly, and very productivity-oriented. I can’t live without my OneNote app and live tiles, and having Cortana help organize my life has changed the way I interact with technology. It’s funny how preconceptions about something can turn someone off of even trying it. But it makes me happy that the conversations beginning with “why?” usually end in “Wow, that’s actually a lot better than I thought” (kind of like what Thoroughbred Food and Drink made me think about cauliflower).

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Donate Your Voice this Mesothelioma Awareness Day

Every year, 2500-3000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed. On average, they are given 10 months to live.

As a blogger, I get lots of emails from people and companies hoping I can share their stories, but the one I received from the Von St. James family stands out. It’s a story of how love, hope and the power of family helped Heather Von St. James beat the odds and beat one of the most aggressive cancers, mesothelioma.

Heather Von St. James, mesothelioma survivor

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that attacks the lining of the body cavity, and its only known cause is asbestos exposure. It is common for the cancer to lie dormant in the body for as long as 50 years after initial exposure to asbestos, meaning that mesothelioma is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 50 and 70. But in 2005, at the young age of 36 and just three months after giving birth to her daughter Lily Rose, Heather Von St. James was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma.

Given just 15 months to live, Heather, with the help of her adoring husband Cameron, embarked upon a search to find the best mesothelioma treatment care available. Because of the rarity of the cancer, says David Rice, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon and nationally-known mesothelioma expert, “we don’t have a reliable cure for this disease.” After much research, Heather and Cameron found Dr. David Sugarbaker, a renowned mesothelioma surgeon at the Boston based Brigham and Women’s hospital.

It was Dr. Sugarbaker’s extrapleural pneumonectomy, a surgery which involved the complete removal of Heather’s left lung, that saved Heather’s life. Today, Heather is an eight-year mesothelioma cancer survivor, and she has made it her personal mission to help other victims of this brutal cancer. “I share my personal story to help spread hope and awareness for others going through this, in hopes that one day no one else will have to,” says Heather.

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Today, in honor of the 10th Annual Mesothelioma Awareness Day, I share Heather’s story in the hope that one day mesothelioma and cancers of all kind will be eradicated. Sometimes as family, friends, or observers of people living with cancer, we can feel helpless and like we can’t make a difference. But half the battle is positive thinking and a strong support system, and raising awareness is a big part of that. Today, please join me in spreading hope – be a voice for the victims and donate your social support by sharing Heather’s story on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest with the hashtag #MesoAwarenessDay. For more information about mesothelioma and how you can help raise awareness, visit the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

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FuelWear, the First Smart Heated Undergarment

As the cold weather creeps in and wintry days loom closer, layering will come into style then fade into more of a necessity than a fashion statement. Especially for us Canadians who have to endure the harsh winters of the north, keeping body heat up in the outdoors is an important part of a happy winter season. This means always having a thick jacket and woolly scarf on hand for when you make the transition from toasty ski lodge to frigid slopes – but what if your clothes could regulate your body temperature for you, without you having to constantly change your layers to adapt to different situations?

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Introducing FuelWear, the first undergarment that can regulate your temperature automatically and keep you comfortable in every winter occasion. This fully washable base layer has an intelligent heating system that reads your body temperature and responds accordingly, providing soothing heat when you’re cold and turning off when you’re all warmed up. The garment is made of bamboo fabric with three integrated heating elements to provide warmth to the torso and improve circulation in the cold.

FuelWear heating panels in smart base layer undergarment

 

FuelWear is a startup by Alex Huang and Jason Yakimovich, two electrical engineering students at the University of Toronto, who are no strangers to the cold. The project is currently funding on Indiegogo and, at the time of this post, has already raised 262% of its $20,000 goal. Male undergarments are currently set to start production, with a prototype for the female version in the works and additional colours being added with the achievement of stretch goals. Investing in the project will get you first-access to the heated garments, with certain packages adding extra battery packs and chargers. Funding ends October 10th, at which point production is expected to begin immediately, with products (hopefully) shipping in time for winter.

Cold weather can cause fatigue and discomfort and, in extreme cases, hypothermia – but FuelWear could be the first step to solving all our frosty troubles.

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Robots and Ice Cream and Jewels, Oh My!

Stressed but well dressed jewelry case

I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of the borderline-art-deco statement jewelry trend that is plaguing young women nowadays. The angular shapes and clashing bright colours just aren’t for me. I prefer jewelry to be one of two things: 1) elegant and classic, or 2) overstatedly cute and quirky. Here are my favourite quirky-cute pieces from my jewelry collection!

Betsey Johnson ice cream ring

Ice cream ring: Betsey Johnson

Robot jewelry

Gold robot necklace: unknown; blue robot earring: Betsey Johnson

Le Chateau lips bling necklace

Red blingy lips necklace: Le Chateau

Gold jewelry

Gold panther ring: Urban Outfitters; coral necklace: Le Chateau; bada$$ bra$$ stud rings: Brooklyn street vendor

Betsey Johnson robot and heart earrings

Robot and heart earring set: Betsey Johnson

Betsey Johnson ice cream ring with heart charm

Ice cream ring: Betsey Johnson

Purple robot ring

Purple robot ring: Canada’s Wonderland gift shop

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5 Ways to Refresh Your Digital Workspace Without Spending Any Money

Windows 8 laptop, surface pro, and windows phone

This has been a very exciting week for Trendy Techie as I’ve started my second internship as a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft! As part of my Bachelor of Computer Science degree I’m doing a co-op program, at the end of which I’ll have a full year of work experience in the industry. This particular program follows an alternating school/internship semester pattern, so every four months I switch between work and study. Every time I make the transition from student to employee or vice versa, I make an effort to refresh my digital workspace so it feels clean and new, kind of like spring cleaning only less physical work and more fun. I strongly recommend you give this a go at least every half-year, because it really does wonders for productivity. To give you an idea of how to begin, here are the top five ways I refresh my digital workspace – whether you’re a blogger, developer, student, or none of the above, you can apply these tips to your digital workspace and come out with a cleaner, neater computer.

1. BACK UP your files, then DELETE them

Back up files to external hard drive windows 8

Whether it be to the cloud or an external hard drive, it’s important that you store a backup – or two or three – of your files. DO: keep multiple copies of your files, especially your photographs, important legal docs, and anything else you absolutely wouldn’t want to lose. DON’T: fall into the trap of disorganization – label everything with real names (not “school_thing_1.docx” or “asdfghjk.jpg”), and sort them logically. Then, once you’re sure they’re safely backed up, DELETE the files from your computer to free up space for your next big thing!

 

2. UPDATE your software and apps (and take advantage of student deals!)

dreamspark

Software can be expensive, but there are many (legal!) ways to get it for free. Many companies offer free updates for their software suites, and even though the pop-ups may be annoying, it’s worthwhile to have an update hour here and there so you get all the new features. There are also opportunities to get full software suites for free through certain programs – many students don’t know this, but they can get a full suite of professional-grade software through company programs like Microsoft’s DreamSpark. Many of these offers are perpetual – if you take advantage of them while you’re a student or within the same calendar year as your graduation, you get to keep the software and the future updates of it.

A bit more about DreamSpark in particular: this is my favourite student deal ever, because if you’re a student in a technical program like Computer Science, Engineering or Informatics, you get access to even more software through your school! Learn more and sign up for DreamSpark here.

 

3. CLEAN UP your email, desktop and file folders

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This one is pretty self-explanatory: everybody needs to do it, no one actually does. But having a clutter-free desktop can be a breath of fresh air, and having an empty inbox can take away a lot of the stress and pressure of needing to respond. I always remind myself that since that unread email has been unread for months now it’s probably no longer relevant, which means it can probably be deleted. And those hundreds of old promotions and newsletters from stores you don’t even shop at anymore can go too. Odds are you’ll never need many of these emails again – but if you’re feeling uneasy about that, you can back up your emails to a save file and store it in the cloud (then delete the originals, as per tip #1).

 

4. UNFOLLOW people who you don’t want updates from, and FOLLOW new people who are saying things relevant to your current position

Don't follow too many people on Twitter

Today on Twitter I saw a guy who followed 125 THOUSAND people. And while that’s excessive (and probably a ploy to capture the “follow-for-follow followers”), many people on social media – especially Twitter – follow a few hundred accounts or more. This leads to thousands of posts crossing our paths every day, often burying the content we really want to see under countless ads, contests and other jargon. Ironically t’s getting more and more difficult to make a personal connection through social media, but a regular refresh will ensure that you’re always seeing the content you want to see, and getting the most out of your precious minutes. When unfollowing accounts, DON’T worry about offending people or losing followers. The point of social media is to get interesting information from people you are interested in, not get as many people as possible scrolling over your posts. DO use hashtags in search to find content you’re interested in, and as a bonus DO use hashtags in your profile description so you’re easily found!

 

5. SYNCHRONIZE and AUTOMATE in every way possible

Windows 8 and Windows phone calendar synchronization

What I mean is, find ways to simplify the number of clicks it takes you to complete something. Synchronize your calendar across your phone, computer and tablet so you only have to put the appointment in one of them. Use Hootsuite to schedule your social media posts across Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, WordPress and more so you only have to go to one place to write and schedule the content. You can even apply this rule to your home by integrating a home automation system like Nest – but that’s another post.

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