'Smart' Seat Could Reduce Whiplash Injuries

Originally posted on August 25, 2014 on The Globe and Mall.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) are working to create a car seat system that can mitigate the effect of whiplash enough to significantly reduce the risk of injury from low-speed rear-end collisions. In the United States, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that more than $8.8-billion (U.S.) is paid out annually for whiplash injuries, accounting for 25% of the total spent for all crash injuries.

The economic and social strain caused by these soft tissue injuries was an impetus for Daniel Mang, a kinesiology student at UBC, to develop an active "smart seat" that responds to the pulse created during a collision, and automatically adapts and adjusts the seat on impact to lessen the effect on the head and neck. Mang says that the smart seat has more time to adjust (than an airbag), so it would rely on technology similar to the airbags to sense the collision and adapt the seat in response to accelerometers (that can estimate how much you weigh.)

To see the full article, go to:www.theglobeandmail.com/


NHTSA Promotes Two Connected-Car Technologies to Prevent Crashes

Originally posted on August 18, 2014 on Automotive Fleet.

As part of its quest to mandate vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications capability in light-duty vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released a research report analyzing the technology's feasibility, safety benefits, potential costs and legal issues.

The report projects that just two of many possible V2V communications applications — left turn assist and intersection movement assist — could save as many as 1,083 lives and prevent up to 592,000 crashes annually. Left turn assist warns drivers not to turn left in front of another vehicle traveling in the opposite direction, and intersection movement assist warns them if it's not safe to enter an intersection because of the likelihood of a collision.

Additional applications could also help drivers avoid imminent danger through forward collision, blind spot, "do not pass," and stop light/stop sign warnings. V2V systems transmit basic safety information between vehicles via short-range radio communication devices. NHTSA estimates that the V2V equipment and supporting functions would cost about $341 to $350 per vehicle in 2020. That cost might dip to approximately $209 to $227 by 2058, after manufacturers gain experience producing the equipment, according to the report.

To see the full article, go to: www.automotive-fleet.com/


GM Plans to Launch Hands-Free Driving by 2016

Originally posted by  CNET on September 7, 2014.
General Motors has announced it plans to introduce Cadillac models in two years that incorporate hands-free driving and Wi-Fi-enabled vehicle-to-vehicle communications to exchange traffic information with similarly equipped vehicles. GM's "Super Cruise" semi-automated technology will automatically keep a vehicle in a specific, properly equipped freeway lane, making necessary steering and speed adjustments in bumper-to-bumper traffic or long highway trips.

"With Super Cruise, when there's a congestion alert on roads like California's Santa Monica Freeway, you can let the car take over and drive hands-free and feet-free through the worst stop and go traffic around," said Mary Barra, GM CEO. "And if the mood strikes you on the high-speed road from Barstow, California to Las Vegas, you can take a break from the wheel and pedals and let the car do the work."

However, unlike the driverless vehicle being tested by Google, GM's system will require drivers to remain attentive and ready to resume control of the vehicle.

To see the full article, go to: www.cnet.com/


Bluetooth Sensors Constantly Check Car Tire Pressure, Send Alerts

Originally posted by CNET, on September 11, 2014.
"Always check your tire pressure." It's something parents teach kids during early driving lessons, and it's something most kids quickly forget. Now, a new invention making a run on Indiegogo could play the role of a nervous parent for thousands of drivers out there by continuously monitoring tire pressure and relaying that information via Bluetooth to a smartphone or in-car receiver.

To use the system, drivers would unscrew the little black caps on their tires' fill valves and replace them with round Fobo ("For Our Better wOrld") tire sensors. Each sensor continuously monitors the pressure in its assigned tire, then uses Bluetooth to relay that information via smartphone app or to an in-car receiver. Because Bluetooth is a low-energy technology, the creators say the sensors will last about two years before the batteries need to be changed. Cost for the sensors will be around $90.

The creators are working on a lock nut that can only be removed with a special wrench that will help make the sensors as theft-proof as possible.

To see the full article, go to: www.cnet.com/


6 ways to overcome distractions

Originally posted by Erin Bramblett, HR specialist with Insperity, an HR outsourcing firm on http://ebn.benefitnews.com.

If anyone knows a thing or two about multitasking, it’s benefit managers. From understanding the compliance complexities of the Affordable Care Act to navigating the nuances of ERISA, benefit managers are experts at juggling several priorities. Yet multitasking and having to deal with constant interruptions can negatively affect work quality, according to a recent study from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.

1. Prioritize.

“Prioritize what you need to get done as an employee and do those things early in the day,” says Bramblett. “Focus on what needs to get done, whether it’s three things or five things, and focus on those until they’re done.”

2. Create a to-do list.

“Write that bulleted list, include scheduled breaks and cross them off as you complete them. That will help you stay focused,” advises Bramblett. “And taking a mental break in between tasks will help employees shift gears a little more easily.”

3. Don’t check social media during the day.

A five-minute break to update your status can easily turn into a 30-minute waste of time, says Bramblett, who advises keeping social media pages closed during the work day. But if you absolutely can’t go all day without seeing what those crazy cats on Instagram are up to, then schedule it as part of your break on your to-do list.

4. Learn the power of ‘no.’

“It’s hard to not say ‘yes’ to every assignment that comes your way,” says Bramblett. “But you’ve got to make sure you’re keeping your to-do list at a realistic level.” She advises communicating with your team, your boss or your clients to make sure your daily priorities are correct and that you’re finding out which things are most important for you to get done each day.

5. Don’t think you’re capable of multitasking.

“It is scientifically proven that individuals work better when they are single-tasking,” says Bramblett, citing an American Psychological Association study that showed multitasking undermines efficiency by as much as 40%.

6. Create a workplace that doesn’t expect multitasking.

“If employees feel like they have to multitask because their boss keeps coming at them with multiple projects and asking for updates on 15 different things in a day, that would certainly be something that would create that environment so you want to ensure you create that work-life balance,” advises Bramblett.


6 bad habits holding you back from success

Originally posted on  http://eba.benefitnews.com

Do you feel stuck in a rut? Expected to be shooting up the HR/benefit career ladder at this stage in the game? We all have bad habits, but bringing your baggage to the office can be the difference between soaring or stalling in your career. Ilya Pozin, an entrepreneur and founder of Pluto.TV, Open Me and Ciplex, offers six common workplace bad habits to break if you want to continue moving up the career ladder.

Being a lone wolf

Workplace collaboration is key to success. Even though you prefer working solo, which is in itself a value commodity, it shouldn’t be your only speed. Break the habit by finding a project near and dear to you and ask to be part of the team. Do your best to keep everyone involved and in the loop, and stretch those collaboration muscles.

Saying sorry too much

If you find yourself apologizing too much, it implies you’re making too many mistakes and can undercut your position within the organization. Own your mistakes and reserve the word “sorry” for the truly big mistakes.

Taking on every project

Challenging new projects should excite you, but do you find yourself overdoing it? Learn your limits … if you say yes to every project, you may soon yourself unhappy, burnt out and badly overworked. Nip this habit in the bud. The word “no” is powerful and doesn’t make you look like a slacker when you turn down a project. Be protective of your time and abilities and know when you’ve reached your limit.

Being negative

Nobody is friends with Negative Nancy. If you have a rain cloud over your head every morning, it’s no surprise you’re stuck where you are. Enthusiasm and passion are traits managers look for in their superstars. Sit yourself down and ask the hard questions you’ve been avoiding. If you hate your job, it might be time to look for another opportunity. Ask yourself what would make you wake up excited about your work day, and chase after your dreams.

Doing things the way they’ve always been done

Innovation is a thriving company’s life blood but, for most, doing the same old thing and getting paid for it is enough. Sit down with your boss and ask for an open-door policy to offer feedback. Try to chime in once a month with something new that can help your company grow. Even if some of your ideas aren’t used, you’ll stand out as a forward thinker who cares about the company’s future.

Being disorganized

It’s estimated an average of 9 million hours are spent looking for misplaced things. The impact of that on your work life can really eat away at your true potential. So on your next slow day, take the time to organize your work space and set a plan to stay organized. One of the hardest parts of reorganizing is the initial clean-up of clutter.

 

 

 


6 self-motivation techniques

Originally posted August 11, 2014 by Daniel Williams on http://www.lifehealthpro.com

Chances are you have an idea where you’d like to be in your career. If you’ve gotten stuck somewhere along the way, take heart. These 6 self-motivation techniques from sales and motivation expert Bob Urichuck’s book Motivate Your Team in 30 Days will get you back on track:

1.     Have an attitude of gratitude. When you awake in the morning, ask yourself how you are today. Your answer should be “GREAT!”—Getting Really Excited About Today. You never know which day will be your last, so make today the best day of your life.

2.     Begin self-motivating first thing. Find something to do for yourself immediately upon waking. Take time out to do something to productive or nourishing yourself so that you’ll have the energy to be there for others.

3.     Reinforce your positive behavior. Now that you have done something for yourself, reward your effort with a morning treat. If you follow up your self-motivating actions with coffee or breakfast, you will be inclined to repeat the behavior.

4.     Recognize that no one else can motivate you. Yes, you may find fleeting motivation from external sources. But lasting motivation—the kind that bears fruit—comes from within. Dig deep to access your reserve of willpower.

5.     Decide to live your dreams. Do want to live your life according to someone else’s idea of what you should be? Decide to take responsibility for yourself and aim for your truest desires. It’s your life; take charge of it.

6.     Take control of yourself. In order to be self-motivated, you must be in control of your life. There are many things outside of your control, and those you must accept. But there are many things over which you do have control, chief among them your attitude. Become the master of your thoughts and reactions.

When it comes to achieving your goals, you can succeed. You just need a little push in the right direction.


5 Reasons to Make Friends with Your Competitors

Originally posted July 21, 2014 by Marla Tabaka on www.inc.com.

When I owned my coffeehouse (2001-2004) people frequently asked me if I hated Starbucks. I didn't. After all, Starbucks is responsible for re-introducing the culture of coffee in the United States and for establishing it in countries where the cafe culture never before existed. Starbucks put the romance into the coffee experience. Without those romantic notions consumers wouldn't have given a second look at my drive-thru, or stop by for a fireside chat over a delicious cuppa joe with their friends. Thank you Starbucks!

Still, the truth is that the coffee giant made it impossible for an independent coffee retailer like me to compete, so I didn't. Instead my business became what Starbucks is not. It too became a household name but for reasons far from its convenience and fast service.

Stop viewing your competition as the enemy and instead use it as the catalyst to brilliance. Instead of investing your precious energy into hating or envying your competitors use it to become the very best entrepreneur you can possibly be. Here's how.

Give your customers another reason to choose your brand.

I knew that my delicious, fair trade coffee wasn't enough to bring customers through the door so I gave more dimension to the consumer experience. I added open mic nights, brought in great bands, and did art shows and book signings. I even opened a private conference room to local businesses and organizations.

What can you offer in addition to your products or services? When you stand out from the competition by offering something of value that your competitors don't, you give your customers a better reason to choose your product or service. How can you help your customers go beyond a simple purchase and truly experience your brand?

Keep the price down to remain competitive.

When I purchased my coffeehouse I knew that I would have to bring down the cost of goods. It forced me to move outside of my comfort zone and negotiate with vendors. In many cases I found new suppliers, and I never stopped negotiating.

Don't get complacent about costs. Just because your suppliers have served you for years doesn't mean they can't do better. Also keep an eye out for new materials, parts, or products that will create a cost savings.

Innovate, innovate, innovate.

What sells today may not sell tomorrow. I've had too many entrepreneurs come to me for coaching because their once successful business became a cash drain.

Watch what your competition is doing to stay ahead and learn from their wins, as well as their failures. Don't get complacent! Don't get so caught up in the day-to-day operations that you neglect coming up with the next great idea. That's the mistake these entrepreneurs made and, sadly, it's often too late to breathe life back into the brand.

Upgrade your skills.

When you allocate all available cash and human energy to your business it's virtually impossible to invest in training and education for yourself. Keeping abreast of the latest technology and trends, and constantly honing your leadership skills will help you gain and maintain the competitive advantage.

Make a list of your weaknesses and make a plan to build upon the skills you need to overcome them. If you cannot acquire those skills yourself, then outsource or hire someone who can provide necessary skills to compete effectively.

Embrace new technology.

As technology improves and evolves the marketplace changes, sometimes drastically and often overnight. You must be ready to adapt or change according to industry trends and business in general, or your competition will leave you in their dust.

Social media is a great example. Believe it or not I still hear from people who don't even have a social media presence and don't believe they need one. Last year I worked briefly with a caterer whose business took a nose-dive over a period of two years. We narrowed down the cause to a lack of online presence. Her closest competition added a customer-facing backend to their website and aggressively engaged in social media. But she simply refused to understand why this would make a difference and sadly, made no attempt to catch up with her competitors. Her doors are now closed.

Embrace competition and your whole world can change. This simple shift in your mindset will keep you engaged, aware, and in the lead.