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Associated Press/Photo by Manu Fernandez

iPads for all

Technology | Universities move to make a costly new technology universal among their students

Issue: "Warrior class," Aug. 28, 2010

Over the years laptops, iPods, and Kindles have popped up in colleges that act as testing grounds for new technology. This fall it's the iPad's turn. Oklahoma State, Duke's Global Health Institute, the University of Maryland, and other schools will provide iPads to groups of students enrolled in select courses or programs. Other schools, like the Illinois Institute of Technology, Seton Hill University, and George Fox University, will hand the devices out to all incoming freshmen-or even the entire student body.

It's a hefty investment: The low-end model starts at $499 and can reach $829 with extra features. Still, e-textbooks cost less than paper versions, and the savings could swiftly offset the cost of the iPads. The presence of the technology may also attract prospective students. Electronic experiments have drawn complaints in the past, but administrators believe students will be happier with the iPad, given its user-friendly interface and many applications.

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Outdoor trackers

Indoor runners on treadmills have been able to track distance, speed, and calories burned, but outdoor runners have had to guess at the same data. No more: Technology now helps pinpoint the exact route, distance, and speed of an outdoor run. Websites like MapMyRun.com let users calculate distance and save favorite routes on a Google Map. Nike+ technology operates with a pod placed into the sole of special Nike running shoes that communicates with the runner's iPod, iPhone, or wristband device.

One app, RunKeeper (available for Android and iPhone) uses smartphone GPS technology to track exact routes and update them periodically with information about distance and average speed. The phone then uploads the information to a web-based training log, where the runner can choose to automatically update Facebook and Twitter with statistics. RunKeeper can be programmed with training schedules for races. Should a user wish to stop and take a picture along the way, RunKeeper will place that picture on the map at the exact location at which it was taken.

Tweeting on the go

Hands-free devices help us make phone calls in the car. GPS devices let us abandon fiddling with maps on the road. Ford thinks we want to read our friends' Twitter updates, too. Next year, the company will put its AppLink technology in the Fiesta in the United States and the Focus in the United Kingdom. That will allow drivers to communicate with smartphones and hear Twitter updates read aloud to them. Though the system doesn't make it possible to respond or post a Twitter update, some argue that this may tempt drivers to pick up the phone and respond to a friend's Twitter update. Some say the distraction is unnecessary and even dangerous: The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration has repeatedly warned that the conversation, not the cell phone operation, makes driving while talking on the phone dangerous.

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