Lifestyle

Fitbit wearables can identify influenza outbreaks, research says

Heart rate and sleep tracking are more than just a feature

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By now, we all know that smartwatches are more than just a device tracking your steps and heart rate. For instance, Fitbit improves someone’s sleep cycle and Apple Watch has saved a man’s life. Apart from being a lifestyle companion in achieving your fitness dreams, smartwatches can help prevent us from getting sick.

Since we’re currently in the midst of flu season, people are required to be more vigilant about their health and their surrounding. Fortunately, your smartwatches can help predict an influenza outbreak.

In a published study on The Lancet Digital Health journal, wearable devices can perfectly capture affected individuals through their spiking resting heart rate and changes in their sleep. The study came from de-identified data of 47,248 Fitbit users from California, Texas, New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, who participated in Fitbit’s research and study with The Scripps Institute.

Dr. Jennifer Radin, author of the published study said, “Responding more quickly to influenza outbreaks can prevent further spread and infection, and we were curious to see if sensor data could improve real-time surveillance at the state level.”

“In the future as these devices improve, and with access to 24/7 real-time data, it may be possible to identify rate of influenza on a daily instead of a weekly basis,” Radin added.

The partnership between Fitbit and The Scripps Institute has been crucial for clinical researchers using wearables to better understand, prevent, and treat diseases. In a way, a wearable’s potential expands to keeping people healthy and improve the healthcare system we have.

Health

Meross Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier review: 6 months later

An affordable option for better indoor air quality

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One Sunday at a Japanese makers market, I came across the material shirasu, a natural ceramic material created using the byproducts of volcanic magma. It’s been widely used by the Japanese in construction for many years now, but because it’s a material that came from the depths of the earth, it’s also got air purifying properties.

One pamphlet about shirasu pointed out that part from food and water, a huge percentage of what humans consume is air — and that indoor pollution is worse than outdoor. We clean our produce thoroughly before cooking it, and the water we drink is filtered, so why don’t we think about cleaning the air we breathe as much?

While I came out of that market empty-handed, I remembered that I’ve been using the Meross Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier for 6 months now and its filter is due for a replacement.

I already know how dirty my apartment gets just by the sheer amount of dust bunnies my vacuum collects on a weekly basis. What I do not know is how much dirt and pollutants get trapped in the air, so I am both curious and scared to find out.

Buy the Meross Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier

What’s in the box?

Packaging is as simple as it gets. The Meross Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier comes in a white box, with Meross’ logo and the air purifier’s picture in front.

Inside are the air purifier, a Meross 3-Stage H13 HEPA filter, as well as the installation guide, and a USB-C power adapter.

Meross says the included 3-Stage H13 HEPA filter has a pre-filter which isolates large particles such as hair and dust, and the filter itself, which catches 99.97% of particles at 0.3 microns including smoke, pollen, pet dander, and contaminated particles. The innermost layer is activated carbon, which removes odors, cooking smells, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other toxic substances.

Although not a big deal, I appreciate that it plugs in via USB-C. In case the plug needs replacing in the future, I’m confident I can find a spare cable and plug from other devices I have instead of buying a proprietary one.

Minimalist design

The air purifier from Meross has a minimalist cylindrical body. Its metal chassis makes it feel more premium — something I wouldn’t mind showing off if I didn’t have an empty corner to tuck it in. It’s also slim and doesn’t take up too much space, which makes it perfect for a small apartment like mine.

Currently it only comes in white. All my furniture are in a lighter shade of oak and bamboo giving my apartment a light and airy vibe. The purifier, albeit not a decor, doesn’t clash against the aesthetics of the apartment. It would be nice to have a dark color option though for those whose interiors have a more industrial or rustic feel.

Easy setup

Setting up the air purifier is easy peasy; so easy that I think even my boomer parents can figure it out.

You open the air purifier at the bottom to insert the filter. There are engraved guides for unlocking and locking the bottom lid.

Once the filter is in and secure, download the Meross app and set up an account. Plug the air purifier and follow the instructions on the app to connect it to your home network. That’s it, you’re all set. It works with Apple’s HomeKit, Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant, too.

Buy the Meross Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier

On the Meross app and HomeKit, you can adjust the speed and power it on or off.  There is also a physical button on top of the air purifier for these same functions.

Loud and lacking

If there’s something I would have wanted on the Meross air purifier, it’s sensors. It’s as basic as it gets.

Because of the lack of sensors, it doesn’t monitor the quality of air, so adjusting the speed has to be done manually. When I open my balcony door for example, inviting more dust and pollutants into my apartment, I would turn it up to the highest setting myself.

It’s the same story when I’m cooking, and I cook a lot. Instead of automatically adjusting to get rid of the odors coming from the kitchen, I have to go into the app to turn it up.

Over the last 6 months of using the air purifier, I found myself forgetting to do this more and more, so I don’t really know how much toxic substances I could have avoided inhaling at this point.

Another pain point I’ve noticed is that the Meross Air Purifier is loud. At night I would make it a point to adjust it to the maximum speed so I wouldn’t wake up sneezing from my allergies as much. Doing so generates a whiny humming sound, which I think would bother some people.

Because I grew up in a relatively noisy city and live in New York now, I’ve learned to ignore it. The noise is a compromise I’m willing to live with because I do find myself sneezing less in the morning when it’s on high.

Replacement filter

On the Meross app, you can monitor the life of the included HEPA filter. Meross suggests replacing it every 3-6 months. I got the alert to get a new one close to 6 months after I set it up.

A replacement filter costs $25 on Amazon. On Meross’ website, they have an image of how gray dirty the filters get after a few months.

Left: Meross’ photo. Right: my HEPA filter after 6 months of use

Six months later, the included filter that I put in still has the original blue color it came in, with just a bit of dust sticking on it here and there.

This means either the air quality in my apartment isn’t as bad as others, or the air purifier doesn’t work as well as it should.

Seeing as how brand new looking my filter still is, I’ve held off on buying a replacement for now to save the $25.

Is the Meross Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier your GadgetMatch?

The Meross air purifier retails for US$ 139.99 on the Meross website and US$ 129.99 on Amazon. It’s one of the more affordable options in the market, and the cheapest one that supports HomeKit.

As long as you don’t mind the noise and the lack of sensors, the Meross air purifier will do the job. I can’t imagine living in a city like New York in the world without an air purifier. This, combined with a vacuum and some house plants that help clean and purify the air in my apartment are a must.

Buy the Meross Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier

If you control your smarthome with HomeKit and are on a strict budget, the Meross air purifier is the one to get. If you want an air purifier that monitors indoor air quality, look elsewhere or buy a separate sensor to connect to your smart home.

One day, I’ll have a home whose walls are built using shirasu so I’ll worry about air quality less. For now, the Meross Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier will have to do.

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Photographers capture S’pore culture spots for Chinese New Year

Shot on the iPhone 13 Pro Max

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Some of Singapore’s finest photographers whip out their iPhone 13 Pro Max to capture the country’s nostalgic spaces and traditions.

Like with any tradition, they are at risk of fading with time. But as Chinese New Year approaches, these photographers visit these places to capture and immortalize them digitally. Hopefully, this does not only help you look at Singapore culture fondly, but also encourage you to keep making memories and capture them beautifully.

Jason Lim — @jsnjnr

Taking a nostalgic walks through Haw Par Villa, photographer Jason Lim shares how a Buddha greets visitors halfway though the journey and notes “I remembered looking at my parents inquisitively when I was much younger, wonder how the Buddha managed to land on top of the pagoda”. Jason shot the image with the Wide Angle lens, using the surrounding leaves to frame and create a focus on the main subject, the Buddha. Found in the 10 Courts of Hell exhibit of the Hell’s Museum.

Jason share’s his “mom once told me that spirits would cross this bridge in the afterlife and their memories in earth would be erased, coming back again, I loved how Portrait mode captured the details of it”.

A familiar face found within the garden in Haw Par Villa is the Goddess of Mercy aka Guan Yin Ma.

“I made use of both the Wide Angle lens and macro function to capture it,” he said.

Jason shares it has been more than 30 years since he last visited Haw Par Villa’s Hell’s Museum exhibit. He says, “my parents would often remind me as a kid that if I misbehaved, I would land here and be punished by the Gods. It’s amazing coming back how detailed the exhibit is, especially when using Night mode”.

Taking a photo of The Pagoda, Jason notes using the Wide Angle lens while having an object nearer than the subject can create a great contrast or “bokeh” effect.

The macro photography on iPhone 13 Pro Max really captures all the details of the embroidery found on an altar.

Lauryn Ishak — @laurynishak

Commercial and editorial photographer Lauryn focused on places that brought personal nostalgia such as Beauty World Plaza at dusk, shot on Ultra Wide Angle. She shares “Beauty World is an iconic place in Singapore — most know it as a place that houses tuition centers and helper’s agencies. It’s not a place frequented by most Singaporeans unless looking for a specific store although the area is currently and slowly going through a little bit of a renaissance”

 

Snacks from our childhood seen at Nelly’s Retro Snacks – the assorment seen here is something I haven’t seen in many many years. It brought me back to my childhood when I used to buy some of these and I am surprised to still find then decades later.

 

Taking a walk through nature, an empty black and white bungalow on Malta Crescent in Sembawang shot using 3x Optical Zoom captures another era as “these iconic black and whites in this estate are currently empty.”

A close up of flora near Yishun and shot on Macro captures the ever changing greenery in Singapore.

Darren Soh — @darrensohphoto

Thomson Nature Park was formerly a Hainan Village vacated in the 1980s and then overgrown by secondary forest, so in a way, Singapore did forget about its existence until recently when it was turned into a Nature Park. Many Singaporeans are still unaware of its location or even its existence, so there is much to (re)discover there. Treks through the park early in the mornings will yield morning mist and dew which I have photographed with the iPhone 13 Pro Max”.

On the other hand, visitors to the Night Safari are almost always there for the animals, but since its opening, Darren shares the Night Safari has had an area right next to Upper Seletar Reservoir where the landscape is amazingly beautiful. “I have made three images in this area – here’s a tip, go right when the Night Safari opens at 6.30pm because you will need to trek by foot to the spot I’ve photographed near the Indian Rhino enclosure where you’d be greeted by the last light of day”. 

CR Tan — @xlbcr

 

Having moved to the Katong/Joo Chiat area a year ago, Food Photographer and Stylist CR has found the neighbourhood is filled with heritage, art and culture hence retaining it’s charm among this ever changing city. He shares “there aren’t many high rise buildings around, mostly shophouses with interesting histories like the Peranakan Shop Houses which I am currently staying in.”
Some of the shots include wall murals done recently on shop houses around the hood which CR feels “give a pretty good refresh to the hood, adding more colours and charm to it. He used the Ultra Wide Angle to capture the murals in different perspectives.
CR shares he also happened to take a shot at nigh at Blair road after attending a ART x Wine Exhibition housed in one of the shophouses around the area.
The shot was taken at the back street of the shophouse around 10pm using Night mode, with the street light shining directly on to the subjects with an art piece leaned against the wall. The unique door design further accentuates the story in this photo.

Nicole Quek — @nicolequek

Photographer Nicole also focuses on Katong, a place that has had “significant meaning to me since I was child. This place brings back memories especially during the New Year when my grandmother was still around. It still amuses me until this day that this was a kampong where I used to run around barefooted”. Nicole share she “remembes vividly accompanying my late grandmother for walks along the shops. I wasn’t fluent in Malay as that was the only language she spoke. So I spoke gibberish hoping that she would understand me but all I remember was that warm smile on her face. It’s a happy memory for me whenever I walk around this area and coincidently I hanced upon this cute husky sitting across Roxy Square and her name is Roxy too! Portrait mode really helped capture her expression and the details of her fur”.
“When I was young, this door was like a portal of emotions and seeing it is really nostalgic for me. I remember running out to the door from the kitchen while playing catch around the alley and sometimes even getting punished here for being a naughty child.
But my most fond memory was folding paper boats with my family and watching it stream down the drain in this alley.
Nicole points out the Wide and Ultra Wide Angle is perfect for capturing the details of Katong’s intriguing alleyways or even the Unfinished beads on the Manik Kasut.
Nicole also shares an overview of the street she is very fond of using Night mode and adds “I shot this by using the bridge railing as a tripod. However with the advanced night mode, I still can shoot amazing and sharp pictures at night without worrying if it’ll turn out underexposed or blurry. I wanted to try creating some light streaks which I’ve never done before. This was shot by adjusting my shutter speed to 1 second”.

Ivan Kuek — @phonenomenon

While many have heard of the Green Corridor, photographer Ivan notes “what many don’t know is that it has a lesser-known sibling, the Jurong Railway Line. Leading westwards from the Bukit Timah Railway Station, the Jurong Railway Line was a 19KM-long railroad that connected Malaysia, then known as Malaya, to the Jurong industrial area’s docks, and National Iron and Steel Mills. Owned by the KTM Railway, the line, which opened way back in early 1966, was projected to generate a revenue of S$3-4 million annually. But with Singapore’s independence, its use was limited and it eventually closed down in the 1990s”.
Ivan focuses on the old Bukit Timah Railway Station and Clementi Forest taken through Macro photography and Ultra Wide Angle. 
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Viu to produce over 30 originals for 2022

Featuring Asian content

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File Photo: Watching Hotel Del Luna on Viu

Asian video streaming service Viu is welcoming 2022 with more than 30 Viu Originals slated for production.

The Korean and Chinese content-specializing platform is building on its 2021 success, which saw high-rating local and pan-regional original productions.

Viu Original Studio will have over 30 new productions released in the calendar year, including return seasons of popular shows like Close Friend (Thailand) and Assalamualaikum My Future Husband (Indonesia).

New local originals like Thai musical WANNABE and the much-awaited Korean original Again My Life are also set to be released.

More titles cover a range of genres, like romantic drama Finding the Rainbow, romantic comedy My Coach, thriller Remember 15, and action series Real Fake.   

The people behind Viu also promised Viu-ers to expect more original Chinese content lined up for the year.

Local stars on the rise

Viu’ 2022 grand plans will also give a stage for local actors of respective countries to showcase their skills.

For instance, WANNABE, a coming-of-age drama series and musical, will star Chanon (Nonkul) Santinatornkul. The multi-award-winning actor who will be making his vocal debut as a young rapper in the series.

The star-studded cast of the series also includes Sunny Day — Nay Mayo “Day” Thot of the popular rap group Thaiatnium.

Sci-fi comedy, AI5YA, meanwhile, is created by Malaysia’s beloved comedian Afdlin Shauk and stars another popular comedian in Zizan Razak. Romantic comedy Seribu Nina is also set to be launched for the Malaysian audience.

K-Drama galore

When it comes to their Korean market, much-awaited Korean originals such as Again My Life is based on a web novel published on KakaoPage, will star Lee Joon-Gi, Lee Geung-Young, and Kim Ji-Eun.

From Now On, Showtime features famous actor Park Hae-Jin and Jin Ki-Joo, who has appeared in The Secret Life of My Secretary and Come & Hug Me.

The drama is written by Ha Yoon-Ah, who wrote the script for the fantasy-comedy drama Mystic Pop-up Bar in 2020.

Another upcoming Viu Original is Why Her?, a romantic legal dram. It stars popular actors Seo Hyun-Jin, known for her roles in Dr. Romantic and the Beauty Inside. There’s also Hwang In-Yeop, who received attention for his role in True Beauty.

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