VIDEO: Today's Headline News from Associated Press
STRAP ON YOUR COMPUTER
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The digital domain is creeping off our desktops and onto our bodies, from music players that match your tunes to your heart beat, to mood sweaters that change color depending on your emotional state - blue for calm, red for angry. There are vacuum shoes that clean the floor while you walk and fitness bracelets, anklets and necklaces to track your calorie burning.
"Everyone agrees the race is just beginning, and I think we're going to see some very, very big leaps in just the next year," said tech entrepreneur Manish Chandra at a wearable technology conference and fashion show in San Francisco Monday that was buzzing with hundreds of developers, engineers and designers.
Wearable technologies have long been a sideshow to mainstream laptop and smartphones, but this year Google's glasses and rumors of Apple's iWatch are popularizing the field. Analysts forecast swift growth. Last year the market for wearable technology - encompassing everything from hearing aids to wristband pedometers - totaled almost $9 billion. That should climb to $30 billion by 2018, said analyst Shane Walker at IHS Global Insights.
Humans have been wearing technology for centuries, from strapped-on compasses to pocket watches. The current surging industry is centered in the Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay area, where mostly smaller startups design their products locally and have them manufactured in Asia to take advantage of cheap labor. Monday's conference was one of several focusing exclusively on wearable technology in recent years.
As wearable technologies proliferate, humans will need to adapt, said Georgia Tech professor Thad Starner. He advises Google on its glasses, which are lightweight frames equipped with a hidden camera and tiny display that responds to voice commands. Starner has worn his for several years.
"We're talking about paradigm changing devices," said Starner. "Capabilities that people haven't thought of before."
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HOMEWORK INVOLVED TO APPLY FOR HEALTH INSURANCE
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Getting covered under President Barack Obama's health care law might take you more than one sitting. In a media preview, it felt like a cross between doing your taxes and making an important purchase that requires research.
"Nothing like this has ever existed before," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
You'll need accurate income information for your household, plus some understanding of how health insurance works, so you can get the financial assistance you qualify for and pick a health plan that's right for your needs.
The process involves federal agencies electronically verifying your identity, citizenship and income, and you have to sign that you are providing truthful information, subject to perjury laws.
You heard it was going to be like buying airline tickets online? Not quite. But even if it triggers some anxiety, it's not the government poking into your medical records, as "Obamacare" foes have suggested.
After state health insurance markets open Tuesday, people who don't have health care on the job can apply online, via a call center, in person or by mail. Trained helpers are supposed to be available, but there may not be enough of them in every state. Foreign language interpreters are available through the call centers.
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