This Week: Undistracted Driving. Filtered Online Movies. Accessible Tech for All.

Every week, good people and companies all over the world are finding ways to use digital technology to improve life and help others. Here are a few of the stories that inspired us at WarnerBoothe this week:

Apple WWDC: “Do Not Disturb While Driving”

You don’t have to be a Mac fan to appreciate the innovation coming out of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference this past Monday. In a multi-hour broadcast, the company announced a ton of new offerings including IOS 11, new iMacs, a re-designed AppStore, and the new HomePod speaker.

But our favorite new feature is IOS 11’s “Do Not Disturb While Driving” mode for the iPhone! When the feature is turned on, your phone senses that you may be driving and automatically mutes your notifications to keep your screen dark. It can also respond to your contacts while you’re en route, “I’ll see your message when I get where I’m going.” Apple’s Senior VP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, said: “It’s all about keeping your eyes on the road. When you’re driving you don’t need to be responding to…messages.”

Kudos to Apple for being more concerned about our safety and well-being than just “driving home” their products. (See what we did there?)

Read More from USA Today Tech.

ClearPlay Allows Amazon Customers to Filter Movies

You may already know ClearPlay as the “movie filtering company”, but what you may not know is that they’re bringing their technology mainstream with a new partnership. Amazon Prime members and regular customers will soon be able to filter material they deem inappropriate from some of their streaming videos.

The ClearPlay filter extension for Amazon will be FREE, and viewers will be able to try the service free for 30 days, paying only $1.00 per movie from there.

Matt Jarman, ClearPlay’s CEO told Salt Lake City’s Deseret News, “We’re excited to introduce [ClearPlay] to families. We think this is a very simple and easy and friendly option to watch newly released family movies with streaming options.”

Giving people power to choose how they use technology and media in their own lives is at the heart of the “digital tools, real life” idea. And for ClearPlay founders, Lee and Matt Jarman, offering that choice reflects a real life commitment to their own families and children. Congrats to Amazon and ClearPlay for bringing greater choice to streaming. (And even more reasons to binge watch Amazon Prime this weekend!)

Read More from The Deseret News.

MIT Creates Tech Wearable for the Visually Impaired

Yeah, there are lots of ‘wearable tech’ devices out there (from your iWatch, to the Fitbit, Nike Fuelband, or even the SnapChat Spectacles), but this one is new. MIT has just introduced a TECH WEARABLE for the VISUALLY IMPAIRED.

Brian Heater from TechCrunch writes, “The system features a 3D camera with an on-board computer hung around the neck at chest level. The camera senses the location of objects, converting the signals into pulsing haptic vibrations that alert the wearer to the location of an object.”

Daniela Rus, the head of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) added, “In a world where computers help us with everything from navigating space travel to counting the steps we take in a day, I think we can do better to support visually impaired people than a walking stick.”

Amen.

Read More from TechCrunch.

Facebook Live Offers Closed Captioning

While Facebook sometimes takes a beating over what they allow users to post, they’re also very proactive about trying to help people communicate better. The company just announced support for closed captioning for Facebook Live events.

Facebook’s director of Accessibility, Jeff Wieland, spoke to USA Today Tech earlier this week: “It’s absolutely an imperative for the deaf and hard of hearing community so our hope really is that we can continue to build more and more tools in the captioning space that increase the amount of videos that have captioning both real time and otherwise.”

YouTuber Rikki Poynter also chimed in on behalf of the deaf community. “We want and need to be able to understand online content especially if these videos contain information like weather announcements and forecasts, anything regarding politics, etc.”

With this update to Facebook Live, publishers can now insert captions into their own Live videos or work with vendors for more professionally produced options.

When digital tools are being developed for real life — with the varied needs of real people in mind — over time they find ways to become accessible to EVERYONE. Facebook’s move here is AWESOME, and we’re looking for many other companies to follow suit.

Read More from TechCrunch.

Adobe Scan Creates Editable PDFs from Photos

Adobe’s new mobile app, SCAN, can convert a printed text into an editable PDF. All you have to do is take a picture of it with your phone. (What?!) Sure, there are other scanner apps out there, but Adobe’s tool uses OCR, or Optical Character Recognition, to make your PDFs even more functional. When you take a photo with SCAN, the image is instantaneously converted into digital text so you can edit, search, sign, and comment on your document. And big news…it’s FREE! (What?!)

This is a huge step. Think of the implications for your real life: with SCAN, you could annotate the hard copies of your mortgage documents, sign and return the contracts your loan officer handed you on the way out of the bank, search for critical information in the insurance policy you just received in the mail, or even edit the long lost document you’ve misplaced the digital copy of — all from your smartphone!

Way to go Adobe! Thanks for creating a digital tool that makes our everyday lives easier.

Read More from CNET.

That’s it for this week. Catch us next Friday for more stories about the people and organizations finding innovative, tech-driven ways to enrich real life. Have a great weekend!
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