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Can cell phone or tablet use trigger insomnia? The backlighting wakes you up

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The smartphones and tablets millions of us use every day may also keep us awake. In the American Chemical Society's (ACS') latest Reactions video, find out how the light emitted from those devices triggers a chemical reaction that tells our brains to rise-and-shine, rather than snooze, explains the May 19, 2014 news release, "Sleep and smartphones: The chemistry that keeps you awake -- video ." The video "How Smartphones Keep You Awake - Reactions," is available on at this YouTube website.

And the video explains the chemical reaction as to why people who work many hours a day on computers complain they may have trouble getting to sleep at night. It's the type of light emitted from smart phones, tablets, and computers that changes the chemicals in your brain to think it's morning, and you stay awake and/or fight it difficult to get to sleep at night.

That backlighting in various screen devices alters the chemicals in your brain such as melatonin to shake your brain awake so you won't be able to easily get back to sleep. So don't use that type of backlighting as a night light in your bedroom. The blue light emitted from smart cell phones, tablets, or computers tells your brain to wake you up. What you should have had is red light that tells your brain/body to sleep.

You also may wish to subscribe to the series at Reactions YouTube, and follow us on Twitter @ACSreactions to be the first to see the society's latest videos. The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 161,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

Impact of aging on use of smart phones

The buttons, letters, and numbers on many types of cell phones or mobile tablets are too small for aging eyes and fingers, and sounds need to be adjustable for aging ears, if voices need to be made louder by adjustment abilities of the devices. Age-related difficulties in texting and emailing on smart phones will be investigated by a University of Strathclyde academic. Dr Mark Dunlop will examine the effect of getting older on people's ability to use touch-screen mobile technologies, including smart phones. He believes this issue will become increasingly important as the workforce ages.

Dr Dunlop said, according to an October 10, 2013 news release, Impact of aging on smart phone use to be examined, "It's estimated around 25% of emails are now opened on mobiles and as the older working population rises – due to both ageing population demographics and increasing retirement age – more workers will need to keep using their mobile technologies for work into their mid-to-late 60s. Furthermore, many people will want to continue professional, social and lifestyle usage into their late retirement, as the technologies can support increased community involvement and personal independence. Given increasing retirement ages and increasing use of smartphones for both work and social life, this research could have a major impact on personal wellbeing and the UK economy.

"Upcoming EU legislation is likely to require services that are seen as critical for the citizen to participate in society to be accessible to disabled and older people," he explained according to the news release. "Age UK states this is likely to cover information and communication technologies, including mobile phones, and encourages the UK government to support the legislation."

Most mobile technologies now rely on touch-screen keyboards for popular functions such as email, social networking, texting and web or map searches. Dr Dunlop told how the ageing process – associated with a decline in hearing, sight, working memory, selective attention and motor control – can interfere with people's ability to use mobile technology

Dr Dunlop, of the Computer and Information Sciences Department in Strathclyde's Science Faculty, said, according to the news release, "While there have been numerous studies into text entry usage on touchscreens, there has been very little work studying the effects of aging on text entry – and none on modern touch-screen phones where reduced visual acuity, reduced motor control and reduced working memory are all likely to have an impact.

"At the moment, industry is focussed on targeting the current main market of younger users. Our initial studies have also shown that older users may be willing to adopt new keyboard layouts and technologies more than younger users, who have different experiences with the QWERTY layout."

As part of Dr Dunlop's two-year investigation – backed with £286,000 of Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council funding – his research team will work with older adults to conduct participatory design sessions of prototype keyboards, to test how effectively they can use different forms of touch-screen entry methods.

The study will also look at how text entry for older people is affected by the design features of most modern mobile technologies, such as soft keys that are glossy, require almost no force to activate and have no visible gap between them. Dr Dunlop added, according to the news release, "The project is also likely to give initial insights into the needs of other specific groups of people that could be taken up with future research, for example looking at systems to support tremor problems associated with Parkinson's disease, or for highly-visible keyboards for visually-impaired people."

When smart phones project images on the wall

Future smart phones will project images on the wall. A new laser light source has a global market in consumer electronics, says recent research findings explained in a February 28, 2012 news release, "Future smart phones will project images on the wall." Mobile phones currently on the market are capable of showing high quality images and video, but the phones' small size sets insurmountable limits on screen size, and thus the viewing experience. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, EpiCrystals Oy and the Aalto University are developing a better laser light source for projectors that will be integrated into mobile phones, which will enable accurate and efficient projection of, for example, photographs and movies on any surface. Mobile phones equipped with the laser light source can be within the ordinary consumer's reach already in a few years time.

Small-size laser projectors 1-2 centimetres in length can be integrated into many kinds of electronic appliances, such as digital or video cameras, gaming devices and mobile phones. Integrated micro projectors could, in practice, project images the size of an A3 sheet of paper on a wall. The challenge is to develop a small, energy-efficient and luminous three-colour (RGB) light source, whose manufacturing costs can be kept low, for use in the projectors. Solutions for these challenges are sought in a project combining Finnish know-how, whose parties are VTT, EpiCrystals Inc. and the Aalto University.

"The project has successfully combined multi-technological know-how from VTT and its partners in the project, from manufacturing materials and the accurate focusing of laser chips all the way to production line design. The project was launched last autumn, and we are now entering the stage where we can move from brainstorming and design to building prototypes. It is our goal to prove by next summer that large quantities of the new laser light sources can be manufactured quickly and economically," says Principal Scientist Timo Aalto from VTT.

EpiCrystals Inc. aims straight for the global market with its product, and it is the company's goal to be the technology and market leader in laser light sources for micro projectors by 2015

"We are developing an entirely new technology that is currently not in use anywhere else in the world. At the moment, there are stand-alone projectors on the market that can be connected to electronic appliances and early stage integrated projectors, but their quality and price are not competitive enough. Large electronics manufacturers are extremely interested in integrated projectors, and market research shows that demand for these micro projectors will increase strongly in the coming years. Soon, around two billion mobile phones per year will be sold in the world, and if even a couple of per cent of those contain a projector, we are talking about tens of millions of copies, and the hundred million mark is not far either", says Vice President of Business Development Tomi Jouhti of EpiCrystals Oy, according to the February 28, 2012 news release, "Future smart phones will project images on the wall."

EpiCrystals' laser modules will be mass-produced in Asia, but the research and development will remain in Finland also in the future. The VTT, EpiCrystals and Aalto University project has received funding from the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation Tekes, among others.

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