Do meditation apps work?

In a New York Times interview earlier this month, Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds revealed he suffers from anxiety.

“I have anxiety, I’ve always had anxiety,” he said. “Both in the lighthearted ‘I’m anxious about this’ kind of thing, and I’ve been to the depths of the darker end of the spectrum, which is not fun.”

When asked how he manages his condition on stressful press tours, Reynolds said he is one of the over 15 million people who have downloaded guided meditation app, Headspace.

Ryan Reynolds is a fan of the Headspace app.

Ryan Reynolds is a fan of the Headspace app.

Photo: TPG

Apps designed to improve mental wellbeing have skyrocketed in popularity over the past five years. Most of these focus on managing stress and anxiety, in particular overcoming panic attacks.

However there have been concerns raised about the quality of many of the supposed mental health apps currently available for download.

Last year, the American Psychiatric Association assessed more than 10,000 depression and anxiety related self-help apps available for download, finding fewer than 1 per cent had been professionally evaluated.

Evidence for meditation programs having a moderately positive effect on psychological stress exists, although research is limited.

Last year, the federal government announced $2.18 million in funding for the Black Dog Institute to conduct a five-year trial of mental health apps involving 20,000 teenagers, assessing whether the technology can – in their words – “inoculate” adolescents from developing depression after a year of use.

However, the number of apps on the market which administer guided meditation in a potentially clinically useful way appears to be small.

A 2015 Queensland University of Technology evaluation of mindfulness-based iPhone apps, assessed the 560 unique apps found when searching for “mindfulness” in Apple and Google’s respective application stores, finding only 23 did more than simply remind a person to meditate, time their meditation, or provide support beyond a non-interactive guided meditation track. Of those 23, Headspace was the study’s top-scoring app.

Dr Kym Jenkins, president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, says problems can arise if people use smartphone apps as a substitute for gaining face-to-face mental health care.

“Mindfulness mediation apps can be useful for some people, but for others, when unwell, using these apps or even engaging in mediation its self can be quite difficult,” she says.

“Apps of this kind are not a substitute for professional health care. If you are concerned over your mental health then you should seek help from your GP. A GP can help you work out what is going on, and refer you on for further treatment by a psychiatrist or psychologist.”

Some mental health professionals have started to integrate the apps into their therapy programs. Melbourne clinical psychologist Dr Melissa Keogh recommends her clients complete 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation each day, and encourages them to use the Australian-made app, Smiling Mind.

Similar to Headspace, Smiling Mind is a free mindfulness meditation app. Developed by a team of psychologists, and offering meditation programs for children, teenagers and adults, it has been downloaded over 2.6 million times.

(The 2015 QUT study found Smiling Mind to be the second-best app for mindfulness meditation, after Headspace.)

For Dr Keogh, apps do not replace sessions, but provide her clients with a more structured way to do their prescribed daily meditation. She says her clients report a reduction in stress and anxiety symptoms when using the app.

“Before the advent of the iPhone and apps I used to teach deep breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation via the reading of a script in-session, to help clients with stress and anxiety,” she says.

“While clients enjoyed and benefited from these exercises, they often struggled to stay the course outside of [their] session because the mind does have a natural tendency to wander… the apps we have now are great in this way as clients are guided the entire way through their meditation, although that said, it does still require some level of discipline and dedication to keep up the practice.”

[“Source-smh.com”]

Microsoft’s new workplace mixed reality apps pop up in the Store

Microsoft's new workplace mixed reality app previews pop up in the Store

During its Build 2018 developer conference last week, Microsoft introduced two new mixed reality apps designed for the workplace. At their reveal, Microsoft said the apps would be available in a limited-time preview starting on May 22. However, both apps have now been spotted by noted Microsoft watcher WalkingCat in the Microsoft Store a little earlier than expected.

The first app, Microsoft Remote Assist Preview, is available only for HoloLens users and is intended as a way for workers to remotely collaborate with experts on their Microsoft Teams contact list. Within the app, workers can take advantage of video calling, image sharing, and mixed reality annotations. Combined, the features are meant to enable workers to keep their hands free while being guided through a task.

The next app, Microsoft Layout, is a design app for mixed reality. Users can use Layout to view 3D models in a room at real-world scale, allowing them to see how a room will look in the physical space around them or in a virtual space. The layouts can then be shared and edited with others in real time. We briefly tried out Microsoft Layout with a Windows Mixed Reality headset and it works as advertised, though it’s slightly buggy in its preview form.

Both apps represent Microsoft’s determination to make HoloLens and mixed reality apps a reality in the workplace. That’s something we’ve already seen with companies deploying HoloLens to help out in everything from operating rooms to automobile design studios. However, there’s quite a bit of room left to expand as the mixed reality space continues to grow.

If you have a HoloLens or Windows Mixed Reality headset, both apps are listed in the Microsoft Store now.

[“Source-“windowscentral]

Xiaomi Mi 7 and 8th Anniversary Edition Phone Tipped to Launch in May; May Be Called Mi 8 Instead

Xiaomi Mi 7 and 8th Anniversary Edition Phone Tipped to Launch in May; May Be Called Mi 8 Instead

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Mi 7 and 8th-anniversary edition smartphones expected
  • Xiaomi may unveil Mi 8 to align with its anniversary
  • New smartphone may have 3D facial sensing

Chinese mobile maker Xiaomi is expected to launch the successor to its premium Mi 6 smartphone this year. Xiaomi fans were expecting a Mi 7 handset to be launched at MWC 2018, but that did not happen, and the company went on to unveil the Mi Mix 2S in March. However, the latest leaks suggest that Xiaomi will launch the smartphone later this month. Interestingly, reports also suggest that the company either launch two smartphones this year or will reportedly skip its Mi 7 branding to go for just Mi 8.

As per a MyDrivers report, Xiaomi will launch two handsets in May 2018. While one of them is said to be the Xiaomi Mi 7, the other is said to be the firm’s 8th-anniversary edition. The leak claims that the special edition will be the highlight of the launch event. The new smartphone dubbed as the 8th Anniversary Edition phone is rumoured to be unveiled by the end of this month, and it may come with 3D facial recognition feature like the one present in Apple iPhone X. According to the report, it will be the first Android smarphone to feature 3D facial recognition. Similar to the Mi 7, Xiaomi’s 8th Anniversary Edition phone is said to be powered by the Snapdragon 845 coupled with 8 GB of RAM.

Coming to the nomenclature, Mocha RQ, a blogger in China wrote on microblogging site Weibo that Xiaomi will skip the Mi 7 name in favour of Mi 8. Chinese firms are usually obsessed with numbers. It is reminiscent of the time when another Chinese manufacturer OnePlus had skipped a OnePlus 4 smartphone because the number ‘4’ is considered unlucky in China. The blogger explained that Xiaomi wants the name to align with its 8th anniversary. Also, the blogger added that the handset will be announced in May this year.

To recall, another report in April claimed that Xiaomi may, in fact, be one of the first brands to unveil a handset with 3D facial sensing with the launch of the latest Mi flagship. The report had also claimed that Xiaomi’s plans to launch the smartphone with a Snapdragon 845 SoC in the first quarter this year have been delayed. Instead, the smartphone might see an unveiling after the third quarter.

In terms of specifications, the company CEO has already hinted that the Mi 7 will come with an under-display fingerprint sensor. Additionally, reports have suggested that the phone will come with 6GB RAM and Android 8.0.0 Oreo.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Lenovo Z5’s Fully Bezel-Less Display Teased in Sketch

Lenovo Z5's Fully Bezel-Less Display Teased in Sketch

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Lenovo has teased its next flagship
  • It is expected to come as Lenovo Z5
  • The handset appears to have a bezel-less design with no notch

Days after teasing its bezel-less display, Lenovo has now revealed that its upcoming smartphone will debut without featuring a notch cut-out. This will apparently make the new Lenovo model a distinct option in the range of new Android handsets that come with a notch design to match the aesthetics of the iPhone X. Similarly, the absence of the notch on the Lenovo handset makes it a truly bezel-less phone. The smartphone, which is believed to be launched on June 14, is is now confirmed to be called the Lenovo Z5. To recall, the last teaser had confirmed it would sport a 95 percent screen-to-body ratio.

Lenovo VP Chang Cheng has posted a sketch on Weibo that seemingly previews the design of the upcoming smartphone. The sketch reveals that the handset would have come with neither a chin nor a notch – instead, it will be an end-to-end screen on the front, making it a bezel-less smartphone. On the sides, the image released by the Lenovo executive shows some visible antenna lines that are likely to sit on a metal frame. It is unclear whether the back of the handset will come with a glass panel or sport a metal covering. However, the sketch does confirm the name to be Lenovo Z5.

Featuring a bezel-less design means a lot as it would be interesting to see that how the speculated Lenovo Z5 will accumulate the selfie camera, earpiece, and sensors including the ambient light and proximity sensor. The company might use an acoustic ceramic earpiece speaker along with an ultrasonic proximity sensor that both Xiaomi deployed on its original Mi Mix in 2016. Alternatively, the handset could emanate sound directly from its display panel. Companies such as LG and Sharp already deployed such solutions in the past. For capturing selfies, we could presume that Lenovo would use a swivel camera – just like the Vivo Apex, which had a screen-to-body ratio of 91 percent.

Things aren’t all clear about the Lenovo Z5. However, the handset’s existence is all but confirmed as Cheng previously released its teaser and has now posted its sketch. He has also mentioned in the Weibo post that the new model will include four technological breakthroughs and 18 patented technologies.

It appears that we need to wait until June 14 to see what Lenovo has to take on the competition. In the meantime, it is safe to say that some rumours, leaks, and teaser will emerge to detail the new development.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]