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Pay with your laptop: Is it safe and secure?

When it comes to gender equality in the tech industry, the numbers probably won’t surprise you. Only 17% of venture-backed companies are founded by women, and women make up just 7% of partners at 100 of the top venture capitalist firms.

Although many attempts are being made to encourage women into tech, we are still far from gender parity in the industry. What would the world look like if there were equal numbers of men and women in the sector? We asked three women in tech, from CEOs to developers, for their thoughts.

More female-led tech companies would change the way women are treated in society

I’m a strong believer in a connection between a company’s internal values and the final product or service. There are many examples of tech companies where their internal attitudes towards women are reflected in their products.

For example, there have been multiple stories about alleged sexual harassment relating to Uber, as well as the [leaked] “Miami letter” [CEO Travis Kalanick sent staff guidelines about when it was appropriate to have sex with other employees at a company event in Miami]. It became clear why Uber had been never considered the safest service for women – because its workplace wasn’t either.

If there were more tech companies led by women, I truly believe it would change the way women are treated in society – in part as a result of the values shown in their company’s services or products.

Valerie Stark, co-founder and CEO of friendship and dating app Huggle

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The temperature in your bedroom is perfect. Your blackout curtains have been drawn shut. And you’ve just finished a cup of chamomile tea and novel that made you laugh out loud and forget about whatever was bothering you earlier in the day.

You’re just about ready to drift off, and suddenly the air conditioner kicks on. Or a car alarm screeches through the night air. Or your partner sneezes. Suddenly, you’re wide-awake again. Your brain responds to noises when you’re awake and asleep. But if the interruptions wake you up, that can keep you from getting the restful shuteye that you need.

When ambient noise is disrupting your sleep, white (or pink) noise can help to smooth out the rough edges. Imagine sitting next to a person who is loudly chewing gum in a library. Then imagine sitting next to that same person in a crowded bar. It’s the same chomping gum, but underneath the drone of a crowded place, you can’t even hear it anymore. White noise, whether it’s from a sound machine, a simple fan, or crowd noise helps to mask noise-related disruptions by creating a constant ambient sound that makes a “peak” noise, like a door slamming, less of a contrast. And that makes you less likely to be startled awake.

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Real world use

We were able to use the Leap Motions during our last internal Hack Days which generated some interesting results. But one litmus test I have for new technology is whether my five-year old daughter can operate it. Whilst she struggled with the games that require pinpoint accuracy and poise, she adores playing with the fish and flying around the earth.

Using the Leap is a good experience as long as it is stationary and not near any very bright light sources. Once you attach it to a laptop and take it mobile, the varying light sources can make it lose track of your hand and this spoils the game or application you are working in. The ability to strain out extraneous light input is the largest challenging still facing the Leap.

The software running the device has made huge leaps (excuse the pun) forward in its reliability and functionality over the last few weeks. There are a small number of applications ready on their new Airspace app store. I have tested a few of them and the experience varies widely.

Where next?

Long term, this is the beginning of useful gesture control of computers.

In the short term the Leap proves itself to be an entertaining gadget for early adopters, and compared to other cutting edge gadgets entering the market the price is low at under £77, delivered in the UK.

I’d like to see it do well and enter the mainstream peripheral market; that jump could come if a wide number of PC manufacturers build it directly into their laptops and desktops.

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