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Decentralized finance, or DeFi, is a new banking technology that aims to remove the control banks and financial institutions have over money. It allows you to hold your money in a secure digital wallet instead of keeping it in a bank. You can access and transfer your funds anywhere with internet connections and have it done instantly securely. You also don’t have to pay any kind of transaction fees in DeFi, like you would at a bank.What Is DeFi
Decentralized Finance or DeFi is a term that describes a new financial ecosystem that provides banking services to people. The difference here is that instead of depending on the obsolete textbook methods that traditional banks use, DeFi is based on blockchain technology. The term DeFi was first coined back in 2023 in a telegram chat, and this budding industry has seen an enormous amount of growth ever since.
Image you have $10,000 in your bank account. If the bank goes bankrupt, you will only be insured 25% of your money.
Image source: Piqsels
And even if the money is yours, you can’t freely cash it all out whenever you want either, due to a withdrawal limit. Alternatively, you might even be penalized if your balance is low. Lastly, banks take your money and invest it strategically to earn about 10% returns and only share 0.1% with you.Advantages of DeFi
This is where the need for a new banking system is born, one that is designed to benefit the public. Today, there are many DeFi services that give you much higher interest rates than banks do and have way better terms and conditions.
DeFi eliminates the need to depend on corporations for banking, giving you the freedom to make transactions in a permissionless way. Decentralized finance relieves the burden of relying on institutions for monitoring, data storage, server space, and other aspects.
By ensuring that individual transaction histories can be easily shared with the user, blockchain networks are successful in achieving all of these qualities.Immune to Human Error
When banking activities are processed by individuals working in a bank, there is always the probability of human and operational errors. DeFi relies on self-executing smart contracts.
Smart contracts are programs that run on the blockchain. Basically, it’s a piece of code that runs and executes automatically when certain conditions are met. These conditions can be anything, from the outcome of a football match to a bet on tomorrow’s weather. The best thing about them is that they are immutable and cannot be changed.
The use cases for smart contracts are wide and varied. They can be used to store information such as an agreement between two parties or property rights, financial dealings, or even as a digital marriage certificate, with no need for a third party like a government agency to mediate or enforce the contract.
Using smart contacts removes the probability of human error because all transactions are executed on a blockchain. Unless, of course, the smart contracts themselves contain the error.Transparency
Since DeFi is based on blockchains, anyone with an internet connection can see the record of each and every transaction ever made to and from the financial services you are invested in. It is transparent to everyone as all the data is processed through smart contracts that are openly available to the public. You can see and track all the movements of every single fund. Yet, it is so secure that no one can hack into this system and modify it.Cons of DeFi
Image source: Marco VerchScalability
DeFi platforms are definitely a great tool to provide access to banking to everyone. However, there are concerns with the limitations of how much load a blockchain network can take at a time.
The credit card company Visa can handle 65,000 transactions per second. On the other hand, blockchains like Etherium can only handle 14 to 15 transactions a second. While there are other blockchains out there that aim to solve this issue, it’s still a work in progress.Liquidity Concerns
As of the last quarter of 2023, the market cap of the worldwide banking industry was estimated to be around $8.23 Trillion. Comparatively, DeFi is still a relatively small market.
At the time of this article, the total value locked in DeFi protocols is around $74.6B and has recently touched an all-time high of just over $110B in November 2023. So it may also be hard to put your faith in a sector that is so much smaller than regular banks.Responsibility
Let’s say you transfer money to a wrong account. In DeFi, there is no chance for you to get back your money since there is no governing body overlook the transaction. In short, there is little room for mistakes.Types of DeFi Platforms
In the world of Decentralized Finance, services or companies are called protocols as they are just bytes of self-executing code. With the increasing demand for DeFi services, there are a lot of new platforms being launched every day. Most of them are divided into four major categories – borrowing and lending, staking, insurance, and decentralized exchanges. Let’s take a deeper look into them.
PexelsBorrowing and Lending
An obvious problem coming to mind with DeFi is that how will a decentralized banking system be able to give out loans? Taking a loan from a DeFi service is just like taking a loan from a traditional bank. With services like MakerDAO, Compound, and AAVE, anyone can take out a loan without disclosing their real identity to anyone within a few minutes.
However, there is a slight difference here. Since there is no way to verify the annual income which banks use to calculate the payback capacity of the borrower, the responsibility to determine to amount to loan comes down to the collateral size.
To take a loan from a DeFi service, the borrower will need to provide a collateral of greater value than the amount they intend to borrow. For example, if you wish to take a loan of $1,000 from a DeFi protocol such as MakerDAO, you will have to collateralize $150 worth of Etherium. This over-collateralization prevent a sudden drop in the price of the collateral.
As a lender, DeFi allows anyone to loan their crypto assets to someone else and earn interest on them. Until DeFi, such luxury was a bank exclusive. However, since these loans are granted through smart contracts, which execute themselves without the need of an intermediating body, now anyone can have a bite of the lending and borrowing business.Staking
In layman’s terms, securing or storing cryptocurrencies in a network is called staking it. When you stake your crypto, as the staker, you earn rewards in the form of the currency you’ve staked. But these rewards are there for a reason. Staked assets help proof-of-stake (PoS) based blockchains improve their speed and security.
Staking does not involve a lot of work from the user’s end after you’ve gone through the staking process it will work very well as a source of passive income. The returns on your investment would range somewhere between 5-20% per annum, depending on the crypto market and your staked coin’s price.Insurance
It makes sense to think that a financial system that exists entirely on the internet is very susceptible to cyber-attacks or system malfunctions which may put your assets at risk. To prevent this, companies have started insuring DeFi assets for their customers against hackers, smart contract failures, stablecoin price crashes, or others.
You can get your assets insured by paying a premium based on the size of the assets you’re insuring. For example, insuring 1 ETH against hacks on Binance for a year will cost you around 0.0259 ETH.
You can also become a coverage provider and earn interest on the assets you have lent to the company to be used as security in case a claim needs to be paid. There is obviously a risk here, as your assets might be used up to provide for a loss, but this is why the interest you earn as a coverage provider is also higher than DeFi lending.Decentralized Exchanges
Decentralized exchanges, also called as DEXs, are peer-to-peer marketplaces that facilitate the trading of cryptocurrencies without handing over your money to a third-party governing body. These exchanges use smart contracts to allow traders to execute orders without the need for a middleman. In contrast, centralized exchanges are run by a centralized institution that is in complete control of the exchange and can change its terms and conditions anytime.DeFi Services You Can Use Today 1. Anchor
Anchor protocol is a lending service that aims to provide a 20% return on stablecoins. The lenders make a return on the money they provide to the borrowers. Borrowers, in turn, have to provide collateral in the form of LUNA or ETH. This is done to prove their financial worthiness to take a loan.
When borrowers put these assets in the protocol, Anchor automatically stakes them, allowing them to earn staking incentives. Borrowers receive UST, the Terra ecosystem’s stablecoin, in exchange for their money. The funds come from lenders who deposit UST in the Anchor protocol.
To avoid liquidation, the assets that borrowers deposit must be well-collateralized. Borrowers will also be responsible for the interest on this loan, which will be reflected in their collateralization levels.
Interest rates are also determined by the amount of UST lenders on the Anchor protocol who have deposited. This interest, plus the returns from the staked “bonded” assets, is what pays lenders their 20% fixed interest rate.2. Aave
With a rapidly expanding market size, Aave might become one of the world’s most widely used DeFi lending platforms. Aave has simplified and expedited the process of lending and earning interest on digital assets. This allows one Aave user to borrow funds from another Aave user in just a few minutes.
The maximum amount of such loans is usually kept low because they are not collateralized and are subject to costs. One of the benefits of having such a wide scale of operation and utilization is that interest rates for particular assets are steady. Another perk with Aave is that it supports over 15 cryptocurrencies, which makes the entire process of borrowing and lending even smoother.3. Terra (Luna)
If you’ve ever traded in crypto, chances are that at some point, you’ve had some USDT tokens in your wallet. Well, even though a major segment of the idea of cryptocurrencies is based on supporting decentralization, USDT tokens are centralized.
Every USDT token ever minted is backed by actual US dollars kept as collateral to balance USDT’s value against the US dollar in the real world. The involvement of these central authorities has caused numerous clashes. It resulted in the appearance of Tether scams which have the potential to disrupt the entire crypto market.
These tokens are hosted on Terra’s own blockchain that seeks to address a variety of concerns and challenges that plague even the most popular stablecoins on the market. With its Decentralized Financial infrastructure, it strives to overcome centralization and eliminate technical grudges on stablecoins.
Terra offers multiple stablecoin options, such as its TerraUSD (UST), pegged directly to the USD. It also offers TerraSDR (SDT), directly pegged to IMF’s SDR, TerraKRW (KRT) linked to the South Korea currency (Won), and TerraMNT pegged directly to Mongolian tugrik.4. Uniswap
Uniswap is one of the largest decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. It allows you to easily exchange cryptocurrency tokens without having to share your information with any third-party broker.
You can also participate in Uniswap’s liquidity pools to earn passive income on your crypto assets by staking. Apart from that, you can quickly trade digital assets built on the Etherium blockchain.5. Avax
Avalanche (AVAX) is a very easy-to-use decentralized platform that allows anyone to launch their own smart contracts on the blockchain. It’s primarily designed to help people build fast, affordable dApps that are compatible with Solidity.
AVAX enables low-cost interoperability between third-party tokens. This helps enhance the DeFi environment with a permissionless framework that allows users to establish private or public customized blockchains.
It also serves as a marketplace for DeFi users, allowing them to trade, swap, and store their assets and products. Additionally, Avalanche users can customize the fundamental technology that underpins their blockchains, including validators.
Within the DeFi space, Avalanche uses a peer-to-peer payment system that has shown to be a quick, secure, and scalable network. And with the promising roadmap ahead, it is on its way to help developers easily make decentralized applications like games and social media platforms and launch them on their own customized blockchain, all using a single platform.The Future of DeFi
DeFi is rapidly changing and expanding to replicate the traditional financial services ecosystem through decentralized exchanges, lending, and borrowing of various asset types or insurance products.
Just by analyzing the growth, we can assume that DeFi can eventually have an impact on the future of centralized finance companies. DeFi is considered cheaper, faster, and more relevant alternative.
However, it’s still in the beginning stages of its evolution, which means the ecosystem is still riddled with infrastructural gaps. So before DeFi wins the title of “better solution”, there are a lot of issues that need to be solved.Frequently Asked Questions 1. Is it safe to keep money in DeFi platforms instead of banks?
Even though DeFi platforms are fairly safe due to their solid algorithms, errors can appear. It is because sometimes it takes years to find out a bug in the smart contracts running them that someone can later exploit. However, no form of store of value can be considered safe, neither banks nor DeFi. So it all depends on what risk you are willing to take.2. What is TVL in DeFi?
In the DeFi industry, TVL stands for Total Value Locked. It refers to the total amount of money invested by people in a protocol. For example, Anchor has a TVL of $15B. This means that the total sum of money staked with them is $15B.3. How to find good DeFi projects to invest in?
To find good DeFi coins to invest in, you can use crypto screeners like Coinmarketcap or CoinGeko that list out all the DeFi coins in a separate index. Moreover, they also provide basic information about DeFi projects, including details like their market cap, circulating supply, and most importantly, a summary of what the project is about.
Image credits: Pexels
Ojash has been writing about tech back since Symbian-based Nokia was the closest thing to a smartphone. He spends most of his time writing, researching, or ranting about Bitcoin. Ojash also contributes to other popular sites like MakeUseOf, SlashGear, and MacBookJournal.
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Just when you thought smart technology couldn’t get any more intrusive than it already is, manufacturers of baby products come up with a smart diaper. The most recent examples of smart diapers are the Lumi by Pampers or the Monit x Huggies diaper line, designed to help you monitor your baby through a “connected care system”.
Is this just another smart device that you don’t need?What Is a Smart Diaper
A smart diaper is a convenient underwear with an RFID sensor that alerts parents when it’s time to change the baby.
In the first several months of their lives, babies tend to urinate often, approximately 20 times a day. If you had to change your baby’s diaper each time he or she wets or soils the nappy, it’d get incredibly exhausting and expensive.
It’s not necessary to wake your baby every time just to change a wet diaper, which is about 4 tablespoons of liquid. However, with a poopy diaper, which counts as two wets, you need to change the baby immediately because it’ll irritate the baby’s skin.
Smart diapers are thus a way of helping parents prevent such skin irritations and other problems that may arise from leaving the diaper on the baby too long and make the baby miserable.How Smart Diapers Work
Smart diapers are built with a tiny RFID sensor that detects moisture in the baby’s diaper and then sends a signal to a nearby receiver, which then gets to the parent or caregiver via an alert.
The sensor, developed by researchers at MIT, doesn’t bulk up the diaper. It’s simply embedded in the hydrogel found in disposable diapers. The hydrogel expands when the diaper is wet and triggers a tag to send signals to the RFID reader within one meter radius. All this happens without the use of batteries.
This way, you (the parent or caregiver) can place the RFID sensor’s reader next to the baby’s crib, or your bed (yes, there are smart beds , too) which enables the sending of alerts to your smartphone. If you have a keychain with a portable reader, you can also get alerts.Is It Safe to Use a Smart Diaper?
Smart diapers are rather expensive at the moment and built around a removable Bluetooth sensor, which you need to charge and clean regularly. It tries to do too much as a smart solution by tracking not only wetness (pee and poop) but also your child’s sleep patterns.
As we’ve already seen, the RFID sensor is placed under a type of hydrogel, in the form of a layer of super absorbent polymer, which usually soaks up moisture in diapers. When the diaper is wet, the material will expand, send a signal to the sensor and you get the alert on your phone.
In terms of safety, your baby’s skin doesn’t get into contact with the sensor, just as it doesn’t come into contact with the hydrogel liquid tucked away in the diaper. Similarly, the sensor doesn’t use any batteries which would have otherwise been dangerous, especially with lead leaks.
For now, there are no known dangers to using the smart diaper, but with time and further research, these may be brought out by the developers. Otherwise, the regular diaper works just fine for your baby.Are Safe Diapers Necessary?
Diapers aren’t just for babies though – aging populations or bedridden patients need them, too. The latter, who are unable to take care of themselves, make the case for smart diapers viable, as caregivers can be notified of patients who need changing, especially in multi-bed hospitals.
Even though researchers hope for a cheaper smart diaper with an integrated, low-cost sensor that can detect moisture in conventional diapers, they seem like overkill really. Currently, there are normal diapers that have a little yellow line which turns to a blue color when your baby pees so you don’t even have to look in the diaper.
Plus, if your baby has peed or pooped, it’s easy to know because he or she will cry. When the baby cries, you check the diaper first, and if it’s dry, then you’ll know he or she is gassy, hungry, or about to go to the bathroom.
Since the dawn of time, parents have been taking care of their babies the natural way – waiting for the cry. While the diaper department has seen some simple technological breakthroughs over time, a special smart diaper with an RFID sensor just seems to be too much already.
Besides, smart diapers will certainly cost a lot more than your regular brand of diapers, and restocking only adds to the costs.
There’s no strong case for the use of smart diapers for babies as there is with the case of incontinent seniors or aging people who aren’t able to manage their bowel movements and need help with that. If anything, you can know when your baby has peed or pooped or if their sleep patterns aren’t regular because anything that affects them will affect you too.Wrap-Up
My passion has always been to share every bit of useful information I find on tech, with the ultimate goal of helping people solve a problem.
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With over 40% market share, Android TV is one of the leading smart TV platforms out there. As internet adoption is accelerating across the world, users are looking for smart TVs to play content over the internet and Android TV is filling the need. That said, there are users who are still stuck with cable television and they are looking to understand this new Android TV landscape. So if you want to learn what is Android TV and how it works then you have come to the right place. Here, we explain everything about Android TV, its pros, cons, and the future. With that in mind, let’s begin.Everything You Need to Know About Android TV What is Android TV?
Android TV is a smart TV platform developed by Google. When I say smart TV, it means a TV that can deliver content from the internet (called IPTV). So to use Android TV, internet connectivity is a must. Talking a bit about its development history, the platform was announced back in 2014 against the rising need for more IPTV solutions. Now, not just traditional TV sets, but set-top boxes, digital players, and even soundbars run Android TV.
Unlike Android that we run on our smartphones, the TV interface is quite different. It has a top-to-down scrollable interface with row-based menus. Android TV emphasizes more on content discovery by aggregating content from multiple apps. So that was all about the basics of Android TV. Let’s now find the best features of Android TV.Android TV Features
Since Android TV is based on Android OS, it has Play Store support which means you can access thousands of Android apps optimized for the TV platform. It has been six years since Android TV was announced so now you have a variety of quality apps that work fluidly on the TV platform. You no longer have to use a web browser as almost all the streaming and live TV services have an app for Android TV.
Apart from that, the headline feature of Android TV is Chromecast integration. On all Android TVs, you can play content right from your smartphone and desktop (through Chrome browser). You can cast the smartphone screen on your Android TV seamlessly. In fact, some Android TVs also support casting from Windows 10.
Besides that, all Android TVs now come with a dedicated “Google Assistant” button. It’s not one of those gimmicky features, but one that works superbly well. Leveraging Google’s Knowledge Graph, Google Assistant can show precise results of your queries. For instance, if you ask Google Assistant to “play the crown”, it will show you all the streaming options available from different sources. You can even purchase a movie right on your Android TV seamlessly.
Finally, we have Android TV remotes. Unlike remotes of traditional TVs and set-top boxes, it’s quite minimalist with just a few buttons in place. The reason behind this design approach is Google Assistant that can largely understand any query you throw at it, even in your local language. I would say if you are going to get an Android TV, be ready to use the voice assistant frequently. For the old-school users, there is an on-screen keyboard, but chances are you are not going to use it.Hardware Need
Nvidia Shield TV is one of the popular media players that run on Android TV and it comes with powerful specs under the hood. For instance, it has got Nvidia’s in-house Tegra X1 processor with a dedicated 256-core Nvidia GPU. There are also Android TVs that come with HDR, HDR10, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos support. All these feature add-ons depend on the TV manufacturer so before buying an Android TV, do look for these perks.What About Android TV Updates?
Yearly update on Android TV does not have a fixed number as it depends on the TV manufacturer. Most companies offer 2-3 years of updates, but frankly, it’s not enough. TVs last much longer than smartphones so Google should up the game and address the update issue directly.
Gaming on Android TV
As we went through the hardware requirements, it’s clear that Android TVs are not meant for gaming since it comes with modest specs. You can however play non-intensive Android games from the Play Store. Apart from that, with game streaming services on the rise like Stadia, GeForce Now, and xCloud, it’s now possible that you can play high-end titles on your budget Android TV.
Google has already committed support for Stadia and it’s coming to the successor of Android TV (called Google TV, again) in the first half of 2023. Talking about Google TV, let’s find out how Google TV is different from Android TV.Android TV vs Google TV
Google’s rebranding of its smart TV platform has come a full circle. Starting with Google TV in 2010 and moving to Android TV in 2014, Google has decided to rebrand Android TV with Google TV again in 2023. Unlike earlier drastic changes, this time Google TV keeps the same Android base but improves personalized recommendations and on the curation front.
As Google knows too much about us, it plans to offer highly-curated content on Google TV. It also offers a “Watchlist” menu where you can find all the movies that you have saved on the web. Next, you can get your smartphone notifications on your Google TV and control IoT devices right from your TV. Basically, with Google TV, Google wants to streamline your viewing experience and offer you a more personal dashboard.
If you want to try out Google TV on your Android TV then you can do so by following our guide. It works for the most part, but some features are still broken. Google aims to replace all Android TVs with Google TV by the end of 2023, but it will depend on TV manufacturers if they want to pass the update to you.
Currently, you can use Google TV officially in the US if you choose to buy the new “Chromecast with Google TV” dongle. The company has stated that Chromecast with Google TV will be coming to more countries in 2023. In addition, smart TVs, set-top boxes, and dongles will ship with Google TV out of the box in 2023.List of Popular Android TVs (Continually Updated)
Marq (flipkart)Marq 43AAUHDM43
iFFALCON (by TCL)iFFALCON 43K6143
VU 43 OA43
VU 43 OA -V143
VU 55-OA V155
Kodak 32HDXSMART V132
Kodak 40FHDXSMART V140
Thomson 40M4099 PRO40
Thomson 32M3277 PRO32
Thomson 55 OATHPRO 010155
Thomson 43 OATHPRO 200043
Thomson 65 OATHPRO 202365
Thomson 75 OATHPRO212175
Thomson 43 OATH 100043
Thomson 49 OATH 900049
Toshiba 43L505043Android TV and Google TV Explained For You
The new year is upon us. That means resolution time. Millions of people will dive into the anxifying world of self-improvement—through diet, exercise and whatnot. One thing that’s sure to be flying off drug store shelves: teeth whitening treatments.
Bleaching and scrubbing our pearly whites (so they become pearlier and whiter), has become an $11 billion-plus national obsession. Some of these off-the-shelf products, and even dental office procedures, have downsides. Before you beautify those canines, here are a few things to consider.How did we get here?
Teeth whitening has been cultural compulsion going back to the Egyptians, who mixed wine vinegar with crushed pumice to polish their smiles. Even worse were the early Romans. (Skip this next part if you’re squeamish): They used urine to whiten their teeth; it turns out the ammonia contained in our wastewater excretions acts as a bleach. Good to know. Thankfully, today’s treatments are not so unsavory. Consumers have access to dozens of abrasives, bleaches, and lasers that will brighten their smiles without giving them ye olde urine breath.
How many of us shine our grills? In a 2013 U.S. survey, 89 percent of orthodontists said patients had asked them to whiten their teeth. Then there are all the over-the-counter kits that made up an $11 billion dollar market in 2013, a market that is expected to grow another $44 million by 2023.
So how good is this stuff for your teeth?
That depends on the treatment—and your teeth. Genetics, hygiene, and past dental work can all play a part. Whitening, for example, doesn’t work on crowns or veneers. There are some potential short term side effects, like tooth sensitivity. And longterm effects are still TBD. But on the whole, dentists say it works as long as you don’t get carried away. Keep in mind that everyone’s teeth are different, and the effectiveness and side effects will vary person to person.
Crest MultiCare Whitening toothpaste Scott Ehardt/Wikimedia CommonsHere’s how whitening works.
Teeth color with age. The tooth’s interior, known as the dentin, yellows, and the enamel (the protective outer layer) thins from a lifetime of brushing. Lifestyle choices, from drinking coffee and red wine to smoking and taking certain medications, such as tetracycline, can further discolor your teeth.
Whitening works in one of two ways. It either removes surface stains from the enamel or it changes the color of the dentin.
Whitening toothpastes use abrasives to scrub away surface stains. Because toothpaste works only on superficial stains, (as opposed to the inner dentin, where most discoloration actually occurs) the visible effect is pretty minimal. It’s usually no more than one shade lighter on the 16-point tooth shade scale and lasts as long as you keep it up.
If you do go this route, though, make sure you use an approved toothpaste so you’re not causing damage to the enamel. The list of toothpastes approved by the American Dental Association for safety and effectiveness includes six kinds from Colgate, five from Crest, and two from Tom’s of Maine.
To actually change the color of the dentin requires bleaching. This has a more dramatic effect, making teeth three to eight shades whiter. And the color lasts about two or three years.
What color are your teeth?
The Vita shade guide has 16 different shades.
Generally, bleach-based whiteners contain either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide (which reacts with water to form hydrogen peroxide). When these chemicals break down, they release oxygen into the enamel on the teeth, which lightens the color.
For professional bleaching, dentists tend to use high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, between 25 and 40 percent. This stuff can burn your gums, so the dentist will cover your gums with a rubber dam to protect them during treatment. This method is sometimes used in combination with a light or laser, though there’s no proof that this makes the treatment more effective.
At-home treatments come in the form of trays, gels, and adhesive strips. These methods use lower concentrations of the same chemicals, usually 5 to 15 percent hydrogen peroxide, which makes them safer.
Both methods have proved effective when used as directed.
A third method, popular among the lazy set, is a little weirder. Some people actually use whitening chewing gum and paint-on whitener, but neither seems to work. It can make you feel better about sticking to your New Year’s resolution, though. Same goes for DIY treatments such as strawberry and baking soda. They don’t seem to work, but they make you feel like you’re taking action.
You could, of course, concoct your own at-home whitening elixir, using diluted hydrogen peroxide. But the trick is getting the liquid to stay on your teeth for long enough (30 to 60 minutes) without coming into contact with your gums during that time. This is why the trays and strips are so handy, and so popular.Okay, what’s the downside?
Like everything, moderation is key. People have been known to become so obsessed with their whitening results, that they use the kits far too often. The condition even has a name: bleachorexia, where people bleach over and over, sometimes as often as weekly, in a quest for ever-whiter teeth. (Not so different than tanorexia, though on the other end of the color spectrum.)
Such intense and repeated bleaching can wear down enamel to dangerous levels. Not only can this make teeth more sensitive, but it can expose more of the dentin, which could, ironically, make the teeth appear yellower. As a rule, don’t use the whitening treatments more often than recommended by your dentist or the instructions on the box.
For the non-obsessives among us, bleaching and these other treatments have very few lasting side-effects. Studies since the late 1980’s have shown that the short-term effects are mild and short-lived: just the occasional sensitive teeth or irritated gums following treatment. No long-term effects have been found in studies yet, but according to a review paper from 2009, more research is needed to be certain. Especially since most of the studies have been paid for by the companies that produce the whiteners.
One other thing to keep in mind. These are cosmetic procedures, so don’t confuse white teeth with healthy teeth. You still need to brush and floss (two to three times a day) if you want your teeth to last you a lifetime.
Whatever you do, don’t get your teeth whitened at a mall kiosk, in a spa, or on a cruise ship. Yes, these services exist and seem quite handy. But a number of states have actually passed laws to keep whitening at the dentist’s office. Don’t leave something as important as oral health in the hands of a mall worker.Bottom line
Ask your dentist if you should whiten, even—or maybe especially—before going the over-the-counter route.
Follow-up if you feel tooth sensitivity to cold or heat, or if your gums get irritated.
And leave mall workers to peddle scented lotions and R/C helicopters—things that are (arguably) less risky to your health.
What is a Balloon Payment?
Balloon payment, as the term suggests, refers to a lump sum payment made by the borrower to the lender towards the loan or mortgage, usually higher than the monthly installments made towards the loan. A balloon payment is produced mainly at regular intervals or even at the end of the loan tenure.
Start Your Free Investment Banking CourseKey Takeaways for Balloon Payment
Balloon payments and mortgages have a commercial flair to them. Since it involves more significant loan amounts and larger payments, it’s not uncommon for retail consumers to prefer to stay away from it.
There is no question here to check whether balloon payments are good or bad, as it depends on the borrower and his financial obligations/requirements.How does it work?
The borrower takes a short-term loan, but monthly payments to be made towards the loan are calculated as if the loan is to be repaid in a longer timeframe, say 10, 20, or even 30 years timeframe. Here if you notice, the amount to be repaid by the borrower for the loan taken for the short term may not cover the whole loan repayment, and thus the concept of balloon payment comes into the picture.
Here, the borrower takes a loan from the lender at a mutually agreed timeframe and interest rate. Once the loan transaction has taken place, parties agree on when to schedule the balloon payments and accordingly arrive at a monthly payment to be made by the borrower regularly.
It is not uncommon for the borrower to make balloon payments towards the loan at the end of loan tenure to repay the whole balance principal amount.Example of Balloon Payment
Let’s say Mr. Peter has taken a $500,000 loan for a tenure of 5 years at an interest rate of 4%.
Based on the above example, Peter will have to make a balloon payment of $356,780 at the end of the 5th year.
Based on mutual discussion amongst the parties, the reader may note that they may agree to a balloon payment at the beginning of the loan tenure or anytime during the loan tenure. In such a scenario, the interest charge may change accordingly.
Let’s take another scenario of the balloon payment, wherein Mr. Peter takes the loan with the same conditions. Still, the parties agree to charge only interest for the loan tenure period, with the principal repaid at the end of the loan tenure.
In such a case, Mr. Peter will pay approximately $900 monthly for five years, which will be adjusted towards interest. In such a situation, Mr. Peter can use the $500,000 immediately for his financial needs for small payments towards the interest component. This helps him in finance management.Balloon Payments and Mortgages
A balloon payment mortgage is nothing but a loan taken, and the repayment is structured so that it already considers the balloon payments to be made by the borrower at the end of the loan tenure.Application of Balloon Payments
Application of balloon payments is mainly found by organizations which may be small business owners, home buyers, businesses planning an expansion, and companies being in or entering into the development phase of the growth cycle.
Usually, these are the businesses or categories which require an initial more enormous cash outflow, with revenue-yielding activities taking up starting a couple of years.
It will be good to understand that having balloon payments structured in loan help these businesses meet the initial cash crunch and act as a great financial tool.Advantages of Balloon Payments
Lower monthly payments are to be made, as the calculation for monthly payments is made on a more extended tenure basis.
Saved from the burden of high-interest rates, the person will not have to bear interest if he has to take a loan for a longer duration.
Beneficial for people who have bulk payments coming into the business
Helpful for people who need short-term financing
A person may be able to fetch larger loans in comparison to the usual loan
Useful for people who anticipate getting bulk income at particular or specified times
A default will be very detrimental, as the borrower will have to make the balloon payment in any way.
High risk as the repayment to be made towards balloon payment is huge
Refinancing is possible but will entail higher interest rates
The borrower may overestimate his repaying capacity
In case the borrower plans to sell off a particular asset to make the balloon payment, a change in a market scenario can have a significant impact on the prices of the asset
Improper planning is a significant hindrance to balloon payment structuresConclusion
In a few words, balloon payment means a loan that involves monthly payments of a smaller amount towards interest and principal (mostly good) and a lump sum payment at the end of loan tenure towards the principal. This large payment made at the end of loan tenure is nothing but a balloon payment, a name given because of the nature of the transaction.
Due to its nature, it’s easier to understand why such a transaction is usually seen in commercial transactions rather than consumer ones.Recommended Articles
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
You may have heard of a feature called ECG (or EKG) making its way onto wearables. Devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, Apple Watch Series 8, Withings Scanwatch, and several other smartwatches, now come with an ECG sensor baked in. Find out what you need to know about ECG technology and why it matters in consumer wearables.
What is ECG?
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
Short for electrocardiogram, an ECG is a test that measures the heart’s electrical activity. It is an easy, noninvasive way for a medical team to detect common heart problems. These can include everything from irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias) to potentially blocked or clogged arteries. Your doctor may also use an ECG if you have previously had a heart attack or if you are experiencing concerning symptoms such as heart palpitations, a rapid pulse, or chest pain. Similarly, patients who have received heart-related treatments, such as the addition of a pacemaker, may have an ECG used to see how their health is progressing.
An electrocardiogram records the electrical signals produced by the heart. With each beat, an electrical wave causes your heart to contract and pump blood to the rest of the body. An ECG measures this electrical wave to help determine the strength and activity of your heart. Plotting these electrical signals in a graph, an ECG produces a reviewable electrocardiogram. Analyzing this graphical representation of the electrical activity in the heart (and the time between heartbeats) can help determine if your heart’s activity is normal, slow, fast, or irregular. It can also tell if parts of the heart are too large or overworked.
Also read: The best heart rate monitors and watchesECG vs. EKG: Is there a difference?
The only difference between ECG vs. EKG is the spelling of the abbreviation. ECG is an abbreviation for electrocardiogram or electrocardiograph — both English words — while EKG is an abbreviation for the German spelling of elektrokardiogramm. Functionally, electrocardiogram sensors and elektrokardiogramm sensors are the same.How does it work?
In the past, this technology was exclusively used by medical professionals to evaluate patients. In an exam room or even in an ambulance, a medical technician attaches ten adhesive electrode patches to a patient’s chest, arms, and legs through this process. These patches connect the patient to a machine that interprets and displays the heart’s electrical patterns for a doctor to evaluate. The process is straightforward and completely painless.
So, if this way of performing an ECG is so simple, why do we need it on wearable technology? For starters, people with heart issues frequently need to monitor their heart health. If you can’t see your doctor right away, this can be difficult. Buying a wearable with an ECG sensor is a good way to keep an eye on things without setting up doctor appointments every other week.
Importantly, a wrist-based ECG is by no means a replacement for a professional medical ECG test. It may be helpful in some circumstances, but you should always consult your doctor regarding heart health.
Are there any downsides to ECG watches?
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority
Now that we’re seeing Fitbit, Apple, Withings, and other companies integrate ECG sensors into their wearables, why doesn’t every smartwatch come with one? There are a few reasons. First, ECGs in consumer-grade wearables are certainly a niche feature. If you don’t have heart issues, you may not ever use your wearable’s ECG. Companies that make wearables know this, which is why we don’t see ECGs tacked onto every single smartwatch.
Additionally, to sell a wearable with an ECG, the sensor needs to receive medical clearance. ECGs need to be FDA certified in the US, while CE clearance is needed in Europe. We’ve seen this approval process completely halt devices from launching in certain regions.
The Withings Scanwatch, which was announced in January 2023, only gained approval by the FDA for sale in the US in October 2023. This came months after it gained CE clearance in Europe. Fitbit also ran into the issue with the Fitbit Sense. It actually launched the smartwatch on time in the US, though FDA clearance came a few months later. ECG functionality rolled out to the watch in October 2023.
Beyond government setbacks, some companies have imposed limitations on these sensors. Samsung, for instance, has made the ECG found in Galaxy Watch 5 and 4 series devices exclusive to those with Samsung phones. If you own another Android device, you won’t gain access to the sensor. Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that not all ECG sensors are made equal. The Coros Vertix 2‘s sensor only records heart rate variability values, and there’s no way to view the device’s actual ECG data readouts.
Which wearables have ECG sensors?
C. Scott Brown / Android AuthorityWhy should you consider buying an ECG watch?
Wrist-based ECG is primarily for people who need to evaluate their heart patterns regularly. Maybe someone has a heart arrhythmia or atrial fibrillation (AFib) they need to monitor. Perhaps they’ve previously suffered from a heart attack and are now hoping their wearable can catch any irregularities before it’s too late. Maybe heart issues run in their family, and this is one easy step they can take to be proactive.
In the end, if you are reading this article because you didn’t know what an ECG was, you probably don’t need one on you at all times. But for some, this functionality could be revolutionary, if for nothing more than peace of mind.FAQs
An ECG may be used to detect a number of complications including arrhythmias, coronary artery disease, or a past or current heart attack.
If you experience chest pain, dizziness, confusion, shortness of breath, weakness/fatigue or the inability to exercise, heart palpitations, or a rapid pulse you may need to speak to your doctor about potential heart health concerns.
At a doctor’s office, ECG tests will generally take between five and ten minutes to perform.
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