Category Archives: Technology

Broadening the Boundaries of Education – Virtual Reality’s Learning Benefits

Virtual reality is set to change the future of higher learning thanks to the countless practical training applications. The augmented and virtual reality landscape is not set to be an asset for only academia, but skills development, risk management construction training such CCNSG training courses as well.

Educators are quickly learning that any subject can be paralleled within virtual reality. The safety of such training alone is reason enough to begin relying upon immersive simulations. Here we’ll be taking a closer look at the benefits of virtual reality within all levels of education and across all sectors. We are seeing exactly how and why the industry will be worth an estimated 40.4 billion US dollars by just 2020.

The Growth of Virtual Reality

From roughly the start of 2016, virtual reality was estimated to bring in $2.7 billion in revenue whereas just one year later its earnings skyrocketed to $7.2 billion. This massive growth has even impacted the artificial intelligence sector, as virtual reality hinges on it for efficient delivery of an automated experience.

The Global X Robotics and Artificial Intelligence fund alone, just one major player in the industry, has grown over 30% in a little over six months. All these movements are doing is highlighting the massive impact which virtual reality is beginning to impress upon our lives. As the technology becomes more commonplace there is a higher availability of developers and interest in simulation for training, distance learning and skills development. Let’s see which industries are showing the most significant expansion within education.

Distance Learning and Virtual Worlds

Virtual reality learning environments (VRLE) are excellent for long-distance learning. Never before has an educator been given the opportunity to share an interactive space with their learners in this way. Social virtual reality learning simulations allow for collaboration of various educators and students all within the same rendered classroom.

With the cost of entry-level smartphone based virtual reality being extremely low, devices such as Google Cardboard afford the disadvantaged an opportunity to receive proper education. The most basic example of affordable VR learning is the 360 degree videos available on free platforms such as YouTube. The chance to be walked through a battlefield or escorted through the Whitehouse while being narrated your syllabus fascinates learners. The knowledge retention of virtual reality-based education is outstanding.  These videos are only beginning to show what is possible given a bit of innovation and creative thinking.

Combat & Military Training in Virtual Reality

Whereas cutting edge military simulations are understandably not common knowledge, the public has been made aware of a few leading exhibits. VIRTSIM is a prime example of a military technology which has been shown in glimpses to the public. Developed by US defence contractor Raytheon, VIRTSIM uses full-body motion tracking to facilitate a massive virtual reality world which is used for military and emergency personnel education.

Their simulation includes muscle-stimulation via electric shock and full free and natural movement within an area comparable in size to a basketball court. With completely custom software and a hardware cost of over $100,000, this is high-end virtual reality. The University of California, Los Angeles is even promoting military developments for the US using VR. Their recently released 360-degree video entitled ‘Leaders Made Here’ allows prospective cadets to become immersed in a glimpse of training from the first-person perspective of a US Army officer.

Virtual Reality & PTSD

Realistic training simulations are not the only benefit which virtual reality holds for the military. Psychology has also found its uses through the treatment of PTSD, or posttraumatic stress disorder. Psychologist and Director of Medical Virtual Reality at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, Albert “Skip” Rizzo, has been successful using this technology to assist those returning from war.

His virtual reality-based exposure has successfully treated those suffering from all forms of trauma, PTSD and both sufferers of cognitive and motor decline. Once more psychologists grasp the potential of virtual reality and the scope of treatment available in a custom-created environment, it becomes inevitable that we will see great therapeutic value from this technology.

VR for Healthcare

The healthcare training functionality of virtual reality technology is invaluable. Surgeons and other medical staff are given the chance to carry out dangerously precise procedures with no risk to human life. Similarly, complex operations such as organ transplants can be simulated and practiced by the operating surgeon beforehand.

Developments such as Medical Realities for the Oculus Rift offer a full range of cost-effective surgical and medical training solutions. Access to a safe training environment of this calibre is a rarity in underdeveloped areas. This technology also allows surgeries to be broadcast via the virtual landscape. For example, the Royal London Hospital pioneered the way when Dr. Shafi Ahmed live-streamed a cancer surgery in 2014 via Google Glass. Today the practice is far more commonplace.

Medical students can study seasoned professionals from every angle, viewing the procedure as if they were present in the room. The newly launched HP Z back is a new technology which allows for full roaming in a virtual environment. The relatively low cost and across-the-board capabilities are toted to make it perfect for job training with telemedicine a prime application. We are soon to experience even more complex procedures at higher levels of immersion than ever before seen.

Virtual Reality – Evolving the Study of Art

Every area of arts, culture and education has been touched by the deployment of virtual reality. Recently the University of Virginia started up revolutionary art history classes, headed up by instructor Eric Hupe. This resourceful Italian renaissance art and culture instructor has begun including virtual reality in his classroom. He allows students to explore custom-created renderings of frescoed walls and art found in early renaissance Italy. The ability to show art students the magnificence, detail and beauty whilst standing before perfectly recreated inlaid wood panels and elaborate frescoes from the 14th and 15th century is unmatched by any other art class. Yet despite being unique in the execution, many other art instructors are turning to virtual reality to expand their creative horizons. Google has even released what is termed the ‘Tilt Brush’ to assist virtual artistry. Granting a glorious canvas in full virtual reality, this tool allows you to paint in or on a full 3D room. The entire area is available to your imagination. The possibilities are near endless. This marks just the beginning of artistic innovation within education and expression.


How VR Development Impacts Corporate Infrastructure

As one looks closer at the impact of virtual reality, it soon becomes clear that corporate enterprises have long been looking for this technology. From aviation to motor manufacturing and even natural resources, every industry can find practical training benefits by integrating virtual reality.

Fuel giant BP recently partnered with Igloo Vision to lower their risk at the Hull, England-based refinery. By running emergency procedures in a VR simulation maximum safety is guaranteed. Even the titan of aviation, Boeing, has begun investing in virtual reality.

Their venture capital arm Horizon X has poured over $3.5 million into an augmented and virtual reality start-up named C360 Technologies. They hope to facilitate improved employee training as well as an upgrade to their autonomous systems. These are but two of the many examples of how much change VR research and development brings. The European sector alone has grown to 487 companies as of midway through 2017. This number will continue to rise as the industry surges forward around the globe.

Public Virtual Reality Education Platforms

Expeditions VRGoogle Expeditions VR is a premier virtual reality learning experience which transports learners through guided educational 360-degree 3D tours. It allows students from around the world to visit historical landmarks while connecting multiple people to the same lesson through either Google Cardboard or a Daydream headset.

ClassVRClassVR is a highly flexible virtual reality platform which allows educators to develop their very own virtual reality classrooms and simulations. It gives easy access to an interface which makes over 500 preset subjects and their learning material available to be compiled into custom VR lessons. It even allows you to capture your own scenes and other multimedia content. Remote learning is made easy and cost-effective through this innovative development.

Virtual SpeechVirtual Speech has a singular focus, the development of public speaking skills and interview training. It is a great example of how virtual reality can be used to deliver specific training to remote learners. A better correspondence course on interpersonal communication is hard to find. Training real life skills in a virtual environment relieves most of the inhibiting pressure, while leaving just enough realism to simulate speaking in front of large amounts of people.

KinfulKinful is a platform which describes itself as a social-emotional learning curriculum. This setup encourages students to exchange interactions regarding their life and learning experience. The intercultural benefits of connecting learners from around the world are invaluable to long-term growth. Using Kinful, students can literally view the world through another’s eyes, in addition to meeting their peers in a virtual classroom.

The Future of VR and Education

Virtual reality is expanding in all areas.  Yet it is said that while virtual reality may be big, augmented reality has an even larger role in training and skills development. The ability to superimpose objects, people and machinery within a true-to-life environment grants immersion like no other virtual experience can.

Students will soon be capable of interacting with virtual objects and learning implements. This concept, termed embodied learning, grants far more potential than conventional means of education. Students are no longer forced to rely on interpretations of academic descriptions but can instead observe a rendering which looks and feels authentic.

Life is a journey of experience and both virtual and augmented reality allow for experiences which are normally out of reach of most individuals. By broadening the boundaries of our perceived reality we are extending the limits of education, innovation and inspired creation.

How Cryotherapy Start-ups Are Changing Health Industry

Cryotherapy (also known as cryo sessions or cold therapy) is a rather unusual medical treatment because many people have a very inaccurate view of what it actually is. The popularity of science fiction in all its forms have built a very advanced image of cold therapy when it’s real-world uses are actually far more on the mundane side.

According to Coldwellness, one of the industry leading manufacturers of cold therapy chambers, It’s used to treat a wide range of issues most commonly tissue damage, it can also be used in a range of cosmetic procedures as well. It’s a popular choice of therapy for the sports industry because it’s a quick and effective way to decrease inflammation and improve rejuvenation.

And despite its futuristic reputation amongst the general public, it’s a therapy that’s been around since the 17th century. Cryotherapy can also be carried out in a number of different ways at its most simple ice packs can be used, but there is also liquid nitrogen based treatments and whole-body therapy.

While more complex medical producers like cryo surgery are carried out at hospitals whole-body therapy and other similar simple procedures are available in certain spas and gyms. Cold therapy has many uses and has been adapted into a wide range of different treatments and therapies, but while it might have a much early history than many people know it’s the future of cold therapy that’s really of interest.

Cold Therapy Start-ups

The healthcare industry is always changing and cold therapy as shown its self to be a popular choice for start-ups, especially in America in the past few years. Particularly whole-body therapy because it’s a relatively simple variant of cryo therapy with a wide array of uses.

Whole-body therapy uses refrigerated chambers and participants stay inside for a short duration, research on it as shown that whole-body therapy could stimulate the autonomic nervous system (ANS) causing it to help relieve pain and soreness from a wide array of existing conditions. So, there are a lot of potential opportunities for entrepreneurs when it comes to cryotherapy. 

You could become the new manufacturer of the refrigerated units that are needed for whole-body therapy for example? Or you could start your own spar business specialising in different cold therapies, there’s also been a rise in cold therapy based franchising opportunities as well.

Cold treatment start-ups are rising because it has so many different opportunities, whether you want to become the new manufacturer, focus on being a treatment provider, or you want to add it to your existing business there’s a lot of potential opportunities for entrepreneurs. But what impact could this have on the healthcare industry?

Disrupting The Healthcare Industry

The healthcare industry is always changing and as technology advances those changes are going to come much faster. Cold therapy due to its wide array of uses and the ease of access people have to certain therapies as the potential to drastically disrupt the healthcare industry. This could have far reaching implications in a variety of ways.

More and more people could turn to whole body therapy instead of relying on traditional treatments or painkillers. This could mean that more start-ups are founded with the sole purpose of being the manufacturer of cold therapy products and equipment.

Or they could instead focus on training others on how to safely provide a range of different cold therapies.  America’s healthcare industry, in particular, could be hugely affected by the popularity of cold therapies because unlike other countries the U.S healthcare industry does not yet officially recognize cryotherapy for insurance purposes.

Although licensing and training are still needed in order to offer the services outside a hospital or professional medical setting.

Alongside other technologies like artificial intelligence, medical based virtual reality, and 3D printing cryotherapy is predicted to be one of the leading and most disruptive new technologies in the healthcare industry.

With the potential to be adopted by a number of different industries and a wide range of uses entrepreneurs will no doubt be taking a more serious look at the potential of cryotherapy in the years to come.   

The Future of Cryotherapy

It’s sort of ironic that the biggest developments in cold therapy are still likely to come when you consider many people believe it to be an advanced medical practice solely used in sci-fi movies. But while we haven’t quite developed the futuristic stasis technology you see in the movies cold therapy will likely be seeing a lot of development in the coming decades.

Few medical treatments can offer the levels of versatility and flexibility of cold therapy and its popularity in the sports and cosmetic industry, as well as a number of celebrity endorsements, have made it very popular. So, I believe it will be a big name in the future of the healthcare industry.

The 9 steps to perfect WordPress maintenance for your business

“Use WordPress” they said! “You’ll make a great looking site easily” they said! “You’ll feel a bit overwhelmed by trying to maintain your site” they said! Oh, no one mentioned that last bit? Did you think you were the only one struggling? Worry not, if keeping on top of WordPress maintenance is a becoming a bit of a headache then we’re here to help.

The key to the smooth running of a WordPress site is being proactive and keeping on top of the regular WordPres website maintenance. We’ve got 9 fairly simple tips that’ll make sure your site never gives you a headache again…

  1. Backup!

It might seem like a simple and obvious first step but backing your site up is really important and overlooked by a lot of people. The main reason it’s overlooked is because of how infrequently it’s used – but, like lots of other things, you don’t realise how important it is until you need it.

The first step here is to have some kind of cloud-based backup – but be aware, if your site is hacked there’s a chance your backup might be compromised too. The most robust way of backing up is to take 2 or 3 backups over a period of a week, that way you can work on a rolling basis, only ever overwriting the oldest file – meaning if you accidently backup a compromised version then you can step a couple of days further back and restore again.

Make sure you’re not just backing up your database too, get all your files covered. Tedious? Maybe. Will you thank us for the advice if something goes wrong? Definitely.

     2.Moderate comments

Another simple one – keep on top of any comments you have enabled on the site. These are prime real-estate areas for spam bots placing dubious links. It won’t take you long to moderate your comments and it gives the impression of a well-maintained site to legitimate traffic.

     3. Keep your files up to date

Keeping files up to date isn’t dissimilar to backing up, it’s not a glamourous task but as far as preventative measures go it’s one of the best. The priority here are your WordPress core files, this is where big security issues are patched – meaning the big steps toward keeping your site safe are done on your behalf. Most hosting companies will give you the option to automatically allow these updates, so it’s a good idea to opt-in if that’s the case.

If you prefer to keep your hands on the reigns of your site for everything then keep your eyes peeled for core file update notifications and get them manually updated as a priority beyond their release.

     4.Update plugins

Plugins are great at a few things – on the plus side they’ll expand your site functionality way beyond anything the base platform can offer, on the downside, if they’re not properly maintained they’ll be great at causing speed, compatibility and security issues!

Keep on top of updates. If you’re working with plugins from good providers then you’ll find they keep up with your core updates – a good reason to make sure you’re only using resources from reputable sources. If you’ve having problems or you’ve stopped using one, get rid of it.

     5.Update your theme

If you’re one of the millions of people who’ve adopted a third-party theme for your site then you need to be a little careful with theme updates. Chances are you’ve customised colours or layout to some degree – make sure that when you update you’re not overwriting your customisation with a generic scheme.

But, don’t worry if you do, you’ve got 3 rolling backups now haven’t you?! 

     6.Maintain your database

The more you update the more you’ll accumulate MySQL and PHP overheads – in layperson’s terms this is the mess that’s left when database functions are performed, updates are made and so forth. Whether you use the Optimize Table function or use a piece of third-party software to keep things tidy it’s well worth doing – slowing down database queries is to website performance what keeping your handbrake on is to driving! 

      7.Traffic analysis

The only way to know if your site is doing what you want it to is to look at what your traffic is doing. Only you know what your goals are – is it sheer traffic numbers? Time spent on the site? Conversions? Completed transactions?

As a website owner or developer it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture, which takes us on to our next tip…

      8.Live the user experience

Your user experience is where your site will live or die. The best sites in the world are those that are a dream to use, simple, intuitive, predictable and understandable. Research shows that people will vote with their clicks if your site isn’t up to par, bouncing somewhere else quickly – and potentially never coming back.

Having others use your site can help with your objectivity, if that’s friends and family then great – but don’t be afraid to get someone on board who’s a user experience professional for a totally objective view.

There are lots of technical things you can check that have a big impact on a visitor experience and can be measured with simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers.

  • Does your site work neatly and efficiently over all browsers?
  • Do your forms work as they should?
  • Do all your navigation functions work and deliver users to the right place?
  • Do you have any broken links? 404 Errors?
  • Is your page load speed reasonable?

     9.Maintain your on-page-SEO

There are few jobs on a WordPress site that will stack up like on-page-SEO. You’ve got a choice – do you want to commit a few minutes each time you post to staying on top of the job, or do you fancy a tedious few hours by letting them build up?! For each page:

  • Make sure your H1 tags are only around your title
  • Make sure keywords are in your page URL
  • Place keywords carefully in the first paragraph of content
  • Include the right kind of outbound links
  • Have the right meta description in place

Prevention vs. the cure

So, you’ve read through – what do you think? 45 minutes to an hour’s worth of work each week? If you’re working flat out you might find it difficult to justify taking that time out – but ask yourself this, would you rather factor in those minutes now? Or be forced to spend hours further down the line to remedy, restore or re-do all that hard work? The most optimal thing you can do if you are trying to save on time is to to search out a WordPress website maintenance service to take care of all of these 9 steps listed above.

4 Top Ways in Which Technology Can Save Your Business Money

Technology is a wonderful thing and it is a great way to save your business money. If you are looking for small ways to cut costs for your business, then consider the following technology practices. You will be surprised at how easy they are and how much you can save. It’s so simple, you will laugh.

 

Telecommute

Telecommuting is something that is becoming more popular and obviously, employees love it many IT support companies are no implementing this technology for business across the globe. Statistics show that employees who are allowed to work from home, have increased rates of production instead of the expected ‘slacking off’ you may expect. Conferencing technology has made it so easy to telecommute and have conferences without the cost of plane tickets, gas, and the wasted time of travelling.

These simple changes in your business will save you a lot of money in the long run. This is the easiest and fastest way to cut costs through using technology in your business.

 

Mobile Payments

Mobile payment systems are a good way to save on banking fees. The fees won’t fall away completely, but most banks will offer a definite reduction in costs. There are different options for these systems and you can choose which one you prefer. Most young people, as well as their parents, will prefer paying with their phone rather than taking out a card or cash.

Electronic Receipts and Invoices

Gone are the days of spending money on paper, ink, and receipt printers. When you use online receipts and invoices, you are saving money and also helping to save the planet. Costs for receipt supplies add up over time and you can save so much of that money by going digital. An added bonus is that you now have email addresses of people who have visited your business or showed interest. They are possible leads for future sales.

Online Advertising

Online advertising and social media advertising are much cheaper than traditional advertising. This does not mean that you should throw out traditional advertising, but to save costs and reach more of your target audience, consider integrating social media and online advertising in your marketing plan. Online advertising enables you to reach your target audience more directly and you can track the effectiveness of your advertisements with stats.

 

 

3 Marketing Technologies That Every Business Needs

The online world is flooding with digital marketing tools. It is no wonder many companies are either hesitant to make use of them or so overwhelmed that they don’t know where to start. I want to share some tools that every business must have. These tools are the best for starting out online marketing and make it successful. The tools are easy to use and often less expensive than traditional marketing tools.

1. Search Engine Marketing – SEO and paid reach are some of the most important ways to get your website seen. If you want your website to show at the top of the search engine results, you need excellent SEO consultant and you need to make use of everything you’ve got. It is of no use if you have a great product and beautiful website if people cannot find you when they search for what you are selling. You can do basic SEO improvement yourself or you can hire professionals to update your website and do all the add-ins needed to rank higher on search engines.

2. Analytics – Analytics help you track how effective your advertisements and other marketing campaigns are working. They give you stats on the number of clicks, conversions, enquiries, page visits per day, etc. It is the best tool to learn about what you are doing wrong and also to see what is working. The most popular analytics tool is Google Analytics.

3. Conversion Optimization – The point of getting people to your website is to try and convert them to take action and buy from you or at least interact. If you use the right marketing apps and other tools, you can get a conversion rate that will make your business grow exponentially. Conversion is a very important goal for any business with a website, so why not put in the effort and money to get them? You can find a few tools for conversion optimization including Landing Page Grader, Unbounce, and Optimzely.

These three tools will already make a difference. There are a few other tools you can use, but we will look at them another day. I will leave you with one last tip: Be mobile-friendly.