Can Perception Be Reality

Can Perception Be Reality

Can Perception Be Reality – Yes, Through Virtual Reality

by Fathi Al Riyami

The 4th Annual ICT Forum “Leadership in the Digital Age” took place on April 5th 2015. The forum was informative and the topics followed the “Disruption by Design” theme that was set by Shatha Al Maskriy, the DG of Protiviti. A CEO panel provided their perspectives to a group of almost 250 business leaders. The following is an overview of virtual reality that was discussed by Fathi Al Riyami, CEO of Cosmic Surrounding Technology.

LeadershipIt is estimated by 2020 over 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet, equaling more than six devices for every living human on earth. These devices include 3D printers, virtual humans and many other technologies that are currently being developed.

Having the ability to enable clients, customers, executives, employees and business partners to fully visualize and understand a concept, design, or process can be a challenge. Fortunately, with recent advances in innovative technologies and creative capacities, we are able to more accurately and precisely share our visions with others. More specifically, given developments in 3D modeling, simulation design and visualization hardware, we can now instill the desired perceptions, virtual realities, that closely match our intended visions. This ability presents us with a wide assortment of potential and opportunities in areas such as training, design and product development that were previously not possible. The key to success with these implementations is to be well-versed in developing strategies, executing methodologies and tapping subject matter expertise.

Virtual Reality (VR) is the term used to describe a three-dimensional, computer-generated environment which can be explored and interacted by an individual or a group. Individuals who utilize Virtual Reality become part of what is known as virtual world or 3D interactive immersive environments and within these environment users have the ability to manipulate objects or perform a series of actions spontaneously.

virtual realityWith a combination of several technologies such as virtual reality, wearable devices such as Oculus Rift (OR), Samsung Gear VR are new virtual reality headset that lets users step inside their favorite environments and virtual worlds. The OR uses custom tracking technology to provide ultra-low latency 360° head tracking, allowing you to seamlessly look around the virtual world just as you would in real life. Every subtle movement of your head is tracked in real time creating a natural and intuitive experience and with 3D model designs we are able to provide live 3D data visualization, interactive creation, etc.

We have identified four industries or areas of focus during this presentation to showcase the relationship between highly advanced technologies such as VR and how these technologies provide rich return on human investment, productivity, collaboration locally or internationally and enhancing organizations exposure while providing customers with the opportunity of better products or service knowledge and understanding. These industries and areas are corporate training, HSE, road safety and tourism.

Corporate Training

When it comes to corporate training, may it be enhancing negotiation skills, product knowledge, managing projects or logistics it is possible to create virtual reality environments that would accommodate the corporate training as the environments can be designed to provide trainees with scenarios that would require their input and based on their input the situation within the scenario would change while the trainee experiences these changes and can almost feel the results due to being fully immersed in the virtual reality environment using the OR. Some of the inputs can be done by using OR and eye-focused detection that allows the trainee to select his or her preferred response thus enabling the trainee with the ability to engage with objects.

Training scenarios that are well planned and designed using Interactive 3D modeling can be of great benefit to an organization that is keen to enhance its employees training and talent development. In addition, simulation provides greater opportunity to practice as at time it is impossible for staff members to do so due to many factors such as corporate prestige and its reputation.

Experience, repetition and interaction are important processes in practical training. Virtual reality training provides this in a controlled and programmable environment. The application of virtual reality with a live trainer yields particularly high motivation from students and allows for technical tasks to be carried out under guidance in a safe and engaging environment.

Corporate HSE

It is important to have the ability of providing ongoing training in HSE and many other sectors as well. Virtual reality is able to provide experiences that are far superior to other methods. It is important to have a proper training in place, most organizations and industry currently in Oman require HSE. With Virtual reality and OR along with a well-designed training module provides knowledge and memorable experiences that trainers can share their wealth of knowledge and trainees can experience scenarios that typically might be risky or costly. Thus this provides the trainees with the ability of engaging and reacting to scenes or scenarios that are simulated of the real life HSE issues and having real life outcomes and results without endangering humans or risks.

HSEUsers conducting HSE Training, can tour training scenarios and identify areas of risks factors such as for example walking in a unsafe storage where the trainee must identify the danger area or situation within the environments such as unsafe storage of heavy items due to being stored to high, unsafe steps or wet floors. The virtual reality simulated environments can be developed to enhance factory, oil industries, ports that require logistics, and shipping companies and many other industries that require updated and ongoing training. These training can be for exploration purposes, coil tubing or transport of cargo and other products. While virtual reality plays an important role, it is important to have a proper instructional design that would correlate with HSE training purposes.

Road Safety

trainingIt is possible to have a cost effective experiences that have an effective results on road safety by simulating scenarios and exposing drivers to experiences associated with bad driving behavior. This can be enhanced with the use of Oculus Rift and readymade gaming consuls, such as the steering wheel, accelerator, breaks and a gear shifter. These elements combined together provide a realistic driving experience. These driving experiences can be expanded to school programs, online and on social media teaching and learning. With such setup it is possible to adjust the desired learning experiences and emphasize on skills such as good driving behaviors, defensive driving, and enhance the understanding of bad driving behavior without the actual risk and danger of bad driving.

Tourism

Tourism has become a lucrative trillion dollar international industry. In many countries tourism now represents a significant share of gross domestic product (GDP) and makes up 6-8% of the world’s employment. The trickle-down effect of tourism-related businesses, employment opportunities and markets is broad. With the global increase in the frequency of vacations, competition between regions and nations to capture a market share is on the rise, with many competitors are beginning to heavily leverage information and communication technology (ICT) strategies to their advantage.

Most of these ICT efforts related to tourism consist of standard websites and web-based services that provide text information and images. However, to be a market leader it is vital to create a destination image that has a competitive edge. Research has shown that to do this with ICTs, the solutions must be capable of catching the potential visitor’s thoughts, feelings, motivations and impulses. This requires an online experience that is engaging, interactive, empowering and memorable.

WadiUsing advanced web-based experiences, simulations and strategies can give a destination the competitive edge in being a top choice. Properly planned, these solutions can be used for:
• Bringing attention to a diversity of tourist services such as cultural heritage, contemporary culture, protected natural sites, health and well-being tourism, education, food, history, sports, religion, rural tourism, and maritime tourism.
• Attracting more consumers, thus supporting the hotels, restaurants, retailers, product producers, and other goods and services providers
• Hosting virtual publicity events, exhibits, trade shows, and conventions
• Creating a compelling destination image
• Presenting information in multiple languages
• Improving communication
• Enhancing employment and entrepreneurial opportunities

Virtual Communication – Part 1

Virtual Communication – Within the Organization

by Mark Sivy

As the leader of a virtual organization or virtual team, attention to communication between co-located and geographically separated individuals requires a heightened level of importance and skill. In a recent study performed on leaders of virtual organizations, the participants’ continual return to the communication topic throughout the interview process highlighted communication as one of the most essential and influential components of their leadership. The data analysis revealed two differentiated areas of communication – internal and external.

virtual communicationThis blog post examines aspects related to internal communication, which were categorized as being general internal communication, headquarter employee communication, and at-a-distance employee communication. Almost all study responses involved at-a-distance and electronic forms of communication through emails, phone calls, online meetings, learning management systems, and instant and text messaging. The leaders involved in the study said communicating through these various media presented challenges in terms of ensuring that they were done correctly, clearly, and effectively. If these criteria were met, the leaders indicated that contemporary methods of electronic communications were seen to be advantageous over previous in-person ones. The participant also cited face-to-face conversations as well, typically when employees were within short walking distance of each other such as in and adjacent office or cubicle.

General Communication

The means of and approaches to virtual communication in an organization is different than traditional ones. In a traditional setting, general internal communications are often done according to a daily schedule, are commonly unidirectional, and are often asynchronously viewed, heard, and given response. The majority of the participants felt communication that occurs in a virtual organization is more immediate, dynamic, frequent, and closer to real-time than in a traditional physical setting. The leaders were able to leverage at-a-distance electronic communication in a manner that promoted the overall importance of communication, the need for clarity of communication, the unique uses of communication, and the value that communication has to the school team and community. The media used for internal communication were varied and depended upon the geographic relationship of those who were in contact and the purpose of the communication.

Most leaders alluded to the fact that there is a heightened sense of importance placed on communication within a virtual organization due to the geographic distances between staff. One profound comment that sums up the feeling of many was, “Communication, communication, communication. I don’t think we can communicate enough.”

Headquarter Employee Communication

The leaders reported communicating with co-located staff in a variety of ways that were purpose specific. There were standing times set for face-to-face meetings with all headquarters staff, with these typically happening on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. Many of the leaders supplemented these meetings with the use of online meeting systems to connect with those staff who were unable to attend in-person.

3The participants also used various means to communicate with those staff that they were more dependent upon and had to speak with more frequently. Each relationship developed a favored form of virtual communication. Being dependent upon proximity, time, and purpose, the common avenues of interaction would involve walking to an office to talk, calling someone by phone, sending an email, using an online meeting system, or using instant messaging. Even in a common physical setting, the sense from the leaders was that the availability of these at-a-distance electronic communication often allowed more responsive and frequent communication and a greater openness than they experienced with in-person discussions.

At-a-Distance Employee Communication

Virtual communication with these employees involved some sort of electronic medium, most commonly email, instant messaging, and content sharing via intranet. When compared to a single location organization, there were more frequent and more random communications with employees, both individually and as teams. Some leaders noted that at-a-distance communication increased the amount of communication between employees, thus creating a greater sense of support and team effort.

wwr_pic3Many study participants described communication strategies as being based on the importance of the messages and types of information. The leaders wanted to manage communication in a manner that reduced the burden on employees to keep up with the volume of communications. Messaging systems were used for quick input from an individual, content management systems typically served as a repository for both reference materials and current information. Emails were often used as a means for personal and team communication or specific requests.

Reflection Point – “To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” ~ Tony Robbins

Online Teaching and Learning Framework

Online Teaching and Learning (OTL) Framework

by Mark Sivy, Ed.D.

The current global academic arena is being shaped and led by innovation and online courses, MOOCS, certifications and degrees. Learners, whether young adults who are full-time learners or working adults fitting courses into their busy schedules, are demanding and benefiting from on-demand access to online education. Developing a robust OTL program enables higher education institutions to be competitive, to meet learner demands for online content and collaborative learning, and to address SME and industry needs for employees to have a working knowledge of online learning and operations.

Program stakeholders need to realize that a new OTL initiative will take a few years to gain momentum, but once that occurs, rapid growth and development will follow. The following is a summary of the necessary considerations for strategically planning and developing a successful OTL program. Not all items must be implemented in association with the faculty development, but they will be to occur early in the deployment of OTL.

online teaching and learningElements That Facilitate Effective OTL Practices:

  1. Infrastructure
  2. Support
  3. Learner Fulfillment
  4. Faculty Approval
  5. Learning Outcomes
  6. Cost Effectiveness

Infrastructure

To ensure success, the technical, administrative and instructional foundations for an OTL program should be strategically planned to be sustainable and scalable. Common technical aspects include servers and database capacities, load analyses, student information systems, a learning management system, end-user devices, and bandwidth. Administrative backing in areas such as providing financial resources and staff, policy, advising, online library access, and learning object repositories.

Support

Multiple areas of support will be needed. This will involve help desk support for students, professional development and training for faculty, and technical support and maintenance for systems. Very often with a start-up program, support is provided by faculty, teaching assistants and user communities, but this should be supplemented and eventually replaced by institutional support facilities.

Learner Fulfillment

Online learners prefer and need responsive and individualized services. This includes not only the learning management system and faculty, but also areas such as advising, registration and tutoring. Effective and frequent communication is a premium in OTL, and thus the learning environment should sustain high levels of communication, social interaction, and collaboration. Student surveys and needs assessments should be performed on a regular basis.

Faculty Approval

At the core of a successful OTL program are the faculty. They should be involved in the program building process from the very beginning. Input surveys identifying faculty needs, learning needs, and technological needs should be implemented. Marketing of the OTL program should begin early, showing the benefits and advantage of how OTL can enhance instruction and the academy. It is also vital to host faculty forums, create faculty focus groups, form communities of practice, and identify faculty champions. A grassroots faculty advancement of OTL is likely to have a much higher degree of buy-in and success than a program that is a top-down initiative. With that said, administrators should acknowledge that OTL can be more time consuming for the faculty than in-person courses.

online teaching and learningLearning Outcomes

It’s essential that both students and faculty feel that the quality of OTL is on par with face-to-face learning. If done well, OTL can exceed traditional classroom outcomes. This can lead to better enrollment, retention and graduation rates.

Cost Effectiveness

A well-planned and supported OTL program can increase financial, infrastructure and human resource effectiveness, thus reducing overall costs.

Reflection Point – “The challenge is not simply to incorporate learning technologies into current institutional approaches, but rather to change our fundamental views about effective teaching and learning and to use technology to do so.” ~Donald Hanna

E-Learning is Alive and Well

E-Learning is Very Much Alive and Doing Very Well

By Mark Sivy, Ed.D.

According to the GSV Advisors 2012 Education Sector Factbook, e-learning is expected to grow at an average rate of 23% during the years of 2013-2017, with the global market size being anticipated to go from $90.9 B to $255.5 B. Based upon Watson, Murin, Vashaw, Gemin, and Rapp’s annual high school e-learning course enrollments, the 2012-2013 numbers represented an over 131% increase in enrollments when compared to the 2008-2009 school year. In 2010, Mincberg projected that it is possible by 2020 for 50% of all high school classes to be delivered online. Additionally given current trends, it can be estimated that by 2019, half of all college classes will be e-Learning based.

Educational TechnologyBy using e-learning, corporations are realizing that they can save over 50% on the cost of creating and delivering a traditional course, not to mention that they can make it readily available to a large number of employees when and where they need it. In the Docebo E-Learning Market Trends & Forecast 2014-2016 Report, it was found that the both small and large companies were accepting e-learning as an efficient and cost effective means to quickly educate a geographically distributed workforce. WorldWideLearn points out several other factors that are leading the continuing growth of corporate e-learning, with some of the most notable being the development and delivery of consistent high quality content, the rapid development of employee skills, and modular learning.

Why is e-learning so very alive and doing well? Many factors have been found that are contributing to its popularity and reach. Some of these are:

– Mobility created by the expansion of wireless access and the growth in mobile device (e.g., tablets and smartphones) sales.
Personalized learning and adaptive learning that address the diversity of learner backgrounds and needs.
Gamification, which motivates learners and improves the level of interaction with the content.
Pervasive learning occurring through a variety of informal, social, and formal modalities, which better match learner needs and interests.
– Popularity of cloud-based technologies and software-as-a-service (SaaS)

There may be some misconceptions or opinions out there due to “bad” experiences that may lead some people to believe that e-learning is on the decline or is ineffective. Some common reasons for this are:

– E-learning adoption being driven by the desire to have a technology rather than by having actual learning needs that are addressed with technology after thorough analysis and planning. A classic case is the rush by many schools to implement one-on-one (1:1) laptop or tablet initiatives before the learning needs, benefits, and support requirements have been identified, explored, and vetted.
– Failure to create an ongoing budget for scalability, maintenance, and upgrading of both software and hardware. Often, money is only allotted for the initial costs and setup or too little recurring funding is set aside.
– Inadequate stakeholder notification or buy-in.
– Lack of instructional design that is appropriate to the e-learning method that is being used. An example of this is uploading presentations and other content from a traditional course into on that is online.
– Absence of or insufficient training, professional development, and user support.

In most of these cases where there negative thoughts have resulted about e-learning, these could have been avoided by clearly identifying learning needs, thoroughly researching project requirements and options, involving stakeholders in the process, applying strategic vision and planning, and ensuring sufficient funds. e-learning simulation

Reflection Point 1 – “E-Learning doesn’t just happen! It requires careful planning and implementation.” – Anonymous

Reflection Point 2 – “Teachers need to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum instead of viewing it as an add-on, an afterthought, or an event.” – Heidi-Hayes Jacobs

 

References

Mincberg, C. (2010). Is online learning a solution in search of a problem? Retrieved from the Litmos website: http://www.litmos.com/mobile-learning/what-will-disrupt-literacy-learninginstruction-as-we-know-it/.

Watson, J., Murin, A., Vashaw, L., Gemin, B., & Rapp, C. (2013). Keeping pace with K-12 online & blended learning: An annual review of policy and practice. Retrieved from Evergreen Education Group’s Keeping Pace website: http://kpk12.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/EEG_KP2013-lr.pdf.

Educational Technology

Educational Technology – Some Thoughts

By Mark Sivy, Ed.D.

Let’s first take a look at the AECT (2008) definition for educational technology:

“Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.”

What should be realized about this definition is that it deviates from a commonplace and superficial notion that educational technology refers to the hardware, software, and devices that can be used for learning. Instead, it is a much deeper and thought-provoking reference that is focused on the theory, process, instructional systems, instructional design, and practice that are behind properly using technology to facilitate learning. But alas, all too often it’s the case that educational technology is selected and implemented along the lines of the initial rather than the latter perspective. This common approach frequently comes with much frustration and expense, and results in mediocre outcomes at best. But this is an entirely different conversation that I’ll get to in a future blog post…

Serious GamingIdeally, learning would occur without the recipient experiencing boring or mundane teaching practices that so often plague a classroom or learning environment, whether in a physical space or online. As Plato (The Republic, Book VII) once said:

“No compulsory learning can remain in the soul…In teaching children, train them by a kind of game, and you will be able to see more clearly the natural bent of each.”

This statement by Plato brings into consideration the early recognition of participatory experiences for learning. This approach has been persistent through time, although in practice it is taken on many forms. A modern example of interactive learning that uses educational technology is serious gaming. Wideman, Owston, Brown, Kushniruk, Ho, and Pitts (2007) assert that:

“The personally meaningful and valued social and material worlds in which game learning takes place may be ‘virtual’ from an outsider’s perspective; however, they have a psychological reality for the player that directly mediates the player’s level of immersion, persistence in the face of challenges, and intrinsic desire to learn.” (p. 11)

Educational Technology

There is no question that the application of technology has played an important role in education for centuries. The study and implementation of educational technology began rapidly evolving during the latter part of the twentieth century when the microcomputer became a common device. In 1979, Barette envisioned that “teachers as well as students would be accessing huge machine readable files from their school library media centers and from home.” In the 35 years since, the use of computers for educational purposes went from being a novelty to now being a necessity that has been embraced by the academic community.

Today’s educational technologies enable participatory learning that benefits from interactive teamwork and social construction of information via online programs and systems. Combining the benefits of technology with online social interaction, McLoughlin and Lee (2007) state that not only do social software tools support social interaction, but they also support collaborative learning through the sharing of concepts, ideas, and services. These new educational technology capabilities have issued in a new and evolving realm of online education that involves community-based learning Tim Berners-Leeand the co-creation and coalescence of knowledge. In 2001, this hypothetical concept was referred to by Tim Berners-Lee, James Hendler, and Ora Lassila as the semantic web, whereas today it’s sometimes better known as Web 3.0, which continues to unfold.

Reflection Point: “The Semantic Web is not a separate Web but an extension of the current one, in which information is given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation.” ~Tim Berners-Lee

 

References

Association for Educational Communications and Technology (2008). Definition. In A. Januszewski and M. Molenda (Eds.), Educational Technology: A definition with commentary. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Barrette, P.P. (1979). Microcomputers in education. Compute! 1(1), p. 33.

McLoughlin, C. and Lee, M. J. W. (2007). Social software and participatory learning: pedagogical choices with technology affordances in the web 2.0 era. Proceedings Ascilite, Singapore 2007, pp. 664-675.

Wideman, H. H., Owston, R. D., Brown, C., Kushniruk, A., Ho, F., and Pitts, K. C. (2007). Unpacking the potential of educational gaming: a new tool for gaming research. Simulation Gaming 2007, 38(10), 10-30.

ICT and Quality Education

Extending the Reach of High Quality P-12 Education through ICT

by Mark Sivy, Ed.D.

Realizing that a well-educated populace is essential for boosting national prosperity and competitiveness in an international economy, top-level education departments and ministries around the world are now focused on ensuring that their P-12 curricula and instruction are adjusted to modern standards. In Oman and around the GCC, this task involves ensuring that students have the specific skills, literacies, knowledge, and expertise that will ensure their success locally, regionally and in the global marketplace. A crucial piece in accomplishing this, both in terms of learning outcomes and instructional delivery, is ICT (Information, Communications and Technology).

 ICT

As a driver of learning outcomes, ICT can play an important role in the development of new Omani curriculum and instruction strategies. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has been at the forefront of providing a basis for the remodeling and modernization of teaching, learning and curriculum, with ICT being a significant consideration. Even though established as a US K-12 education initiative, the organization’s recommendations have relevance and implications for GCC educational systems. One of the major categories found within the Partnership’s renowned publication, P21 Framework Definitions, was created in response to the fact that we live in a global environment that is infused with and dependent upon technology and media. The ICT portion of the document offers the following highlights about the knowledge, skills, and expertise that student should possess as a result of the learning process:

Information Literacy – 1) accessing and evaluating information and 2) using and managing information

Media Literacy – 1) analyzing media and 2) creating media products

ICT Literacy – 1) applying technology effectively, ethically, and legally

 

Mobile LearningAs a medium for instructional delivery, ICT can play a significant role in the modernization of Oman’s educational system. One of the challenges in many countries has been the provision of a quality and equal education to all children regardless of their circumstances. Around the world, ICT infrastructures are being updated and expanded to provide Internet access to both urban and rural destinations and recipients. In Oman, the development of this infrastructure is underway and when finished it will be able to facilitate learning through the Internet-based transfer of instructional content.

Additionally, Omani schools and learners will need to be provided with devices to receive and make use of educational web content. This e-content should be specifically designed and developed by subject matter experts, master teachers, and instructional designers who are highly specialized in e-learning and the variety of learning devices. Of particular interest and development are mobile learning, One Laptop per Child (OLPC), and other one-to-one initiatives. The implementation of educational ICT is an intricate and complex process that should only be attempted through the direction of a project management team that has curriculum, instruction, and education technology expertise.

Reflection Point – When faced with a steam-rolling technology, you either become part of the technology or part of the road! ~Nigel Willetts

Virtual Reality in the Medical Industry

Virtual Reality in the Medical Industry

By Fathi AlRiyami

Leading industries have taken a leap forward with the advancement of technology and are incorporating virtual environments for training, architecture design, marketing, education, diagnosis, rehab, and counseling. It’s possible to place within these designs the abilities to provide training, knowledge enhancement and experience enrichment. Such was done with the virtual reality and virtual environments that are used in medical schools such as University of Southern California, Duke University, Stanford and other similar settings as a means of training, medical re-certification and healthcare quality assurance training.

A well-planned and well-developed environment consists of a commensurate design that provides informative and engaging experiences. The virtual environments used for simulations provide regulated, safe and flexible platforms for evaluation and training. Through simulated learning experiences, virtual reality can be used to train the next generation of doctors, paramedics, physiologists, emergency response units and other personnel.

Med 1

With the appropriate virtual environment design ongoing trainee assessments can be conducted with accurate visualization of real-time data. For example, an emergency response team can conduct their training in a high-risk, time-critical environment that has been developed to replicate an emergency scenario. Based on the trainee’s responses, trainers can adjust the training methodology to enhance the needed skills and knowledge. The trainer can log in the virtual environment with the trainee in a one-on-one session or can conduct group sessions.

Med 2

Virtual reality use in the healthcare industry is being heavily incorporated as a means of providing enhanced medical services and it is expanded its usability and availability due to the broad product development and advancement of technology. In addition, the growing implementation of information technology infrastructure in the healthcare industry is paving the way of associating Virtual reality in innovative medical technology in areas including pre-operative surgical planning, motor skills training, surgical simulation and physical rehabilitation.

The current and future market for commercialized virtual reality technologies are based on assortments of applications for areas such as surgery, including surgical navigation, augmented reality surgery, and robot-assisted surgery. Medical data visualization, as well as multi-modality image blending, advanced 3D/4D image restoration.

Virtual reality usability includes rehabilitation and therapy, by the means of blending treatments with immersive virtual reality systems for pain management, behavioral therapy, psychological therapy, physical rehabilitation, and motor skills training. In addition, virtual reality is used for education and training purposes, the use of virtual surgical simulators and simulators for medical patient procedure. It also involves the use of single and multi-user learning capabilities and environments.

Med 3

With the use of virtual reality it is possible to provide medical students and physicians with interactive training opportunities in a risk-free environment. Technology can also be used to transform data, such as a CT or MRI scan, from a flat image into a three-dimensional one, thus allowing surgeons and students to visualize and discuss complex surgical procedures.

Virtual reality technology can result in enhancing patient outcomes, reduced medical errors, improved omnipresent surgical technique, enhanced capabilities that allow physician to collaborate during diagnosis and improved psychological and motor rehabilitation.

ICT in Emerging Markets

The Role that ICT Plays in Emerging Markets

By Fathi AlRiyami

In developing countries, small and medium enterprises are experiencing challenges created by the globalization of production, a shift in market competitiveness and the existence of emerging markets. Because ICT is linked to a firm’s ability to revolutionize how it introduces existing and new products, services or even business processes into these new marketplaces, it is important for organizations to innovate and remain emerging marketstechnologically savvy. It is estimated that by 2025, the earth will contain more than 25 trillion connected devices that can allow people to communicate. This creates a major opportunity for businesses to leverage digital ecosystems, thus it is important to have human resources with the skill-sets and supporting infrastructure that allows them to take advantage and be part of the international market. As enterprises adapt to newer technology, the demands on staff such as programmers, developers, designers, creative teams and managers’ will shift. They will need to access information remotely, manage the projects using innovative online tools, carryout tasks and conduct meetings on the go, and maintain global connections. To be able to keep with the advancement of technology and the international market demands, companies need to provide training and professional development for their employees.

ICT advancement has taken emerging markets by storm and has motivated organizations and governments to empower citizens, end-users and clients by adopting and developing technology-based information, services, and communications. If done properly, the downstream experiences are memorable, rewarding and highly effective. Economically, ICT offers pathways that benefits everyone by providing jobs, business growth, global presence and competiveness. Socially, ICT advancements offer the opportunity to enrich society, improve human well-being, and strengthen nations in unconventional ways and in an environmentally friendly manner.

Reflection Point: Emerging markets’ share of global market capitalization could overtake developed markets’ share by 2030. ~Goldman Sachs.

Virtual Reality Experience

Virtual Reality is Creating Change in Business Practices

By Mark Sivy

The notion of “virtual reality” can be traced back to 1938 when Antonin Artaud, a French playwright, actor and director, used it in a book written about theater. Later, in the 1970s, Myron Krueger coined the term “artificial reality” in reference to the interaction between humans and computers. Historically, this concept of having a virtual experience within a computer-generated 3D simulated environment has been nothing more than an exercise in science fiction for the masses. Even though the virtual reality systems that would enable this would have been in development for decades, their price tags and technological requirements have been enormous. Then came the introduction of wearable virtual reality headsets the past couple of years.

virtual reality

Virtual Reality Options

The media forerunner in this has been the Oculus Rift, which is a consumer-targeted virtual reality head-mounted display that is expected to be released in final version near the end of 2014. It made headlines recently when it was announced that the parent company, Oculus VR, was purchased by Facebook in March 2014. The current developer kit version of the Rift is available for $350 US. Similar personal computer-connected systems are under development by other companies such as the Sony Morpheus, True Player Gear Totem, Avegant Glyph, GameFace Mark IV, and Durovis Dive, thus we can anticipate a flood of this very highly anticipated technology into the marketplace during the next couple of years. Presently these systems are primarily being designed for either immersive gaming or for movie entertainment, but other uses of the system are certainly possible and are being considered.

True Player Gear

True Player Gear

Oculus Rift

Oculus Rift

Sony Morpheus

Sony Morpheus

Market Example

For one market example, imagine the advantages that these VR options would have for education. The levels of engagement, interactivity, collaboration, presence and visualization that these devices will offer can certainly be leveraged to the advantage of learning. In a recent Wired article, Brian Shuster discussed the likelihood of using virtual world environments for educational purposes. Even the Oculus Rift creator, Palmer Luckey, envisions educational uses of his creation in an article in Gamespot. In anticipation of the educational uses of VR, East Carolina University in North Carolina had established the Virtual Reality and Education Laboratory in 1992 and the university currently offers a concentration in VR within their Education Master’s degree program.

Our Abilities

Cosmic Surrounding Technology (CST) is at the forefront of developing alternative uses of these 3D display technologies. In terms of serious gaming, CST is exploring the application of game-based virtual reality for education and training purposes. Other uses that are being considered or developed include architectural rendering, product modeling, urban planning, and personal health. To read more about this and other CST solutions, see the interview article published in the Oman Observer.

Reflection Point: Virtual reality is a medium, a means by which humans can share ideas and experiences. ~ Alan B. Craig

 

Digital Library II

A Digital Library Part II – How?

By Mark Sivy

The following are considerations to be made when planning a digital library. Even though this post provides a basic set of guidelines and information for establishing a digital library, the final details will depend upon the actual planning and development process for a given digital library and will be determined by its target audience and needs.

Digital Library

1. Who Are the Patrons?

It is of great importance at the onset of the project to define the target users of a digital library. Once these users and their communities are identified, it is then essential to establish their needs, abilities, and access related to the library.

2. Collaboration

For the library concept to develop and eventually succeed it is essential to identify stakeholders and collaborators who will be instrumental in establishing and maintaining the library and in developing and applying the criteria for content inclusion and to acquire the holdings.

3. Operating and Managing

Determine the organization structure, operation, and sustainability of the library.

4. Digital Library Technologies

Identify and address issues related to the digital existence and operations of the digital library. This includes such considerations as hardware, software, meta-data structure, and converting non-digital media to digital media.

5. Accessibility and Usability

Identify and address issues related to the usability of the library including functionality issues, the user interface, the user experience, and policies that govern the use of a digital library.

6. The Content

Decide upon the content and the materials to be contained in the digital library.

7. Maintenance

Determine what is needed for the short-term and long-term upkeep of the digital library.

8. Legal Concerns

Define and address the legal implications of providing materials in the library including copyrights, intellectual property rights, and fair use of materials

9. Access and Security

Incorporates the issues to be addressed when determining who will access the library, how they will access it, and what security needs to be considered to safeguard the library and its patrons.

10. Support

Support requirements and mechanisms for the digital library and its patrons.

11. Professional Development and Training

Identify library staff and patron development and learning needs.

12. Communications / Media

Establish the means for internal and external communications such as announcements, notifications, contacts, discussions and feedback.

13. Cost Implications

Identify the key factors affecting the cost of developing and maintaining a digital library.

14. Outreach

Create a social media plan, a marketing strategy and external partnerships.

Reflection Point – A library is not a luxury, but of the necessities of life. ~Henry Ward Beecher

Parts of this post are based upon the Joint United Nations recent Programme on HIV/AIDS (2010) publication Planning Tool for Developing a Digital Library of Monitoring and Evaluation Resources.