Virtual Tourism in 2020 and Beyond Begins with an Idea

Virtual Tourism in 2020 and Beyond Begins with an Idea

Virtual Tourism in 2020 and Beyond

Begins with an Idea

Many of us have encountered science fiction classics from H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, Neal Stephenson and Philip K. Dick, who were master storytellers of a forthcoming brave new world.  If they were not read, they were viewed in movies, and have influenced our lives, shaping our future.  These worlds were imagined.  Some featured wall screens that allowed for immersive interaction from their then citizens, allowed people to experience a world beyond their daily routine, travelling instantly across the world in their mind and provided even sensory opportunities to the physically challenged.  Such scenarios bring opportunities for rethinking tourism and positioning our cities for the future.   

The world is changing rapidly from biotechnology (i.e.,  cloning of body organs, robotic pets who serve as assistants) to on-the-spot data collection, archival and retrieval, increasingly connecting work and home environments as well as once laughable and literally out-of-this world travel destinations.  These are merely some examples of what to expect in the near to distant future.
https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/virtual-trips-travel-tours

The Vision Outlines the Path

What is a smart nation, other than the foresight of its leaders embracing the latest and emerging technologies to create the future they envision for their people.   More than ever, technology and our global pandemics, climate warming, and an ever-shrinking world, in which we are all impacted by one another, are critical to the economic and cultural health of our respective nations.  
https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Virtual-tourism-is-suddenly-everywhere-in-15195780.php

The Path is Guided by Technology

Today, there are reports and demonstrations of what our future will look like in the next 20 to 40 years.   Simply stated, with the onset of 5G, we must be ready to unleash the next level of technology that is both immersive and interactive.   Virtual Reality (VR) has been discussed for more than a century, yet it has taken until now for it to be a reality.  Augmented (AR) and mixed reality (XR) present ways for us to focus on marketing potential, capturing a huge hunk of the growing global e-commerce.  
https://arvrjourney.com/virtual-tourism-reimagining-tourism-through-vr-and-its-implication-for-vcs-part-1-92d265ced144

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, …. but will never forget how you made them feel.”

– Maya Angelou

Virtual reality represents alternative ways for travel for many, and invites Star Trek scenarios to appeal to our imagination.  Somewhere in between, consumers will find themselves tempted to embrace these possibilities, as such places become inaccessible due to one’s age as well as physical and financial constraints.   For others, they offer a glimpse of destination and culture that they thought was only possible in movies or storybooks. 

As we move beyond 2020, Oman has the cultural capital to bring the past to the present and to shape its future in the world economy in a creative way.  Infrastructures are being reconceived as concrete and virtual spaces, in which both intertwine to create a new way of living and doing business.   A hotel is not just a place to stay during a vacation but may represent a virtual pod for tourists to connect and re-experience travel destinations. 

Impossible is Not an Option 

Whether one is booking a hotel stay, or checking out of life for a while, the tourism business is continually challenged and must be redefined in terms of what it means to getaway for the weekend or a month.   The integration of tourism, culture and e-commerce offer opportunities that are best expressed as experiences and shared as stories by the Omani people to the world.  It is best to consider that which may be improbable to you at this moment in time will likely be common practice in the years ahead.  

Unique Experiences for All

An opportunity lost is a solution overlooked due to fear and lack of foresight.  Cosmic Surrounding Business, LLC is positioned to tell your story authentically by creating and distributing immersive and rich content to a world audience, and we do so by developing unique experiences for tourists, one explorer and one adventure at a time, and then reverberate those stories across social media and network distribution services throughout the globe, all the while capturing the mind and heart of all to fall in love with Oman.    Enter into our storybook, for it is real and can be felt through new and emerging technologies in ways never imagined previously. 

by Phylis West-Johnson, Ph.D.  

Data Virtualization

Data Visualization Through Virtualization

by Fathi AlRiyami

Engaging the recipient with data analysis outcomes and allowing them to visualize it in different forms can be one of the best ways to get a message across. 3D data virtualization (a means of data visualization) is a process that quickly draws attention to data patterns and interpretations in a way that is not possible by looking at written stats and reports.

It is not surprising with technology advancement that data can be visualized in ways that it was not possible few years back. Methods of data virtualization is advancing at a rapid pace with much advanced means of visualizing tools such as wearable devices such as Oculus Rift (OR) or Samsung Gear VR that provides the ability of visualizing big data. Many researchers look to visualization to support findings of large data-sets.

“Effective data visualization is a key part of the discovery process in the era of “big data”. It is the bridge between the quantitative content of the data and human intuition, and thus an essential component of the scientific path from data into knowledge and understanding” (Donalek, 2014).

Integrating interactive data virtualization that is based on 3D presentations provides researchers and data analysis experts with advanced tools that enables them to visualize, simulate different results and share multiple results, findings and experiences with others within the organization’s intranet or on the Internet.

Data visualization

From Caltech – http://www.astro.caltech.edu/ai12/pdfs/Djorgovski_AI12.pdf

While data virtualization can enhance knowledge and understanding, a balance of blended technologies augments the experiences and understanding. “Thus, a scientist can “walk” into their data, while interacting and collaborating with their colleagues in the same virtual space,” writes Alex Cioc (2014), who is working at Caltech on new data visualization techniques.

Virtual reality (a form of 3D virtualization) has been shown to increase awareness and the intensity of interactivity. It is vital for data visualization to have a constant and well-planned process that produces accurate results and experiences. A well-developed environment consists of a commensurate design that provides informative and engaging experiences. Virtual reality (VR) can be used to provide simulations in a regulated, safe and flexible platforms that can be used to evaluate data, share experiences and provide training.

3D visualizationOne of the biggest challenges of big data is obtaining information in a way that the human mind can comprehend. Imagine having the ability to step into your data, the idea is to facilitate the process of visualizing data in a more compassionate way that in return helps humans make better sense and judgment of information and its usability. “Adapters of interactive visualization achieve faster decision making, greater data access, and stronger user engagement, in addition to desirable results in several other metrics” (Krensky, 2014)).

virtual reality

From Space-Time Insight – http://www.spacetimeinsight.com/

The medical industry are also benefiting from VR. VR use includes data visualization for treatment and data gathering are then used for surgery, rehabilitation and therapy, by the means of blending treatments with immersive virtual reality systems for pain management, behavioral therapy, psychological therapy, physical rehabilitation, motor skills and training. It also involves the use of single and multi-user data visualization for exploration and analysis of data.

Stereoscopic Surgery

From Maki Sugimoto Kobe University JAPAN. 2014 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGdeWdO5Efc

As methods of conducting data visualization continue to intensify in a much more disruptive fashion, organizations, data analysis specialist and scientists are able to adapt to these changes, and provide better results that in return benefits the organization. “Good data visualization practices help not just to solve issues but also to pose new questions, encouraging the discovery and research process to go beyond common tasks to explore new patterns and trends that can potentially boost business efficiency” (García, 2014).

Some training may be required on how to use newer visualizing devices. It is true that ease of use of innovative devices is important especially for a first time user. The only concern here is that the first time user may not to want to abandon the new experience.

Data Virtualization

References

Donalek, et.al. (2014). Immersive and Collaborative Data Visualization Using Virtual Reality Platforms. 2014 IEEE Conference on Big Data.

Cioc, A. in Wheatley, M. (2014) Virtual Reality Brings Big Data Visualization to Life. Silicon Angle Website, http://siliconangle.com/blog/2014/05/29/virtual-reality-brings-big-data-visualization-to-life/

Krensky, P. (2014) Aberdeen Group website http://www.aberdeen.com/research/8847/rr-interactive-data-visualization/content.aspx

García, J. (2014). Data Visualization: When Data Speaks Business. Product Analysis Report IBM Cognos Business Intelligence.

 

 

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 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.

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