Virtual Reality and Education

One of an English class last year on “Romeo and Juliet,” Jennie Choi, an English teacher at Mariano Azuela Elementary School in Chicago, took her sixth-grade students on a tour of Verona, the Italian city where Shakespeare’s play transpires. Students did various actions such as touring around the city, appraise old architectures in Italy without leaving the class room. Because they are using Google Virtual trip system.

Since student these years already started using technology such as smart phones, lap tops at very early age. They are used to absorb new information virtually. Teachers believe through virtual trip system, student can have better understanding of course material.

Through Google’s virtual-reality kits for classrooms,  I see a new ways of technologies impacting classroom. Instead of talking about how virtual world will replace the really classroom and professor. Google is finding a way to help make current class room experience better.

“There was very little precedent for using this technology in schools,” Ben Schrom, a product manager for Google Apps for Education, said last week. “We really feel we are breaking that cycle of giving schools yesterday’s technology.”

I personally feel this is an awesome way for student to learn new subject. Visual and virtually presentation can help people have a deeper understanding of the subject and remember it better. Such as for my astronomy class, if we use a virtual-reality trip system, it will be awesome because we can actually see the stars and the milky way galaxy. I believe I can remember and learn everything better.

How are Games Impacting the World of Retail?

I have been lucky enough to have firsthand experience with this topic.  For the past two summers I interned for a company called First Insight Inc.  I worked in their accounting department, but I received training on all aspects of the company.  This training gave me a deeper understanding of what the company does and why it is so revolutionary.


Retailers spend millions of dollars on releasing new products every year and every year millions of products fail.  A failed product is a huge waste of money for a company that put time and resources into creating it.  First Insight helps reduce the number of failed products by using games and predictive analytics to select winning products.  Many major retailers are recognizing the value of what First Insight is offering and become clients.  I have to be careful of what I say because their clients and other specifics are privileged information.  What I can tell you, is that First Insight was the only company offering this type of service until earlier this year.  First Insight now has their first competitor which proves that there is some value and a place in the market for their product.

I believe these types of games, mixed in with science and mathematical formulas have the potential to change the world of retail as we know it.  These games are just the beginning too.  Just image that in a few years from now a retailer could know how to optimize every product before it hits the market.  This includes knowing the optimal price to sell at, the best time of year, the best colors to offer, what demographics would buy the most, what deals and promotions to offer, and many more things I can’t even think of.  All of that is possible and right around the corner if this idea takes off.  I apologize for not being able to get too detailed because I am unsure of what I am allowed to share.  The video does a great job of explaining the concept.

Does anyone disagree with my prediction, that games and predictive analytics will change retail?

Does anyone have other ideas on ways technology is impacting retail?

iPhone 6 vs 6S: Is It Really Worth It?

As many of you have seen by now the S version of the iPhone 6 came out a few weeks ago. Apple has been doing this with all of their predecesors to the iPhone 6 as well, the iPhone 3, 4, and 5 have all got S upgrades a year after their launch. The question that I pose is, is it really worth getting the S version of the phone? Or should you just wait for the next generation to come out before you spend the extra money on upgrading?

I personally get a new phone every two years, so I have it timed so that right around the time that the new generation of iPhone comes out I am able to get it. Some people prefer to keep their older generation for a longer time and just get the S version when it comes out. I don’t think that the S version is worth waiting for. It really doesn’t do all that much different than the current model. The iPhone 6S does have a faster processor and a better camera, but overall it is the same design and offers most of the same features as the regular iPhone 6. I think that waiting for the new model is worth it. When the iPhone 7 comes out in a year it will have all of the same upgrades as the iPhone 6S, plus many more. It will hopefully have an improved design and will contain more upgrades.

Name Apple iPhone 6s Apple iPhone 6 (Unlocked) Apple iPhone 6s Plus Apple iPhone 6 Plus (Unlocked)
Lowest Price
Editor Rating    
Operating System as Tested iOS 9 iOS 8 iOS 9 iOS 8
CPU Apple A9 Apple A8 Apple A9 Apple A8
Dimensions 5.44 by 2.64 by 0.28 inches inches 5.44 by 2.64 by 0.27 inches 6.23 by 3.07 by 0.29 inches 6.22 by 3.06 by 0.28 inches
Weight 5.04 oz 4.55 oz 6.77 oz 6.07 oz
Screen Size 4.7 inches 4.7 inches 5.5 inches 5.5 inches
Screen Type Retina Retina Retina Retina
Screen Resolution 1,334 by 750 pixels 1,334 by 750 pixels 1,920 by 1,080 pixels 1,920 by 1,080 pixels
Screen Pixels Per Inch 326 326 401 ppi 401 ppi
Camera Resolution 12MP Rear; 5MP Front-Facing 8 MP Rear; 1.2 MP Front-Facing 12MP Rear; 5MP Front-Facing 8 MP Rear; 1.2 MP Front-Facing
802.11x/Band(s) 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth Version 4.2 4.2 4.2 4.2
NFC Yes Yes Yes Yes

This chart shows the features of the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus compared to their S version counterparts. Although it would be nice to have a faster phone now, it economically does not make sense to upgrade midway through the phone’s life. A year from now there will be a bigger, better iPhone out that will have all the features of the 6S plus many more.

What do you guys think, is it worth getting the iPhone 6S? Or would you rather wait till the 7 comes out to upgrade to a new phone?

A closer look at iOS 9

Have you downloaded the new iOS 9 already? You might be interested in doing this so because it includes multiple cool features. Bellow I will introduce to three of the aspects that this new operating system has.

The first one is that it allows you to see what is around with the Maps application. Apple has revolutionize the way in which the user interacts with their surrounding by giving them the experience of looking what’s nearby them. Now with this new “nearby” feature for Maps app, users are able to see a list with some of the options they have around them. For example, if I am in downtown State College, and I want to get some Mexican food, I would just go to the Maps app, click on the food category, and then to the restaurant category.

nearby hero

The second cool feature is that they have made the entire engineering process of the phone more efficient. Tired of running out of battery in the middle of the day? For the first time Apple has made an operating system that would save the battery of your phone by almost 3 hours. This new function is called Low Power Mode, and it allows to cuts down some background activities that your phone might be executing, such as background app refresh, mail fetch, automatic or some visual effects. It automatically turns them off whenever the phone is reaching the 20 percent of battery. The purpose of this is to allow users to use their phones even when they are reaching their batteries’ limit.

low power mode

Lastly, the third feature that I want to discuss is the Apple Pay. With this iOS, we can have an electronic wallet where we can keep our credit cards. This wallet lets us enjoy the comfort of not worrying about loosing our physical cards, which sometimes happens. Furthermore, it is possible to pay with this new option within some applications. These are the variety of business who are implementing this new payment method: The best part about this is that Apple does not actually store the credit cards or transactions information in the device, which is something that it is very important for people who are concerned about security. Here’s the actual example of how this works:

These were only few of the features that the new iOS provides. Apple is working more on connecting their users with their technology. This new update gives us the experience of having a faster and more efficient operating system that can connect us with every aspect of the phone itself.

New Prosthetic Hand Can Tell the Brain what it is Actually Touching

150915122450-darpa-prosthetic-hand-exlarge-169The National Center for Health Statistics reports over 50,000 new amputations every year in the United States. Of these amputations, 10% are under 21 years of age. As technology has advanced, research on prosthetic limbs has followed, focusing on establishing connections between functionality and the amputee’s brain. Seen throughout health, prosthetic communication with one’s nerves isn’t new; however, a recent development could change medical practices everywhere.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Plan Agency (U.S. military research organization) recently stated that it’s now possible for prosthetic hands to “send signals back to the body and tell it information about what the bionic hand is touching.”

How exactly does this work? Agency researches implanted numerous small electrodes into the brain that controls movement. Once implanted, the electrodes communicate electric activity from the brain’s motor cortex to a prosthetic arm that the patient is able to move through a wide range of motions and thoughts. This is how many bionic prosthesis operate and fortunately, the DARPA has taken it to another level.

Essentially reversing the process mentioned above, researchers worked with a 28-year-old paralyzed man by implanting electrodes in his motor cortex and sensory cortex (region that looks at sensations like pressure and texture). Researchers ran wires from the cortex to the bionic limb, which in turn, allowed a feedback system to communicate directly with the brain. With this next level connection, an amputee wearing the arm can actually feel what they’re touching as if there are actual nerves in their fingers

In a video presentation, DARPA manager, Justin Sanchez, blindfolded an audience volunteer, connected them to the prosthetic limb and pressed the bionic hand’s fingertips onto different surfaces. The volunteer was able to identify which fingertips were used and which materials were being touched with 100% accuracy!

There is still work to be done regarding the ability to implant electrodes into the brain, the availability of computer controls, and how to rid the prosthetic of open wires. With using DARPA’s approach, thousands affected by spinal chord injuries and amputations could have the opportunity to regain feelings within their arms and legs proving the greatness of technological advancement.

Wearable Drone, Nixie

Do you like extreme-sports such as rock-climbing, biking, etc.? When you do extreme-sports and want to leave behind memory through pictures, how do you take a picture? Isn’t it difficult while enjoying those sports, especially without a person who can take a picture for you? Well, here is a new technology for those who have a same situation. This technology is called ‘Nixie.’

Drone is well known as Amazon drone, which is also a new technology for sending its packages through flying on the air. This new technology has been praised with a lot of convenience. In succession of Amazon, there is a new series of drone, which is called ‘Nixie.’ Basically, Nixie is a self-taken photograph from a UAV such as Parrot AR Drone 2.0. According to the article, it is the world’s first flyable and wrist-wearable camera around the world. Nixie gives creativity by allowing your arm to use it. Therefore, you can attach Nixie and launch it instantly, and it will detect your presence with flying around you. Then, Nixie will take a picture or a film your exploits like touring, rock-climbing, mountain climbing etc. It is for the moments in life when people really desire to take a picture or film of something what you are doing, but using a standard camera, what we usually have, would interrupt the moment. The Nixie drone is seemed like a giant bracelet on your wrist. However, with a simple gesture, it will unfold into a small, sleek quad copter, and it will know your presence and snap a photo or video. After taking a photo or film, it will come back to you like a boomerang, which is always come back to you. For now, the Nixie is one of the handful of finalists in Intel’s Make It Wearable Challenge, which is a competition for a future wearable technology. The winner of the challenge will be awarded a $500,000 cash prize iron, and its project will make into a reality.

After reading this interesting article, I hope this Nixie drone will win on the challenge so that I can see this new wearable technology in near future. Since I am a person who is interested in extreme sports, Nixie drone will be useful for leaving memory behind in my life. Furthermore, it will prevent some accidents, which happen when people are trying to snap a picture while doing sports and activities.

Next Google Glass Tricks Include Translating the World From Your Eyes

Imagine you’re traveling in a country whose language you don’t speak. You look up at a sign — say, a caution marker, or a list of directions. Oh, also, you’re wearing Google Glass. You say, “Okay Glass, translate this.” The words on the sign transform into your home language, so when you look through Glass, you can read them.

That’s what the new Word Lens app for Google Glass does, and it’s kind of magical. Blobs of translated text appear on the wearer’s screen with perspective intact, the same background color, and a matched font. It looks as though the sign has been reprinted in your own language.

The Word Lens Glass app works in real time, and it also accesses local storage. A dictionary of about 10,000 words in each chosen language are stored locally on the device, so users can get their translations even when they travel internationally without a data plan. That’s in contrast to Google’s own Google Goggles app, which requires a Web connection.

The app was built with the new Glass Developer Kit, which was released as a sneak peek to developers today at a hackathon in San Francisco. Word Lens got early access along with four other apps: Allthecooks (hands-free recipes), Strava (it’s the first time the activity-tracking company has given live progress reports about how well its runners and cyclists are doing, out of concern that using a phone or headphones would be unsafe), Spellista by GLU (the first Glass game) and GolfSight by SkyDroid (it’s for golf).

The GDK is supposed to be a major improvement on the original Glass Mirror API, which mostly helped with notifications and sharing. By contrast, the new tools give developers access to hardware (camera, GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, gestures) as well as offline and real-time capabilities.

More than 10,000 people have Glass today, a Google spokesman said. That’s not a big audience for an app developer. But developers at the event, including the Word Lens team, said they were appreciative that building for Glass with GDK is almost entirely the same as building for Android. They said they essentially ported over their Android apps and changed the user interface to be much, much simpler.


Iron Man’s Holographic Computer Is Closer With Leap Motion

When you watch the movie, ‘Iron man’, Tony Stark (Iron man) has many high technologies which are very interested. Especially, one of most high technology is the computer which does not need to mouse. Instead, it recognizes the human’s hands and activate with hands’ motion. This technology is called ‘Leap Motion.’

Actually, Leap Motion is not for technology, but it is company name. Leap Motion, Inc. is an American company that manufactures and markets a computer hardware sensor device that supports hand and finger motions as input, analogous to a mouse, but requires no hand contact or touching. Because of the company name, leap motion is known as technology. The Leap Motion controller is a small USB peripheral device which is designed to be placed on a physical desktop, facing upward. Using two monochromatic IR cameras and three infrared LEDs, the device observes a roughly hemispherical area, to a distance of about 1 meter (3.28084 feet). The LEDs generate pattern-less IR light and the cameras generate almost 300 frames per second of reflected data, which is then sent through a USB cable to the host computer, where it is analyzed by the Leap Motion controller software using “complex maths” in a way that has not been disclosed by the company, in some way synthesizing 3D position data by comparing the 2D frames generated by the two cameras.

In fact, I’d say that Leap might even be better than the imaginary technology from Johnny Mneumonic, because you don’t need to wear anything to use it.

All you need are your hands. Or a pencil. Or a paintbrush. Or whatever you’d work with in real life.

The Leap is a simple box about the size of a flash drive, and it just sits on your desk near your monitor. It projects a “box” 8 cubic feet around itself, which you can use as a work space. When you make gestures inside this box, the Leap can track them.

This isn’t Wii or Kinect-level technology here – it’s much better. According the Leap website, the technology is 200 times more accurate than anything else on the market right now, and can track movements as small as 1/100th of a millimeter.

And the best part? There’s an SDK for developers coming, which means that we might soon have a plethora of applications to use that are specifically built to work best with the Leap.

Imagine modeling 3D images in Blender just by molding them like clay. Or building a website just by using your finger to draw the sections of each page. Or playing a shooter and just pointing your finger at your enemies to take them out.

It is related with IoT (Internet of Things). When you have this device, you can control all of your machine with this device.As a result, users can approach the systems without any difficult knowledge. It will be very useful for user to use any device.

Using Data to Help People Shop

Using data to benefit people in everyday life is becoming more prominent. A new company called True&Co is using data collected from its’ customers to improve bra fitting. It is hard for women to find the right bra for their bodies, so True&Co is trying to fix that problem. Customers take a quiz to find a brand of bras that would fit their body. True&Co has collected data from millions of customers. The company is now beginning to launch its’ own products that incorporates the data it has received. With the software that the company uses, they have identified about 6,000 body types. People are not accustomed to having a physical product made just for them, but with the data being collected it is becoming a reality. This process is similar to the internet collecting data on us. The internet collects data on us and uses it to personalize websites and make recommendations. The data collected from the quizzes will allow women to know what kind of bra would be the best fit for them.

There is competition from a company called ThirdLove. ThirdLove uses an app to allow women to determine their measurements without having to go to a store. Victoria’s Secret has also created a quiz for women to take. Companies are trying to improve bra shopping for women.

This data and technology use allows women to find the best bra for them without having to spend lots of time trying them on. Soon this technology could be used for other clothing shopping and not just bras. A lot of time that would have been spent on finding the perfect bra fit can be spent on something else.

This article raises concerns of personal data collection. It involves how personal women want to get when shopping for bras. Some women feel embarrassed shopping for bras in stores, so this could be a way for those people to feel more secure while they are shopping. On the other hand, some women might feel violated that personal information about their bodies is being shared and reviewed with other people. For example, I am not sure if I would want to use the app available from ThirdLove to determine my measurements. I would feel like my personal information would be shared with too many people.

In conclusion, using data is a great way to enhance people’s lives, but there could be a point where too much data collection could be an issue. Having too much personal data collected raises privacy concerns. How do you feel about apps collecting personal body measurements? Would you buy products from True&Co?

Here is the link to the article:

Can E-Sports Survive Prime-Time?

There is no doubt that the popularity of e-sports broadcasting is growing. Just this past August, more than 10,000 people gathered in New York to watch the regional championship for the video game “League of Legends.” The increasing popularity of e-sports has resulted in WME/IMG partnering up with TBS to bring live video-game broadcastings to almost 90 million homes in the United States. But is the interest there?

The broadcasting of live video-game competitions has taken off globally. In a recent study released by NewZoo, a gamer research company, the number of e-sports viewers has grown dramatically. There is no doubt that the interest is there globally. But after reviewing the following chart, you will notice that there is only a slight amount of growth with e-sports viewers in North America.

E-Sports Audience

E-Sports Audience

The lack of interest among North American users is the main reason why previous attempts to bring e-sports to primetime television failed. Over the past few years, ESPN has attempted to enter the e-sports market by airing live video-game tournaments. The company quickly discovered that their online digital broadcasts were more popular than the live televised broadcasts. ESPN concluded that there was no interest in watching such events on tv.

When asked how WME/IMG plans to reach viewers across the country, Tobias Sherman, head of WME/IMG’s eSports division, responded by saying “It’s my firm belief that there are many e-sports fans who don’t know they’re e-sports fans yet.” There are some challenges that TBS and WIME/IMG will have to overcome, in order to be successful in airing live video-game tournaments. The stigma of violence being associated with video games is a topic that TBS and WME/IMG will most likely have to address. By televising aggressive and violent games to nearly 90 million homes, parents may get upset and discourage their kids from tuning in.

I have never followed e-sports and I rarely find myself watching television. Like many other millennials, I prefer using on demand media streaming websites, like Netflix. In order for TBS and WME/IMG to be successful, they will need to be able to grasp the attention of millennials throughout North America. The two companies announced that they will be airing live tournaments every Friday night, for 20 consecutive weeks. The companies obviously want to create a following and a large fan base. However, by broadcasting such events on a Friday night, will they truly be able to gain enough popularity?

It will be interesting to see if this attempt to bring e-sports to live television will truly be successful. But what do you think? What makes this broadcasting of e-sports any different from the past? Is there enough popularity for it to stay on television? How many of you would tune in to watch?

Click the links for more information regarding this announcement: