From DSC:
After reviewing the article below, I wondered...if we need to interact with content to learn it…how might mixed reality allow for new ways of interacting with such content? This is especially intriguing when we interact with that content with others as well (i.e., social learning).

Perhaps Mixed Reality (MR) will bring forth a major expansion of how we look at “blended learning” and “hybrid learning.”

 


Mixed Reality Will Transform Perceptions — from forbes.com by Alexandro Pando


Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Changing How We Perceive The World One Industry At A Time
Part of the reason mixed reality has garnered this momentum within such short span of time is that it promises to revolutionize how we perceive the world without necessarily altering our natural perspective. While VR/AR invites you into their somewhat complex worlds, mixed reality analyzes the surrounding real-world environment before projecting an enhanced and interactive overlay. It essentially “mixes” our reality with a digitally generated graphical information.

All this, however, pales in comparison to the impact of mixed reality on the storytelling process. While present technologies deliver content in a one-directional manner, from storyteller to audience, mixed reality allows for delivery of content, then interaction between content, creator and other users. This mechanism cultivates a fertile ground for increased contact between all participating entities, ergo fostering the creation of shared experiences. Mixed reality also reinvents the storytelling process. By merging the storyline with reality, viewers are presented with a wholesome experience that’s perpetually indistinguishable from real life.

 

Mixed reality is without a doubt going to play a major role in shaping our realities in the near future, not just because of its numerous use cases but also because it is the flag bearer of all virtualized technologies. It combines VR, AR and other relevant technologies to deliver a potent cocktail of digital excellence.

 


 

 

 

Creative voice tech — from jwtintelligence.com by Ella Britton
New programs from Google and the BBC use voice to steer storytelling with digital assistants.

Exceprt:

BBC Radio’s newest program, The Inspection Chamber, uses smart home devices to allow listeners to interact with and control the plot. Amid a rise in choose-your-own-adventure style programming, The Inspection Chamber opens up creative new possibilities for brands hoping to make use of voice assistants.

The Inspection Chamber tells the story of an alien stranded on earth, who is being interrogated by scientists and an AI robot called Dave. In this interactive drama, Amazon Echo and Google Home users play the part of the alien, answering questions and interacting with other characters to determine the story’s course. The experience takes around 20 minutes, with questions like “Cruel or Kind?” and “Do you like puzzles?” that help the scientists categorize a user.

“Voice is going to be a key way we interact with media, search for content, and find what we want,” said BBC director general Tony Hall. As describedin the Innovation Group’s Speak Easy report, the opportunities for brands to connect with consumers via smart speakers are substantial, particularly when it comes to education and entertainment. Brands can also harness these opportunities by creating entertaining and engaging content that consumers can interact with, creating what feels like a two-way dialogue.

 

From DSC:
More and more, our voices will drive the way we interact with computing devices/applications. This item was an especially interesting item to me, as it involves the use of our voice — at home — to steer the storytelling that’s taking place. Talk about a new form of interactivity!

 

 

 

 

2018 Tech Trends for Journalism & Media Report + the 2017 Tech Trends Annual Report that I missed from the Future Today Institute

 

2018 Tech Trends For Journalism Report — from the Future Today Institute

Key Takeaways

  • 2018 marks the beginning of the end of smartphones in the world’s largest economies. What’s coming next are conversational interfaces with zero-UIs. This will radically change the media landscape, and now is the best time to start thinking through future scenarios.
  • In 2018, a critical mass of emerging technologies will converge finding advanced uses beyond initial testing and applied research. That’s a signal worth paying attention to. News organizations should devote attention to emerging trends in voice interfaces, the decentralization of content, mixed reality, new types of search, and hardware (such as CubeSats and smart cameras).
  • Journalists need to understand what artificial intelligence is, what it is not, and what it means for the future of news. AI research has advanced enough that it is now a core component of our work at FTI. You will see the AI ecosystem represented in many of the trends in this report, and it is vitally important that all decision-makers within news organizations familiarize themselves with the current and emerging AI landscapes. We have included an AI Primer For Journalists in our Trend Report this year to aid in that effort.
  • Decentralization emerged as a key theme for 2018. Among the companies and organizations FTI covers, we discovered a new emphasis on restricted peer-to-peer networks to detect harassment, share resources and connect with sources. There is also a push by some democratic governments around the world to divide internet access and to restrict certain content, effectively creating dozens of “splinternets.”
  • Consolidation is also a key theme for 2018. News brands, broadcast spectrum, and artificial intelligence startups will continue to be merged with and acquired by relatively few corporations. Pending legislation and policy in the U.S., E.U. and in parts of Asia could further concentrate the power among a small cadre of information and technology organizations in the year ahead.
  • To understand the future of news, you must pay attention to the future of many industries and research areas in the coming year. When journalists think about the future, they should broaden the usual scope to consider developments from myriad other fields also participating in the knowledge economy. Technology begets technology. We are witnessing an explosion in slow motion.

Those in the news ecosystem should factor the trends in this report into their strategic thinking for the coming year, and adjust their planning, operations and business models accordingly.

 



 

 

2017 Tech Trends Annual Report — from the Future Today Institute; this is the first I’ve seen this solid report

Excerpts:

This year’s report has 159 trends.
This is mostly due to the fact that 2016 was the year that many areas of science and technology finally started to converge. As a result we’re seeing a sort of slow-motion explosion––we will undoubtedly look back on the last part of this decade as a pivotal moment in our history on this planet.

Our 2017 Trend Report reveals strategic opportunities and challenges for your organization in the coming year. The Future Today Institute’s annual Trend Report prepares leaders and organizations for the year ahead, so that you are better positioned to see emerging technology and adjust your strategy accordingly. Use our report to identify near-future business disruption and competitive threats while simultaneously finding new collaborators and partners. Most importantly, use our report as a jumping off point for deeper strategic planning.

 

 



 

Also see:

Emerging eLearning Tools and Platforms Improve Results — from learningsolutionsmag.com

  • Augmented and virtual reality offer ways to immerse learners in experiences that can aid training in processes and procedures, provide realistic simulations to deepen empathy and build communication skills, or provide in-the-workflow support for skilled technicians performing complex procedures.
  • Badges and other digital credentials provide new ways to assess and validate employees’ skills and mark their eLearning achievements, even if their learning takes place informally or outside of the corporate framework.
  • Chatbots are proving an excellent tool for spaced learning, review of course materials, guiding new hires through onboarding, and supporting new managers with coaching and tips.
  • Content curation enables L&D professionals to provide information and educational materials from trusted sources that can deepen learners’ knowledge and help them build skills.
  • eBooks, a relative newcomer to the eLearning arena, offer rich features for portable on-demand content that learners can explore, review, and revisit as needed.
  • Interactive videos provide branching scenarios, quiz learners on newly introduced concepts and terms, offer prompts for small-group discussions, and do much more to engage learners.
  • Podcasts can turn drive time into productive time, allowing learners to enjoy a story built around eLearning content.
  • Smartphone apps, available wherever learners take their phones or tablets, can be designed to offer product support, info for sales personnel, up-to-date information for repair technicians, and games and drills for teaching and reviewing content; the possibilities are limited only by designers’ imagination.
  • Social platforms like Slack, Yammer, or Instagram facilitate collaboration, sharing of ideas, networking, and social learning. Adopting social learning platforms encourages learners to develop their skills and contribute to their communities of practice, whether inside their companies or more broadly.
  • xAPI turns any experience into a learning experience. Adding xAPI capability to any suitable tool or platform means you can record learner activity and progress in a learning record store (LRS) and track it.

 



 

DevLearn Attendees Learn How to ‘Think Like a Futurist’ — from learningsolutionsmag.com

Excerpt:

How does all of this relate to eLearning? Again, Webb anticipated the question. Her response gave hope to some—and terrified others. She presented three possible future scenarios:

  • Everyone in the learning arena learns to recognize weak signals; they work with technologists to refine artificial intelligence to instill values. Future machines learn not only to identify correct and incorrect answers; they also learn right and wrong. Webb said that she gives this optimistic scenario a 25 percent chance of occurring.
  • Everyone present is inspired by her talk but they, and the rest of the learning world, do nothing. Artificial intelligence continues to develop as it has in the past, learning to identify correct answers but lacking values. Webb’s prediction is that this pragmatic optimistic scenario has a 50 percent chance of occurring.
  • Learning and artificial intelligence continue to develop on separate tracks. Future artificial intelligence and machine learning projects incorporate real biases that affect what and how people learn and how knowledge is transferred. Webb said that she gives this catastrophic scenario a 25 percent chance of occurring.

In an attempt to end on a strong positive note, Webb said that “the future hasn’t happened yet—we think” and encouraged attendees to take action. “To build the future of learning that you want, listen to weak signals now.”

 



 

 

 

 

 

VR and AR: Transforming Learning and Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences — from er.educause.edu b

What if a text or work of art is no longer read, but instead, experienced? What new questions are raised when it’s possible to visit an author’s home or stroll through the streets of an ancient city? How will our interpretations of literature, art, history and archaeology change when we are no longer passive recipients but co-constructors and actors in immersive experiences? How will this challenge us to think outside our current learning paradigms? These and other questions arise when we examine the impact of immersive technologies on the humanities and the social sciences.

 

Some examples mentioned there include:

 

 

 

Microsoft joins the VR battle with Windows Mixed Reality [on 10/17/17] — from theverge.com by Tom Warren

Excerpt:

Microsoft is launching its own answer to virtual reality today, taking on HTC and Oculus in the process. Windows Mixed Reality will be available in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, and headsets are now available to buy. Here’s everything you need to know about Windows Mixed Reality.

Microsoft is offering movement tracking (six degrees of freedom) without the need for traditional external sensors placed throughout a room. Windows Mixed Reality headsets have cameras and sensors to track the motion controllers.

Walmart looks to see if virtual shopping is better than the real thing — from washingtonpost.com by Abha Bhattarai

Excerpts:

…Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is setting its sights on virtual reality.  Imagine this, says Katie Finnegan, who heads Walmart’s tech incubator: You need a tent for your next camping trip. If all goes to plan, you could one day virtually swoop in to your campsite and see any given tent in action. “You could unzip it, lay down, look left and right and say, ‘Oh, this is supposed to be a two-person tent? It’s kind of tight,’ ” she said. And then you could move on to the next tent — without leaving your couch.

Here are the five ideas the Bentonville, Ark.-based company says could be making their way online:

  1. 3-D holograms at Bonobos.com, the male clothing site Walmart acquired this year for $310 million, that would make it possible for shoppers to try on virtual clothing for fit and style.
  2. At ModCloth, the women’s clothing site Walmart took over in March, customers may one day be able to take 3-D photos of themselves using their smartphones, and use those images to get an idea of how something might look on.
  3. An “interactive virtual store” for designer Rebecca Minkoff, whose items are sold at Walmart.com, would allow customers to sit in on fashion shows and shop directly from the runway.
  4. Tired of shopping online alone? If Walmart gets its way, you may soon be interacting with other shoppers and experts as you pick out items for your virtual cart.
  5. Electric outlets, stove tops and door handles can all be child safety hazards — and soon, an online tool could peek inside your home and tell you where the biggest risks are lurking.

 

 

 

Explore the surface of Mars from the comfort of your living room — from haptical.com
Google’s new project allows viewers to explore the discoveries of NASA’s Curiosity rover.

Excerpt:

NASA and Google have teamed up to build a new virtual experience that lets space enthusiasts explore the red planet without having to leave their homes. Dubbed as “Access Mars”, the new project virtually transports users, wherever they are, to Earth’s neighboring planet in the solar system.

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese School Opens Full-Function VR Classrooms — from vrfocus.com by Rebecca Hills-Duty
HTC Vive have created a system which allows 50 VR units to work together with no cross-interference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual Reality: A Great Fit for Employee Onboarding — from trainingindustry.com by Andrew Woodberry

Excerpts:

For jobs that are particularly dangerous or high-stress, introducing employees to the environment through virtual reality is a smart approach. In recent years, companies have created realistic VR applications that they have used to train people from surgeons to firefighters. Virtual reality gives new employees as close an approximation to their new workplace as they can have without actually needing to be physically present. The exposure to the simulated high-stress environment should, theoretically, make the VR users more comfortable when they actually face the real-world equivalent.

Tips for Adding VR to Onboarding

  1. Start with shorter VR onboarding videos.
  2. Add interactivity to generate a more memorable training experience.
  3. Measure the effectiveness of VR onboarding.

 

From DSC:
I appreciated that the article included the following sentence: “For industries without a lot of change, the VR training modules can be used for numerous years.”  This hints at the need to start small and be sure that your content won’t be changing all the time. If it does, VR may not be a good fit. It’s at least something to consider — along with the costs of the hardware to review/experience the training-related content (which are changing all of the time these days…and will likely continue to change for a while yet).

 

 

 

Augmented Reality Technology: A student creates the closest thing yet to a magic ring — from forbes.com by Kevin Murnane

Excerpt:

Nat Martin set himself the problem of designing a control mechanism that can be used unobtrusively to meld AR displays with the user’s real-world environment. His solution was a controller in the shape of a ring that can be worn on the user’s finger. He calls it Scroll. It uses the ARKit software platform and contains an Arduino circuit board, a capacitive sensor, gyroscope, accelerometer, and a Softpot potentiometer. Scroll works with any AR device that supports the Unity game engine such as Google Cardboard or Microsoft’s Hololens.

 

Also see:

Scroll from Nat on Vimeo.

 

 


Addendum on 8/15/17:

New iOS 11 ARKit Demo Shows Off Drawing With Fingers In Augmented Reality [Video] — from redmondpie.com by Oliver Haslam |

Excerpt:

When Apple releases iOS 11 to the public next month, it will also release ARKit for the first time. The framework, designed to make bringing augmented reality to iOS a reality was first debuted during the opening keynote of WWDC 2017 when Apple announced iOS 11, and ever since then we have been seeing new concepts and demos be released by developers.

Those developers have given us a glimpse of what we can expect when apps taking advantage of ARKit start to ship alongside iOS 11, and the latest of those is a demonstration in which someone’s finger is used to draw on a notepad.

 


 

 

 

Why Natural Language Processing is the Future of Business Intelligence — from dzone.com by Gur Tirosh
Until now, we have been interacting with computers in a way that they understand, rather than us. We have learned their language. But now, they’re learning ours.

Excerpt:

Every time you ask Siri for directions, a complex chain of cutting-edge code is activated. It allows “her” to understand your question, find the information you’re looking for, and respond to you in a language that you understand. This has only become possible in the last few years. Until now, we have been interacting with computers in a way that they understand, rather than us. We have learned their language.

But now, they’re learning ours.

The technology underpinning this revolution in human-computer relations is Natural Language Processing (NLP). And it’s already transforming BI, in ways that go far beyond simply making the interface easier. Before long, business transforming, life changing information will be discovered merely by talking with a chatbot.

This future is not far away. In some ways, it’s already here.

What Is Natural Language Processing?
NLP, otherwise known as computational linguistics, is the combination of Machine Learning, AI, and linguistics that allows us to talk to machines as if they were human.

 

 

But NLP aims to eventually render GUIs — even UIs — obsolete, so that interacting with a machine is as easy as talking to a human.

 

 

 

 

How SLAM technology is redrawing augmented reality’s battle lines — from venturebeat.com by Mojtaba Tabatabaie

 

 

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

In early June, Apple introduced its first attempt to enter AR/VR space with ARKit. What makes ARKit stand out for Apple is a technology called SLAM (Simultaneous Localization And Mapping). Every tech giant — especially Apple, Google, and Facebook — is investing heavily in SLAM technology and whichever takes best advantage of SLAM tech will likely end up on top.

SLAM is a technology used in computer vision technologies which gets the visual data from the physical world in shape of points to make an understanding for the machine. SLAM makes it possible for machines to “have an eye and understand” what’s around them through visual input. What the machine sees with SLAM technology from a simple scene looks like the photo above, for example.

Using these points machines can have an understanding of their surroundings. Using this data also helps AR developers like myself to create much more interactive and realistic experiences. This understanding can be used in different scenarios like robotics, self-driving cars, AI and of course augmented reality.

The simplest form of understanding from this technology is recognizing walls and barriers and also floors. Right now most AR SLAM technologies like ARKit only use floor recognition and position tracking to place AR objects around you, so they don’t actually know what’s going on in your environment to correctly react to it. More advanced SLAM technologies like Google Tango, can create a mesh of our environment so not only the machine can tell you where the floor is, but it can also identify walls and objects in your environment allowing everything around you to be an element to interact with.

 

 

The company with the most complete SLAM database will likely be the winner. This database will allow these giants to have an eye on the world metaphorically, so, for example Facebook can tag and know the location of your photo by just analyzing the image or Google can place ads and virtual billboards around you by analyzing the camera feed from your smart glasses. Your self-driving car can navigate itself with nothing more than visual data.

 

 

 

From DSC:
Reviewing the article below made me think of 2 potential additions to the Learning & Development Groups/Departments out there:

  1. Help people build their own learning ecosystems
  2. Design, develop, and implement workbots for self-service

 



 

Chatbots Poised to Revolutionize HR — from by Pratibha Nanduri

Excerpt:

Self-service is becoming an increasingly popular trend where people want to perform their tasks without needing help or input from anyone else. The increasing popularity of this trend is mainly attributed to the increasing use of computers and mobile devices to electronically manage all kinds of tasks.

As employee tolerance for downtime reduces and preferences for mobility increases, the bureaucracy which exists in managing everyday HR related tasks in the workplace will also have to be replaced. A large number of companies have still not automated even their basic HR services such as handling inquiries about holidays and leaves. Employees in such organizations still have to send their query and then wait for HR to respond.

As the number of employees goes up in an organization, the time taken by HR managers to respond to mundane admin tasks also increases. This leaves very little time for the HR manager to focus on strategic HR initiatives.

Chatbots that are powered by AI and machine learning are increasingly being used to automate mundane and repetitive tasks. They can also be leveraged in HR to simulate intelligent SMS-based conversations between employees and HR team members to automate basic HR tasks.

 



 

 

Campus Technology 2017: Virtual Reality Is More Than a New Medium — from edtechmagazine.com by Amy Burroughs
Experts weigh in on the future of VR in higher education.

Excerpts:

“It’s actually getting pretty exciting,” Georgieva said, noting that legacy companies and startups alike have projects in the works that will soon be on the market. Look for standalone, wireless VR headsets later this year from Facebook and Google.

“I think it’s going to be a universal device,” he said. “Eventually, we’ll end up with some kind of glasses where we can just dial in the level of immersion that we want.”

— Per Emery Craig, at Campus Technology 2017 Conference


“Doing VR for the sake of VR makes no sense whatsoever,” Craig said. “Ask when does it make sense to do this in VR? Does a sense of presence help this, or is it better suited to traditional media?”

 

 

Virtual Reality: The User Experience of Story — from blogs.adobe.com

Excerpt:

Solving the content problems in VR requires new skills that are only just starting to be developed and understood, skills that are quite different from traditional storytelling. VR is a nascent medium. One part story, one part experience. And while many of the concepts from film and theater can be used, storytelling through VR is not like making a movie or a play.

In VR, the user has to be guided through an experience of a story, which means many of the challenges in telling a VR story are closer to UX design than anything from film or theater.

Take the issue of frameless scenes. In a VR experience, there are no borders, and no guarantees where a user will look. Scenes must be designed to attract user attention, in order to guide them through the experience of a story.

Sound design, staging cues, lighting effects, and movement can all be used to draw a user’s attention.

However, it’s a fine balance between attraction to distraction.

“In VR, it’s easy to overwhelm the user. If you see a flashing light and in the background, you hear a sharp siren, and then something moves, you’ve given the user too many things to understand,” says Di Dang, User Experience Lead at POP, Seattle. “Be intentional and deliberate about how you grab audience attention.”

 

VR is a storytelling superpower. No other medium has the quite the same potential to create empathy and drive human connection. Because viewers are for all intents and purposes living the experience, they walk away with that history coded into their memory banks—easily accessible for future responses.

 

 

 

Google’s latest VR experiment is teaching people how to make coffee — from techradar.com by Parker Wilhelm
All in a quest to see how effective learning in virtual reality is

Excerpt:

Teaching with a simulation is no new concept, but Google’s Daydream Labs wants to see exactly how useful virtual reality can be for teaching people practical skills.

In a recent experiment, Google ran a simulation of an interactive espresso machine in VR. From there, it had a group of people try their virtual hand at brewing a cup of java before being tasked to make the real thing.

 

 



 

Addendum on 7/26/17:

 



 

 

 

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