Interesting Topics

Quadcopters: Incredible controlled cooperative flight

In a robot lab at TEDGlobal, Raffaello D’Andrea shows off his quadcopters (A flying device with four propellers). This is ridiculously amazing. I want like 10 of them. They can recognize space locations, balance objects, and even function without proper propellers! They are designed with algorithms that allow them to think like athletes, solving physical problems with algorithms that help them learn.

First of all, when he pulled out the controller that can tell the quadcopter where to be in space I was quite compressed . But then he made it balance the pole and THAT IS AWESOME. You can tell my excitement when he put the glass of water on top of the quadcopter and it balanced it. Even the studio audience that was under the quadcopter was afraid it was going to drop the glass on it but NO. IT DID IT! At this point I was literally yelling at my classmates to watch this video with me as he cut the wings off the quadcopter! Drum-roll please..

…. it still flew!!!

quadcopter

Then, in control and accuracy the quadcopter calculates locations and where it should be 50 TIMES PER SECOND! This allowed it to return a thrown ball as a racket would.

Group control is even an option as they can work together to both catch and return a thrown ball using a net.

This is an EXTREMELY amazing and useful tool as surveillance companies can utilize this effectively. Other than surveillance, rescue teams, operations teams, and personal action tasks can be easily completed with this technology. I repeat, I WANT 10 OF THEM!

My Rating: 11/10

Google Glass in the Class

The tech giant does it again. Google has created a revolutionary gadget called “Google Glass“.  This product is much more than a camera and screen on a pair of eye glasses. It has a powerful computational processor that allows it to know where the user is, communicate with others, and have all of the knowledge of the Google search engine. It is a hands free device that is controlled using voice commands, touch commands, and head movements. Seeing in the dark, having semi x-ray vision, seeing in slow motion, and motion detection are just a few of the possibilities that can be accomplished with Glass. It has 12GB of usable memory, and it saves to Google Drive automatically through the paired iDevice. It sports a 1 day battery life and is is offered in many colors such as sky, charcoal, tangerine, and cotton. The screen appears to the user as an impressive 25ft HD screen that is 8ft away even though it is right next to the eyes of the user. Google’s new product is mainly useful in the photography field as it allows for taking pictures/videos in situations where the photographer needs to use his/her hands.

In education, Glass currently has few groundbreaking applications but it is still a very capable tool. In my classes, the main use I would take advantage of is recording seminar’s to view and share later to review for exams. This could also be used for a student who is not able to make it to class to be able to be “in the class” while not having to be in the room. This also opens up the opportunity for more home school classes where all of the students could remotely see what the instructor is doing/saying.

Teachers can also record themselves doing an activity so students can follow along while doing the hands on acts themselves.

If a shy student has a question, he can send a message to the teacher and it will show up on her glasses

sceffffffd

Real time translating for quick and easy learning of languages

Face recognition for attendance

face

Evaluate staff without visiting

“Capture science in everyday life via photos, videos, audio and images and share with the class.”

gggg

Virtual field trips

museum

At this stage in the tech development, Google Glass is being used in elementary schools all the way through university.

Elementary school application:

High School application:

College application:

Personally, I want to get one of these. I’m all about trying the new technologies whether they are handheld, watches, glasses, etc. Some problems that I can see are that people might not wear them as they are quite obvious that the owner is wearing them around. Even though there are all of these advantages, there are still drawbacks such as the lack of developer support, its high price ($1,500) and difficult availability, the disruption of others by using the tool, and the lack of prescriptions lenses. Another issue I foresee is privacy and security as people can walk around taking pictures of others without anyone knowing. Still it would be very fun to walk around town and to have a virtual reality screen describe everything that I see. In my own world I would like for everyone to have a pair of these but in reality I predict it will not catch on unless they become less intrusive and less obvious. It is a good start but there is still much ground to cover for the development team. Specifically for education, it is still missing many features. The issue I see is not that Google hasn’t included software or hardware advancements, but the control and ease of using a wearable device is not up to the standard of a handheld device. I view it more as a watch or a Bluetooth earpiece, which is an accessory, not so much a autonomous device. In education, we can “use” anything, but what do we need? What is the next generation of learning? With other devices showing great speed and usability, such as the iPad, this isn’t it.

Nordstrom Innovation Lab

A software team, working at the Nordstrom Lab, got together with the goal of making the glasses choosing process easier and faster. They accomplished this goal, as one week after they started, they had a working app with only little functionality but great potential. Using customer feedback, they kept on working to improve the iPad app throughout the week. They worked in the store to make this process of customer feedback easier as well as to stay focused on what the customer wants. Throughout the development process, they worked hard to create a functional iPad app that they could leave to the store and it to be actually useful. A flash build, is when a development team shows up to a location and gets together and collaborates to build a new application. Card mapping is thinking about the customer’s interaction with the app and how it would change based on the app’s changes. A paper prototype is an early release prototype that defines what they’d like to do with this project. A team creates a paper prototype to focus on their initial goals as well to make it clear to everyone else what they want. The customers and sales people play an important role in the creation of apps because they are presented with the paper prototype and they suggest ideas and give feedback to the idea. In this case, the idea of comparing the photos of glasses side by side was the idea of a customer. The polarized glasses problem was tough for the developers but they figured out that they have to turn the screen to landscape mode in order to see it clearly. Developers can determine the success of the project based on customer feedback on the final product and how many stores adopt their software. In order to be a successful developer who creates projects in short periods of time, one must be optimistic, intelligent, have good time  management, and be able to communicate very well.

Healthsherpa Helps Thousands Get Insurance Quotes

healthcare vs Sherpa

Healthcare.gov is a government website that provides comprehensive, easy-to-understand information on health insurance options. The website itself is quite colorful with many bells and whistles. The overall design of the site is eye catching and very intense as there are vivid colors right from the home page. On top of the aesthetics the functionality is fantastic as well because there are pictures that are clearly links to other pages and when clicked on they bring you to other helpful pages. Healthcare.gov also offers more options for the user such as selecting if you are a family or a business that needs information to help assist your needs. Basically, Healthcare.gov is a very attractive and functional site as it grabs your attention and its ease of use if phenomenal.
Alternatively, Healthsherpa.com is a new website designed to provide consumers with a better understanding of how to shop for health insurance. The first page that I was sent to was basically a blank white screen asking me to enter a zip code. Compared to the other site, this site has essentially no competition in overall design as it’s bland and boring in appearance with no visuals. On top of that, the navigation was simple in that it presented one option per page in advancing to the next but that process is quite annoying and not attractive to the average user. Overall, Healthsherpa.com is a VERY bland site with not many options in functionality presented to the user.
Based on my analysis, the Healthcare.gov site is better because  it is visually appealing and it has many options in functionality. This is because the Healthsherpa.com site is bleak, boring, and too simple. However, Healthcare.govstill needs to improve its ability to be clear in what the user has to initially do when the site is accessed. Personally, I would definitely use Healthcare.gov over Healthsherpa.com without a doubt. The site is very impressive, and even if you aren’t interested in health care information I would suggest checking it out as an example of a visually attractive website.

iPad Air

iPad air

Apple’s iPad has been upgraded, once again, and it’s fantastic. Every improvement has been to a lighter, thinner, and faster model but the iPad air makes that very important step to combining “Personal” and “Computer” to near perfection. This new iPad is 28% lighter than the previous two full-sized models so basically apple shaved off 30% of the weight in one year. Mimicking the design of the iPad mini, the iPad air is very comfortable in one hand without compromising the feel of full immersion into the device.

The iPad air sports a Retina Display that is 9.7in with 264 pixels/inch to use in its 4:3 display. Along with the stellar graphics, it has an impressive battery life which can last up to 8.5 hours on 75% screen brightness. The hardware isn’t the only reason why most people go to an Apple tablet compared to the alternatives. The software and especially the app store is a great benefit too. On the purchase of new Apple devices now as well the iWork suite is built in.

To sum everything up, the new Apple device is a great new technology that is very technologically advanced. The only alternative to it that would be conceivable is the iPad mini which is $100 cheaper but it compromises much screen size. If you are in the market for a portable handheld device with many capabilities definitely check out Apple’s new iPad Air.

Budgee Bot

budgee bot

Five Elements Robotics has created this concept of a technology they’re developing and it could be EXTREMELY useful for everyday tasks and struggles. This product, called Budgee Bot, is designed to obediently follow you around, carrying your stuff. Don’t worry, these little devices won’t be overthrowing the human population anytime soon as the Vice President of Five Elements Robotics explains that the ability to follow its owner is really rather simple. “Budgee follows a signal from a portable ultrasonic device,” he says; a device you can carry in your pocket or clip to a bag strap.

Weighing only 20ib, this small device can handle up to an impressive 50ib. One might use this device to carry your shopping bags around the store, to carry your books in school, or if you are moving many things you can have them follow each other in a line. However the battery life of one is only about 4 – 6 hours and the recharge is another 6 hours so the long lasting projects aren’t going to happen yet.

Budgee bot is having a kickstarter campaign so if you want to go support them that’s the place to look. The estimated price of purchase for one of these is $1,399.

Google Driver-less Car

detection

Google has made the next step in transportation. Not quite hover-cars but it’s a step in the right direction. They have created a driver-less car that can perform as well, if not better, than a human in control. It uses an insane number of sensors, including GPS, to guide the car through auto-calculated routes without incidents. Google has created a “virtual world” where there are mapped out auto-drive lanes that are the basic routes for the driver-less car. Not yet on the market, it is in a closed beta test, where Google’s employees commute to work every morning in one of these Google Cars.

Being a car on the road is dangerous for a computer to control but it makes hundreds of diagnostic checks every second, having an error only about 300 miles. Hearing that a self driving car has an “error” isn’t what you think it means though. There have been no collisions, accidents, etc but instead “Chauffer” detects something incorrectly such as a mailbox as a child on the side of the road.

Google is being quite secretive about this project as it is so groundbreaking but from all I’ve heard I have total faith in this car. Google always completes its products well so the consumers are always happy. For this reason I would get into one of those cars today without doubt that it would take me to the desired destination without incident. Again, if I had the money I would jump right on the bandwagon and support this cause and buy it when I can. I advise that if you do, right when it’s available buy that right away.

3D displays without Glasses

glasses

The U.S. electronics firm Hewlett-Packard has made the next big leap into visual technology. They have created a screen that allows the user’s perception to be 3D but WITHOUT GLASSES without compromising the resolution. This can be a great help in virtual training, entertainment, and data visualization. This screen allows for viewing of the static/moving image in full color from multiple angles, but only up to three feet away. Popular films, such as Avatar and Alice in Wonderland, have inspired the creators of this technology as their goal was to turn that virtual reality into reality.

Dr Fattal, a quantum scientist, said none of the leading multiview 3D solutions is particularly well suited to mobile devices such as watches, cellphones or tablets which require high resolution and a short viewing distance from potentially steep angles. This new technology is a compelling alternative to the current screens but it will be about a decade before you can have it in your own hand.

Personally, having a 3D display on my phone would be groundbreaking. The possibilities of this technology are endless as games, movies, or interactive applications would be in a whole new era for cellular devices. If this continues to develop I can even see it going onto billboards and even projecting images into air and space. This is only the first step. Because of the future possibilities, I am very excited about this development and I hope that I can have one in my hand in the near future.

Virtuix Omni Treadmill

Omni

This new video game technology was funded by Kickstarter and has had tremendous support. It started with the goal of $150,000 but they shattered that with $1.1 million in funding. Basically, the technology is a pair of frictionless shoes and a treadmill platform that allows the unit to track the user’s motions for more of an “in game” sensation. Because it is such a large machine, along with the $500 unit price, the unit requires $60-$90 for shipping in the US.

Raymond Wong and his companions got a chance to try this technology at the E3 conference in June and they decalred that it will be a great addition to the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. What they got from that trial was exactly what one would expect: It is a fantastic emerging technology that promises body movement motion tracking. Along with this device and the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, the Virtuix Omni Tredmill will be a fantastic change of scenery for hard core gamers as they will never want to come back into the “real world” again.

Personally, I believe that this is the type of invention that the video game industry desperately needs. For a while now companies have been focused on different forms of hand held controllers and some have been focusing on cameras that can detect movement but this is the next level for games, especially first person shooters. The ability to hold a “gun” as a controller and physically see youself there with the glasses and be able to literally walk around through the map is mind blowing. If it wasn’t so expensive, or if I had money to spare, I would splurge and get myself one of these, or maybe two so I can play with a friend. Simply amazing.

Snapchat

snapchat

Snapchat is an application that allows users to communicate through short videos or by sharing an image for a certain amount of time. The sender can select any length 1 second through 10 seconds for the image to be visible. In the world of education this can be extremely useful for fast communication especially in studying.

From all around the world, over 100 million users send over 350 million “snaps” per day. Even though Snapchat is a free application, without in app purchasing options, the company is valued at around $800 million.

Snapchat is an exciting way for students to study and quiz each other from their houses in a more interactive way than a group message. Benchmark Mitch Lasky says, “Snapchat’s reach and level of engagement with users is significantly higher than we’ve seen with other services at similar stages.” For instance when studying for something as simple as a vocabulary quiz, one can send a video message saying the definition and an example in a sentence. In return that person could receive a photo with the answer from the person he is quizzing. There are endless possibilities with this app as communication at its simplest has endless possibilities.

Other than education there is an obvious appeal to teenagers as sending embarrassing or goofy pictures to their friends is irresistible as after those 10 seconds it will be gone forever.

Even though the images disappear quite quickly, one thing is for certain – Snapchat will not disappear anytime soon.

Skype

skype

Skype is a video conferencing tool that has allowed users to connect from all over the globe with no cost since 2003. At that time, schools were not able to use this tool to its full potential as they did not have the hardware, webcams, or high speed internet but in the current age teachers are finding it very useful in their classrooms.

Within the many uses there is a huge advantage in educational purposes as students can interact with others while learning. “You want an opportunity for your kids to communicate with other kids about what they are learning,” is what Becky Fisher said, as she is the director of educational technology and professional development for the 13,000 student school of  the Albemarle County school district in central Virginia.

Skype can be used between teachers and students as well. Say a student missed an important lesson he could contact the professor and learn over Skype. Or possibly he can not be in the classroom, so he could Skype into the classroom and not miss a second.

The ability to collaborate globally is exceptionally useful as language students can communicate with foreign students who are native to the language. I’m presently doing this in fact I am communicating with the students of Cles, Italy as we are keeping in touch after our Italian Exchange of two weeks ago. Most nights we all Skype and we have about 10 people on the call normally. While working on our Italian language skills it is a fun and engaging way to keep in touch with our new friends.

Along with informal video chats, Skype can be used for formal situations as well. For example many job interviews are conducted over Skype as well. As it is an easy tool, anyone can use it no matter how familiar they are with technology. For this reason this is a very useful tool that should be utilized more in both the educational world but also in personal life.

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