What is Virtual Reality?

This is an artificial environment that is created with software, which the user accepts as a real environment around them. Right now, Virtual Reality is mainly experienced via sound and sight.

Where is it being used?

In Education:

Different industries have been using VR for the past 10 years such as the medical, military and training pilots.  In the medical industry, virtual reality has helped train surgeons for different procedures. The military often uses VR for combat practice especially for overseas missions where terrains are unfamiliar.

In Business Meetings:

Companies such as HP, Polycom, Cisco and AT&T have developed solutions for videoconferencing telepresence. This means that employees can still benefit from face to face meetings and watch body language of the other participants. The only thing that participants can’t have access to is food that is provided at these meetings (maybe one day)!

Remote Locations:

Often certain services are not provided on a regular basis in regional and remote areas such as medicine. Telemedicine is being used more with indigenous communities where specialists can’t always get to for regular appointments.

This has been used with Google Glass and the Australian Breastfeeding Association to monitor five mothers from Victoria. The trial ran for eight weeks and connected each mum with an ABA Counsellor who advised them on breastfeeding techniques and common parenting issues.

Manufacturing:

This also could be used to diagnose problems such as equipment malfunction in (manufacturing) without needing to get a technician out on sight (or at least order and bring the correct parts when the technician visits).

How is it being used?

Sony, Samsung and Google are all in a race to get these VR devices into the hands of consumers along with developers creating new software.

Google Glass:

google glass
photo credit: Prepayasyougo

I experimented with Google Glass last year at the Connect Expo in Melbourne. The blog at Salesforce.com shared 10 ways that Google Glass is having an impact on business applications.

Cathie Reid, managing partner of Epic Pharmacy Group (Brisbane) and she is also a ‘Google Glass Explorer’. She is passionate about the benefits of wearable technology and telehealth. Here is one of her recent articles about using technology especially Google Glass and specialist oncology pharmacists.

Oculus Rift (Facebook):

oculus rift
photo credit: insidethemagic

This is a new VR (Virtual Reality) headset (goggles) that allows players to step inside their favourite games. It has been recently bought out by Facebook. This product is expected to launch next year in Winter.

Project Morpheus (Sony Playstation):

project morpheus

photo credit: Sony

Project Morpheus will work with the PS4 console and will operate in a similiar way to the Occulus Rift. Both of them are goggles that have a headstrap and are still in prototype testing.

Where does the future lie?

I predict that in the future, we’ll be able to use VR across many aspect of our day-to-day lives: ‘test-driving’ a new car, visualising different clothes without physically trying them on especially for online stores and visiting/experiencing holidays before we book at a travel agent, for example. The key thing to remember is that the boundaries between technology and reality are getting smaller, and balancing that is something to keep in mind.
photo credit: saturn ♄

Megan Iemma

Technology Coach and “IT” girl Megan Iemma is a thought leader in the world of technology and its uses. An educator and techno geek, Megan combined her passions for education and technology and founded Tech Coach HQ  working with businesses and their teams to improve processes and embrace the productivity technology has to offer.


Perhaps you’ve heard of the term hyper-connectivity. This is a relatively new term, generally used to talk about how we’re connected not only person-to person, but person-to-machine and machine-to-machine. It almost sounds Matrix-like, but  it’s a very real thing that’s happening in our lives right now.

Technology all around us

With the recent release of iOS8, the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus as well as many Android devices, technology is now being woven into every waking minute of our day.

The new Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Gear and other watches are integrating more phone-like characteristics. Most will only work with our smartphones or mobile devices. So not only do we have a pared-down phone on our wrists, but we also have to keep our mobiles nearby, making it much more difficult to disconnect.

With each new update to the operating systems, there is a closer integration with our daily activities. For example, the Apple iHealth Kit and Home Kit means that not only will you be able to monitor your daily health stats via your mobile, but also control more aspects of operating your home (home kit). The prices of these applications/accessories means that they will be available for more consumers rather than only a luxury item. It’s not hard to imagine that they’ll be common before long.

Is wearable tech taking over our lives?

I currently own a FitBit © which I love using daily. For me, it has made me much more active (and no I haven’t given it up after 6 months).  I have noticed like with any new gadget, there becomes several new habits that weren’t there before (and not always habits I would have predicted).

My FitBit © is programmed to have an silent alarm for each morning. Each day is different depending on what activities I have regularly planned. If I forget to put the FitBit back onto my wrist, it will still vibrate and go off (meaning I have to still get out of bed to stop it from beeping).

When it’s charging, not having it with me becomes in inconvenience. I love that I get an email from FitBit saying that the battery is low, but often leave it to the last minute. This means that I am not wearing the FitBit whilst going for a morning walk or exercise (hence not measuring steps/sleep which then I want to make up to my magic ‘10,000 steps a day’).

It also affects my life when I’m wearing it. I went for a bike ride the other day, and was disappointed that my step count wasn’t as high–even though I had completed 45 mins of exercise.

Currently with the FitBit © Flex, there is no way to gauge EXACTLY how many steps, km’s or calories you have burned, unless you sync it to your mobile device or laptop. This means at the moment I will check in on my mobile several times a day (I can tap on my Flex and it will tell me roughly how many steps I am up to – each dot is represented via 2,000 steps which is my daily goal). It also means at night time I have noticed I become a little OCD in making sure I get all the elements coloured green (hit the daily target, such as 10,000 steps, 8.05km, 2,184 calories or 30 minutes of active exercise).

My sleeping habits aren’t the best, so I only glance at these figures perhaps once a week.

Balancing connectivity

This experience has show me how difficult it can be to disconnect from your mobile devices, especially if they are connected to other things such as a smart watch or fitness device. These days, I have finally stopped checking the results of my exercise every waking moment, and just usually check at night time to see how much exercise I’ve done.

As for other wearable technology, I would love an Apple Watch but my biggest concern would be how many extra pieces of technology I’d be relying on to complete simple everyday tasks.  The FitBit © already impacts so many aspects of my life–I can’t imagine what would happen with a smartwatch!

But in the end, only time will tell the impacts of these gadgets on our lives.

Featured image: HasinHayder

Megan Iemma

Technology Coach and “IT” girl Megan Iemma is a thought leader in the world of technology and its uses. An educator and techno geek, Megan combined her passions for education and technology and founded Tech Coach HQ  working with businesses and their teams to improve processes and embrace the productivity technology has to offer.


Digital clutter is becoming a bigger issue as more people are trying to leave behind paper and deal with the digital world. After watching an episode on the Living Room, Episode 23 featuring Peter Walsh, I had an ‘aha’ moment to deal with digital clutter. Peter was dealing with a couple who had to clean out all their things from a granny flat and start afresh.  The final reveal really showed how much of a difference it can make to your headspace when things are cleaned out.

Aha Moment: There are often deeper issues when dealing with clutter, regardless of whether it is dealing with emails, files or even apps. The process of cleaning your ‘digital clutter’ out can make a huge difference not only to your headspace, but to your productivity.

Recently I had a client who needed urgent attention with her email. She had over 4,500 emails sitting in her inbox and had got to the point of being ‘infowhelmed – or information overloaded’. 

Here are five steps to dealing with ‘digital mess’.

1. Unsubscribe to (or roll up!) emails you don’t need!

I recently used unroll.me to unsubscribe to over 180 email lists that I had in my three email accounts. It was amazing to watch the next morning as my inbox drastically reduced. They include a service entitled ‘Unroll.me Daily Wrap Up’ where you can choose to have several subscriptions rolled up into one email. My client who had email overload used this service and unsubscribed to over 90 email lists.

Tip: Realise WHY you are holding onto these emails. If they are important, copy the link and paste it into an Evernote notebook (or pin it to a Pinterest Board). It’s then important to delete the email, so you can get to INBOX ZERO!

 

2. Find those files (and name them properly!)

So, have you ever been taught how to name and tame your files? I have a number of clients who have difficulty finding their files because of the organisation of their folders/sub-folders or lack of folders.

I discovered David Sparks (author of  ‘Paperless’), and he suggests having YY-MM-DD followed by a space and hyphen, then a description of the document. An example is this blog post, written on 14-07-30. Then I usually add what it’s related to i.e. invoice, blog post or client files.

 

3. Consistency for your files

Why use Evernote? I have been working with both new and existing clients recently using Evernote to manage their ‘digital filing cabinet’ i.e. taking notes, scanning documents, planning renovations, working on projects, keeping records of warranties and the list goes on.  This is available for desktop (Mac/Windows), Android, iOS, Windows devices and Blackberry.  So last year, I started running Evernote workshops in Melbourne because I realised that individuals are struggling with ‘digital overload’ of information.

 

4. File Receipts

Today, receipts are all thermal, so if you don’t deal with them immediately, they are at risk of fading.  Late last year, I worked with Denise Childs from ‘Systems for Order’, a professional organiser (something I wish I had done a few years ago). I realised as we were working on my lounge room that I had a huge issue with paper trails, with paper left in at least 6 places around the house.

Tip: Where is the paper trail in your house? How do you file your receipts?

It got me thinking about making scans of important documents that I need, either with Evernote, or another app called ‘JotNot Scanner Pro’ so that I can access them easily through Evernote, Dropox or Google Drive.

Shoeboxed’  is another option which also has an app which allows you to scan your receipts in. It uses them to create an expense report. The other option they have is to send files to a central location, and they will do the work for you for a fee.

5. Organise your website research

How do you organise your website research? I personally use Pinterest on both my desktop  via the Internet (Mac) and my iPad and it is one of my favourite apps and websites.

There are some other great tools–I highly recommend using Evernote Web Clipper and Evernote Clearly to manage websites that I would like to collect. You will need to sign up for a free Evernote account first, so you can add the resources to your Evernote notebooks.

The iOS (iPhone and iPad) version is Dolphin Web Browser and I use this when I am not using my laptop. It is also available forAndroid users.

 

photo credit: T a k

Being an entrepreneur, it’s important to manage digital files so that you business can be more productive and save time, money and frustration! For further details, on how you can get help with ‘digital decluttering, contact Tech Coach HQ.

Megan Iemma

Technology Coach and “IT” girl Megan Iemma is a thought leader in the world of technology and its uses. An educator and techno geek, Megan combined her passions for education and technology and founded Tech Coach HQ  working with businesses and their teams to improve processes and embrace the productivity technology has to offer.


Being a ‘geek girl’ I love using technology to motivate me for my daily exercise. Having a FitBit has really made a difference in being active every day, especially when often I am sitting working at my computer or iPad. With the advent of wearable technology, you can now collect data as you exercise and send it to apps such as My Fitness Pal, Map My Run, or whatever your app of choice happens to be!

Below is a quick round-up of some of the wearable technology available for various sports.

Multi-use Devices

moov

Looking for wearable tech that can track more than one sport/activity? Moov is being released in spring 2014 and at the bargain pre-order price of $79.95, although it will go up to $120 when it’s released. It covers five different workouts: running, weight training, cardio boxing, swimming, and biking. It’s a nice alternative to most of the existing wearable tech is that it is only focused on one sport, such as running or cycling.

Swimming

pyle

When I used to train 3-4 times a week–often swimming at least 2 kilometres a training session–the biggest problem that I had was boredom. I love music at the best of times and being able to listen to music would have definitely made training much easier. Pyle audio has released waterproof neckband headphones that can store and play up to 4GB of music. It also comes with 3 x waterproof earbuds and 3 x land based ear buds to change over when needed.

Hiking (or Tramping, for the Kiwis!)

SPOTGen3_45Degree_edited-hr

One of my family friend’s sons had to activate a EPIRB (Digital Radiobeacon) in winter last year after falling out of a whitewater raft while down the Franklin River in Southern Tasmania. They had to be rescued by helicopter as the location was so remote. It was a lucky thing for both of them that they had this device and were able to activate it.

Another friend of mine who lives on the South Island, NZ who does a lot of hiking (or tramping, if you prefer) also uses a GPS Satellite Messenger. He had to activate his after a snowstorm swept through one of the places that they were walking through, and was promptly rescued. Often, you don’t realise technology can save lives until you know someone whose life has been saved!

Running

medium_12864682645
photo credit: robpegoraro

My aim for 2014/2015 is to set a goal for some running (and actually doing a Fun Run) so something like the Magellan Echo watch would work really well. This particular smartwatch syncs with other great apps such as Map My Run, Wahoo, iSmooth Run and iMobile Intervals. I also love that it can be also bought with a matching heart rate monitor for those who are serious about their cardiac workouts or running.

Skiing

While researching for this article, I came across the Recon Engage, which looks like an amazing product. This is following on from the footsteps of Google Glasses with information being viewed out from a pair of eyewear (in this case, customised Ski googles). With this product you can see where you went during your run (map) , the images during the ski run, who you were with and more, alongside key performance stats. All this information is overlaid on Google Maps.

What sort of wearable technology do you own? Does it encourage you to exercise? Would you wear wearable clothing? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Featured Image: Stephan Geyer


This week, Megan Iemma continues her ‘Technology Around the Home series’, covering new and upcoming technology for your study and lounge.

Being the ‘geek girl’ in our house, I am always browsing through websites and catalogues to keep abreast of the latest innovations. This doesn’t mean I can buy them all – in fact we still have my husband’s grandfather’s television (One of those large boxes circa 1998)!

I think the biggest trend for technology in your study and lounge areas is increasingly automated and interconnected products, especially via your mobile devices.

Mounts for your devices (iPad or Android Tablets)

twelvesouth_hoverbar_hanging_hires

There is nothing worse when working with your tablet, than having it sit flat on the table, where in reality you need it at the height of your computer monitor. There are two types of products on the market where this can make a difference.

There are stand alone mounts for your device (mounted to a flat surface). These can be adapted for both Android or iOS and should allow you to charge your device at the same time. More specific products such as the Belkin Express Dock are specifically designed to hold your iPad in a portrait mode.

There are also mounts that can be attached to your desktop monitor, such as the HoverBar3. You can even use it in your kitchen, as it clips onto any surface up to 1 inch thick and comes with 3 clips.

Smart Plugs

wemo

There are some fantastic products on the market that help automate your lighting, heating and appliances. An example of this is the WeMo Switch. It plugs into your power point and can monitor energy use (great for heaters in winter), turn devices on and off (think television for saving power) and help prevent your devices from overheating. Everything is controlled from an app on your smartphone.

The Power of Great Sound

Photographers | We Are The Rhoads | Chris & Sarah Rhoads Client: Bose

Like with any entertainment area or lounge, great sound is a must. I have a sound system where my iPod Touch lives (and charges) which plays my music. When looking for products that can stream your music, also look for apps that integrate with these devices so you won’t need an extra remote control.

Speakers that use Bluetooth or AirPlay are standard, but find speakers that can charge a device if necessary. I would love a Bose SoundTouch™ 20 Wi-Fi ® Music System as it would allow me to stream my music via our Wi-Fi system (via iTunes) and Internet Radio.

Wishlist items (yet to be released in Australia)

Cube Sensors

cubesensors_hires_1cube_gramophone

This product helps you to understand how your home or office is affecting your health, comfort and productivity. You place one cube in each room and they monitor the following: air quality, temperature, humidity, noise, light, pressure. Shake them, and they glow, identifying the ‘health’ of the room. Of course, there is the smartphone/tablet integration which you can access from any web browser to see the status and make a change.

Smartthings Hub and App

smartthings-devices-2

Like with many of the devices we are using, it is great to simplify, rather than having one remote or app for each appliance or device. This is a hub which connects to different appliances from different companies and controls them via a Hub. There is then one app to control each of these appliances from the Hub dashboard. It is available for both Android and iOS.

As more products are developed, there will be greater collaboration between companies to innovate and invent products that will communicate and respond via home automation. At the moment, cost is a factor as most appliances require an individual device for each separate room of the house, making it more expensive to set these systems up. Until then, I suppose will just have to remember to turn the heater on when I get home.

What technology do you use and love in your lounge and study? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Featured Image: PetitPlat – Stephanie Kilgast


Megan Iemma will be doing a series of posts about the nifty, useful technology she uses around the home. This week, we’re starting with the kitchen!

One of my favourite rooms in my house is the kitchen. This is because it involves two things I love: food and people. When I moved out of home, I spent a lot of money buying gadgets for my kitchen. The more adventurous I became with my cooking, the more advanced the gadgets became.

In fact, I’ve managed to accumulate so many since my uni days that they’ve taken over the linen cupboard in the laundry (and overflowed into kitchen cupboards and the garage).

What’s hot these days are devices that connect with apps for your smartphone or tablet. Companies such as Samsung and LG are beginning to release connected versions of appliances we think of as ‘normal’. Samsung has the Samsung Smart Home service, while LG has come up with the LG Homechat system. Both were released earlier this year at CES (Consumer Electronics Show)—however, some of these items are still in product development, or have a limited range.

The biggest problem that we have is that technology changes quickly, and the lifespan of these products is becoming shorter. If you have heard the phrase ‘They never make them like they used to’, you would be right. Don’t get me wrong, I love my gadgets—especially in the kitchen. But something you should consider is if the product doesn’t continue getting updates, will it still work in two years or more into the future?

Currently Available

iGrill

iDevices-iGrill2-Lifestyle-iPhone_Steak

For all those who love to BBQ and (for those who wish they could) this is the perfect device along with the app to help you master that perfect steak! There are three devices in this range and this takes the guesswork out of your next grilled dinner!

Kitchen Thermometer

iDevices-KitchenThermometer-Lifestyle-iPad-Roast

With the next season of Masterchef fast approaching in Australia, a digital kitchen thermometer is a must-have device in any foodie’s kitchen, especially when cooking chicken.

Prep Pad

Prep_Pad__3

Digital scales are valuable in any kitchen, and working out the nutritional value of each of your ingredients really makes healthy eating trackable. The Prep Pad is easily wipeable, and connects with the app. It weighs up to 6.8 kg of produce and is 22.86 cm long for easy chopping and preparation.

Egg Minder

egg minder

This device is a 12-egg  carton that tracks how many eggs you have, as well as their freshness. I love eggs and they are usually well and truly gone before they ever get to the expiry date—however, I can definitely see this being an advantage for those who live on their own.

Editor’s note: Currently unavailable on the main store, but it can be found in other online stores such as Amazon.

Coming Soon

WeMo CrockPot

WeMoSlowcooker

There is nothing worse than when autumn or winter comes around and you want to use your slow cooker/crockpot… but you have to leave the house at 7 in the morning and won’t get back home till 5 pm! How about a slow cooker you can control via an app? You can turn it on or off, and change the heat settings, all while at work. This is coming in mid-2014.

Future wishlist (for the serious foodies!)

Whirlpool Interactive Cooktop

Now, this definitely could be a key feature in my kitchen one day. It has an induction cooktop as well as an interactive screen for your social media, email, recipes etc. No more dirty fingers on the iPad as you are trying to find the recipe from Pinterest or Taste.com.au.

What technology do you use in your kitchen? Tell us in the comments – we’d love to hear about it!

Featured Image: Philips Communications 
All other images taken from press-provided photos from the companies.

Megan Iemma
Technology Coach and “IT” girl Megan Iemma is a thought leader in the world of technology and its uses. An educator and techno geek, Megan combined her passions for education and technology and founded Tech Coach HQ  working with businesses and their teams to improve processes and embrace the productivity technology has to offer.