Friday, November 6, 2015

Augmented reality for vocational education and practice

Google announced that one area of application for Glass will be vocational education/practice (NY Times article). Google Glass could be used to access information in the field (hands-free, voice controlled), for example checklists or patient information, and streamline communication. Such applications could be useful for on-the-job training by showing handbook information and tutorial videos as needed.
The company Wearable Intelligence developed two Glass applications, one for healthcare and one for pipeline maintenance.

Here is the pipeline maintenance video:
Another company, Daqri, is proposing a helmet with integrated augmented realty functionality - particularly for industrial workplaces.

Monday, October 26, 2015

EPCOT: The smart city of the future that (sadly) remained a vision

E.P.C.O.T aerial view
[Image Source]
In 1965, Walt Disney had a vision: To build the city of the future that would highlight the best of city planning and serve as a living laboratory for U.S. technology companies. Disney called this utopian city E.P.C.O.T. - the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. [More information here].

This video explains Disney's vision for E.P.C.O.T. in his own words.:

Unfortunately, Disney didn't live to see E.P.C.O.T. becoming realty. After his death, his visionary plans were changed drastically. Today, E.P.C.O.T. can be seen in two forms:

1) As a themepark: The Epcot park (as part of Disneyworld in Florida) is a combination of science and technology-themed rides and a permanent world fair. This park is called Epcot (without the meaning of the acronym) and opened in 1982. Rather then a living city where innovations are being tested in real-life, Epcot features rides showcasing technology and science.

2) In the 1990s, Disney's plans to create the 'perfect' town took on another form. The sub-urban part of E.P.C.O.T. became a city in itself - called 'Celebration' (Florida). Designed by the Disney corporation, Celebration is a master-plan city in an early 20th-century architectural style. Today, Celebration has a population of around 7'500. Instead of the futuristic urban vision of E.P.C.O.T, Celebration aims to be the 'ideal' middle and upper-class sub-urban town. However, this utopia is strictly regulated (similar to the artificially-created experience in a Disney themepark).

E.P.C.O.T could be considered a precursor to the current trend of 'smart cities'. Smart cities incorporate networked technology in all aspects of live in an attempt to make cities more efficient, cleaner, and safer. An example of a smart city is Songdo City in South Korea, the self-proclaimed 'most modern city in the world'. By 2020, more than 250'000 people are expected to live in Songdo Eco-City.
Songodo City
[Image source:]
Another example of a smart city is Masdar City in Abu Dhabi (in the United Arab Emirates). The first phase of the city is expected to be completed in 2015. Final completion is scheduled to occur between 2020 and 2025. About 50'000 people are expected to live in the planned city. Masdar City has a strong focus on solar energy and other renewable energy sources.
Masdar City
[Image source:]

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Technology addiction

This video illustrates the current addiction with mobile phones.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Overview of theories of learning/ theories of education

Philosophy, education research, psychology, and neuroscience offer many different theories to describe 'learning'. In general, learning theories can be categorized into six major groups:
Six major perspectives of learning
Each category includes different frameworks and educational concepts. Here is a small selection:
Expanded view of the six perspectives of learning [Click to enlarge]
The two diagrams above are a small part of a much larger diagram. To capture some of the complex relations between different theories of education and philosophical views, I created a dynamic knowledge visualization of main education theories and concepts using the dynamic mindmap tool TheBrain (one of my favorite tools). My mindmap includes major theories of education and education research methods.

This mindmap is ongoing work in progress. Your feedback and suggestions are welcome.

To navigate the dynamic mindmap below, just click on a term and it will move to the center - showing related concepts. You can also search for terms in the textbox at the bottom.

See this mindmap on the website (where you can find other interesting mindmaps).

Another attempt to present an overview of theories of education was created by the HoTEL project (Holistic Approach to technology-enhanced learning) [Visit their website to download an interactive version of their diagram).

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tools to visualize connections between academic publications

Academic researchers publish a lot of papers. One estimate puts the count at 1.8 million articles published each year, in about 28,000 journals (in 2012). The challenge is to make sense of all these publications.

With the raise of visualization tools, one would expect that there are some great tools out there that provide researchers with easy to use visualizations of how papers and authors are connected.

I distinguish between three different types of visualization tools: Impact factor, co-authors, and citations. Unfortunately, there currently seems to be no tool available that combines all three.

1. Tools to visualize the impact factor of a journal (impact factor diagrams)
Eigenfactor [free] offers dynamic graphs of the impact factor of journal by field. One can choose the field of interest, e.g. chemistry, education, or physics. The dynamic graph shows the journals with the highest impact factors on a timeline from 1997 to the present (slider below the graph). Eigenfactor is an academic research project co-founded by Jevin West and Carl Bergstrom and sponsored by the Bergstrom Lab in the Department of Biology at the University of Washington.
Eigenfactor 'motion graphs' show the impact factor of journals (on a timeline)
2. Tools to visualize the relations between co-authors (co-author mapping)
Do you want to see which researchers published together as co-authors? The 'Visual Explorer' of Microsoft Academic Search [free] focuses on the relations between people. After selecting a certain author, one can choose 'co-author path' in the left hand menu. The dynamically generated diagram show the co-authors of this researcher ('co-author graph'), how this researcher is connected to another researcher ('co-author path' - similar to the Six degrees of Kevin Bacon index), and who cited this researcher ('citation graph').
The 'Visual Explorer' by Microsoft Academic search shows relations between co-authors
3. Tools that visualize the citations between papers (citation mapping)
Do you want to know which papers cited a certain publication (forward mapping)? Do you want to see which papers were cited by a publication? Papercube [free] provides a visual navigation of academic citation networks. The data is a static snapshot of the CiteSeer digital library from 2004. The tools only serves to demonstrate the features but is unfortunately no longer updated.
Papercube shows academic citation networks (based on 2004 data)
Another tool to visualize citation networks is the Web of Science citation graph [paid through libraries]. This tool generates a dynamic graph of citations (forward and backwards). One can click on a specific publication to see details and to re-center the diagram.
Web of Science citation graph
The VOSviewer (which stands for 'visualizing scientific landscapes) is a free stand-alone tool developed by Leiden University. The VOSviewer tool can be used for constructing and visualizing bibliometric networks. These networks may for instance include journals, researchers, or individual publications, and they can be constructed based on co-citation, bibliographic coupling, or co-authorship relations. Reference lists can be imported from Web of Science, Scopus, and PubMed.

SciMAT (developed by the University of Granada, Spain) is an open source (GPLv3) software tool developed to perform a science mapping analysis under a longitudinal framework. SciMAT allows  to conduct co-word, author co-citation, journal co-citation, author co-citation, bibliographic coupling, journal bibliographic coupling and author bibliographic coupling.
A list of other software for mapping scientific publications:

Given the advances in data analytics, it is surprising (and disappointing) that there are no better designed tools for academics to explore and discover connections between publications.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Visions of a technology-enhanced future

Chinese technology giant Baidu and Microsoft produced interesting conceptual videos of what the near future might look like.

Shih-Ting Hung | Baidu : Beyond Technology from Shih-Ting Hung on Vimeo.

The two companies’ visions share a lot in common, including:

  • Augmented reality as a part of everyday life
  • Big touchscreen surfaces everywhere
  • Real-time speech and text translation
  • Tablets
  • Remote health monitoring, especially of the elderly
Additionally, it is interesting that some other predictions were not included in the videos, such as self-driving cars, drones, VR headsets (such as Microsoft's HoloLens).
You might also be interested in Corning's video of near-future technology and Microsoft's vision of the future (2011).