Sunday, August 28, 2016

Virtual Reality Headsets Ranked

HTC Vive

The HTC Vive seems to be in ahead in the virtual reality headset rankings based on the general consensus on the web.  Most people seem to think it has the most immersive experience, primarily because there is a much larger area in which you can move around in. When you have the headset on, your movement is monitored by base stations you place around the room, and there is a faint coloured virtual wall which lets you know where the physical borders of your room are in real life so that you don't trip over furniture or walk in to a wall. Generally we have seen the experience of the Vive described as awesome and fantastic. Game changing seems to be the impression. The Vive can be bought from HTC via Amazon. Bear in mind that you need a very powerful computer to run this on, which typically will cost you at least £1,000. Basic computers will not suffice.  The computer specification will have to be at least:
  • Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, AMD Radeon™ R9 290 equivalent or better
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-4590/AMD FX™ 8350 equivalent or better
  • RAM: 4 GB or more
  • Video output: HDMI 1.4, Display Port 1.2 or newer
  • USB port: 1x USB 2.0 or better port
  • Operating system: Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1 or later, Windows 1

Oculus Rift and Related Samsung Gear

Oculus Rift, probably the most famous of the VR Headset technologies, has the launch of it's Rift headset on 20 September in the UK. Most comments seem to suggest that it lags behind the Vive somewhat due to the smaller area in which you can move. However it is somewhat less expensive. You can buy the Rift on Amazon. Again you need a very powerful gaming computer to run the headset on with a minimum specification as follows:
  • Video Card: NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD R9 290 equivalent or greater
  • CPU: Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
  • Memory: 8GB+ RAM
  • Video Output: Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
  • USB Ports: 3x USB 3.0 ports plus 1x USB 2.0 port
  • OS: Windows 7 SP1 64 bit or newer

There are rumours that Microsoft maybe developing a new more powerful version of the XBox in to which you can plug your Rift device instead of having to buy a general powerful computer.

There is also the related Samsung Gear which uses Oculus technology, and which operates by plugging your Samsung phone (recent models only) in to the headset. However this seems to be a level or two down from Vive and Rift in terms of the user experience: 

Playstation VR

Sony's Playstation VR has a release date of mid Oct 2016.  It has a lower specification than the Vive and the Rift.  On the other hand it is the lowest priced and will run with the PS4 apparently, and does not therefore need the powerful general computer required by the Vive and the Rift. It has got plaudits for design also, with claims that it is the coolest looking of the VR headsets. You can buy the Playstation VR on Amazon.


There is a rumour that Apple is building its own VR headset.  This is not surprising given the potentially game changing nature of VR. We doubt that Apple could afford to be left out of this particular party.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or Drones

Drone (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) usage is growing rapidly. Exeter University is using drones to help with environmental monitoring and Devon and Cornwall police have been trialling them in searches for missing people and crime scene photography. Drones can be used for a huge range of applications in addition to the above, from promotional videos to bridge inspections. Amazon is considering using them for home deliveries.

Of great concern are safety issues, including a fear of drones simply falling on top of people (a famous video shows a drone crashing to earth just behind a downhill racing skier ( and potential collisions with aircraft.

In order to learn the rules and the ropes around drone flying you can get help. A company called UAVAir offers courses at Exeter racecourse we understand Please note however that we have not vetted UAVAir.  Please carry out your own checks as you see fit before taking the course and paying any money.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Assistive Technology in Exeter

Action for Blind People

Action for Blind People run monthly sessions giving advice and guidance to help make laptops, tablets or mobile phones more accessible.

These sessions take place at Devon in Sight ( in Topsham.

The address is:
Station House
Holman Way

The sessions are run by Darren Walker.  He is an Action for Blind People Technology Co-ordinator.

Hour long sessions can be booked by ringing Darren on 07834612789 or e-mailing

Brain in Hand

Brain in Hand is an assistive technology designed to help individuals with autism.

Brain in Hand enables the user to access detailed personalised support from their phones. Users and their supporters can monitor usage, trends and the success of particular interventions from a secure website.

The service aims to build confidence in users so that they can be more independent and to open up new possibilities for them in daily life, education and work.

Brain in Hand Ltd
The Innovation Centre
University of Exeter

Devon in Sight

Devon in Sight is a local charity providing help and advice to people affected by sight loss.

They advise on a range of equipment to help people to manage at home. They have a stock of some items and can also order equipment for delivery.  This includes:

Talking clocks and watches

From the Talking Communiclock to solar powered radio controlled watches; a range of timepieces, some with easy to see clear large faces.

Mobiles and Telephones

Corded and cordless phones and mobiles with features such as big buttons, speed dial and talking keys.

Exeter University

Exeter University enables priority access to rooms for students who are registered with the University’s AccessAbility team. This team are a part of the Wellbeing Services offered by the University.

AccessAbility is for students who experience a range of issues including:
·      Specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia and dyspraxia;
·      Mental Health difficulties (in conjunction with the Mental Health team);
·      Asperger’s syndrome or autistic spectrum disorder;
·      Physical disabilities;
·      Blind or visual impairment;
·      Deaf or hearing impairment;
·      Long term medical conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes or arthritis.

The computers available in the rooms have software such as:
·      Speech Recognition – Dragon Naturally Speaking
·      Text to Voice – Free-speech and Text-help Read and Write Gold
·      Braille DBT Reader
·      Mind Mapping – Inspiration Pro
·      Screen Reading – Jaws 14

See the AccessAbility rooms at:

Information on AccessAbility at:

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Apps About Exeter

There are a few apps specifically about Exeter that you can get for your mobile phone.

Apple ITunes Store (
Exeter Daily - a news app
Exeter Living - lifestyle magazine you can download and view on your mobile
Exeter Chiefs - about the local Rugby Team
ATN - Exeter Edition - abut the local Exeter City football team
Exeter Union High School
University of Exeter

Google Play (
Exeter Living
University of Exeter
Exeter Chiefs
Apple Central Taxis

Paid Apps on Google Play
Exeter Pubs
Exeter Cathedral
The Churches of Medieval Exeter
Exeter in the Great War

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Grants, Capital and Funds for Starting and Running Your Technology Business

The following are potential sources of capital/funds or investors in your technology business:

Set Squared 
University business incubator which helps knowledge-based start-ups and companies which seek to exploit intellectual property or novel information:

Exeter Start-Up Weekends
A chance to pitch, get feedback, and possibly meet some investors:

South West Growth Fund

Graduate Pitch 

Nominet Trust - looking for ventures that want to use digital technology and the internet to connect older people with the creative arts and thereby provide beneficial social outcomes

Innovate UK
A fund for a number of purposes one of which is connected transport:

Community Business Fund 
This is from a charitable trust called Power to Change which aims to support community businesses:

Monday, August 1, 2016

Exeter Mobile and Broadband Coverage

The coverage figures made available by the mobile networks and for BT fixed broadband can be found here. We have also listed a mobile coverage checking site which states that it is independent.


EE Network
BT - which uses the EE Network:



Open Signal - Independent Mobile Coverage Checker

BT Broadband Checker

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Exeter Technology Related Events, Meet-ups and Conferences

Some of the planned technology meet-ups and conferences in the next few months include:

  • South West Innovation Forum (new group) - due some time in August; no other details at the moment. Best to keep an eye on the meet-up site referred to below
  • Tech Exeter - 25 August 2016
  • Exeter Bloggers meeting (next due sometime in September)
  • Tech Exeter - 8 Oct 2016 conference
  • Venturefest South West  - 18 Oct 2016 
  • Wordpress  (first meet planned for Oct 2016 currently)

Details for the Bloggers and Wordpress meetings are due to appear here in the future:

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Exeter College and University Technology Courses

Exeter College Technology Courses

BTEC Level 3 Foundation Diploma/Extended Diploma
Creative Media Production and Technology
Music Technology

AS/A Level – Level 3
Computer Science

BTEC Level 3 Certificate/ Level Extended Certificate 3
Interactive Media (Animation)
Music Technology (Production)
Vehicle Technology

Exeter University Undergraduate Technology Courses

Civil Engineering BEng
Civil Engineering MEng
Civil Engineering with Industrial Experience MEng
Civil Engineering with International Study MEng
Civil and Environmental Engineering MEng
Civil and Environmental Engineering with Industrial Experience MEng
Civil and Environmental Engineering with International Study MEng
Computer Science BSc
Computer Science MSci
Computer Science and Mathematics BSc
Computer Science and Mathematics MSci
Computer Science and Mathematics with Industrial Placement BSc
Computer Science with Industrial Placement BSc
Digital and Technology Solutions degree apprenticeship
Electronic Engineering BEng
Electronic Engineering MEng
Electronic Engineering and Computer Science BEng
Electronic Engineering and Computer Science MEng
Electronic Engineering and Computer Science with Industrial Experience MEng
Electronic Engineering and Computer Science with International Study MEng
Electronic Engineering with Industrial Experience MEng
Electronic Engineering with International Study MEng
Energy Engineering BEng
Energy Engineering BEng
Energy Engineering MEng
Energy Engineering MEng
Energy Engineering with Industrial Experience MEng
Engineering BEng
Engineering Geology and Geotechnics BSc
Engineering Geology and Geotechnics MGeol
Engineering MEng
Engineering and Management BEng
Engineering and Management MEng
Engineering and Management with Industrial Experience MEng
Engineering and Management with International Study MEng
Mechanical Engineering BEng
Mechanical Engineering MEng
Mechanical Engineering with Industrial Experience MEng
Mechanical Engineering with International Study MEng
Mining Engineering BEng
Mining Engineering BEng
Mining Engineering MEng
Mining Engineering MEng
Renewable Energy BSc

Exeter University Postgraduate Technology Courses

Applied Geotechnics MSc
Civil Engineering MSc
Civil Engineering with Management MSc
Computer Science MPhil/PhD
Computer Science MSc by Research
Engineering Business Management MSc
Engineering EngD
Engineering MPhil/PhD
Engineering MSc by Research
Engineering conversion
Mechanical Engineering MSc
Mechanical Engineering with Management MSc
Mining Engineering (Professional) MSc
Mining Engineering MSc/PgDip
Mining and Minerals Engineering MSc by Research/MPhil/PhD
Renewable Energy MSc by Research/MPhil/PhD
Science and Technology Studies MRes
Structural Engineering MSc
Structural Engineering with Management MSc
Technology, Creativity and Thinking
Water Engineering MSc
Water Engineering with Management MSc

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Free Software Coding and Applications Sessions for Kids and Adults in Exeter

Exeter Raspberry Pi Jam gives you the chance to collaborate with others of all ages on coding and making coding do stuff - like make robots move. Takes place on the first Saturday of every month from 10am 12 noon in Exeter Library. Best to check it's on before you go nonetheless.

Entry is free and all are welcome.

We've taken our own children - there were lots of youngsters there.

Note - the Raspberry Pi is the basic computer you can see at:

You can use a Raspberry Pi or any computer at the meetups.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Exeter Technology Event: Venturefest South West 18 Oct 2016

Venturefest South West takes place on 18th October 2016 at Sandy Park, Exeter. It’s free to attend.

Small business innovators and entrepreneurs from across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset will attend as well as investors.

The event will include exhibitions, talks and workshops. In addition, companies will demonstrate their products in an interactive area. So attendees will get the chance to try them out.

Register at:
Note: Innovate UK is the main sponsor of the Venturefest Network which is delivering a network of Venturefest events across the UK in 2016.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Telecommunications and ICT Technology Solutions Providers Around Exeter

Eclipse is a business telecoms services and ICT solutions provider which forms a part of the Kingston Communications Group

South West Communications Group provides business voice services, unified communications and data networking and related business solutions

Taurus Clearer Communication Ltd is a provider of convergent IT, telecoms, mobile and cloud network solutions and related support

Friday, July 22, 2016

RouteShoot Wins Road Safety GPS Video Technology Contract

Exeter based RouteShoot has won a 12 month contract to provide GPS enhanced video capturing software technology for 372,000 km of road safety inspections in Scotland.

RouteShoot will provide a cloud-hosted video and mapping content management system for safety patrols and route inspections to PAGplus (Peformance Audit Group) which carries out audits and the monitoring of Operations and Maintenance activities undertaken by contractors for Transport for Scotland.

RouteShoot have developed software for smartphones or tablets that records video plus GPS (including speed, distance and altitude). This enables geo-referenced video to be shared with colleagues and customers. This will be used by the four companies which maintain Scotland’s motorways and trunk roads to record all inspection and surveying activities.

RouteShoot's software can also be used for individual's to share their favourite routes with friends and family including cycling, running, walking, driving and skiing activities.  See for more details.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Exeter Technology Firms

Alpha-Active Ltd
Design and provision of:
Brainwave monitoring electroencephalograph (EEG) products for neuroscience and cognitive studies, therapies and rehabilitation applications, and sports performance coaching. 
Datalogger EEG, EMG & ECG systems. These are very small, wearable products that do not require connection to any PC etc, during data acquisition. 
Eyetracker systems that may be used in conjunction with EEG systems, etc., including for training on simulators, etc. 
Eneso's enPathia head mouse - an assistive technology solution for those who cannot use a conventional mouse and keyboard.

APi Communications Ltd
Designers and installers of audio visual systems. 

Ardenham Energy Ltd
Energy saving and Renewable energy solutions provider including funding and finance. Serving clients within Agricultural, Community, Commercial, Corporate and Public Sector.

Beco Solar Ltd
Designers and installers of Photovoltaic (PV) solar energy systems for industrial, commercial, marine & domestic uses. Established installers of wind turbines. Manufacturers our own range of solar charge controllers and specialist batteries.

CoolLED Ltd
Design and manufacture high intensity LED light sources for the life science market. In particular high pressure mercury bulbs used in fluorescence microscopy. 

Crispin Associates (UK) Ltd
Suppliers of photocopiers and printers for network installations; video conferencing systems; digital signage systems; interactive displays and projectors; solar-powered computer systems.

Architecture and management of telecommunications voice, data and mobile solutions. 

DNEFlow Limited
Design and manufacture ultrasonic flowmeters 
Energy Audits/Heat Loss
HVAC System Installations and Audits
Leak Detection

EDF Energy
Low carbon energy solutions. 

Graphic PLC
Manufacturer of printed circuit boards. 

Originally set out to make hybrid motors for vans to reduce fuel consumption and emissions but now offers a telematics system to improve driver behaviour.

Field Service Management Software

Nexus Open Systems Ltd
Computing solutions and IT training.

Geo-tagging video technology.

Making equipment for processing optical fibres for a range of industries.

Zeta Automotive
Econospeed - a technology developed by Zeta Automotive that limits the acceleration of a vehicle, thereby cutting fuel costs and carbon emissions.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Free Apple iPhone, iPad and Mac Courses

The Apple store in Princesshay offers a number of free courses to help you get to grips with Apple products. You can simply book yourself in via the Genius Store section of the website.

The upcoming courses are:
  • Mac Basics
  • Mac Advanced Basics
  • Perfect your Photos on Mac
  • iPad Basics
  • Using GarageBand to make Music on an IPad
  • iPhone Basics
  • iPhone Photography
  • iPhone Videography
  • Shoot More Artistic Photos with iPhone
  • Intro to Apple ID and iCloud
  • Discover Apple Music

Map of store location: Map

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Gigaclear Super Fast Broadband Internet Services for the Black Down Hills

Gigaclear provides internet services over fibre broadband direct to homes and businesses in rural communities.

Download speeds are currently up to around 954 Mbps and upload speeds are up to around 185Mbps.

Gigaclear are currently advising a price of £39.90 a month for unlimited use.

If your village is not being served by Gigaclear yet then you can register your interest on Gigaclear’s site. It appears that a threshold level of interest will be required for Gigaclear to roll-out to your community if it is not already present. Gigaclear is, we understand, currently focussing on the Black Down Hills area of Devon: Map

Gigaclear's site is at:

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Opportunity to Get Indoor Mobile Coverage at Rural Community Hubs: Deadline 1 Sept 2016

Vodafone's Community Indoor Sure Signal (CISS) programme is designed to help rural community hubs by providing indoor 3G mobile coverage and internet access.

Applications are invited from rural community centres, including pubs and shops, visitor centres, village halls, scout huts and doctors’ surgeries that do not have reliable mobile coverage. The deadline is 1 September 2016.

Applicants require  an unlimited broadband package, download speeds of at least 4Mbps, upload speeds of 2Mbps and a domestic plug-in power point. 

The CISS unit plugs into a standard fixed broadband router and  provides mobile coverage throughout a building.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Four Pillars of Cyber Security

Cyber Security is increasingly recognised as a key function for any firm.

It can be represented as having 4 key pillars:

1/ Changing People’s Behaviour Starting with the Most Senior Personnel in The Organisation

The majority of cyber security breaches result from people’s behaviour.  To change behaviour people’s conformity with cyber security policies must be monitored so they are held accountable.  From our observations the most senior management do not lead by example in this respect, or at least are not seen to lead by example. If cyber security is meant to be taken seriously then the most senior management have to be seen to undertake the training and be seen to be following the correct policies themselves. However what typically happens is that the IT department merely sends an organisation wide email telling everyone that they are meant to comply with certain policies, and there is no visibility of what the most senior staff actually do, or do not do in this respect. Consequently the “real message” to everyone in the organisation is that cyber security policies probably are not very important, and that they should try and duck out of the perceived bureaucracy if possible, and concentrate on other things.

2/ Fully Integrating Cyber Security In To Business Operations and Planning

Instead of it being seen as the property of the IT department, cyber security, should be treated as seriously as something only one step down from health and safety. Regular stress testing should take place seeking to reveal the extent to which organisationally and individually cyber security policies are being followed.

3/ Prioritising Key information Assets

It could be overwhelming to fully secure every piece of data, therefore pay most attention to securing the most critical information assets. Ask yourself, if this information got in to the wrong hands, how much damage could it could do to your organisation.  Consider business reputation and impact on sales, fines and any potential legal action against individuals in your organisation.

4/ Assuming Cyber Breaches Will Happen and Planning to Deal with Them in Advance

While doing everything reasonably possible to prevent breaches you need to assume that breaches will happen so that you have a plan in place to mitigate the damage from a breach. That will include ensuring that data was stored in a format that cannot be read or that is very difficult to decipher; so that the organisation finds out about breaches as soon as possible and key people are informed; and so that you have the operational contingency plan in place in to plug the hole, deal with public enquiries and stop the same breach from recurring.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Exeter is a Leading Light in the UK's Tech Sector

The 2016 Tech Nation report from Tech City showed that Exeter had significantly outpaced all other major cities in terms of reported rates of employment growth in the digital sector between 2011 and 2014.

Tech City was launched by the Government to support the East London tech cluster (London Tech City/Silicon Roundabout).  It now helps major cities around the UK.

It does this through:
  • Targeted programmes: aimed at filling market gaps
  • Policy development through feedback to government by means of such things as surveys, white papers and reports like Tech Nation
  • Championing and connecting the digital sector through international trade missions, media engagement and events.

The 2016 report covers the period up to 2015. At that time Exeter had:
  • Digital tech economy jobs: 11,412
  • Advertised digital salary: £39,695
  • Digital density (Digital tech businesses as % of total businesses): 16%
  • Digital GVA: £133 million

The report also contains growth between 2010 and 2014 which for Exeter was:
  • Employment 161%
  • Turnover: +41%
  • Gross Value Added (GVA) (Total output (goods or services) minus value of inputs eg cost of production and taxes) + 84%


Digital Tech Industries Includes businesses operating in digital technology according to the definition used by the Office of National Statistics

There are 3 Job Types in the Digital Tech Economy:
  • Native: digital job in digital tech industries
  • Support: non-digital job in digital tech industries
  • Transformer: digital job in traditional industries

Definition of a digital tech business: provides a digital technical service/product/platform/hardware, or heavily relies on it, as its primary revenue source.