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.


Apple

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 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeviAWB0i4Y) 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 http://uav-air.com/locations/drone-courses-exeter. 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 (http://devoninsight.org.uk) in Topsham.

The address is:
Station House
Holman Way
Topsham
Devon
EX3 0EN
Map

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 darren.walker@actionforblindpeople.org.uk


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
Exeter
EX4 4RN
Map
http://braininhand.co.uk/


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.

http://devoninsight.org.uk/resource-centre/equipment/


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: http://as.exeter.ac.uk/library/librariesandcollections/facilitiesandmaterials/librarystudyspaces/

Information on AccessAbility at:
http://www.exeter.ac.uk/wellbeing/accessability/


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 (http://www.apple.com/uk/itunes)
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 (https://play.google.com/store)
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
http://www.nominettrust.org.uk/how-to-apply/digital-arts - 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.

Three
http://www.three.co.uk/Discover/Network/Coverage

EE Network
http://ee.co.uk/business/small/network/4gee/mobile-coverage#detailedReportBox
BT - which uses the EE Network: https://www.productsandservices.bt.com/mobile/4g-coverage-checker/

O2
http://www.o2.co.uk/coveragechecker

Vodafone
http://m.vodafone.co.uk/mobile/welcome/support/coverage-checker/index.htm

Open Signal - Independent Mobile Coverage Checker
http://opensignal.com/

BT Broadband Checker
https://www.dslchecker.bt.com/