Virtual CPR training by JBHXR powered by Snobal
Snobal Midweek

Reimagining CPR training using virtual reality (and why its got us excited)

Recent research shows CPR training rates have not changed over the past few decades in Australia & that new initiatives are needed. We looked at how VR could add value.

Welcome to Snobal Midweek. This is where we share our update of what we’re hearing, sharing and thinking about this week. As always if you find Snobal Midweek of value, please comment, forward or share.

Why CPR training using VR?

Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating. If not treated properly and quickly, it can cause sudden death within 10 minutes. Each year in Australia aprox 25,000 people have a cardiac arrest out of hospital and as few as 5% survive to leave hospital and go home.

In 2017 Australian researchers did a retrospective analysis of a national cross-sectional survey using data from the Heart Foundation of Australia’s ‘HeartWatch’ Survey. The analysis looked at Australia’s awareness of cardiac arrest and rates of CPR training and found worrying results.

While 56% of respondents reported previous CPR training, only 22% were currently trained (within 1 year) and that lack of CPR training was the most common reason why respondents would not provide CPR to a stranger.

In short as the analysis reports:

 

There is a need to improve the community’s understanding of cardiac arrest, and to increase awareness and training in CPR. CPR training rates have not changed over the past decades—new initiatives are needed.

 

The technical challenge in Virtual CPR and why it got us excited

Speaking of new initatives in CPR, Virtual CPR is a training solution developed by registered training organisation, JB Hunter Technology and powered by Snobal.

The training combines virtual learning, followed by a practical assessment session in the virtual environment.

So what excites us about Virtual CPR?

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/jZsnofq6dpo?rel=0&autoplay=0&showinfo=0

Aside from the fact of using a newer technology (VR) to increase awareness and training levels of CPR, what initially excited our development team about Virtual CPR was the technical challenge presented and innovation possible.

We knew we wanted to provide immediate feedback to learners in a CPR environment if they were doing chest compressions correctly.

Were they doing the chest compressions at the correct pace and with the correct depth?

In the chest compression component of the CPR assessment, the learner needs to align a physical mannequin (which will be supplied) with the virtual manniquin and commence chest compressions.

Using the VR hand controllers the system will measure the depth and rate of the learner chest compressions and display this information in the virtual environment.

If chest compressions are too fast or too slow the learner will get immediate feedback so they can adjust the pace and depth of their compressions accordingly.

 

The value of this feedback to a learner is obvious.

In a classroom based environment a level of trainer subjectivity can be involved as it maybe difficult for a trainer to assess exactly if a learner is doing compessions at the correct depth for example. But with Virtual CPR this ‘standization’ of training becomes achievable.

Added to that the other benefits of Virtual CPR is convenience. Virtual CPR can be undertaken be a worker in their remote working location. All they need is a wifi connection. The results from their CPR assessment will be relayed over the cloud to the dashboard on Snobal Cloud giving insight on learners.

 

 

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In case you missed it

 

Snobal and Pico Interactive partnership set sights on helping grow global VR for business ecosystem


This week Snobal and Pico Interactive announced their partnership to increase accessibility for VR enterprise content creators and expand business solution offerings.With operations in the United States, Europe, China and Japan, Pico develops VR solutions.

Other news catching our attention

Elon Musk brain implant startup, Neuralink demos tech & what this might mean for VR/AR

Neuralink gaves progress on its first major update in more than a year with a live demonstration of its working Neuralink device inserted in a pigs head. It raises important questions not leaast about the ethical implication of technological innovation in this instance brain computer interface (BCI).

Just because you can does it mean you should?

In a webinar produced by The Australian Society for Computers & Law, Dr Michelle Sharpe (Victorian Barrister) and Dr Allan McCay, a Sydney University Law School lecturer with particular interest in behavioural genetics, neuroscience, neurotechnology explore this complicated issue and the ethics around brain technology interfaces.

BCI becomes all the more interesting when it converges with AR/VR. This is where users’ brain activity enables real-time control of connected devices including VR/AR content and headsets.

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DATE:
3 September 2020

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Snobal Midweek

Educational innovation decades in the making

Universities will need to look to digital innovation and new forms of student experience capable of attracting domestic and international mkt share. Immersive learning can play a role here.

Education transformation looks to new forms of student experience and engagement

Education is in the midst of a turbulent transformation globally. COVID-19 has forced more than 1 billion students out of the traditional face to face “industrialisation era format” of delivery to an online delivery.

As this US focussed podcast with Connie Chan, general partner at a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) explores with education there is so much potential for further innovation.

At its core, online is a mode of delivery for education that has tremendous potential to reach people that couldn’t be reached with in-person education models.

Focus on Australia

In Australia, universities are grappling with the downturn in international student revenue in 2020 due to COVID19. Recent University Of Melbourne research modelled the impact and reilence of universities with the loss of international student fees. It included an outline of seven strategies universities needed to undertake including investing in digital education,

universities will need to continue investing in digital education and new forms of student experience capable of attracting and retaining both domestic and international market share in a post-COVID-19 era.

Tech giants eye education

And muscling in for a greater share of the educational pie are tech giants like Google.

Portrayed as a “digital jobs program to help America’s economic recovery” Google recently announced its “Google Career Certificates” courses. The courses are conveyed as helping participants get qualifications in “high-paying, high-growth job fields” without needing to attend university.

College degrees are out of reach for many Americans, and you shouldn’t need a college diploma to have economic security. We need new, accessible job-training solutions—from enhanced vocational programs to online education—to help America recover and rebuild.

Rethink needed

All of this reflects the World Economic Forum call for education to have a rethink as COVID19 is causing a widening gap in education.

“The old model of our education system where everyone sits in a classroom is not going to work in the new normal.”

Which brings us to a world where newer technologies such as virtual reality become part and parcel of a blended learning program in our schools, collegies, universities not to mention workplaces.

Reimagining student experiences

It is not hard to envision a very near future where every student gets a wireless VR headset as part of their enrollment at school or university much like they have a laptop or notebook.

The student simply turns on the headset, connects to a wifi network and can easily access the shared immersive learning experiences specified for their year level or studies across diverse subject or content areas.

Assessments on soft skills or technical skills that need to be acquired can be practised over and over in a safe virtual environment. All student interactions in the virtual environment can be tracked and reported back providing the student with enhanced insight on proficiency and understanding.

Students can also access immersive collaborative meeting experiences and spaces for seminars, workshops, plenary sessions and meetings.

As Ishwar K. Puri, Dean of Engineering and Professor, McMaster University (Canada) recently wrote in a Conversation article there are five ways education can be reimagined in response to COVID19 including “create virtual content for the future and “engage students through virtual experiences”.

Oculus for Business users will soon require a Facebook account

Facebook last week announced that starting in October 2020, everyone using an Oculus virtual reality device (eg Quest) for the first time will need to log in with a Facebook account. There will be a period of grace for anyone with separate Oculus and Facebook accounts which will end January 2023.

Concerns for VR business content creators

The news raises questions for VR business content creators, educational bodies and government authorities using Oculus products around their desire to connect their business profile to their personal social profile when using the Oculus for Business virtual reality deployment platform.

The news has met with resistance from existing business product users and led last week to colourful social activity and articles on tech media.

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Vodafone set out to discover which businesses are best prepared for the future. This is what they found.


Late last year Vodafone looked at how COVID19 has affected the emerging challenges they identified, and what this means for the future of work.

Surveying 1,813 businesses in November and 800 in May in follow up research they found “future ready businesses” (FRB) had six key characteristic in common. And the six characteristic are not all what you might expect.

Digital directions

As outlined in this Forbes article business models are evolving in the wake of COVID19 and it is in the direction of digital.

“Businesses that have thrived through the pandemic may not solely be operating in a digital business model, but what all successful business have in common is a strong digital culture…moving forward, we need to face that the future will be more digitally-focused than ever before, and businesses need to start thinking about how to create and implement a digital business model.”

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Snobal Midweek

Sliding doors: As physical doors close digital ones open

Globally we all know the current health and economic crisis has changed how we live and work. Businesses are wondering how to provide their existing services in a virtual environment while at the same time focussing on what the impact will be on their business in the weeks, months and years ahead.

Many organisations are looking to rapidly accelerate the use of digital technologies knowing this may mean cannibalising existing bread and butter business.

And all of this is not going away any time soon. As Wired reports we best get used to a “long lingering epdemic that is only just getting started”.


What we’re hearing

As a company with virtual in our DNA below are the top three things we’re hearing from our conversations with businesses spanning education, healthcare, telecommunications, urban development and training in Australia, Singapore, the US and Europe.

01.Jumped 10 yrs: – “Because of COVID” has become a powerful stimulant to commence acceleration of an organisations VR/AR roadmap and use. It is a phrase we hear frequently.

Because of COVID our staff can’t do the essential training they need to do. We need a solution.

Because of COVID we can’t provide our executive education content face to face. We need a solution.

Because of COVID we can’t get our customers into our display home and showroom. We need a solution.

Because of COVID we need to find a way to quickly and easily collaborate on design with our customers. We need a solution.


Many businesses who had commenced their digital transformation journeys now find themselves having to turbo speed their development while also looking at way to easily scale these VR/AR solutions across diverse geographic locations.

As McKinsey & Co reports in just the last 90 days we have “jumped ten years”.

And according to research by Twilio, COVID-19 has sped up digital transformation for Australian business “by an average of six years”. Surveying 2500 enterprise decision-makers Twilio reported that 97% claimed COVID-19 has “accelerated their digital transformation” and 79% had increased their budget for doing so.

The report also found that previous inhibitors to innovation have been broken down since the onset of the pandemic. Barriers such as lack of clear strategy, executive approval and reluctance to replace legacy software are now less of an issue for more than one-third of respondents.

02.Extraordinary partnerships – we’re seeing businesses and educational bodies rethinking who they partner with. They are looking, at what McKinsey & Co call the cultivation of “extraordinary partnerships” and they’re doing this at speed.

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Future focussed business are looking to how their teams work, collaborate and communicate with each other and their customers.

Their seeking richer, measured and virtual ways of doing existing business. They’re looking with razor focus at partnerships with technology companies that can leverage and that can best position them in this new market.

03. Long game vs short game: There is no playbook or MBA module for business leaders on handling a crisis like COVID-19. Some business leaders are falling back on their existing way of working and thinking about the future. Some are adapting a ‘shelter in place’ mindset.

But many are not. They are focussed on the near game and the long game seeking to ensure continuity and growth at the other end.

CEOs working urgently to balance dozens of critical priorities each day are starting to focus on two leading questions: “How can we ride out the crisis to emerge stronger than others in our industry?” and “How can the organization learn through this experience to win in a new world?” [ Source; Bain & Company, Covid-19: Protect, Recover and Retool, 2020].

What do you think? What are you hearing and experiencing in the market?

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What’s catching our attention

Montenegro to invest 25.5 mln euro in VR innovation centre – Montenegro’s government plans to establish a virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) ​innovation centre. This is part of a series of measures to support the country’s economic recovery following COVID-19. Is this something other governments could learn from?

Deloitte’s new report looks at the future of virtual production and content creation stating that as the pandemic introduces further complications, “virtual production capabilities may become a competitive advantage for content creators.” What role will VR content play here?

Reconstructing journalistic scenes in 3D. Check out The New York Times embedding 3D scans of physical environments into a web browser. What might the impact of this be for museums and art galleries?

5G Revolution: Unlocking the Digital Age – the start of a new era? And what will the impact be on cloud VR/AR?

What is the truth about 5G? 
How COVID19 was the perfect environment for 5G conspiracy theories to spread.

Pandemic reveals opportunities for 5G connectivity 5G cellular technology is starting to take shape but the pandemic has shown it is still missing a few stitches.

Preparing for 2030 and what the future potentially holds.

Thanks for reading if you’ve any question on any of the above or would like to know more about our deployment platform, Snobal Cloud or our XR solutions reach out.

This post first appeared in Snobal Midweek on Substack.

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A comparison for Snobal Cloud and Oculus for Business
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Why global companies and government organisations are choosing Snobal’s enterprise VR deployment platform over Oculus for Business

This week investment company, Square Peg Capital partner Paul Basset (founder of Seek) outlined why Australia needs to invest more in home grown technology companies rather than boosting overseas technology giants.

In the article Basset referred to the need for Australia to produce “our fair share of global winners”.

He highlighted example Australian home grown tech successes such as Airwallex (a Square Peg Capital portfolio company) and education startup A Cloud Guru.

We’d like to highlight another Australian tech success story not mentioned.

Snobal.

Here’s why.

Facebook’s enterprise platform for VR deployment (Oculus for Business )

Facebook is one of the most prominent global players in virtual reality.

To date Facebook has invested over $US2 + billion so far on virtual reality. It started off with the company acquiring Occulus in 2012 for US$2.3 billion.

Initially the focus for the company was consumer focussed VR. It’s logical as consumers were and still are Facebook’s key target market / product. But adoption of consumer VR has been slower taking off than expected. Facebook turned to enterprise with the launch of Oculus for Business.

Oculus for Business was described as:

an enterprise solution designed to streamline and expand virtual reality in the workplace. Launching this fall, the expanded Oculus for Business will add Oculus Quest to the hardware lineup and provide a suite of tools designed to help companies reshape the way they do business through the power of VR.

Snobal’s enterprise platform for VR deployment (Snobal Cloud)

Meanwhile, back in Australia Snobal has focussed on business and what the future of work looks like using VR and AR since founding in 2014.

Our focus from day one has always been on making it easy for business to use VR and AR.

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Today our enterprise platform for VR deployment is used by global companies and government organisations in Europe, North America and Asia.

We knew from over 5 yrs of working with business on their VR requirements, that organisations want four key things out of an enterprise platform for VR deployment:

  1. Control over data.
  2. Control over users.
  3. Control over privacy.
  4. Control over the headset and hardware used.

The result?

Snobal Cloud.

Snobal Cloud is the world’s first proprietary enterprise grade platform to enable the ease of delivery, analysis and managment of virtual reality and augmented reality (XR) experiences.

A comparison…

Let’s compare Snobal Cloud and Facebook’s Oculus for Business enterprise platform based on some key features and functionality currently available:

Note on:

—Worldwide geographical availability and support: Oculus for Business is for the following locations only at time of writing: The US, Canada, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Republic of Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan and the UK. If you are not in one of the countries listed above (eg Singapore), Oculus for Business is currently not able to support business at the present time.

— Available for external content providers: Oculus for Business content providers must join the Oculus Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) Program. The goal of the ISV program is “to accelerate customer adoption of VR solutions built for Oculus enterprise products”. Read more.

— Data sovereignty: The infrastructure for Snobal Cloud Australian clients is hosted in Amazon AWS in Sydney.
Oculus for Business is built on Facebook Workplace. Business will need to assess privacy and risk requirements around having their data stored on Facebook servers.

For a detailed comparison table visit here.

Building our future

But back to all things Australian ‘new companies’ and building our future.

At the launch of the report from Deloitte Access Economics, commissioned by Victoria’s startup agency LaunchVic, Basset echoed the reports findings that startups have the potential to play a major role in Victoria’s (and Australia’s) post-COVID-19 economic return.

In order for Australia to maintain the prosperity we have had for generations we need to produce our fair share of global winners…it is important for Australia to make investments and start businesses that are looking towards the future so that when things like this happen the growth is coming here and not going to overseas global businesses.

His comments reflect those of Dr Pradeep Philip Partner, Head of Deloitte Access Economics mentioned in the report that COVID-19 has seen a rapid transition of our physical world to a virtual world and is a key part of Australia’s future economy.

Snobal is a technology company that has created a world leading enterprise solution for VR deployment.

We’re a technology company that is Australian but we work with global companies and government organisations across the world.

We know we are punching well above our weight in the VR and AR development and landscape.

Like the report outlines and Ed Husic MP, Federal Member for Chifley outlined this morning on social, “If there was ever a sector that could help restart the economy it’s Australia’s tech sector.

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What we’ve noticed…

What we’ve noticed: How businesses impacted by COVID-19 are using virtual and augmented reality

With the global pandemic unfolding still and the increasing move to social distancing and remote working for many as a business working in virtual reality and augmented reality (XR) software development we thought it might be useful to share with you some of our observations on how some businesses are turning to XR to enable business continuity.

Property display & Staging

Increasing interest: Over the last few weeks we have seen an increase of interest from residential and commercial property developers from Australia and South East Asia in particular wanting to know how they can best leverage XR to support the sales process.

The principal pain point is this. Most have physical display homes but now customers can’t travel and visit the display homes.

Also while some developers may already offer “virtual tours” these are mainly through using 360 video (not VR) and lack the interactivity, immersiveness and data capture required to support the sales process to the level now needed.

We’re directing these businesses to our productXR engage, which was built specifically to enable developers to place end users (customers) in a rich, interactive immersive virtual experience of a built environment.

XR engage is also been used in infrastructure public and stakeholder engagement for communicating design intent and receiving feedback on design options.

Virtual training

Urgent need for virtual training solutions: Another area we have noticed a surge of interest is in the development and provison of virtual training experiences across soft skills and technical (hard) skills. This is across Australia but also Europe.

For many businesses who provide technical or soft skills training the current inability to provide training in a classroom or group based environment, as they may have done previously, means an urgent need to look for alternative – virtual – solutions.

We are directing these inquiries to our product XR learn which provides an enterprise grade solution to all these questions.


– What you need to know on virtual training

Learnings needed: However, we have also noticed that there is still some confusion among many learning and development professionals in organisations about what is XR and ‘virtual reality’ (no 360 video is not true “VR”); how best to deploy a virtual learning solution at scale across an organisation and how best to deploy virtual training in an environment with an increasingly remote and distributed workforce.

Get the whitepaper: If you would like a copy of our soon to be released whitepaper to help you be better informed on transforming technical and soft skills training using virtual reality you can submit your interest here.

Also in a few weeks organisations will be able to access the first of four innovative immersive virtual reality training modules for safety related training.

Training modules are provided by our industry partner JBHXR and are powered by Snobal and include CPR, First Aid in an ESI Environment, Pole Top Rescue and Low Voltage Rescue. Email to find out more.

Questions on scaling

Need for an enterprise grade XR solution: One of the key questions business ask is how they can best scale XR across their organisation whether it is for virtual learning or for enriching client and public engagement.We understand that few businesses wants a stand alone VR or AR environment or solution with limited access to updates and support. That’s why we’ve built all our XR products (including XR learn and XR engage) to be based off our cloud platform – Snobal Cloud.

Snobal Cloud makes it easy for organisations to create, deliver and analyse virtual experiences. It also makes it easy for business to scale any virtual environment or experience across the organisation and across diverse physical locations.

Finally one of the things we are all acutely aware of with COVID-19 is the scale of the impact on so many businesses – large and small – from so many sectors. If there is a way XR and other digital technologies can enable businesses across diverse sectors to survive and even thrive during these challenging and unprecedented times then that would be a good thing.

We hope this was helpful. If there is any questions you have on any of the above please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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Where reason went

What we’re thinking

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Most likely you only need to look at various points in your own life when you progressed on a pathway despite the warnings maybe from friends your parents(!) or even yourself to agree with this.

Marc Andreessen, cofounder and general partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz this week explores this very topic in the context of the health crisis we all find outselves in.

Granted the blog post is written looking through the lens of the US economy and how it is addressing (or you could say failing to successfully address) the current health crisis.

As Andreessen says “every Western institution was not prepared for the coronavirus pandemic” despite numerous warnings an event like this was going to happen – one day.

The WHO as you probably read in the papers this week, agree.

Programmed to ignore warnings?

Part of the problem of why we as human’s are pretty crappy at listening to warnings as Andreessen sees it is a “lack of imagination” or a “failure to build”.

We have top-end universities, yes, but with the capacity to teach only a microscopic percentage of the 4 million new 18 year olds in the U.S. each year, or the 120 million new 18 year olds in the world each year. Why not educate every 18 year old? Isn’t that the most important thing we can possibly do? 

But it got us asking why do people and the social bodies we gather under – political parties, organisations etc – ignore warnings?

Are we actually programmed as humans to ignore warnings? To ignore the facts?

Apparently – according to some cognitive behaviour and psychology studies – we are.

Cognitive scientists Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber in their book “The Enigma of Reason,”  argued that our reasoning is really good at justifying beliefs we already believe in and making arguments to convince others. We become pretty bad at truth-seeking or if we do go looking for the truth we do it with a bias looking for truth that confirms what we already believe.

Ouch.

What’s this got to do with digital transformation?

Take digital transformation in organisations.

Despite years of numerous reports, webinars, conferences and calls for organisations across all industries to digitally transform or risk being “left behind”, the urgency and pace needed often does not seems to be there.

Many business leaders have stuggled with how to identify and iterate innovative technologies within siloed businesses units and then take the bold action needed to scale these initatives.

As this 2018 report by SAP highlighted the poor state of digital transformation efforts around the world has continued:

84% of companies regard digital transformation as crucial, yet just 3% have actually finished any company-wide effort.

The warnings about needing to digitally transform have been there for many sectors it’s just that these warnings didn’t appear to have an urgency to them or indeed were heeded.

Until now.

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Urgency compels action

COVID-19 has up-ended all our lives and work in some way and even has changed the way many of us work.

We all know it’s causing a massive need to shift business models, organizational workflows and service models for so many businesses.

And then over night it seems articles like thisthis and this pop up all articulating that the pace of digtial transformation has cranked up. Apparently it’s become a ‘need to’, not a ‘nice to’.

“If the pace of the pre-coronavirus world was already fast, the luxury of time now seems to have disappeared completely…businesses that once mapped digital strategy in one- to three-year phases must now scale their initiatives in a matter of days or weeks.”  – ZDNet.

Marc Andreessen ends with a call to action to all businesses regardless of what we do.

Our forefathers and foremothers built roads and trains, farms and factories, then the computer, the microchip, the smartphone, and uncounted thousands of other things that we now take for granted, that are all around us, that define our lives and provide for our well-being. There is only one way to honor their legacy and to create the future we want for our own children and grandchildren, and that’s to build.

It is a time to build. But this time maybe we can all build better.

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What we’re reading & listening to

Below are just some of the articles and podcasts that have caught our attention over the last week.

How Tech Can Build

[Podcast] The World Ahead: Viral acceleration | Economist Radio

Google’s Thomas Kurian on COVID-19, customers in crisis and the big cloud fight

Why Are People Ignoring Expert Warnings?—Psychological Reactance

Digital strategy in a time of crisis

[Podcast] Philip E. Tetlock on Forecasting and Foraging as a Fox (Ep. 93)

SenseGlove is working on a “low-cost” force-feedback glove for VR

The GitLab Remote Playbook

Zapiers guide to remote working

How 5G and edge computing can enhance virtual reality

[Podcast] The Sunday Read : Closing the restaurant that was my life for 20yrs

Thanks for reading.

This post first appeared on Snobal Midweek.

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Social distancing
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Reframing thinking on”social distancing”and possible implications for business

Why do we use the term “social distancing” in response to COVID-19 when the more accurate term might be “physical distancing”? Physical social distancing does not mean virtual social distancing so why do we act like both terms are the same? And what might some implications be to business if it changed how it responds to physical social distancing?

Economic and Social Cost

We know physical “social distancing” comes at a “significant economic cost” as outlined by Kalipso Chalkidou of Imperial College London but maybe in the long term it doesn’t have to and maybe it is time we started to change how we view the issue.

Social distancing also has a significant health cost.

An analysis of scientific literature by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a research psychologist at Brigham Young University in 2015 found that the quality and quantity of individuals’ social relationships is linked not only to mental health but to morbidity and mortality. Chronic social isolation increases the risk of mortality by 29%.

Image source: www.scottliddell.net


Social distancing

Social distancing is conveyed as potentially limiting the spread of COVID-19 and thereby potentially saving your life and the life of your loved ones and those in the broader community.

Social distancing practices are changes in behaviour that can help stop the spread of infections. These often include curtailing [physical] social contact, work and schooling among seemingly healthy individuals, with a view to delaying transmission and reducing the size of an outbreak.
– Coronavirus: What is social distancing and how do you do it? New Scientist


Physical “Social distancing” with COVID-19 is here to stay, writes Gideon Lichfield of MIT Technology Review and with it a whole host of changes to how we operate as humans.

Lichfield view of a life with physical “social distancing” is a disconcerting one. One that involves intrusive surveillance by flights, public transport and venues all for the public good as well as the massive economic damage to businesses and institutions that have relied to date on physical social interaction.

In the short term, this will be hugely damaging to businesses that rely on people coming together in large numbers: restaurants, cafes, bars, nightclubs, gyms, hotels, theaters, cinemas, art galleries, shopping malls, craft fairs, museums, musicians and other performers, sporting venues (and sports teams), conference venues (and conference producers), cruise lines, airlines, public transportation, private schools, day-care centers. By using the term “social distancing” to mean “physical distancing” perhaps we risk increasing confusion, social isolation and loneliness among people not to mention creating a landscape ripe for economic hardship for institutions and businesses that rely at the moment on social ‘physical interaction’ for eg art galleries, live venues, conferences and expos, shopping centres, retail outlets and museums.

But the reality is even when physically distanced people still socially interact.

They do this through the use of social media (connect with friends), live steaming (yoga and gym classes for example), and instant message platforms like Slack and Google Chat (collaborate and chat with colleagues).

So with that in mind maybe its time even from an economic point of view that we started to change how we frame the issue.

The physical is not the virtual

In education for example, there already exists online services that enable online learning and live streaming for replication of the class room experience. The impetus is now there with COVID-19 to accelerate adoption of these technologies among schools and universities. Yes, children may have to miss physical face to face classes with their teacher and classmates but that does not mean they need to miss virtual face to face classes.

In terms of art galleries and museums, there are technology solutions already out there that enable cultural institions not to mention conferences and expos to deliver rich, immersive and interactive virtual reality experiences to clients and customers.

So if the virtual solutions are there why haven’t these businesses virtualised their offerings en masse to date? Partly it has been due to technology development and adoption. It is only recently that VR hardware development has enabled wireless all in one headsets. But largely it has been due to drivers.

Galleries and museums, shopping centres, tourist operators, conferences and expos haven’t felt an immediate pressure to create rich, immersive and interactive experiences which can be delivered virtually and that still enable virtual social interaction.

Delivering VR experiences of their collection and gallety has often been more a “nice to” than a “need to”.

Five years ago in writing about the applications of VR across ecommerce and cultural institutions we observed:

The Smithsonian Institution — the world’s largest museum and research complex which has 19 museums and galleries has apparently 137 million artifacts, works of art and specimens in its collection with an estimated 2 percent on display at any one time. 

Museum Victoria in Melbourne, Australia holds 16 million items in “high-quality storage facilities”. The British Museum is reported to have 99 per cent of its collection in storage. 99 percent.

Imagine if these museums made all their collections available through building online virtual museums? A museum would be able to exponentially grow its audience share and offer to a global audience 24/7 364 days of the year access to all their collections currently in storage. Not to mention providing these museums with a channel for additional revenue generation through purchase of products from the virtual museum.

The world has changed a lot since 2015 and with it the need for many businesses to look to how they translate their unique offerings and value propositions to virtual offerings.

The technology solutions are there. All that is needed is taking that first step.

This post first appeared on Snobal Midweek.

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Our response on COVID-19 (coronavirus)

We are currently with the declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic in unprecedented waters.

Our response

At Snobal to ensure our response to COVID-19 is based on fact and science we have developed a tiered Response Action Plan and a COVID-19 policy.

These documents are about promoting the health and safety of our team members, our clients and partners, our families and the broader community in which we live and doing our bit to slow the spread of the virus across the broader community.

Some of the measures we have introduced include:

  • For now, we will not meet face to face with known  people arriving from anywhere overseas in the last 14 days or those who have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 14 days or those who are experiencing any of the known symptoms.
  • We have ceased all business travel overseas at this time and are encouraging as per the Australian Government website and the Singapore Government, Snobal team members to reconsider all personal related travel at this time as there maybe a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 overseas and the health care systems in some countries are possibly already under strain and may not be as well-equipped as Australia to support foreigners.
  • Our workspace has instigated a reception visitor health self declaration form.
  • We are encouraging the practicing of enhanced hygiene and promoting a no handshake etiquette.
  • We are declining all work conferences and events at this time.
  • We are committed to transparency and openess with our team, clients and partners.
  • As of Mon 16/03 all Snobal team members are working as a distributed team.
A computer illustration of coronavirus particles. Source: ConsumerReports.org

Our thinking

Virtual is our business

We are aware that for many businesses for eg those working in tourism, manufacturing and hospitality having their team members work from home (or distributed) is often not feasible.

At Snobal virtual is our core business. It is in our DNA. For close to six years we have built our company from the ground up with the vision of enabling business to leverage newer technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality (XR) and spatial computing to communicate and understand complex built environments, information and processes. As such the current health crisis means little disruption in how we work and how we deliver our platform and XR products to our clients.

For our client facing team, we are like all businesses taking the advice of local health authorities such as the Australian and Singapore Government websites and the WHO and following our response level plan and policy as outlined above.

Facing a virtual reality

For most organisations across all industries the case for accelerating the use of technology for businesses is now even clearer. For those organisations that might have been slow to adapt technologies the future is now certain. Facing up to a ‘virtual reality’ or way of operating is key to business continuity.

As outlined in this executive briefing from McKinsey & Co in China while consumer retail demand is down, it has not disappeared. People still need to purchase things only now they are dramatically shifting their behaviour to online shopping including for food delivery. As the executive briefing outlines it’s not like once these consumers behaviours and preferences are embedded that consumers will go back to pre-coronavirus ways of operating.

Finally….

It is a challenging time for all with a lot of global uncertainty. For those needing additional assistance to manage any mental health issues that may be arising the BeyondBlue website has some excellent resources. And for those businesses grappling with developing their COVID-19 policy and response action plan, there are some excellent resources and information out there including the Coinbase Planning and Response to COVID-19 . If you know of any other great resources please comment below as it may assist others developing their policies and plans.

And if you have any questions, queries or would like more information on any of the above please let us know.

Keep safe folks where ever you are.

Team Snobal

This article originally appeared on Snobal Midweek our weekly newsletter.

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Snobal Midweek

Five reasons mixed gender teams are critical to VR & AR development

It’s common knowledge that gender diversity is essential in technology. And if you’re a company like Snobal working in newer technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality (XR), not to mention spatial computing and artifical intelligence building gender diverse teams is critical.

Here’s our top five reasons why.

01. Ensures default design is not male

We know that gender diversity matters in product and technology design and development because women are 50% of the worlds population. Need we say more?

Not including their unique perspective, needs and requirements means you’re basically building something that only caters for 50% of your users i.e men.

Let’s look to the past and at car design as an example.

Female drivers are 47% more likely to be seriously injured in a car crash and 17 per cent more likely to die because seat belts were not designed with women in mind. Crash test dummies and by consequence car belts were designed with the average man in mind with no account taken of pregnancy or women’s anatomy.

End result? Car seats designed for men, by men.

You can read more about this topic and what happens when you don’t design with women in mind with Criado Perez fascinating book Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men. 

02. Means better business performance

Gender diversity in technology has been shown to lead to better business performance.

Studies published in Science found that teams’ collective intelligence increased with the number of women in the group.

One explanation is that the presence of women “enhanced collective social sensitivity, leading to higher collective intelligence”.

On an unrelated but also to a certain extent related note, the above research did make us think of highly influential BlackRock Chair and CEO Laurence D. Fink annual letter to CEO’s released in January.

In the letter he outlined how climate change has become a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects. That companies “cannot achieve long-term profits without embracing purpose and considering the needs of a broad range of stakeholders”.

Finks comments herald to business that increased social senstivity (consideration of others needs) is now needed to survive. And with the study above indicating that the presence of women in teams “enhanced collective social sensitivity” it does lead to an interesting question. Are businesses with more gender mixed team better placed for sucess in this evolving landscape where purpose will be valued just as much as profit by the investment community?

03.Means better sales and profits

Teams with an equal gender mix had better sales and profits than male-dominated teams found a field experiment published in Management Science. The research shows that teams with mixed gender teams tend to me more “generous and egalitarian” but not only that :

Business teams with an equal gender mix perform better than male-dominated teams in terms of sales and profits.

04.Means better products

We know that there appears to be significant differences between male and female “on all presence (i.e the sense of immersion or that something is “real”) subscales”.

The subscales include Spatial Presence, Realness, Sense of Being There.

Research has shown that men generally reported a higher sense of spatial presence, more perceived realism and higher levels of sense of actually being in an experience or environment than women. Although this research had a small sample size the findings has obvious implications for XR development especially for those working in health and gaming / entertainment applications.

If you want to design and develop better XR products and solutions you need to include and design for women.

05. Means more innovation

Research at the University of Granada in Spain have shown that product and process innovation is more positively influenced when the management team of a business is more balanced in number of men and women.  As the paper reported:

Gender diversity in the top management team thus seems to encourage a work climate that stimulates development of new ideas, exchange of knowledge, communication, and trust, while also favoring execution of more processes and routines, and use of resources that are more effective in achieving innovation in products and processes.

On a final note, we look to the words of Karen Sparck Jones, a pioneering British computer scientist who specialised in natural language processing and information retrieval. As Spӓrck Jones once said:

Source: www.disruptorsco.com

Want to work in a fast growing technology company?

Speaking of gender diversity in newer technologies, Snobal currently has a number of career opportunities open in its engineering, creative and delivery team.

If working in spatial computing, VR and AR are of interest to you or you know someone who might be interested – reach out.

Instructional Experience Designer (currently accepting applications)
XR Developer (Unity / Unreal) (currently accepting applications)
QA Engineer (coming soon – accepting EOI)
Backend Web Software Engineer (coming soon – accepting EOI)
Web Application Software Engineer (coming soon – accepting EOI)

More info – www.snobal.io/careers

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Snobal Midweek

How VR & AR is transforming training across engineering & construction

How is virtual reality and augmented reality (XR) disrupting  industries such as engineering and construction across the planning, design, delivery, operations and maintenance phase and more specifically in the the provision of high consequence and safety related training?

This morning at the BICSI annual expo in the Melbourne Convention + Exhibition Centre the conversation was all about the business applications and impact being created by leveraging newer technologies like XR for the building environment and safety related training. [BISCI is a professional association supporting the information and communications technology (ICT) industry, which covers the spectrum of voice, data, electronic safety & security, audio & video, and building automation technologies.]

Key takeaways from the panel and audience questions revolved around three areas.

  1. XR – all about enterprise: XR has moved beyond the narrow focus of consumers and gaming applications from a few years ago to enterprise applications. And when you look to enterprise applications it’s the engineering and construction sector, as well as high consequence training, where Snobal is seeing tremendous appetite in Australia and globally said Murray James, Co-founder & CEO, Snobal.
  2. Eye on the ROI: An organisation needs to be guided by its strategic vision and the required business impact when applying newer technologies like XR was an area touched on by both speakers Andrew Heinrichs,  Director Safety, Community Safety Building Authority; Dept of Justice and Community Safety and Damien Taylor,  ANZ Manager – Health, Safety, Environment & Quality, SMEC (Member of the Surbana Jurong Group).

    For moderator Paul Stathis, CEO BICSI South Pacific, the topic of organisations being open to embracing risk was acknowledged as an area important in digital transformation and innovation.
  3. The future is now. Leveraging newer technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality will in time become part of an organisations toolbox in delivering learning and development. For Shane Darwin, General Manager – Product and Delivery of registered training organisation JB Hunter, the move to launching a suite of XR training modules – through JBHXR – in 2020 across the telecommunications and safety related market was obvious. It was also inspired by the knowledge that XR holds the ability to enrich workplace training and make the accessible more cost efficient, engaging, measurable and convenient for its clients.

    JBHXR powered by Snobal, will launch a suite of XR training modules like Pole Top Rescue, CPR, First Aid in an ESI Environment and Low Voltage Rescue in Q1 2020 with more to follow. More information here.
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