Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive.

This Australian University is Using Virtual Reality to Teach Midwifery

Joel says:

Using Samsung GearVR, HTC Vive and HoloLens headsets, University of Newcastle students will be among the first in the world to learn key anatomy and birthing techniques through virtual and augmented simulation.

A collaboration between UON’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and Innovation Team, the first of the new VR projects simulates a real-world delivery room, providing midwifery students with a virtual emergency neonatal resuscitation scene. Students have to undertake a series of steps to pass the time-critical scenario, which can be undertaken with a virtual “helper” in a practice mode, or individually in a formal test.

Neonatal resuscitation is a vital but advanced skill, meaning naturally the training takes time and resources to complete. As the simulation is easily accessible and portable, our students can study anywhere at any time,” Midwifery and co-project leader, Jessica Williams, said.

The program is made to bridge the gap between learning in an educational school environment and having to put the skills to use in a real life emergency scenario. It’s a great idea as people learn and retain information in very different ways. This program allows people that are visual or practical learners to better retain the information and use it in a practical way. The article goes on to list other ways the university are leveraging VR and AR and is well worth a read.

Back in 2014 Ripple Effect were lucky enough to get hands on with Google Glass, and while development of that is somewhat dormant we did think that, outside of games, a field that could take advantage of VR and AR technologies would be the medical industry. It’s good to see we were heading in the right direction with our thoughts.


NASA’s Journey to Touch the Sun Will Spawn New Technologies

Nat says: Any exploration of space is an experimentation with technology. NASA is somewhat known for making advancements in hardware, software, nanotechnology and electro-mechanical systems as a result of their space programs. According to one source, NASA scientists have pioneered more than 6300 technologies since their inception of missions into outer space. Such technologies are used in our daily lives and we wouldn’t know it, such as satellite television, freeze-dried food, and computer microchips.

NASA’s big announcement this week was that in 2018 they aim to ‘touch the Sun’. The goal of the mission is to answer two questions, namely: “Why is the corona on the outside of the Sun at least 300 times hotter than the surface?” and “Why does solar wind speed up?” This would be quite a feat for more than just technological reasons, but also for our understanding about the Universe. Imagine designing technology that can withstand 1400 degrees C temperature, and imagine where science could go with answers to those perplexing questions. The Sun is the source of our livelihood, so it seems reasonable to want to understand more about this pivotal star in which all planets in our galaxy are gravitationally pulled towards.


How Facebook’s Tentacles Reach Further Than You Think

“What an extraordinary situation for an entity that has power over information – there is no greater power really.”

Emilio says: It is not your family, it is not your friend – yet Facebook knows you. A lot about you, in fact. I remember reading a discourse on the extent of intrusiveness the social media behemoth wreaks on its users, and I was floored at the realisation. Recently, Facebook was called out for reportedly paving the way for advertisers to target young users in their most vulnerable state through the use of algorithms powered by the data it collects. The outcomes-oriented marketer in me rejoices at this, whilst the ethical side of me laments this.

In an attempt to illustrate Facebook’s powerful digital infrastructure, Serbian cyber-forensic and data analysts created ‘Share Lab’. The outcome are intricate flowcharts showing how all of our data are fed into the mighty and mysterious Facebook algorithm which determines the content we see on our feeds.

Exactly how much information, influence and money does Facebook have? According to this article, Facebook “stores some 300 petabytes of data, boasts almost two billion users, and raked in almost $28bn (£22bn) in revenues in 2016 alone.” One ‘petabyte’ equals one quadrillion bytes. In short, staggering.

Given the multiple apps and sites we log on via Facebook and other Facebook-owned social platforms including Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, it is safe to say there would be heaps more data being held and algorithms in play that we might not be aware of. The detail presented in Share Lab is unprecedented – but it could very well be just the tip of the iceberg.


Internet Trends 2017

Anne says: It’s that time of the year!

No – not EOFY (End of Financial Year – Australia).

No – not the start of winter (in the southern hemisphere).

It’s the Code Conference in California where Mary Meeker releases her internet trends.

355 slides of deep data and information – including a new segment on Healthcare. There’s a review of her presentation here.

  • Global smartphone growth is slowing.
  • Voice is beginning to replace typing in online queries.
  • China remains a fascinating market, with huge growth in mobile services and payments and services like on-demand bike sharing.
  • A new segment on Healthcare: Wearables are gaining adoption.

As always – there’s so much more contained every year in this report. Take some protected time and explore this report in detail.

Disclaimer: I haven’t had a chance to dig into this report personally but I’m totally taking some time over the next week or two to digest the implications.


Why You Should Seek Out Disconfirming Evidence

Jakkii says: I’ve been particularly interested in biases lately as I ponder the rise and spread of “fake news” together with the continued rise of science skepticism (and outright rejection). I often see examples of people seeking out evidence that confirms their position, patently rejecting evidence that disconfirms this position, and refusing to use this opportunity to absorb the information and reassess their position: “what does this new information do to (or for) my understanding? Should my position adjust because of this new information and, if so, how?”

Considering this of course leads to the need to heighten my awareness of my own biases. There are a great many types of bias, and it can be exhausting to constantly consider them all. However I think a focus on combating confirmation bias is both necessary and highly useful in our work (and lives) by encouraging us to think more critically, and engage more fully with difficult and challenging ideas and opinions. In this piece, the author presents some examples of confirmation bias at play after outlining why we ignore contradictory evidence. The article concludes with a challenge to the reader, to consider their own confirmation bias at work in reading the piece:

  • Which parts did I automatically agree with?
  • Which parts did I ignore or skim over without realising?
  • How did I react to the points which I agreed/disagreed with?
  • Did this post confirm any ideas I already had? Why?
  • What if I thought the opposite of those ideas?

I think these questions are a handy guide for us all to use when reading information online, particularly around topics of controversy or polarisation. We all experience confirmation bias – often on a regular basis. It’s essential we learn to combat this and ensure we’re basing our opinions on facts, not assumptions or feelings. And if you don’t believe me (or the author), try this comic from The Oatmeal.


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