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

Digital Reality: Real learning in a virtual world

Anne says: This week I’m going to dive into the digital reality world of learning. The article (it’s more of a report) is a longer read, however, I encourage you to take the time and expand your thinking and consider the possibilities that could be applied in your context.

There’s a useful definition of digital reality on the second page, it’s rather hidden by a green box and white font – making it look more like acknowledgements than not a critical definition for the article! Briefly, digital reality refers to augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), 360 video, and immersive technologies – none of which are new but advances in hardware and applications for development have enabled them to become mainstream and affordable in any organisation.

There’s no mention of theories of learning but they do address some of the challenges faced by organisations:

“How do you adequately prepare learners to make good decisions when facing dangerous or extraordinary situations?”

The learning theory that underpins a response to this question is not new, in fact, the application described in the article/report is not new – think of airline flight simulators – but the application is now facilitated by the critical difference of lower cost to develop and the quality of hardware that is becoming ubiquitous in consumer-facing contexts.

The positioning in this report, from a business case perspective, is the expertise conundrum. There’s only a small section highlighting some valuable points regarding what they refer to as expertise:

“Experts are not only better at executing particular tasks – they tend to think about things fundamentally differently from amateurs.”

However, it would have worthwhile to present a brief overview of expertise theories of learning and how these can be enhanced through the application of digital reality, but they shift the focus to an unusual question: “How can we learn better”? It might be semantics, but it’s not really about how we, as people, can learn better, it’s more about how organisations can provide learning experiences that can extend current approaches to expertise. The authors provide important examples that emphasise in particular, the challenge of creating experiences without incurring the costs of dangerous or rare contexts, not to mention fewer workplace accidents and/or damage to expensive equipment.

Better.. faster.. safer.. less cost – what more could you ask for?

The next step, if the compelling business case is accepted, will be the design challenge. There’s a description of the critical components of design but avoids addressing the capabilities required from current learning and development practitioners. The digital reality learning application will require new technology skills, new capabilities in design and fundamentally, new ways of thinking about learning in context.

The potential is here and available now – it’s time to have conversations within your business and determine how to best leverage these opportunities.


Walmart wants to make a trolley that tells them how shoppers ‘feel’

Joel says: US retail giant Walmart wants to make a shopping trolley that records things like your grip and walking speed – all in the name of retail therapy and knowing how their customers are feeling.

Walmart has applied for a patent for a shopping trolley that will be able to track your heart rate, body temperature, grip and walking speed while shopping, using sensors embedded in the cart. The aim is to provide Walmart with a range of information regarding how their shoppers are physically responding in different stores.

According to the patent, the system would allow sales associates to “determine that a check on the user should occur”.

“If biometric indicators show signs of an emergency, the program may also issue a broadcast throughout the store to call associates’ attention to the situation, and could potentially initiate a call for emergency medical help as well,” said technology blog CBInsights.

This could just be the beginning though. If this technology is seen as successful, is accepted by the public and gets developed further it could drastically change the way we shop. Ads that display on the screens in shopping centres could be tailored to our mood as we walk past and who knows? Stores may proactively offer additional free samples or assistance to shoppers they detect have increased body temperature or blood pressure.

While this tech isn’t planned for us down under, if it is a success in the States it’s a pretty safe bet it may one day change the way we do our shopping here too. It could be some time away but I’m interested to see how the standard shopping experience could change in the future.


It’s 2030 and you’re going on holiday

Helen says: Most of us like to travel and over the years technology has helped to make it easier, more affordable and more accessible than ever. Mobile phones and the internet, in particular, have helped reshape our travel experiences. Traveller’s cheques, aerograms, printed travel guides and paper airline tickets are largely a thing of the past; flights are faster, go further and fares are cheaper now than they were 20 years ago. How our travel experience will look in a decade or so sparked my interest in this article, which looks at technology and travel trends, presented with good visuals that help you to get a sense of what’s to come.

Sharing your holiday will go to the next level – instead of sharing photos and videos, you will be able to share your livestream with friends who can, thanks to smart glasses, see what you are seeing. The author Annika Blau, noted that, “travel will remain a status symbol, and the desire to present a “perfect holiday” on social media will only increase as friends “join you” through VR and live-streaming”, which doesn’t sound like much of a holiday to me – a digital detox holiday might be a good alternative.

Mass location tracking already delivers a constant stream of profile based real-time recommendations on where to sleep, eat and visit; communication across languages will be made easier with auto-translation earbuds; smart shoes will keep you on the right track and smart hotels will configure a room to meet your requirements. Whilst relevant and readily available information is valuable, for me, what seems to be missing from this picture is spontaneity. That wrong turn, your translator earbuds or smart shoes just saved you from, may have been a missed opportunity to experience something unplanned yet enjoyable and unique. ‘Uncurated’ travel has contributed to some of my happiest travel adventures.


Snapchat’s plan to reinvent TV may actually be working

Jakkii says: It’s not all doom & gloom for Snap Inc., despite its floundering stock price. Snap’s Snapchat doesn’t get enough credit for how innovative it has been – and still is – other than a cursory nod to its Stories feature which has since been copied by Instagram and Facebook. Snap considers itself a camera company, and is doing some very interesting things – like Snap’s Spectacles. But it’s also continuing to innovate with Snapchat, and its move to bite-sized television is fascinating. They’re not alone here in trying to capture television eyeballs – and television advertising dollars – with both Facebook & Instagram experimenting with television as well, such as Instagram’s IGTV. Snapchat has been experimenting and is encouraged by the results, enough to order 12 new “Snap Originals,” serialised TV shows for the Discover part of the Snapchat app, I think there are interesting things to think about when it comes to organisations, as well – not just for how organisations might think about using offerings like IGTV or even offering their own serialised TV content via Snapchat’s Discover, but also for how they might build upon a growing consumer awareness (and expectation) of this type of media consumption, and use these bite-sized, serialised TV concepts in their enterprise social networks and other tools, for things like internal communications and learning & development.

In the consumer sphere, the battle for attention has been waged for years in various forms. It’s really interesting to watch these social media apps and platforms wading more seriously into the television waters in order to expand their reach and, ultimately, their share of even more advertising dollars.


Sydney Business Insights – The Future This Week Podcast

This week: programming for obsolescence, raising minimums, and lettuce-loving robots. Sandra Peter (Sydney Business Insights) and Kai Riemer (Digital Disruption Research Group) meet once a week to put their own spin on news that is impacting the future of business in The Future, This Week.

The stories this week:

Other stories we bring up:

Robots of the week:


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