Category Archives: Virtual Tools

Virtual Reality

Altering Reality Via Virtual Reality

by Mark Sivy, Ed.D.

The 4th Annual ICT Forum “Leadership in the Digital Age” took place on April 5th 2015 in Muscat, Oman. The forum theme was “Disruption by Design”, following the notion of Disruptive Innovation that was presented by Clayton Christensen. During the leadership event, a CEO panel provided their perspectives to a group of almost 250 business leaders. Of particular interest to this post is the concept of Virtual Reality (VR) that was presented by Fathi Al Riyami, CEO of Cosmic Surrounding Technology. In particular, the focus of the discussion was on VR created through the use of a new wearable headset technology that attaches to a personal computer.

Oculus Rift

Image provided by Oculus

For a virtual organization, it’s extremely important to have clients, customers, executives, employees and business partners correctly visualize and understand a concept, design, or process. This can be a challenge. Fortunately with recent innovations in technologies and creative capacities, we can now instill the desired perceptions through virtual reality. This ability presents us with a wide assortment of opportunities in areas such as training, design and product development that were previously not possible.

Virtual Reality (VR) in a general sense is a term used to describe a three-dimensional, computer-generated “environment” which can be interacted with by an individual or a group. Within these immersive environments, users can have the ability to manipulate objects, participate in simulations, gather information, or perform a series of actions.

The soon-to-be-available wearable visual device, such as the Oculus Rift (OR) or Samsung Gear VR, will enable users step inside their choice of VR environments. These devices use tracking technologies and optical screens that provide 360° head movement that allows you to seamlessly look around and feel as part of the computer generated scene. For instance, Arch Virtual is using a VR to bring on a whole new perspective for architectural design and visualization (note, the true experience is not realized without a 3D headset):

Mr. Al Riyami identified four industries that can benefit from these highly-advanced affordable technologies offer. These are:

Corporate Training

For a variety of corporate needs such as the development of human interaction skills, product knowledge, and machinery operations, the use of VR scenarios can provide an immersive experience that enhances standard training. Additionally, due to the portability of the headsets, VR simulations provide greater opportunities to learn and practice at times and places that are more conducive to learning.

Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE)

VR is able to provide HSE training experiences that are far superior to other methods. Using VR modules, trainees can be provided with the ability to experience and react to simulated scenarios that represent possible real-life events, and all without endangering humans or risking property damage. For example, learners can tour training scenarios and identify areas of risks factors such as unsafe storage of chemicals, electrical issues, potential explosive materials, and improper equipment operation.

Driving / Road Safety

With additional low cost equipment such as computer-attached driving gear and seating, VR can produce positive road safety outcomes by exposing drivers to simulated driving environments and situations. This can be used to train individuals new to driving, those seeking advanced driving certifications, or those who want to review or perfect existing driving abilities. These driving experiences can be used with school driver education programs, private driving schools, driver knowledge tests, or specialized industry transportation and heavy equipment training. Again, all of this can be done in a low cost, low risk setting.


Tourism is a trillion dollar international industry. In many countries tourism represents a significant share of gross domestic product (GDP) and it makes up 6-8% of the world’s employment. With the global increase in the number of vacations taken, competition between regions and nations to capture a market share is on the rise. However, to be a market leader it is vital to create a destination image that has a competitive edge. Research has shown that through the utilization of technology tools and the Internet, solutions can be developed that are capable of capturing the potential visitor’s attention, feelings, motivations and impulses. Using well-planned and well-designed VR media and simulations can propel the online destination experience to being more engaging, interactive, empowering and memorable.

Virtual Reality

Tourism virtual environment created by Cosmic Surrounding Technology

Final Words

Even though household and mobile use of the VR technologies described in this post are still a few years off, mindful and innovative organizations, institutions and government offices should be looking into integrating research and development costs into their fiscal budgets now. As we’ve learned in today’s fast-paced technology-oriented society, you are either an early leader or are forever trying to catch up with competition.

Reflection Point – “In business, the competition will bite you if you keep running, if you stand still, they will swallow you.”     ~Victor Kiam

Online Group Organizers

Online Group Organizers

by Mark Sivy

Why Would I Use One?

These web-based tools enable coordinators, leaders, and self-motivated individuals to create communities of volunteers, staff, or like-minded people that are organized and managed online, but who connect and interact in-person (or online for that matter). Organizing one of these events is an excellent way to establish yourself or an organization as the “go-to” expert in a given profession or business.

Online Group Options

There are several players in this field, but I find GroupSpaces, BigTent, and Meetup to be the most appealing. GroupSpaces offers free and paid plans, BigTent is free, and Meetup is paid only. Similar services are GroupLoop, SureToMeet, Wild Apricot, MemberClicks, and





These providers and others offer a range of basic services that you would want to have such as calendars, file sharing, forums, RSVP’s, and public-facing webpages. Other options where many providers start to differ, and that you may want to consider as decision points, would be photo sharing, event specific services, social media links, subgroups, and file storage.

Setting Up Your Group

Even though each service is slightly different, here are some general points to consider in setting up your group:

  1. Select your area of interest and then do your research to find out what type of individuals might be interested in your group and what topics would attract them.
  2. Have a few photos ready, at least one of you and one that represents your group.
  3. Sign up with your service of choice and create a personal profile.
  4. Search around and see what type of activity is already happening within your area of interest. Search for keywords that relate to your field. Don’t let competing groups control your ambitions. Pursue your interests and be good at it.
  5. Consider that keywords or tags that describe what your group is about or hoping to accomplish.
  6. Craft a clear brief description that explains exactly your group’s purpose, giving potential members a clear idea of who should join and what to expect. If done well, the description will enable people to understand what type of community and conversations you hope to develop.
  7. Create the group, providing the location, name, description, etc.
  8. Select the pricing plan (if available).

Grow Membership

To get more members to join, and if you think you’re ready, schedule your first meeting. Don’t immediately host this event, but rather plan for it to occur about a month after you start your group. Contact friends, associates, and organizations that you think might have an interest in the group. Announce it through your social media and networks.

The First Meeting

Coffee ShopThis means knowing when and where it will be. Usually this is at an open public space such as a coffee shop. Keep the first event simple, serving mainly for introductions and open conversation. Pay close attention, both analyzing the audience and learning individual interests. Make the members feel as a part of the process.

Usual Meeting Format

The members typically meet, network and talk over drinks and light snacks. In certain locations these can be provided through the group or in others they can be purchased onsite by the individual attendees. Often there is an invited guest speaker or a panel discussion to stimulate interest and attendance.

Meeting Venue

The place to meet will depend upon the size of the group. The key is to find someplace free. Most establishments that sell food and beverages will be open to hosting a group of people, but be sure they can provide a dedicated space. Based upon available capacity, set a limit to the number of people who say they will attend and then create a waiting list.

For the Meeting

The day of the meeting, contact the meeting venue to confirm their awareness and that they’re prepared. Bring an attendance list, sign-in sheets, blank name tags and markers. Have people put their name, company, and specialization or title on the name tags.

Ongoing Social Media Connections

facebook-260818_1280In addition to maintaining communication through the online group service, other social media channels can be used to maintain community, networking, and conversations. The choice will depend upon the type of group, whether casual, professional, or somewhere in-between.


Typically there are costs associated with meetings and other operational expenses. These can be paid by the organizer, sponsors, membership dues, or event fees.


Getting sponsors is a way to help fund meetings and to make them more professional at times. Sponsors can come from within the membership, a local industry or a business.