Microsoft LucidTouch – The Technology That Will Change Laptops Forever

Technology Innovations continue to surprise us with new and improved products to help make our lives easier and our days go smoother. Touch screen technology is one of the technologies that has emerged to help make our days go by a bit more efficiently, allowing people to access their calendars, address databases, and memo records all with just one tap of a screen. The biggest drawback about it is that sometimes, fingers get in the way of touch screen technology. This is where Microsoft’s new LucidTouch technology has come to the rescue in efforts to solve this problem.

LucidTouch Technology Works in Reverse

Currently the type of touch screen technology that most people are used to has to do with pressing their finger on a point and making an application pop up. While this may seem just well and fine, there are some people who are a great deal busier than that and have to be able to do multiple things at once-including type emails and open email applications at the same time.

With LucidTouch technology by Microsoft, there is no problem with the fingers blocking the screen because the hands are behind the device. Similar to a projector screen the image of the hands is projected through the device and to your eyes, and the actual touch screen capabilities are on the backside of the device. This means no more having to hold your device in one hand and tap the touch screen with another.

The image of the user’s hands can be seen through the screen, making it especially useful for games and things like navigational systems. It gives the illusion of the actual device being see-through, when really it is just the LucidTouch technology transmitting an image of the hand through the screen onto the person’s eyes. This helps greatly, allowing even the busiest of people to see the screens and navigate through the screens at the same time without their hands getting in the way.

Where did Microsoft LucidTouch Technology Come From?

Many users feel that Microsoft’s LucidTouch technology came from nowhere, and it really did. The touch screen being blocked by the fingers has been one of those problems that plenty of users had but few actually cared enough to speak up about, and the new technology has just emerged at the right time to make users in general that much more efficient with their phones. It makes business phones that much more easily worked and even simplifies GPS navigational devices. While the technology is sensitive to a person’s touch, it is also not so sensitive that it jumps at every little tap to the screen, which is one problem with the Iphone and other phones whose whole front is a touch activated screen.

What is next for Microsoft? Only time can tell, and this LucidTouch technology has not yet entered the mainstream market. AS a matter of fact, it was only introduced and put on display for the first time at a technology show in early March 2008, so many people don’t even know that this amazing technology is coming at them. In the meantime, it will surely be tweaked and redefined as time goes on, making for an even better piece of equipment once the final product rolls off of the lines-whenever that may happen to be. Are you frustrated with your touch screen phone or GPS? Look out for Microsoft LucidTouch technology in a device near you.

Earn Your Associate’s Degree in Information Systems and Technology

Students who are interested in computers and information systems should pursue a college education in information systems and technology. This training degree program usually consists of specialized computer courses and information classes. By pursuing this education training program, students are well prepared for a career in a corporate environment.

The computer and Internet have undoubtedly changed the world and how its inhabitants communicate with one another. People are able to broadcast their personal lives, look up information, play video games with users on another continent, e-mail their friends and relatives, send photos, network with business associates and publish blogs at a rapid rate. With the Internet changing at such a quick pace, new technology, computer processes and software is continually required to maintain the safety, efficiency and proper usage of computer technology and the Internet.

If you love working with computers, the World Wide Web, new technology and enjoy troubleshooting, then a college Associate’s Degree in Information Systems and Technology may be the right career choice for you. This college education program provides the basic career training foundation that gives students career flexibility in selecting a technology or computer-related occupation. After graduation, students can go on to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree or delve immediately into the working world.

Information technology students should be able to quickly identify problems that may interfere with a computer’s basic operations, love to troubleshoot, problem solve, enjoy working with other team members and possess a thorough understanding of the basic operations of technology. Acquiring an Associate’s Degree will only take a student two years. During this time, students will learn by engaging in many hands-on training courses and computer classes.

The curriculum educates students in the fields of data storage, programming practices, development cycle, technology applications in business strategy and ethical and legal technology issues. Students will be able to locate information resources and evaluate them for relevance and credibility. An Associate’s Degree in information technology will give students a thorough comprehension of all cyber-related
processes.

Information systems management courses are designed to help students develop the ability to manage and organize the vast information resources of an organization. These classes give students a thorough and in-depth understanding of management standards and the fundamentals of information and technology systems. With this diverse education, students are able to become an integral part of many different corporate environments. Students who wish to pursue an Associate’s Degree in Information Systems can expect to:

  • Learn the basics and fundamentals of computers and the Internet
  • Become familiar with potential threats, viruses, malware and other hazardous elements that may cause damage to a computer
  • Work firsthand with experts in the information advancement and computer technology industries, participate in classroom discussion that allow you to ask questions and test your own theories
  • Experiment with new technology and software programs that are currently available on the market
  • Learn about information and data storage, retrieval, manipulation and other data processes
  • Learn about business settings and how technology relates to the corporate world and its everyday operations, experience how technology benefits a business environment in many different contexts

Enabling More Profits Through Strategic Use of Technology Solutions

There are two types of business owners who consider technology differently:

Type I – “The Gadget Person”

This type of owner embraces technology at most levels. They are considered “early adopters” from a technology point of view. The gadget guys were the first ones to get a Palm Pilot in 1995 and loaded all their contacts on the device. They were excited to set appointments and have electronic reminders beep all day long.

Type II – “Just make it work”

This type of owner proudly proclaims that they know very little to nothing about technology and are content to leave it that way. They were wary of email at first, but have come to rely on it quite a bit.

Both types are passionate about their business and could benefit from strategic application of the right technology solutions.

Understand Your Process

Coupled with technology is “process.” Process is defined as steps required to manufacture your products or the means to provide your services. A clean and efficient process is the key to applying any technology solution successfully. The wrong, or inefficient process, will lead you to spend $100k on an unnecessary system. The efficient process will save you money when implementing technology and should increase your profits. It is vitally important for your business that you examine all your processes BEFORE implementing any technology solution.

If your process is efficient, then applying a technology solution will automate the operation which will properly enable growth. On the flipside, if your process is inefficient, then applying technology will be costly and likely work against itself. Technology for the sake of technology is not going to solve anything. In fact, without the proper process and strategy, you will likely create problems and reduce your margins by applying the wrong technology solution. A technology “solution” should solve something.

A technology solution should meet at least one of the following four criteria:

1. reduce operating expenses

2. automate existing (efficient) processes to enable growth

3. provide an effective means to communicate

4. enable your business to improve its products and/or services

Before the first dime is spent, insure that your examine these criteria.

Technology’s Effect on Commercial Real Estate in a Recession

Though there seems to be an endless supply of other shoes to drop into the current economic chasm, there seems to be a general consensus that commercial real estate is going to take a significant hit. The shoe that could end up kicking commercial real estate down further and is relatively unknown or just not thought about is technology. Developed countries around the world, save a few, have never gone through such a potentially devastating economic cycle with the amount of technology we have at our disposal. What that technology allows for will greatly affect the length of the commercial real estate recession and its effects on the overall economy.

With our daily dose of eye popping layoffs, the top question on every company’s agenda is how to cut costs. When looking to cut costs the typical first question is how many people can be cut and how much of a cut in productivity can be tolerated. But with all of this technology, there is now the possibility to cut costs and keep the same amount of productivity. This wasn’t a viable option in previous recessions, but this time around companies can start sending people home to work, which is all made possible by the giant leaps in communication. People have been telecommuting for years, but with the great expansion of communications technology coupled with a downward economy, the cost cutting choice between cutting a group of employees and cutting out leased floors in a building has become a whole lot easier. The last time we saw a boom in telecommuting was the September, 11th attacks and the catalyst was the fear of travel and a shaky economy. Audio and video conferencing sales soared and using the technology was all the rage. The big problem back then was that the technology was a bit more difficult to use and everyone went back to their old ways of working after the crisis.

The difference now is that the technology has come very far and the new catalyst is a crashing economy that, in my opinion, will be an even stronger catalyst than September 11th. Fickleness and discomfort around the use of technology for basic operational issues is gone. I recently spoke at a conference about this and I asked a very simple question. Has anyone ever sent an email to the person in the office next to them? Everyone looked around like it was a trick question, but the reality is that there is no difference between sending an email to the next cubicle or around the world. This is now the same for almost all types of communicating including voice, video, text, Instant Messaging, etc., and connecting them all together in 2009’s buzzword called, unified communications. In the telecommunications arms race between the Telco’s and the cable companies, there has been such a huge push for mega bandwidth to the end customer to try and own them, that they have inadvertently made millions of households viable for high speed telecommuting. In addition to the end user having the capacity, most applications that company employees need access to have moved to secured web based applications that can be accessed through the internet over these super networks. With the actual communication media being so robust, an employer’s largest concern about sending an employee home is the potential for slacking and a loss of productivity. However, there are very sophisticated systems available to track employee’s progress and activity remotely that can resolve this issue as well. Even though this is not viable for every office worker, the ones that are allowed to do this end up being more productive; think less water cooler conversations, coffee breaks, and long lunches. There is an argument that the employees lose some of the social aspects that bind an office together, but the employees become less stressed without long commutes and early wake-ups, and they end up being happier all around with their job.

So, what does all of this have to do with the real estate market? Simply stated, with all of the supply in the technology arena the demand for physical office space is going to be reduced. Office space has always been a property type that is less desirable due to its susceptibility to economic pressures. Now more than ever companies are looking to chop space and get lean, and office space is going to take an even harder hit. With more space on the market, rinse and repeat and you will have a serious glut of space. The glut of space will end up deflating rental rates reducing cash flow and reducing market value of the properties. If the past 12 months have shown us anything, examining past trends do not help us in this market. Investor’s buying commercial real estate trying to use past trends to make future gains are going to get crushed short term. Why? Because even after the economy recovers companies are not going to take on an expense for space that they have done without through telecommuting. The Gartner Group’s last estimate was that there was 137 million teleworkers worldwide and, “This growth will mushroom as companies learn more about telework benefits and its highly advantageous return on investment, and the proliferation and use of online job boards and virtual hiring,” according to a report in Innovisions Canada.

So that is the argument for office space, but what else will technology affect? On the retail front, there is an entire generation that is getting used to conducting their lives online and that includes buying products. People that were born in the late 60’s and throughout the 70’s are a generation that has one foot in the past bricks generation and another in the future clicks generation. If I look at myself, I would say that there are some things I am not comfortable buying online but my younger colleagues and friends have no problem buying everything needed online. It’s a generational shift and it’s going to add strain on the retail property market during a downward economic cycle. Take Blockbuster for instance and their huge initiative to follow Netflix in the online ordering of movies. Right now those services are sending the DVD’s to your house without ever setting foot in a store. Many of the big cable and satellite providers in the industry are trying to make it viable to download 1000’s of titles from their cable and satellite boxes, and so far the On Demand services are on the forefront but lack in volume of titles. On another front, Telco’s are developing a robust broadband solution over IP, and in Microsoft’s case they are trying to enable downloads right into their Xbox entertainment system via the web. How many empty Blockbuster stores and other video stores is that going to push onto the market? Okay, so that’s digital media and one could argue it is an exception due to ease, but technology is enabling the ordering of many other services to be delivered right to our front doors. Are people still going to go out and shop? I would say yes because it seems that many people have turned shopping into a hobby (think better times), but with our youth becoming more introverted and more accustomed to everything being at their fingertips, maybe less than before on a per-capita basis.

Mobile technology efficiencies are not going to destroy office space or retail spaces on a whole, however it is important to understand that in an evolving technological economy, as well as a down economy, they start becoming a lot less necessary. Commercial real estate has always been a sound alternative investment but the last 12 months have proven that investing in these types of properties takes a lot of experience and more importantly, an open mind about what’s to come to gauge future cash flow and value. Betting against technology has never been a very sound investment strategy and this is definitely not the time for anyone to put their head in the proverbial sand. Perhaps you’re reminded of the story about the close minded man who opened up a typewriter store because he thought computers were just a fad for pimply faced kids?

Copyright: Dominic Mazzone, Regent Global Funds 2009

This article was written by Dominic Mazzone, Managing Partner and Fund Manager of Regent Global Funds.

This article and other like it can be viewed at [http://www.investingsymposium.com] which is part of the Regent Global Funds Network.

Regent Global Funds, rgfunds.com, is an alternative investment [http://rgfunds.com] fund that offers its participating investors and asset backed investment through asset based lending.

The Fund Managers of Regent Global Funds have an expertise in commercial real estate lending and have created a successful alternative investment vehicle that is diversified through this structure. They separate themselves from other fund mangers by personally investing their own money side-by-side with their investors in the fund, creating an absolute structure of accountability. Dominic Mazzone has written about the need for this type of accountability in an article titled “Fund Managers Need to be Accessible and Personally Invested.”

Listen to Technology Sales Men at Your Peril in Football Marketing

It will all start with an emergence of a huge well designed board strategically located at the busiest point of your route to work. Yes that is where it will be placed, at a place where executives get caught up in traffic. In boredom you are forced to read it. You will read it tomorrow and the day after. Soon it will be part of your psyche. It’s contents will be part of your gnome.

Soon sales men of a software company I will call ‘ABC Technologies’ make contact with technology people in your organisation. They speak the same tech language and easily understand each other. The pony tailed people discuss the great stuff the new technology suit has. To most technology people success is not measured on the bottom line or return on investment (ROI), but on the new cool stuff.

Having got your technology people to their side, the ‘ABC Technologies’ sales men make contact with your office. Not being very conversant with technology, you ask your technology office for assistance. They of course give the deal a node, for reasons alluded to earlier. The sign board this technology company put along your way to work helps you make a quick decision to buy. The new technology is given a node.

The men with pony tails soon arrive at your football club’s offices to install the magic wand that will stream line everything. Training is offered on site and maintenance contracts are signed. Every one from senior executives to the players is happy. This is was the missing link, needed to fill the stadiums, sell more merchandise, and attract sponsors. Everything will be streamlined and measured you are promised. Success is here at last!

No sooner have the men with pony tails left than the technology is abandoned. Abandoned if not fully at most partially. You are stuck with the technology, with a maintenance contract and a negative bank balance. None of the anticipated advantages are achieved. Your fans continue to be alienated. You actually do not who your fans are. The stadium continues to be empty when your club is playing, you sell less merchandise and no sponsors are coming on board. There was no return on investment. In actual sense the whole software and hardware purchase added no value to the organisation.

Sales men are trained to sell. They do not care whether you get benefits, though they pretend to. To them what matters is the sales numbers and not you. If you want to succeed with your football marketing plans, do not listen to the technology sales men. They must listen to you. Start by mounting a major business strategic review of your club. Change your focus towards a more fan based system. Change the way all your people work and information flow through out your whole club. After you have done this then talk to the software men to bring a product that will support the new work and information flow processes.

Technology is very important but it must fit into your processes other than you fitting your football club into what technology offers.

Collecting on Telemedicine’s Promise, Technology Catches Up With Provider Needs, Giving Them Options

Just as technology must evolve to meet consumer needs, telemedicine has reached a pivotal point in its development that finally makes it a realistic option for senior living providers. Telemedicine talk and try-outs have long been part of resident care discussions, but only now can the technology really start making good on its promise of providing effective virtual care-bringing physicians and residents together, despite the miles between them.

It’s welcome news for senior living companies seeking innovative ways to enhance the resident experience by making medical care accessible in ways that are both convenient and cost effective. Plus, as acuity continues to rise, the need for quick and easy access to physicians and specialists grows for residents-and being able to meet that need also makes a community more competitive.

Exploring Care Options

The term telemedicine could encompass a variety of technologies, including wireless in-room monitoring systems for residents and some emergency-call systems. But on the cutting edge of those technologies is telemedicine in its truest sense-the use of audio, video, and other means to capture vital signs, transmit data between multiple locations, and facilitate virtual visits with physicians. Most technologies specific to telemedicine “seek to replicate remotely what happens in a clinical setting, a doctor’s visit, or a nurse’s visit,” says David Stern, chief professional officer of Living Independently Group, a telemedicine technology supplier based in New York City.

Traditionally, if a resident needs to see a physician, a family member must provide transportation and assistance or arrange for the resident’s community to do so. Either option can be a logistics challenge, an additional expense, and a stressful situation for the resident.

“It makes logical sense to explore the role [telemedicine technology] could have in assisted living, and in senior housing in general,” says Elizabeth Wheatley, corporate director of clinical operations for Newton, Massachusetts-based Five Star Senior Living. In addition to enhancing resident care, Wheatley also sees the long-term business benefits. “The bottom line is we want to help our residents stay as healthy as possible so they can stay with us. So I think this will help us with resident retention in the long run.” Ideally, Wheatley envisions a telemedicine system that combines video communications and clinical data. “It could allow more frequent communication between the resident, the community, and the provider. That means you might be able to identify subtle changes in their condition a little early on,” she says. Researchers at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock have shown that such a system is possible. They have been working with a local assisted living community to demonstrate a telemedicine system that incorporates a desktop audio-visual system and a hand-held camera for diagnostics. Researchers report the ability to deliver a variety of primary care services remotely that will reduce the need for in-person visits.

Testing the Technology

Since telemedicine technology began rolling out in recent years, senior living executives have been watchful of its business benefits. More than this, though, they’re intrigued by the potential boon to overall resident wellness.

“The idea that we can do some minor diagnosing through a [virtual consultation] versus sending someone to the ER just to get diagnosed for a urinary tract infection-that’s what interests me,” says Bettina Suarez-Roskosh, national director of clinical services for McLean, Virginia-based Sunrise Senior Living.

At The Arbor Company, based in Atlanta, Vice President of Quality Mary Campbell Jenkins points to a variety of in-room and kiosk-based technologies that allow residents to self-collect data and report various vital measurements such as weight, blood pressure, and even blood sugar levels. The information is recorded for caregivers and sent electronically to physicians.

This type of telemedicine technology in some ways “enforces a discipline about collecting that information,” Campbell Jenkins says. “It heightens awareness and, from a corporate perspective, it allows for a greater degree of oversight.”

On the other hand, implementing telemedicine technology isn’t as simple as buying a new gadget and using it. As with any technology purchase, the consumer assumes risks-and in the case of telemedicine kiosks, an unforeseen circumstance forced The Arbor Company to discontinue the use of such a kiosk at its community in Decatur, Georgia.

The company installed the kiosk about two years ago. Residents quickly learned to use the machines to record their own vitals, and that information was then sent to their physicians.

“It was especially helpful around issues like blood sugar, where you might see a spike on one day, when the previous 30 days were stable. So you would not make a decision based on that one moment in time,” Campbell Jenkins says.

Then outside events intervened. The kiosk’s manufacturer, Virtual Medical Care, was acquired by Intel, which in September 2008 took back the machine, citing safety compliance issues with the FDA. Intel refunded 75 percent of the purchase price. And, despite the strong initial reception, Arbor has not replaced the machine or restarted the program.

There’s a fundamental shortcoming in these systems, Campbell Jenkins says. It’s true that they can save a lot of daily effort on the part of nurses by accumulating helpful data, but that data still has to be compiled and analyzed, which can effectively erase the labor savings.

“It has great potential to help identify early signs of a change in condition,” she explains. “But it has to be managed very closely, and physicians don’t want to manage it. So then it falls back to our over-stretched clinical leaders to do it, and we are stretched too thin already.”

Arbor is testing a similar telemedicine kiosk in a South Carolina senior living community, where the company’s home health partner operates the machine in the assisted living building, monitors the data, and then alerts the director of clinical care in case of changes, such as uneven blood pressure readings. This helps cut the workload for the nurses, but it doesn’t address Campbell Jenkins’ greater quandary: Who’s supposed to pay for all this? Right now Arbor is picking up the tab to have that extra pair of clinical eyes watching over collected data, but that’s not a winning proposition for the long term.

“We have not successfully figured out how to pass the cost of that on to families,” says Campbell Jenkins. “That is not something they have been willing to pay for up to now.”

Wheatley meanwhile worries that it might be a burden to establish the appropriate links between communities and physicians. “If we have the device but the physician doesn’t, then who are you going to communicate with? I think these things need to be further developed.”

Planning for the Future

Especially given the current economic environment, most providers are looking carefully at the options when it comes to telemedicine technology. On one hand, it can work toward enhancing resident care and making the senior living experience a more enjoyable one for residents and their family members. Plus, such an offering can make a community more competitive. On the other hand, telemedicine technology requires staff training and daily monitoring-which can affect the bottom line in the long term.

“We have looked at it and looked into it, but we have not used [telemedicine technology] formally or introduced it into our buildings as of yet,” says Sunrise Senior Living’s Suarez-Roskosh.

Five Star Senior Living’s Wheatley wants to see a few more tangible demonstrations of telemedicine in assisted living settings to feel more certain about its efficacy. “I would like to see some kind of pilot study, so that we really understand the methodologies involved,” she says.

While assisted living executives have not made telemedicine technologies an integral part of their business plans as of yet, it’s clear that the wind continues to blow in that direction. Vendors say they have experienced a definite progression in favor of telemedicine.

“Three years ago, the reaction was: ‘What’s this?'” says Stern of Living Independently Group. “Two years ago, it was: ‘I think I heard about this last year at the conference, and I was looking for you.’ There is this gradual recognition building that this kind of technology can help.”

Even without video, without self-monitoring technologies, the fundamentals of telemedicine continue to fascinate. At LogicMark, a manufacturer of personal emergency response systems based in Fairfax Station, Virginia, President Mark Gottlieb points out the ability of such systems to foster a higher quality of life.

“The fact is most people in assisted living reside in their own apartments and maybe the door is closed or maybe they are in the bathroom,” he says. “With the ability to quickly communicate an issue to caregivers, the better the outcome is going to be. So it really allows people to live independently while still being just a push-button away from getting help if they need it.”