Tag Archives: education

The Future of Next Generation Augmented Reality

Augmented reality, or AR––sounds futuristic, but there has been an increasing number of practical applications coming out since the release of the iPhone 3GS. For those who don’t know the term, “augmented reality” is the enhancement of your reality using digital means. Think of the marker lines going across the football field when you watch a game on TV. They are not really on the field but just digital images on your screen.

We have been creating AR experiences on iPhones, Android devices, and iPads since 2009. We once envisioned using our smartphones and iPads to view enhanced imagery triggered by locations or visual markers, but now we will be able to see this imagery without holding up a device. The latest in our augmented world is the news that Google will offer AR glasses by the end of this year. These glasses won’t be the first but may likely be the product that accelerates AR development to the tipping point in use.

The implications are huge for education, health care, and just about every other industry. Think about a doctor who can view digital CAT scans and manipulate the images that are overlaid the patients body.  The iPad or smartphone recognizes the body outline and other parts and can accurately overlay the images. . Cool and useful. Or imagine reading a book with your heads-up display (HUD) glasses on and seeing 3-D imagery that is activated by a little head gesture. Or a munchkin on the screen turning to you and asking, “What would you do?”

Rumor is that the Google HUD glasses could look something like these Oakley Thumps.

Our job as technology “Vanguards” is to come up with practical ways to use the tech. I can think of a hundred ways this will help my life––from driving to recognizing people. The future is being augmented before my eyes. How cool is that?

Author: Dana Farbo


Borders Is Closing. Who’s to Blame: Technology or Poor Business Decisions and Planning?

Borders announced last month that it was closing its nearly 400 stores; the reasons stated were e-reader technology and the poor economy. I contend, however, that Borders lost sight of its core business, which is the magic that comes only through turning pages. I love books and have many bookcases filled with them at home, but I also loved to cruise the aisles of Borders just to see new and exciting topics that I hadn’t considered before. In hindsight, it seems that Borders had a core customer base––avid readers––that it let slip through its fingers. A customer’s visit to Borders should have been treated as an event by the company, which should have focused on cultivating more avid readers. Maybe having craftsmen showing how books are made or gold foil artists actually producing book jacket covers would have been sexier than a book signing for Joan Collins’s new autobiography. Not that I have anything against Joan, mind you, but having a book signing is not my idea of an event. Borders let a generation or two drift toward e-books, and I am not so sure the solution is better than the touch and feel of a book. On a regular basis I see people with library books on the train––these to me are avid fans who could easily use an e-reader but still love the joy of turning pages. There is a lot of satisfaction in sitting down with a traditional book and a sense of accomplishment in closing the book after the last page. I submit that the age of the book is far from over.

Now consider the program Imagination Library started by Dolly Parton in Tennessee, which is bringing the joy of reading to young children and their parents. Dolly wanted to foster a love of reading among preschool-aged children and their families, regardless of the family’s income. She wanted children to be excited about books and the magic that books can create. This free program begins with The Little Engine That Could. Newborns through five-year-olds are eligible, and a child can literally bring the first book home with him or her from the hospital. Every month after that, a new, carefully selected, age-appropriate book will be mailed until the child turns 5 (the last title is Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!).

Imagination Library has jump-started a long-loved family tradition of reading together at bedtime or anytime of the day. If enrolled as an infant, a child will have collected 60 books by age five. The books are written in English, but native-language, bilingual, and Braille books are available. The program was started in 1996 in partnership with Penguin Publishing, and the response since then has been overwhelming. In 2010 Imagination Library mailed its 30,000,000th book. It is now in 1,300 communities in 3 countries and sends books to 560,000 children each month. The Little Engine That Could was given to 249,145 children in 2010, and just under 126,000 graduated from the program in 2010. As the website proudly states, “What’s the sum of all these numbers? Smiles on faces, books held close, and our four favorite words––‘Read it to me!’”

2010 was also big for New York City; the Department of Education has recently partnered with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and other organizations and currently has over 22,000 children enrolled. The goal is to promote the development of emergent literacy and language skills that are important for every child’s success in school. The by-product is bringing families together with the joy and magic of books, not e-readers.

Let’s finally consider the demise of Borders’ 400-plus stores and the $1.275 billion in assets it filed in its 2011 Chapter 11 filing. How much of those assets are books? And the bigger question is why in the 15 years since Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library began hasn’t Borders found a way to bring back its core base, avid readers of books? I contend that technology is NOT the reason, because there is a love of books that has not gone away.

A few thoughts on the subject of books:

“In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.” — Mark Twain

“Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, and hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn’t carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.” — Stephen King

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island … and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.” — Walt Disney

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” — Groucho Marx

Information on Borders
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
NYC Department of Education’s Imagination Library Registration Form“

Author: Tom Caska

Vanguard Direct in Chicago for Print Solutions Conference and Expo

Last week, Chicago hosted the 2011 Print Solutions Conference and Expo. For three days, the famous Navy Pier on Lake Michigan was home to educational seminars and exhibition booths. The overall theme this year seemed to be the continuing emergence of technology and how our industry is incorporating it. Much focus was placed on how print can work with social media and other marketing technologies.

Vanguard Direct sends a team every year, and I was fortunate enough to attend this year. As a contributing blogger to Utterly Orange, it was great to represent Vanguard Direct’s social media initiatives. I attended several seminars on how our industry is embracing this technological revolution. Most notable were seminars on mobile marketing and how to network in the digital age. Also making the trip were Tom Worrilow from our Pennsylvania office as well as President Bob O’Connell and Vice President Joe Corbo from our NYC office.

It was certainly interesting to note the many ways our industry is evolving to incorporate these new marketing channels. Continuing education is a vital part of Vanguard Direct, and attending industry events like this is one of the many ways we stay ahead of the curve when facing new trends.

Author: Dustin Hill

Print Solutions Conference and Expo Coming Up in May 2011

We have previously discussed how vital continuing education is at Vanguard Direct. Our company takes pride in our staff’s continuing education, and we make it a priority in our everyday work environment. Our staff has been attending the Print Services & Distribution Association (PSDA)’s conferences for over 10 years.

 Last year’s PSDA show focused on the industry’s need for transformation, from repositioning the marketing services arena to riding the digital wave by learning about technological advances such as QR codes and social media. Our team attended a variety of breakout sessions to learn and brainstorm about the newest print, technical, and green trends.

In 2010, we also attended the keynote address by Jeffrey Hayzlett. Hayzlett explained how he helped transform Kodak from a company on the verge of failure to a thriving business––one of the greatest turnarounds in financial history. We learned that when a business gets back to its core––which includes re-evaluating the company’s focus, accountability, simplicity, and trust––that’s when it succeeds. This is why we value the education offered at the PSDA show and why we will be returning for another year.

The PSDA’s 2011 show is coming up in Chicago from May 17 through May 19. Once again, we are preparing a team to represent Vanguard Direct. Our own contributing blogger Dustin Hill will be attending, and with three days of education and an estimated 200 exhibitors showcasing the latest products and services in the industry, the 2011 Print Solutions Conference and Expo is sure to be a great place for continued education for employees. This year, the PSDA show features interactive workshops focusing on topics that are highly relevant to the community: Using Mobile Marketing to Drive Print Sales, Building a Winning Cross-Media Campaign, Using Social Media to Grow Your Business, and 1:1 Marketing Solutions! Stayed tuned to get a full report from Dustin Hill in May.

Authors: Stephanie Huston & Dustin Hill