sing technology to bring focus to the classroom

Image result for Using technology to bring focus to the classroomWhen I think back to my school days one thing I really had an issue with was concentration – not much has changed since, and this was before mobile phones, iPads or even dare I say it, the internet. Luckily with the help of new innovations coming our way, the future of our children’s education is looking brighter. There is learning at your own pace, interacting directly with your teacher simultaneously to your desk neighbour and games, yes games, to help you concentrate more. Now that doesn’t sound like a bad deal, does it?

One such innovation is an interactive schooldesk created by Tip Tap Tap. Founders Juan Martinez, Kevin O’Mahoney and Stephen Collins all met through their work at Nimbus research centre in Cork Institute of Technology. With Martinez researching touch sense technology in everyday objects and O’Mahoney researching gesture interaction the pair’s works interlinked and out of it came a desk for school children to enhance learning in the classroom.

The desks are wooden and designed for early years learning, the three- to eight-year-old age bracket. Sandwiched between the wood is a layer of technology as company chief executive Stephen Collins explains.

“Right now inside in the classroom a teacher will ask a question, kids will raise their hands and generally only one or two kids are chosen to give the answer, the other 20-25 kids have to wait for the next question.

“The idea behind Tip Tap Tap is when a teacher runs a mathematical application through our cloud-based system – let’s say two plus two is on the white board – every child in the classroom can participate and interact with the learning content. Every child can use the desk simultaneously to respond and submit their answers.


The desk itself is laser-etched with both an alpha-numerical keypad and also a central portion which houses one of the key features on the desk. This basically means if a child places printed material on that area of the desk – it might be an A4 paper with join the dots on it – we can track the child joining the dots through the printed material once that printed material is sitting on the desk.”

This technology gives the teacher a digital image of what the child has done and in some cases the teacher can correct work and give direct feedback.

Another innovation in the early learning space is Nuala Kelly’s BubbleSkool. Intended for children from fourth class up to Junior Certificate students. The software suite offers the user to input original curriculum content which is then broken down into smaller sentence structures to highlight different sentence parts aiding the child to memorise the words. BubbleSkool is the original model which is now going through a redesign to keep it current with advanced graphics and design.

“So I have the concept, it’s about trying to develop it into a tool or a package that would appeal to young teenagers and 12-year-olds,” says Kelly.

“As a parent I’ve a child who is dyslexic but a very high achiever and is well able to learn. I thought he would have been at a disadvantage because he wouldn’t have the processing speed, or the reading speed that other children his age would have, therefore it’s an uneven playing pitch. I was trying to find something to level things up for him that he could learn the same things his class mates were learning but be able to learn it in his way.”

Adaptive learning is something Edtech Company Adaptemy specialise in. Their products are aimed at secondary school education and work very much on the premise that not one size fits all when it comes to student learning. The software they have designed profiles the learning capabilities of each student and delivers the course work to them accordingly.

“It’s really popular in Junior Cert maths in Ireland, that’s where we started in Junior Cert and Leaving Cert maths, the Junior Cert here it’s very popular. It works very well first of all in maths because a lot of people suffer and it’s a very important subject, says chief executive Conor O’Sullivan.

“We started with maths because that was the most urgent then we moved to science and we’ll work our way through the subjects after that.”

Adaptemy is also at use in Spain, Germany and most recently Slovakia. While they don’t sell directly to schools they licence their technology to educational publishers and it is used in schools in Ireland through the Folens Build Up product.

Poor concentration

We all know that lack of concentration can be a key factor to how well a child learns, not alone for children diagnosed with ADHD but in general there are so many other factors that can lead to poor concentration in the classroom.

Using brainwave technology Dublin-based company Cortechs have come up with a unique headset and game that can help tap into the child’s concentration, improving their learning capabilities. With a BSc in Neuroscience and PhD in neuropathology, founder Áine Behan says: “We build brainwave technology that builds resilience into how we can adapt our brain for better use. You can use brainwave technology to retrain your brain to learn to regulate behaviours and improve behaviours. We’ve built this in to games for viewer platforms. We currently sell a game and headset bundle that kids, aged six to 10, can then use to become more attentive or more focused.

“The headset that you’re wearing has this little sensor that sits on your forehead and from that location on your brain we can tell how focused and relaxed you are by the brainwave electrical activity that goes on underneath the sensor. It is then sent by Bluetooth to the backend of our game Zip and that basically allows Zip to respond and reward you within the game for the more alert and the more focused you are in the game.”

Cortechs recently piloted the game Zip and the Misty Mountain in St Oliver’s National School in Clonmel, Co Tipperary. The children aged between six and nine used the game three times a week for six weeks.

“Kids love it, they adapt very easily to it. With the pilot what we’ve seen is the brainwaves correlate with how much attention the kids are paying, the whole idea is repeated game play. The kids can become more focused and attentive over time. With a significant number of the kids what we can see is that they are moving their baseline of paying attention, it’s improving and they’re spending longer periods of time being more attentive. That’s what the anecdotal evidence is showing us from the pilots and with the design of the game and with how the kids are interacting with the game we’ve received positive feedback from both the parents, teachers and principals.”

I can see how every one of these products could have improved my early learnings. Just imagine, if we were as lucky as the school children of today, being exposed to new developments in learning through new innovations embracing new technologies, goodness knows where I might have ended up…


Bring business insights to more people with SQL Server 2016 mobile reports

Image result for Bring business insights to more people with SQL Server 2016 mobile reports

In today’s competitive business environment, organizations invest in business intelligence (BI) capabilities to drive the business forward.

Improving customer satisfaction is the top reason for investing in business insights, closely followed by making better business decisions and gaining a competitive advantage. Now, if customer satisfaction is the top reason, wouldn’t it make sense to deliver business insights to all the employees in an organization – particularly those who interact directly with customers? These people are by no means limited to sales, accounting, services and support roles. Unfortunately, the reality is that insights are most often stuck at the executive level. According to Forrester Research, while 71% of business owners and C-level executives have access to insights and can apply them to operational processes and actions in a timely manner, only 44% of individual workers can do so. On top of that, only about 1/3rd of the data that organizations capture is used for business insights. This includes both structured and unstructured data. (Source: Forrester – Maximize your chances of business intelligence success in a customer-centric world, (Sept. 2015): What you need to go from data-rich to insights-driven (Feb. 2016): The Forrester Wave™: Agile Business Intelligence Platforms, Q3 2015 (Sep. 2015)).

The question then is: How can you deliver business insights to more people working within your organization?

Based on an IDC U.S. Mobile Forecast, 70% of US workers are mobile, which includes both office and non-office based mobile workers. In the coming years, this number is only expected to increase, as are the number of mobile devices being used (IDC U.S. Mobile Worker Forecast, 2015-2020 May 2015 #256194). Consequently, companies need to ensure that business insights can be delivered to employees across mobile platforms – be they Windows, Android or iOS. With mobile BI you can bring insights to more people at the necessary speed to help increase customer satisfaction.


Figure 1: Infographic – Why mobile BI.

But the shift to the mobile user experience brings its own set of challenges – the way a user interacts with his or her PC is far different from how one interacts with his or her phone. Having reports that are optimized for a mobile experience means that a different set of design principles must be applied. Traditionally, reports that have been built and designed for PC screens won’t translate well, if at all, to the experience one expects on a mobile phone or tablet. Our phones are the devices we pick up multiple times each day, quickly switching between apps and checking in while commuting to work or in-between meetings. The mobile BI experience needs to match that type of user interaction, by having the information available in an easily consumable way that’s designed for touch vs. a keyboard and mouse.

Let’s take a look at how SQL Server 2016 and its built-in mobile reporting capabilities can help.

To meet our customer needs, SQL Server 2016 Reporting Services has introduced a new report type called mobile reports. Built on the Datazen technology that Microsoft acquired in 2015, these reports address the need for responsive-layout reports that adapt to different screen shapes, sizes and orientations. Mobile reports dynamically adjust the content depending on whether you’re using a phone, tablet or PC, and even as you rotate your device. You can create mobile reports using the SQL Server Mobile Report Publisher app and you can view them using either your browser or the Power BI mobile app (available now for Windows Phone, iOS and Android devices).

The SQL Server Mobile Report Publisher also offers a design-first approach that allows the major consumers of mobile reports to work collaboratively with the report designer and provide feedback around the report, using sample data that adjusts “on the fly” to simulate the experience they have with the finished report. Once they’ve settled on the exact report design they’d like, the report publisher can hook up live data to the elements from their report server and publish the final product to the server. This completely eliminates the lengthy back and forth that frequently happens as part of the development process, and isn’t factored in when estimating the overall cost of a vendor’s solution.

In addition to mobile reports, key performance indicators (KPIs) have also been added as a new item in Reporting Services. These are a great way to monitor your important metrics and trends at a glance, either at your desk or while brushing your teeth! In addition, the ability to favorite your mobile reports and KPIs allows you to easily access the items most important to you both online or offline, thanks to built-in, offline sync capabilities in the Power BI mobile apps for favorited reports. This helps ensure users’ access to their most important data, no matter where they may be.


Figure 2: End-to-end mobile BI capabilities in SQL Server 2016 Reporting Services

With the introduction of mobile reports in SQL Server 2016 Reporting Services, you can benefit from the proven scalability of Reporting Services, share data sources and data sets across all reports (paginated and mobile), manage permissions based on Active Directory groups, use a single modern web portal to access KPIs and all reports (including the ability to set favorites), and use the Power BI mobile apps to consume mobile reports in a consistent and secured manner.

To get started, try SQL Server 2016, the SQL Server Mobile Report Publisher, the Power BI Mobile Apps for iOS,  Android and Windows, along with the new mobile experience in Reporting Services today.



[Source:- blogs.technet]

Petition to bring Pokémon Go to Windows phones officially hits over 100,000 signatures

Pokémon Go is everywhere – be it walking around town, eating out at a restaurant, or even being at work. The phenomenon of Pokémon has just taken the world by storm with endless news stories of people wandering into dangerous places that they normally wouldn’t pay attention towards. Fortunately or unfortunately, Windows phones don’t have access to the latest “must-have” app. For some, this could be a blessing in disguise, saving them from the dangers of the wilderness. For others, it is acting as a social barrier from those on other mobile platforms, preventing people from socialising with their friends.

For some, this could be a blessing in disguise, saving them from the dangers of the wilderness. For others, it is acting as a social barrier from those on other mobile platforms, preventing people from socialising with their friends.

Over the past few days, Windows phone users have come quite a long way, with anunofficial client for Pokemon Go on Windows 10 Mobile being delivered. It’s in beta stage at the moment, however, development is seemingly fast-paced with therealready being 3 versions and counting. The app is rough and doesn’t provide the full experience, but for some it is enough for now. That doesn’t stop people clamouring for an official app though – in fact, thousands of people every day are still signing the petition to bring Pokemon Go to Windows phones, in particular, Windows 10 Mobile.

A few weeks ago, the petition hit 50,000 signatures. Today, it has reached 100,000 – just 20 days later. That’s a pretty hefty milestone to reach for a mobile platform that so many claim is “dead” or lacks any large number of users. If we put this into perspective, many Windows phone users, with the exception of those who follow the news closely or are really into the platform, will not have noticed the petition or even thought of it. If those were to be factored into the numbers, then that 100,000 could, in reality, be much larger.

Of course, there will also be some fake signatures on the petition, alongside those who signed it but wouldn’t use the app. These variables make it difficult to provide an accurate number of how many actually want Pokemon Go to arrive on Windows 10 Mobile. One thing is for certain, though: a large number of users do want it.

There’s been no response from Nintendo, Niantic, or Microsoft regarding the petition. Microsoft did respond to some feedback reports on their Feedback Hub, stating thatthey’re looking into it, but that’s as far as it has gone.


[Source: Winbeta]

Using the iOS Bridge to Bring Storyboards and Auto Layout to Windows 10

Calculator_App_Hero_FINAL (1)

In part one of the Windows Bridge for iOS series, we created a simple to-do list app in Xcode and used the Windows Bridge for iOS to bring it over to Windows 10. In part two of the series, we went on a tour of Visual Studio for iOS developers. In today’s tutorial, we will use the Windows Bridge for iOS to convert an existing iOS calculator app created using Storyboards and Auto Layout to create a Universal Windows Platform app that will adjust to various form factors on Windows 10.

As a refresher, the Windows Bridge for iOS is an open-source project that provides an Objective-C® development environment for Visual Studio and support for iOS APIs. It allows you to create a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app that will run on any Windows 10 device using iOS APIs and Objective-C code.

Getting Started

For today’s tutorial, you will need:

  • A PC running Windows 10 with Visual Studio 2015 and the Windows Bridge for iOS installed.
  • A Mac running Mac OS X 10.11 with Xcode 7 installed.
  • A copy of the calculator code.

Understanding the Project Structure

With the calculator sample application downloaded and unzipped on your Mac development environment, let’s open the Xcode project and briefly explore the application. This application consists of:

  • AppDelegate – receives notifications about the state of the UIApplication object and performs tasks on events like startup and shutdown.
  • ViewController – provides the view management infrastructure for the app’s user interface, such as loading, disposing, and managing interactions with the various views used in the app.
  • Storyboards (LaunchScreen and Main) – visually lays out your users’ path through your app using scenes, segues between screens and the controls used to trigger the segues.
  • Project properties (plist) – a structured xml file containing a list of properties that define various configuration settings
  • m – instantiates the application object, sets up the main event loop, and begins processing events. Most times, there is no need to modify this file.

The UI implementation is done visually in Main.storyboard and all the heavy lifting is done in ViewController.m, which contains the methods that perform the calculations.


Let’s run the app in the simulator and perform a few calculations. As you can see, this is a fairly simple app—there are several buttons and a label that allows you to perform mathematical calculations.


Using vsimporter

We are ready to run the app through the vsimporter tool. To do so, you’ll need to copy your Xcode project files to your Windows Machine (or VM). With the files copied, open the Xcode project folder on your Windows machine.

You’ll want to navigate to the directory that has the Calculator.xcodeproj folder in it. In Windows Explorer, click File-> Open Command Prompt.

Open the Windows Bridge for iOS folder (winobjc) and navigate to the “bin” folder. Find the file named vsimporter.exe and drag it onto your command prompt window, then press “Enter.”



Go back to your Xcode project folder and you will see that a new Visual Studio solution (Calculator-WinStore10.sln) has been created automatically as the output of the bridge. The Calculator app is now a Universal Windows App.


Digging Deeper with vsimporter

The vsimporter tool creates a Visual Studio solution from the original Xcode project while preserving relevant project settings and importing assets, headers, and source files.

This is all pretty straightforward mapping up to this point. The vsimporter begins from a custom “Islandwood template” and then copies and tweaks a few files. The real “magic” is in the project importer itself and in the runtime.

Understanding Storyboards

As a reminder, a Storyboard in Xcode is a container of scenes, which correspond to the views and objects used in the app’s UI. A Storyboard can be used to represent everything from individual view layouts to segues between view controllers. A NIB file is the compiled binary version of a XIB. In addition to setting up our Visual Studio project’s code structure, the vsimporter tool invokes a related tool called “Xib2Nib” and uses the enclosed XIB files to generate NIB files.



The Xib2Nib tool can import and support simple Storyboards and NIBs. It processes these XIB files by iterating through the XML and building out a new plist/NIB file for each Storyboard encountered in the Xcode project. The end result is that the Storyboard we carefully laid out in Xcode – with all of its Auto Layout magic and layout constraints – remains intact when we run vsimporter and bring our code to Windows 10. If the Xib2Nib tool doesn’t work for your project, file a bug  or contribute to the project.

Launch the new solution file with Visual Studio 2015. You’ll notice that the imported Xcode project looks pretty familiar. In addition to bringing over the main Xcode project files, the importer added references to the needed UWP APIs and assets needed for publishing to the store.


Also added were external dependencies to the iOS APIs supported by the Windows Bridge for iOS.


Tip: Be sure to install Objective-C syntax highlighting if you haven’t already done so. It is available as a Visual Studio extension (objc-syntax-highlighting.vsix) and is located in the same directory as the vsimporter.exe file.

Running and Resizing the Application

Run the application on your local machine and you’ll notice the same calculator UI we saw running in the Xcode Simulator. Try resizing the app window and notice how the UI is now responsive and fits multiple app dimensions. You now have a native iOS app running on Windows.



Wrapping Up

Although our project didn’t encounter any unsupported iOS API calls, other apps might. So, what is an app developer to do? You’ll want to open an issue and let the team know. The team is committed to working with the iOS developer community to improve the bridge and enable iOS app developers to port their apps to the Universal Windows Platform.