Obesity is (literally) one of the biggest issues in the U.S. and seems to be most prominent among today’s youth, which is arguably the most-wired and technologically inclined generation in our nation’s history.

Meet Gen Z – kids born right after the dawn of the 21st century. Plugged into the walls of their homes by computers and sedentary video game consoles; According to a CDC study, one-third of American kids are overweight, with 47% predicted to become obese by adulthood. Although technology can be identified as the root cause of this epidemic, instead of simply taking away their phones and electronics, technology – augmented reality in particular – might also be the cure in jump starting an immobilized generation.

Augmented Reality (AR) is the process in which information or imagery is superimposed in real time over the user’s point of view of the real world. Conventional health and fitness methods such as calorie counting and baseball are unable to engage kids in physical activity as they fail to connect with kids or fit in with their lives. With AR, kids are given a more enhanced experience with health and fitness so that it is more exciting and that kids would want to be engaged.

Move Gaming Outdoors:

Believe it or not, Gen Z actually wants to go outside, they just want it to be fun while they’re doing it. Through AR, Z’ers are able to layer mysteries, stories, and puzzle solving over unpredictable environments. here are a few examples:

  • Zombies, Run!: An app where the player is guided by a helicopter pilot into escaping a zombie apocalypse in the form of a 5 km race.
  • Ingress: A complex sci-fi story game where players must physically travel to virtual markers in order to make progress.

Today, kids are learning to collaborate with each other through Google Docs at the age where they should be learning cursive. So if you see a preschooler playing on a tablet or iphone, don’t be so surprised, 72% of kids under 8 have used a mobile device to either play games or consume media. While technology has turned most Americans into overweight consumers of information, AR has offered the chance for technology to become more mobile and as technology mobilizes, so will people.

For more information, here’s the link:

http://www.wired.com/2014/12/augmented-reality-save-gen-z/

 

How many hours of spare time do you spend playing video games?

According to a 2014 study on statista.com, 32% of all video game players in the U.S. range from ages 18 to 35, with 39% of players ages 36 and older. As video games become more available, people can accumulate a large number of hours of their time into the games that they play. To some, this may seem like a huge waste, but that same amount of time and effort in gaming can actually be put to good use.

Solving Complex Problems:

The challenges that video games provide, which requires creativity and quick decision making skills can be a great tool in solving complex problems in the real-world. For example, one particular game has helped in solving one of the most pressing issues of molecular biology, more specifically, the way in which proteins fold. In 2008, a team from Washington University released “Foldit,” a free online scientific puzzle game where players can manipulate the structure of proteins – long chains of amino acids – that fold and bend in certain ways. The objective of the game is for players to find the most efficient way of compacting these proteins and as a protein’s function is determined by its shape, a badly-folded protein could either not work properly or worse, result in forms of cancer or disease such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. The team then collects the player’s results and recreates them in an actual laboratory where they can be used as potential cures for those diseases.

Encouraging Collaboration:

In the world of video games, multiple players are encouraged to work in groups so as to efficiently accomplish a given task with lesser time and effort. This is show in the popular online game Minecraft. Unlike most video games, Minecraft has no main objective, and one of its most unique features is the games “creative mode,” where players can freely build whatever object or structure they want.

Building massive scale projects in Minecraft would take an unbelievable amount of time and effort to complete by just one person, and that cooperation is not just in building, but also in survival because as the game enters its “night-cycle” or if you are playing in “survival mode,” monsters will spawn continuously, and that multiple players will be much safer protecting each other as a group.

Real World Simulations:

In the military, soldiers are trained to tackle harsh conditions and to be ready for any situation during a mission. However, for important or dangerous missions there is still unknown factor that may occur and that soldiers have only one attempt at success. Should the result end in failure, one or more of the squad members may end up injured, captured, or worse killed. What video game technology provides is that it would allow soldiers to safely train within a simulated environment in order to reduce the team’s margin for error. Using satellite imagery and geographical data of the target location, the army is able to create digital replicas of real-world places which they can use to run practice sessions of the actual mission. And because the computer records everything that the soldiers are doing, the mission data can be analyzed afterwards.

As technology continues to develop more and more each day, we are seeing video games with higher realism in graphics, smarter game programs that are closer mimicking human behavior, and virtual reality, where the immersive nature of video games literally take on a whole new perspective. Maybe those kinds of video games would be sitting in your living room sometime in the future, and if they are, how would those help us? only time will tell.

 

External Links:

The holidays are just around the corner and following from last year, people would begin lining up for Christmas shopping right after Thanksgiving dinner. However for some, the holiday season may really be starting sooner than you think. This year, with stores opening their doors as early as 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving night, over a quarter of holiday shoppers have already started searching for gift ideas before Halloween. It is important that people should get a head start and plan ahead for holiday shopping.

Shopping Days and Statistics:

During the holiday season, there are 27 official shopping days until Christmas, starting from Black Friday to Christmas eve. However, large retailers have already begun to expand their holiday sales events beyond November. with early fall reminders and post-holiday promotions, the holiday shopping season now covers up more than a quarter of the calendar. According to the google, in-store shopping spikes on key days such as Black Friday, the last two weekends before Christmas, and the day before Christmas eve.

2014-holiday-shopper-research-shopping-never-sleeps_articles_01

 

Black Friday Weekend:

Although it is widely known as the biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday gradually becoming less popular as paced their sales last year; spreading sales throughout the weekend instead of condensing it all in one day. The sales pacing proved successful because not only did it allow retailers to manage foot traffic more efficiently, it also lead to an overall sales increase for the following two days after Black Friday. While holiday shoppers only aimed to save a few dollars on Black Friday, for some, they ended up paying a much heavier price. Since 2008, there have been an overall 7 deaths, and 98 people heavily injured during the Black Friday weekend.

among the list, here are a few examples:

  • In 2008, South Carolina, A shooting at a local Toys ‘R’ Us leaves two dead
  • In 2010, a former marine was brutally stabbed in a Best Buy by a violent customer.
  • In 2011, Los Angeles, a Black Friday pepper-spray attack at Walmart injures 20 people.

 

This year, people are now doing most of their holiday shopping online, away from the huge crowds. With e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay offering daily deals similar to those in-store, buying that new flat-screen TV or next-gen gaming system you always wanted can now be done in the safety of your own home.

External Links:

Turkey dinner and big doorbuster deals were not the only anticipated things this Black Friday Weekend. Star Wars fans have gotten an early Christmas present as the teaser trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens made its debut this Thanksgiving. The new “teaser” trailer lived true to its name as fans caught a short glimpse of what was going to be in the actual movie: a new soccer ball-shaped droid, next-gen stormtroopers (look closely in the trailer and you can see the new sleek helmet design.) But what really captured the most buzz from fans was the new crossguard lightsaber design.

-dab5320c-6576-4cb5-ab88-e0339b9b191e

In the trailer, a dark hooded figure walks into a snowy forest at night. After turning on a red lightsaber, two smaller lightsabers instantly protrude from the sides of the hilt, forming a crossguard and what resembles like a medieval sword. This “improvement” has been the subject of debate among fans due to its perceived impracticality. The purpose of a crossguard is to protect the wielder’s hands by stopping an opponent’s sword from sliding down the (wielder’s) blade, hitting their fingers. This kind of protection would make sense as “Star Wars” is really int chopping off hands.

Critics have argued that because the hilt of the new lightsaber is T-shaped. any lightsaber can still cut-through the metal lips of the guard and hit the wielder’s hands. While valid, this apparent “flaw” ignores the crossguards second purpose. In addition to stopping and opponent’s sword from sliding down towards the hilt, the crossguard also prevents the user’s hand from slipping forward during a thrusting motion, which would be dangerous with a guard made out of lasers. The metal lips protects the hands from accidental slippage.

So… Why make the new crossguard out of lightsabers?

Although there are are a number of materials in the Star Wars universe that can withstand a lightsaber which would be better suited for making a crossguard. From a cinematic standpoint, it would be much less distinctive in the film, while also requiring a thorough in-script explanation of Star Wars metallurgy (As if hearing about midichlorians in the The Phantom Menace was bad enough.)

In conclusion, the new crossguard lightsaber is a perfect design. Not only does it catch the viewer’s eye, it also reveals the story of the person wielding it. The new Star Wars movie takes place 30 years after the fall of the Sith empire, so the new Sith character in the trailer might be trying rebuild the order from scratch. Without any proper training or a Sith master to guide him, this person would rely solely on brute stregnth to cut-through his enemies. If  a normal lightsaber resembles a katana, a weapon utilizing speed and finesse, this new lightsaber is a claymore, a brutal weapon for a vicious blood-thirsty berserker. Episode VII is set to release in December 2015, and for those are still not pleased with the new Star Wars weapon, until the actual film is released, they can only hope “that the force is strong with this one.”

For more information, see these links:

http://www.mtv.com/news/2012502/star-wars-force-awakens-lightsaber/?utm_source=zergnet.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=zergnet_333298&xrs=mtvnewszergnetext

http://www.fastcodesign.com/3039210/in-defense-of-the-new-star-wars-lightsaber