Saved by an App

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A recent trip across the pond could have ended in disaster were it not for the free apps I used to undo the calamity of my poor planning.  For example, I was advised to get a sim card for a local number once I got to my host country, but I was not told – or didn’t understand what it meant – that your phone must be ‘unlocked’ in order for it to work.  So imagine my surprise when I paid good euros for a card that I couldn’t use.  I worked around that by using my Starbucks app to locate the nearest store, and used their free wifi to get in touch with a friend who helped me remedy the situation.

I made a smart move, however by using the Groupon app to make purchases from Vista Print before I left home.  I got great deals on business cards and had phrases like “take me to Hotel Du Jour” printed up in different languages according to the country I was in and where I was staying.  They made great ice breakers, and more than once helped me get back on track when I’d been dropped off in the wrong location by an over-zealous taxi driver.

Evernote is so useful I don’t know how I lived without it.  I use it when I’m travelling to save notes, contact info, and hastily scribbled info so that I have it at my fingertips when I arrive at my destination.  I love that I can add notes, images and keep them all neatly in one place.  The search feature is really useful when you’re not sure which file you saved a phrase or idea in.  It will highlight all files that contain that tip, so you don’t have to open and close files searching in vain.

Another problem I ran into was dealing with currency exchange rates.  There are tons of apps available for that, but I’ve found XE to be the one I turn to when I’m dealing with a questionable situation and don’t want to get scammed.  It will tell you if the rate you are being offered is the best so that you can complete the transaction, or make a polite get away.

Investing in my Kindle app has been the best money I’ve ever spent in that category.  Well, it’s free, but still, to me, on a long flight, it’s worth a million bucks.  I have lots of books stored on it and can easily pick up where I left off between flights, or when I need something to help me go “nite-nite” in a strange land.

The Future Is Now – Sport Simulators

As advancements in computer processing speeds and efficiency continue to climb, programmers and engineers have had no trouble finding new and creative applications for their newfound capabilities. Video games have become more immersive and realistic than ever, but some innovators have decided to take things a few steps further. Virtual reality (VR for short) was once a cumbersome, blocky, and overall un-impressive experience that saw limited success in the late ’90s. There was very little “reality” in the earlier versions of virtual reality; however, advanced computing and graphical processing have completely changed the landscape of the industry.

Modern systems have found value beyond the entertainment arena. VR is now widely used in simulators for aeronautics, law enforcement, and Olympic athletic training. Advanced simulators employ sensors, large format screens, and realistic replica interfaces to produce ultra realistic environments. Simulators such as these are priceless assets allowing for repeated training in controlled situations, helping the user to hone their skills in the relative safety and comfort of a simulator.

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Sport simulators have become quite popular, both for entertainment as well as for serious athletic preparation. There are simulation tools for nearly every non-contact sport and even a few for contact sports. At The ROX: The Olympic Experience at the Richmond Olympic Oval, patrons are given the opportunity to bobsleigh, kayak, racecar, ski-jump, or sit-ski an actual Olympic course through VR. The ability of modern sport simulators to bring challenges and experiences from around the world into a single location has an impact that is game changing.

It is now also common to find virtual golf pubs offering golfers the opportunity to play a full round of golf within the walls of a small restaurant or bar. Virtual Reality can provide young people who would normally have little or no access to a given sport the opportunity to experience it firsthand; aspiring athletes an affordable resource to continue pursuing their passions; and performing artists or extreme athletes the opportunity to develop and innovate new movements and tricks with a lower level of risk for injury. The opportunities for VR games and programs are immense. If you’re planning a vacation in or near Richmond, B.C., take a look online at the vast number of immersive activities available for you and your family. Visit http://therox.ca if you would like to try out these incredible simulations yourself at the world’s only interactive attraction endorsed by the International Olympic Committee.

The same appeal that allows competitive athletes to pursue their dreams is also an attractive dynamic for casual thrill seekers. How many people would otherwise have the opportunity to ski the alps or run with the bulls? Sports simulators grant this opportunity to people from any background in any part of the world. This type of unique experience also makes sports and other simulators a great choice for team building events and corporate workshops, allowing participants to face fears and compete with one another in a friendly, safe environment. It is an immersion experience that will not soon be forgotten by anyone. If you’re planning a trip to B.C., where else can you find the opportunity to kayak, sit-ski, and bobsleigh, all in one afternoon?

When reflecting on the advancements in VR technology and the progression of modern sports and other simulators, it seems amazing the amount of progress that has been made in the last 20 years. As developers continue to innovate this technology, it will serve to offer all of us better and more realistic experiences, allowing participants to live their lives to the fullest. For some, it just may motivate and inspire them to make their “virtual reality” experience a “reality”. If you’re interested in an Olympic-themed day of interactive activities and simulations, consider a visit to The ROX.