Weekly Tech Blog, Week of July 24-28, 2017

Formula E Racing takes off in New York City:  Formula E Racing, or ePrix, is a fairly new arrival to the racing circuit–the sport has only been around since 2014.  Formula E was introduced in an effort to show off the potential of “sustainable mobility”. Many of the best names in motorsports–McLaren and Williams–and some of the most storied drivers in racing, like Senna and Piquet–have made Formula E the newest darling of the racing scene. Unlike traditional auto racing, which takes places on specially designated tracks, ePrix is kind of like a real-life version of Metropolis Street Racer on steroids.The 2-day race takes place on city streets, which is ideal for these cars.  The cars are silent, so the noise and emissions associated with gas-powered auto racing are eliminated.  The short straights and myriad corners display the noted acceleration of these vehicles.  The speed and artistry of these drivers is enough to woo even the most hard-core traditional racing enthusiasts. Other races this season have been held in such diverse locales as Hong Kong, Marrakesh, Monaco, Berlin, and Buenos Aires. While Formula E racing is still in its infancy, New York has signed a 10-year contract to sponsor the race, so expect much more from this sport in the future.  For those of you that are already avowed fans, you can watch the final race of the season, held July 29-30, 2017 in Montreal, on Fox Sports.

Virtual Reality experiences are literally out of this world.  Virtual Reality (VR) headsets are wonderful–we love ours! The problem right now is that there is not much VR material to experience.  Enter the brilliant minds behind VRLO (Virtual Reality London). At this conference, VR companies show off the latest and greatest in VR tech.  While most of the tech at VRLO was great, the most mind-blowing, awe-inspiring experience was created by the developers at Rewind. Their “Spacewalk” VR has snagged almost every award in the genre and even won a Silver Lion at Cannes.  In this spectacular VR experience, you are an astronaut whose mission is to repair a piece of the International Space Station (ISS). Created on Unreal Engine 4 and engineered for the HTC Vive, this VRX project is inspired by NASA. My paltry words won’t do it justice, so here is a video of the VR.

Afghan girls’ robotics team takes second in competition. The magnitude of this win cannot be overstated. In the FIRST Global Challenge, robotics teams from all over the world were asked to come up with a robotics-based solution to access clean water. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? For this team of girls, every possible obstacle was thrown at them. First, they had issues getting their supplies due to officials being concerned about the supplies falling into the hands of extremists.  So when other teams got their items in March, the Afghan team didn’t receive theirs until June. Add that to the fact that Afghanistan isn’t known as being a nation that embraces women in STEM careers. The girls were then denied visas into the U.S. twice before President Trump finally interceded on their behalf.  In the end, the girls took home the silver medal in the competition and an award for courageous achievement.

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