Let’s Talk Tech  – Augmented Reality
In October’s newsletter issue, we discussed virtual reality (VR). Now, we want to discuss augmented reality (AR).  To recap, virtual reality is a newer technology that allows users interact within a different reality in virtual worlds. To learn more about the history from concept to, well, reality, please read our October newsletter! 
Photo Credit:  phys.org 
Now, what makes augmented reality (AR) different? Instead of the entire environment being virtual, AR overlays virtual aspects over our actual environments. This concept isn’t as much of leap as one would think. It combines the two far spectrums of reality – true reality and virtual reality – that already exists. AR is just the next step.
Google attempted to tap into the AR market in 2013. As smart devices started to grow in popularity, Google launched their smart glasses – Google Glass. The product didn’t stick though, and Google announced they were no longer producing consumer product line two years after they launched. 
Photo Credit: FurnitureToday.com 
Similar to artificial intelligence, many forms of augmented reality are available to common consumers today. You may have used this technology when selecting furniture for your home. Some retailers now have a function that combines your phone camera and digital models of their products to help give you a glimpse of how the items will look in your home.
Photo Credit: InglobeTechnologies.com 
Augmented reality can be applied in so many different fields, including education. Museums have used older versions of augmented reality in exhibits, for example projecting images on objects. As AR technology has developed, some museums are looking into ways they can incorporate them to create an immersive experience.
A Step in The Right Directio
Photo Credit: ASCENT 
Florida State University (FSU) Panama City ACSENT program received funding in October from the St. Joe Foundation. FSU Panama City’s Advancing Science and Career Education in New Technologies Program, also known as ASCENT, “is a 6-year, $23 Million Project … designed to contribute to the development of a strong, regional workforce in cybersecurity and new technologies.”  St. Joe Community Foundation’s grant of more than $100,000 will help the ASCENT program reach middle and high school students. Larry Dennis – ASCENT program director – told the News Herald:  “This grant from St. Joe Community Foundation directly supports local teachers and FSU Panama City in creating and funding Integrated technology Clubs. As a result, hundreds of local middle and high school students will enjoy hands on experience with computing technology, build computer skills, and learn about exciting career and educational opportunities.”  In addition to high school and middle school reach out, ASCENT also aims to expand undergraduate programs at FSU Panama City and non-credit courses to help our community’s needs.
Northwest Florida Economic Summit 
Photo Credit: eventbright.com
In October 2022, the Northwest Florida Economic Summit was hosted in Fort Walton Beach, FL. The two-day event collected “business people and officials at local, state and federal agencies who are responsible for administering grants and awarding contracts” to discuss the economic development of Northwest Florida.  
Photo Credit: mypanhandle.com 
Congressman Neal Dunn – Florida’s 2nd Congressional District representative – and Jennifer Conoley – President and CEO of Florida’s Great Northwest, an economic development agency in Niceville – were the keynote speakers of the summit.
Congressman Neal Dunn discussed a variety of topics including an update on Tyndall Air Force Base’s construction. The base will be the “Base of the Future” for the Air Force and the project budget is currently at $5.2 billion. 
Photo Credit: floridasgreatnorthwest.com
Jennifer Conoley discussed Florida’s Great Northwest’s mission for “economic expansion and diversification” along with other goals they have in mind. She also highlighted the potential in Northwest Florida. “[Conoley] pointed to regional assets including its talent ecosystem; a supportive financial environment; transportation infrastructure in the form of ports, airports and highways; and supportive business networks and communities.” During the Economic Summit, a panel of local leaders discussed the “vulnerabilities and strengths of the entrepreneurial ecosystem involving tech innovators in Northwest Florida.” The panelists are listed below (you may recognize a name or two):  Steve Millaway, Founder/CEO of TechFarms and TechFarms Capital – Panama City Beach, FL Vincent Mayfield, the CEO at Bit Wizards – Fort Walton Beach, FL Keith Bowers, the Director of the Office of Economic Vitality – Tallahassee, FL Steve Bornhoft, Executive Editor at Rowland Publishing, Inc. and 850 Business Magazine – Tallahassee, FL McKenzie Burleigh, Associate Publisher at Rowland Publishing – Tallahassee, FL