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Progressive Web App: Bridging the gap between Mobile Apps and Websites

With its effortless ease of development and seamless user experience the Progressive Web App (PWA) is winning hearts world over. PWA promises the functionalities and delivers a superior performance than its popular siblings – Web and Mobile Apps. The importance of PWA lies in the cost effectiveness of the development of the app and its updates.  However, the user acceptance factor remains uncertain as most of the common apps are still traditional.

Businesses benefit significantly due to PWA’s ability to provide improved visitor engagement, customer retention and of course higher conversion rates. PWA decreases page load times, bounce rate and thereby tackles customer churn which organizations worry about constantly.

Users who pay for Internet based on data usage leverage the offline functionality to their benefit. PWA’s familiar look and feel of an app gets them started easily with simultaneous access to complete web functionalities. They are able access PWAs through URLs with search engine retrieval.

Developers stand to gain as they bypass the cumbersome process of Appstore submission process and not bother about device compatibility and screen sizes, as PWA is browser compatible and responsive. Availability to cache and push API aids developers to create web apps on home screen, receive push notifications and work offline.

SBL’s smartCONF is a comprehensive event and conference management progressive web application. With smartCONF users can manage tasks and activities related to the event, host event presentations to delegates and also search and find events related information.

With the power of modern web, PWAs will be the gamechanger in the new mobile environment and will be the answer to the next generation of users.

Application of UAVs in the Prospecting Process for Mining

An industry that requires large resources of manpower to operate has taken a new techno turn. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) or drones as they are known in common parlance have taken over the role of the human prospector and are proving their worth by giving faster, more accurate and cheaper data collection, accumulation and analysis methods in the field of prospecting.

Drones are unmanned flying machines that are operated by either remote control or they operate on a pre-configured flight path which has already been set for them These flying machines function as photographers wherein cameras are fitted either in their underbelly to capture images of the mining site. Potential mining sites are surveyed using these flying photographers prior to sending the miners to collect samples. A touch and feel dominated industry has welcomed remote data collection and processing with same or better results.

There are many types of drones that can be used in the mining industry and they can be chosen based on what they are going to be used for: For example, A first look at a potential site can be carried out by a fixed wing drone equipped with a camera, , a mining safety protocol enabler and an in-depth research oriented data provision are best served by rotary drones, which can access the most inaccessible places because of their ability to hover and move up and down vertically. The data and information collected by these drones has proven to be the bedrock of research and analysis that is used to assess a site’s potential for payload in terms of presence of the mineral resource for which it has been prospected. This information and analysis also forms the basis on which a go or a no-go decision is made and is also used to attract potential investors to invest in the site development for a site which has been classified as a “go” site.

Another interesting development is the integration of UAV’s with other traditional survey equipment like total stations, GNSS systems and terrestrial laser scanners. With commercial software applications developing the ability to combine data from these different sources in an intelligent and logical fashion, the utility of the drone in prospecting has gone up.

With the rapid advancement of technology in this domain we might, in the not so distant future see mines operated by remote by using a combination of Artificial Intelligence (AI – aka robots), drones etc with no human presence required.

Disaster management through spatial modeling

The geographic information system (GIS) has a great role to play in disaster management activities at all stages of its operations. Disasters are emergency situations which cannot be managed locally. Disasters can be manmade or natural or combination of both. Geographic information system is used in all disaster management activities irrespective of its source as manmade or natural. GIS is stool which can be effectively used in disaster management activities in its all phases. It has a pre event phase, during phase and post disaster phase. Disaster preparedness required. Disaster management is altogether a cyclic operation composed of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. GIS can be effectively used in all these phases of operations and in most of the cases no other techniques can provide such solutions.

Mitigation is the advance prevention and identification of vulnerable zones so that emergencies cannot be turn into a disaster all together. Role of GIS in this phase is the map all vulnerable areas and safe areas in terms of all types of disasters. For this we need to identify all possible disasters in the area, classify them into zones of high risk, medium risk and low rick zones. Here lies the role of GIS. Through GIS technique available spatial domain can be classified. For example, in case of a floods from the major rivers, mapping and modeling using various themes and elevation data in the forms of digital terrain models will ease out in classification of high to low risk areas and provide in the form of map so that planners and decision makers can take better information based decision. SBL multidisciplinary geo spatial team can cater all such mapping and modeling services.

Preparedness phase of the disaster management also require geo spatial services. GIS will help in site selection of shelter areas, location for emergency resource storing facilities. Selection and modeling of evacuation routes is also can be done using GIS techniques. This include road capacity versus population size, direction of travel, where to place relief camps, identification of key tactical and strategic facilities, marking of nearest safe hospitals and public safely facilities. Identifying supply chain of relief materials and its pre routing, mass awareness and training to concerned officers and aiding agencies. The far most important part of GIS at this phase is that to identify the locations of impact, area it will influence, model to how it is spread etc. To achieve comprehensive preparedness, a great deal of information must be gathered and managed. When disasters strike, the right information must be available at the right place to support emergency decision requirements.

When an emergency strike an area, the already amazed spatial data can be effectively used to combat the disaster. Unfolding impact influence area, marking of areas in harm’s way and mass notification can be possible through GIS. Optimizing shelters, routings, estimating effected population and property, assessing quantity of relief materials, advance warnings to nearby possibly affected areas etc will be ease out with the help of GIS

GIS will act as a central data base repository during the recovery phase of a disaster. GIS couples with remote sensing act as an apt tool in assessment of damage and losses incurred. These kinds of spatial data assessment give information on degree of damage to individual properties and aerial extent of the damage. These will enable the planners and decision makers to estimate the reconstructions cost, prioritizing the areas for development.

Ensuring Mine Safety Using Drones

Safety remains to be one of top most concerns in the mining industry. Sadly, miners have succumbed time and again to the dangers that are so characteristic of the mining industry, such as: cave ins/collapses, explosive fatalities, fire breakouts, electrical fires and electrocution, falls from heights and shafts, accidents from vehicles that travel with poor visibility, lack of hazard communication process, illegal entries and of course several other respiratory and health issues as well.

The only way to combat these mining industry safety issues is to leverage automation and resort to drones. Drones are taking wings in the mining industry, and replacing several dangerous tasks that were earlier being done by miners.

During emergency situations in a minefield a drone is dispatched to the site, and live images are relayed to the security team who assesses the extent of damage and responds accordingly, rather going in person as before. Drones relentlessly watch mines and quarries 24/7 and can be programmed to watch certain strategic areas such as stockpiles and equipment areas repetitively.

Drone technology though nascent has already proven how useful they can be in assuring mining safety. As they evolve and become more integrated with mine planning they will play a stellar role in tightening safety measures in minefields.

SBL is playing a key role in the managing of safety in the Nickel mines of New Caledonia. With the help of drones, it provides the mine management with – rectified imagery with accuracy of 5cm and less, elevation (DSM/DTM, contours and spot heights) and 3D mapping data. This imagery and elevation data made available at almost real time enables the mine managers to analyse slope stability and mine pit stability, forecast possible weak spots prone to landslides or caving in and these areas are then targeted for stability precautions which  goes a long way in ensuring absolute safety of these Nickel mines.   

Drones: Cost Effective and Ideal for the Mining Industry

World over mining companies are leveraging drones for various key processes such as: site scoping, mapping, mineral exploration and investigating stockpiles to name a few. Here are some key points related to how drones are cost effective and an ideal partner for the mining industry:

Drone based data collection boosts productivity with better decision making, as surveying projects that used to take months earlier now gets completed in a matter of days. This reduction of man hours and spend on resources and infrastructure is a significant cost saver.

Using drones particularly for underground mining is a big help, as human beings do not have to be exposed to such life endangering mining operations. Additionally, drones enable real-time monitoring and surveillance which arrests illegal intrusion of mine fields.

Drones equipped with sophisticated cameras provide real time aerial footage and 3D maps of mine sites assuring accurate assessments. In fact with the help of drones, mining companies are able to collect more information of their sites than in the past.

Drones have replaced manned aircrafts which are pretty expensive and not suitable when narrow segments of the mines need to be surveyed. And drones are extremely adept at repeating any mining activity several times over with clinical precision.

Especially in the mining industry new ways of using drones are being discovered every day, and usage is bound to increase. In the years to come, we will see drones growing nurtured amply by helpful laws, evolving technologies and patronized by large mining conglomerates.

Digital Image Processing: Retouching the Perception

A pearly white teeth, a spotless shining skin, a wrinkle free clear face – Did you envy all this when browsing a fashion magazine or on your iPhone? If you have, then welcome to the magical world of Digital Touch-Up! Digital Image Retouching is an integral part of contemporary photography.

A picture taken by a professional photographer with the latest gadgets available often needs a digital retouch by an expert image editor. Digital editing gives the picture the required visual impact and enhanced image quality by correcting distortions.

How can digital retouch help you create a lasting impression through your pictures?

  • Corrections in colour, brightness, shades and light, or restoring an image to its original state can make an impact.
  • Digital enhancements such as setting contrast, cropping and optimizing reflections improves the aesthetics of the picture.
  • With the help of digital embellishments a dull, uninteresting image transforms into a visually attractive and eye catching piece of art.
  • Unwanted layers, patches, backgrounds, and distractions are removed thus improving product placement. It also highlights the portion of the image that portrays the best visual cue of the product.
  • Digital editing also provides conversions to different digital formats that are compatible with various gadgets, tools, printers and softwares without quality compromise and pixel distortions.

Today all of us understand the importance of a digital image makeover, whether it is for personal needs or for print, TV or on-line advertisements. Therefore, beautifying an image is barely a few clicks away.

Live Virtual Reality: Changing Sports Viewership Scenario

Without worrying about parking, buying tickets, being jostled in the crowd, commuting the snarling traffic – one can now enjoy a sports game just like sitting at the stadium – but from comfort of the couch.
Having won over the gaming industry, Virtual Reality (VR) has now taken sports field by storm. Live Virtual Reality has made sports games more affordable, immersive, and enjoyable and hassle free. A 360 degree camera, VR headset and an app, all coming together to transport the viewer right into the midst of the action. And there you are, kicking the ball, almost!

VR much in its infancy, has a long road to travel, but it is already making such startling changes in sports viewing for the viewer and player. In the short altered state that the sports buff spends watching a game aided by live VR, they get transported to the scene of game, and the space element dissolves completely making it so real and so immediate.

On the flip side, the goggles that one wears shut out the distractions, which also cuts the social element attached to viewing sports. Because, traditionally our mind-set tends to sit together, laugh and cheer for our sports heroes along with our friends and family. And in certain cases, resolution of the visuals is patchy and some feel that the game becomes unnervingly close.

However, the field of Virtual Reality and Sports is emerging, and there is scope for organizations with the right ideas and the will to implement.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of things (IOT) & Automation: Transforming Lives

Three of the most startling technological advancements are transforming our lives in more ways than one. Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things are converging to impact every aspect of our lives sending out clear signals to change the way we think and operate. If liberalization and computerization was the rage just a few decades back, these technology trends of today are driving sweeping changes across industries.

Automation driven by Artificial Intelligence has replaced some of the routine tasks much more efficiently than human beings. It is ready to take up more jobs in the future forcing people to rethink their career prospects. Yes, robots are here to stay. It is evident that automation has raised standards of living, increased literacy rates, lengthened life span and reduces crime rates. Software automation is another interesting dimension which heralds new technology related jobs as well.

Internet of Things (IoT) produces hordes of data, not just volumes, but useful data that can perform a range of activities. From saving cities from disasters and crimes, creating smart homes with connected appliances, offering key medical insights to medical practitioners and enabling communication between self-driving cars the scope of IoT is burgeoning.

Retailers are also getting onto the bandwagon of these three techno shifts to increase sales and attract consumers. They are moving away from traditional brick and mortar stores to online ways of selling and e-commerce platforms.  

While these trends have been around for a while they have never been so powerful or as ubiquitous as now. Interesting dimensions and possibilities are bound to increase in the days to come and impact our lives for the better.  

Post Production for Underwater and First Person Cameras in Virtual Reality: Complex Algorithms VS Right Vendors

Apart from Virtual Reality cameras becoming high end and affording great many features, there are specialized VR waterproof action cameras that one can use underwater and return with high quality Virtual Reality footage. They shoot videos and photos in 360 degrees thus imparting an astounding sense of view. The possibilities of going underwater and hobnobbing with whales and colourful sea life is affordable now, VR has transformed significantly from being land based technological wonder to an underwater based discovery. From exploring submerged ships, caves and sea bed strewn with treasures all of this can be experienced with a VR headset.

Pro underwater stereoscopic 360 systems like the ‘VRTUL 1’ has incorporated the Blackmagic Microstudio 4K cameras to give an extensive new dimension to underwater Virtual Reality.

However, there are quite a few challenges of post-processing the output from underwater cameras, such as:

  • Unlike the output obtained through a VR gear in land, there is no proper texture reference to stitch the footage.Since everything under water is moving there is no reference point to use for overlapping or stitch binding.
  • In Stereo shots, there is a slight deviation in milliseconds on how the left and right view appears, which involves manual stitching.
  • Apart from the normal changes in VR post production, the underwater shots have an effect created by waves which adds to an additional effort in post -production.
  • Lack of sync information in the underwater VR leads to issues while stitching.

Our Head of VR production, Mr. Venugopalan says; “Manual stitching is necessary to overcome the challenges in underwater VR and SBL proves to be the right candidate in this arena. We are one of the pioneers to have undergone VR post production challenges in an early stage and have developed a steady pipeline with Nuke and CARA which enables to produce seamless output. “

So getting onto the VR bandwagon requires careful analysis of the VR ecosystem which involves scrutinizing – hardware, content, accessories, distribution channels, and the existing user base. Hence choosing the right vendor for post-production would be key to a successful VR underwater FPS product. The vendor should be able to ensure proper stitching pipeline, artefacts removal and provide quality of seamless output.