After the industrial age, the Middle East is going through the biggest transformation brought about by technological innovation. While still in the process, this transformation has put the Middle East on the map as the most evolving region on the globe. On top is UAE, leading the innovation in the Arab World, ranking 35th globally on the 2017 Global Innovation Index.
Although UAE began its journey on the road to a burgeoning future way back but the developmental spur came in October 2014, with the announcement of The National Innovation Strategy by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE. On this occasion, Sheikh Mohammed talked about government’s vision for the future of the country, saying, “This innovation strategy is a national priority for our program of development and progress. It is a primary tool to achieve Vision 2021 and an engine for the growth of distinctive skills and capabilities across the nation. We have always called for creativity in every field: this strategy is a concrete step to implement that vision.” He further added, “We want our public and private sectors to explore new horizons to develop our economy. Innovation is our only way to build a great history of the UAE… the future will be for those who adopt innovation.” [link]
Innovation in Healthcare Services
The Arab Health 2018 starts this week in Dubai, scheduled from 29th January to 1st February 2018, at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre. Being the largest gathering of healthcare and trade professionals in the MENA region, the 2018 edition of Arab health is anticipated to host over 4,200 exhibiting companies and 103,000 attendees from 150+ countries.
In this context, let us look at the developments pertaining to the medical field in the UAE. The innovation in this sector began with UAE being the first country to support the international pharmaceutical companies for registration of innovative drugs before FDA or EMEA approval. In addition, initiatives were taken for joint ventures between the local factories and the international pharmaceutical factories to produce the innovative medicine in the Emirates. To this end, there are many projects underway and many in the pipeline for plans to reach the goal to have 34 pharmaceutical factories by 2020. [link]
Since then the UAE medical sector in particular and the Middle East in general, has come a long way with many innovative practices and solutions being introduced and regularly implemented to improve medical outcomes and drive down costs as well. The use of modern technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) combined with advanced solutions like 360-degree videos, 3D printing, nanotechnology and wearable devices, is expected to help revolutionize the mainstream healthcare services.
During the Arab Health 2017, Rafael Grossman – a renowned surgeon, healthcare futurist and technology innovator – spoke about how these technologies are the way forward for healthcare, “Many of these technologies are already being used successfully and people are not going to want to fall behind in terms of adoption because patients are going to start demanding this.” [link]
Grossman was also the first surgeon to live-stream a clinical operation using Google Glass which further led to the technology being used for educational and telemedicine purposes. “The development of augmented reality and virtual reality healthcare applications is a natural extension of this work. For instance, using VR models and 360-degree videos, sophisticated medical procedures can be shared live with an almost limitless audience.” He went on to say, “You can imagine bringing any amount of surgeons and any amount of students to an operating room while an operation is being conducted by an expert,”
But the UAE government is set upon a much grander vision for the country as UAE became the first nation to have a Government Ministry dedicated to Artificial Intelligence, and H.E. Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama becoming the first state minister for AI in October 2017. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said during the announcement of the position, “We want the UAE to become the world’s most prepared country for artificial intelligence,” [link]
The medical field is one of the sectors to largely benefit from this dedicated ministry. With the Arab Health 2018 starting in few days, we cannot wait to see what is more in store for healthcare sector this year.
The closer one gets to a certain culture, the easier it becomes to grasp the defining achievements of that era. Visual or graphic story driven representation provides eloquent ways that people beyond the boundaries can understand. It is immensely difficult to feel how life in a specific age prevailed. An engaging way to do the same is Web-based visualization for the Exploration of Culture and Heritage.
Progressive Window to History: Exploration of Culture and Heritage aided by VR
There are different verticals of the web-based visualization and different impacts for them all. Though the memories of the historical events can be rekindled through 2D images and first-hand experiences in manuscripts. But, the real essence of the scenario is lost.
An Attempt to Revive History: VR
One can not traverse to the British Museum in London to view the great exhibits. However, with a Virtual Reality head mount, one can move across the aisle of the institution. Thanks to digitalization, creating the parallel environment of the museums, old temples, mosques, historic wars has become manageable.
Virtual Reality provides a lively atmosphere to the University learners, historians, archaeologists, and school students. The benefit is that one does not have to leave the accustomed periphery of classrooms or research houses. The synthesis of mobile phones and tablets with the VR gears and sensory techniques makes the same possible.
The virtual places can be crafted where the normal people have limited access. Avid learners can crawl across the lanes of the historic towers and dungeon, visit the kingdoms of the great war-kings, and innumerable mineral ancient reserve sites.
This is a lot different from reading a book. Pictures engage, but do not speak. The void of sense and sound is pervaded by the magical Virtual Reality experiences.
Imagine the scenario – the learners mount their head gears and drop down straight to the French Revolution battlefield while fancying Napoleon Bonaparte’s amazing sword skills. Amazing in itself that a small box can be a ticket to the fearless imagination.
The result is an engraved memory of the happenings with the learners knowing the historic details on tips. Thus, the recollection power shoots up and the learners do not have to cram up the topics.
Binding the youth to ancient culture and history becomes effortless when they visualize the great deeds of their ancestors. Listening to the original linguistic vocals and seeing people in traditional attires – everything becomes so natural. Instead of forced learning that is thrusted down the throats, Virtual Reality presents an iconographic account of the events.
The number of mental health patients surges every year. Ironical enough – mental health is the most nudged away health disorder. Autism is one so mental impairment which restricts the actions of the human brain.
Autism hit children are often titled as nasty when they show uncanny and indecorous behaviour. But, attention. We need to understand that these kids aren’t being naughty, they are just autistic. They see things differently and they need our immediate help.
Many children are ingrained with autism by birth. The harsh truth is that autism cannot be completely counteracted by mere medication. It only worsens with time with the patient losing the ability to communicate efficiently, dodging socialisation, and facing impediments in carrying out methodical activities. Through forward-looking practices, patients of autism can recover notably.
Whilst computers have been used to help young adults with autism, they haven’t emerged path-breaking. This goes down to the evidence that computers are not self-enabled devices and operating the very task of turning it on can freak out these patients. However, Virtual Reality (VR) treatment for autism has given a new angle to the scenario.
Gaming with the help of Virtual Reality has helped to improve the moods of autistic individuals. It gives them an immersive and safe media in which they can communicate. When Johny, a 13-Year-old teenager was introduced to the autism VR video, he was told that it can help him get over the fear of using the stairs. He’s always had trouble with taking the stairs since he was 4, the age when he developed mild autism which has now transmuted to severe.
In the thief hunting (a virtual reality game for autism) that he plays through VR, comes a stage where he needs to use the stairs to shoot the burglar. On reaching this stage, Johny stopped moving his hands on the joystick because of the obvious suspicion of falling down. His assistant, Rabia, is an autistic therapist. She calmed him down thereby telling that it wasn’t real and he wouldn’t trip.
After multiple persuasions and reiterations of the fact that it was virtual, Johny hit the arrow key which made his graphical Avatar move forward. He walked down the stairs through his Avatar is a few seconds, and immediately removed his headgear. When asked the reason of doing so, he answered, “I was so stunned with facing my fear that couldn’t care more about chasing the person.”
He came out victorious and so do many other people who take weekly VR sessions.
Out of all the people who have used VR, 87% emerged positive after the immersive experience. Virtual reality therapy autism deals with a very tough facet of autism – anxiousness. Through the graphically appealing VR rooms, the autistic people become a part of relaxing environments like green fields, yoga assemblies, sunrise depicting landscapes, etc. These are the locations they can not travel to in their real lives.
Another predicament that autistic adults face is hassles in socialising. They tend to overlook the physical expressions, hand cues and facial gestures shown by others. In virtual reality social skills training, they interact with avatars of different adults. These adults interact through bodily movements but fade away when the autistic person does not show interest. This makes the subject (the autistic) realise the importance of responding.
Autistic persons can also face their fears through VR. In a safe environment, where they know in the subconscious brain that the things aren’t real, the autistic patients gather courage and come over their anxieties. This helps them in decision making and reacting acutely. They become sovereign. They can move when they are ready while being in charge. These small virtual achievements impart to the autistic beings the confidence of doing the same in real life.
Virtual Reality has the power to make everything paradigm. It is the rehabilitation of the impediments that cannot be repaired in the hardheaded world. As they say, disability is just a word until it restricts a person’s skill and will. Virtual Reality touches multitudinous horizons of our society. Here is a round up how Virtual Reality for Disabled can change the world.
Dave Warner, an American neuroscientist is distinguished for performing path-breaking procedures. He helps kids suffering from Cancer get a vibrant outlook towards life. His experiment centred at Virtual Reality pertains to give the other world experience to kids where they cannot travel. He takes the Cancer depressed kids to the virtual world of a fish tank where they get to see beautiful versions of the marine life. Therein, the children try to trap the sharks with the help of virtual shots.
During this experiment, kids jerk their heads, look around and try to capture the sea animals. The VR hypnotises their senses for their advantage and makes them feel like they can grab things. It is magical to see the discouraged kids bounce back to life.
For patients combating paralysis, VR for disabled people has customised solutions to empower them. Patients with non-viable body organs can control their wheelchairs. The autonomy they get is accredited to VR. With the help of sensors attached to faces, the VR mechanism gauges how their bones and facial muscles react.
Andriana, an 8-year-old girl suffering from spinal cord injury uses this technology. Virtual Reality has proved helpful in fulfilling her dream of flying an aircraft. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that the Virtual Reality kit for disabled has given her the wings to fly.
The Second Life is another virtual experience where people associate via an Avatar version of themselves. Counsellors for differently abled people conduct group discussions, recommending the strategies that worked for their acquaintances who needed help. The Avatars map the participant’s background which helps it coordinate the virtual meeting. The whole team of participants emerges victorious where they grab malleable information which was, otherwise, out of its reach.
People with disabled legs are using the Virtual Reality kits integrated with hand-trackballs and joysticks. Virtual Reality helps them to manoeuvre their wheelchair while being unconstrained. Builders and constructors are aiding themselves with VR kits to apprehend the possible damages that the virtual reality wheelchair bound individuals may face while commuting around the place. The whole idea of Virtual Reality for handicapped derives from evolution and it is well achieving the goal.
Here’s another added advantage of the virtual reality therapy for disabled:
Seeing the beautiful sites of the world is an intuitive dream of the zillions. Howbeit, some disabled people start perceiving it as an illusionary one taking it as implausible. Aided by Virtual Reality, this standpoint can be changed. The impaired people can time travel to places dating back to ‘Before Christ’, skid on the slopes of Antarctica, or Quad Bike in the Arabian Sand Dunes. Skydiving enthusiasts with amputated legs can feel the air touching the body.
Virtual Reality is Social Science for the differently abled. When the able-bodied individuals wear the VR gears and find themselves in the shoes of the disabled, it makes them more empathetic. The technology can be presumed Godsend to harvest care and compassion amongst the human race.
First presented by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008, the idea behind Blockchain Technology was to enable the creation of the digital currency called Bitcoin. Over the years, blockchain has developed to the point of becoming an authentic new-age technology with the potential to replace many current digital platforms and in the long run, even the conventional digital business infrastructure. The blockchain technology follows the same pattern of digital distribution as used by virtually every service today but what it offers for individuals as well as businesses is far more powerful. The technology is expected to hugely impact the way conventional business dealings are carried out. Due to the nature of blockchain, Intellectual Property (IP) industry is one of those sectors that are particularly expected to be affected by this technology. Let us look at, in detail, what and how the technology functions and how it is efficacious in the IP industry.
What is Blockchain?
Probably the best way to describe blockchain technology in a simplified way is as “a decentralized network built for secure and candid transactions”. Since the idea is to make transactions safe and transparent, the technology is more commonly referred to as being an open ledger using the Distributed Ledger Technology (DTL.)
At its heart, there are two chief elements that are at work in blockchain technology. a) Authentication – identity proof of the parties involved in a transaction or deal. b) Authorization – permission to proceed with the transaction. However, any deal once made in a blockchain network is irreversible i.e. there is no way to cancel the transaction or whatever action required once it has been initiated.
Blockchain technology is “an encrypted database of agreements”. It means that any agreement made between two or more parties, is permanent in nature and neither party can then go back and modify or rewrite the terms. This type of agreement is called a Smart Contract by virtue that it holds both the parties accountable for fulfilling their end of the deal only by way of the course of action decided in the agreement. This elevates the otherwise looming risk factor between different parties engaged in a transaction in the digital world where deception is commonplace.
How does blockchain work?
Originally developed as the way to account for transactions carried out using virtual or digital currencies, blockchain technology is an accounting method at its most basic used to verify, enable and record transaction within digital currencies. Since blockchain is not controlled by single user or organization, there is no centralized version of the recorded entries so to speak. In fact, the chain is widely accessible to the public and any user can view the chronological order of activities in any particular chain depending, of course, on the permissions granted. Any user looking at the database will see exactly the same order of entries since once something has been added to the database, it cannot be removed.
To understand how the technology works, let us walk through how a transaction takes place on a blockchain.
- A party requests a transaction.
- The request is broadcast to a network of computer, called nodes.
- The nodes then verify the transaction using algorithms.
- Cryptographic key (access control) holders or the miners, then authorize the validity of the transaction for the nodes.
- Once verified, the transaction creates a new entry on the chain linking to the prior existing blocks.
- A cryptographic signature is added to the newly created block.
- The transaction is recorded and complete.
The use of blockchain technology gives rise to an advanced infrastructure attaining four stipulations:
- Safer transactions
- Speedier transactions
- Cheaper transactions
- Transparent, incorruptible network
Best known for its use as a technology behind cryptocurrencies, blockchain is in no manner limited to the financial field. The technology can be used to digitize, encrypt and insert virtually any document into the blockchain. The ability of this technology to ensure integrity and enforce transparency, is a factor that speaks volumes for its scope at a much wider scale across other businesses as well as potential role in countering the financial, political and institutional corruption. Separate from digital currencies, blockchain technology can be defined as “a way for untrusted parties to reach agreement (consensus) on a common digital history without using a trusted intermediary”. (link)
Blockchain for Intellectual property
The field of Intellectual Property (IP) is one of the most obvious areas where blockchain technology has immediate efficacy. IP industry is one of those sectors where most violations of copyrights happen. Without the presence of a legitimized system for record-keeping, such as the registry systems for trademarks, there is no adequate method available for authors and agencies to catalogue their work, which results in infringement of copyrights incapacitating owners from safeguarding their content or media and monetizing their work in full measure.
Blockchain technology is the answer to all these concerns as an IP registry, and helps give clarity to copyright authors, owners and agencies. Registering to a blockchain offers a fire-sure proof of evidence for the owners. As the blockchain transaction can neither be removed or changed, the information is safe and secure on the network for any third parties to access and view ownerships and licenses for any intellectual property. Recognizing the importance of blockchain technology for securitization in IP industry, Banu Naraghi, the Associate Attorney for Gerard Fox Law, explained, “Blockchain specifically is critical to the securitization of IP because it guarantees the validity of a transaction by recording the transaction on a main centralized register as well as a connected publicly distributed system of registers. The fact that data is embedded within a public network and updated with each transaction promotes transparency and prevents modification or corruption.” (link)
Uses of Blockchain in IP Industry
Many applications for the use of Blockchain technology in the IP industry are already underway and being further developed at an accelerated rate. The reason for this trend is the heightened security for content and other media that blockchain enables for authors and IP owners, and consequently, the potentially wide acceptance of this technology in the IP industry. Let us look at how blockchain can be of significance for the intellectual property owners.
Managing the Intellectual Property
Blockchain allows authors to record their copyright ownership of any material on a centralized as well as a decentralized network making it easy for the owners to see where and how their work is being used on the internet as well as work out licenses with third parties. Also the record becomes much more trustworthy with the entire history of the material being on a single chain.
Authentication of Intellectual Property
This is also great for authors since registering their work to blockchain provides them with a digital certificate of authenticity letting the third parties know about the original owners of the intellectual property as well as offering a way for the authors to tackle violations of copyright material.
Monitor and Control of Use
Currently, it becomes extremely difficult for IP owners to track, monitor and control the use of their content once it has been uploaded to the internet. By contrast, blockchain provides a complete, fully updated database for IP owners to monitor their work allowing them an access across a host of different sources to identify who is using their work and develop any licensing requirements they may wish to create.
One extraordinary feature of the blockchain technology is that any agreements made on blockchain are self-executing – called Smart Contracts. A smart contract is, in fact, a computer program code that is able to expedite, implement and enforce a contract on its own. This also means low administrative costs for the parties as the terms of the contracts are pre-programmed and do not need to be manually executed.
Encourage Legal Practices
The direct link between IP owners and users also encourages users to seek legal means to use an IP instead of opting for illegal practices because of high costs or difficulties associated with license processing. Further explaining the scope of blockchain for IP owners, Nathan Lands, the CEO of Binded – a startup democratizing copyright – commented that “the ideal future system is where there is a universal database for claiming ownership of creations and for paying royalties and making it as simple as possible for people to do the right thing.”
Micropayments for IP Use
The development of smart contracts can also be morphed into a system of micropayments for the use of an IP. The way this will work is that the IP owner can assign a Bitcoin address to their work which will enable the users to use the material in exchange of a small payment. This is a fair and transparent method for both the parties where the IP owner will get paid the royalty for their work and the user will also be able to avoid the intermediary costs of the conventional financial networks.
Startups providing Blockchain backed services for IP industry
There are a number of ventures already using applications based on Blockchain Technology for safeguarding and managing intellectual property. Some of these ventures are as follows.
ascribe enables creators to secure their copyright; marketplaces to source legitimate content; and collectors to own authenticated digital content. The company enables formation of whole new businesses, such as unique digital editions, and secondary markets for digital property.
Formerly known as Blockai, Binded helps artists claim their copyrights and protect them affordably. An artist puts their work on Binded, such as digital art or photos, the platform creates a timestamp in the blockchain and gives the artist copyright certificate as proof, all of which is visible on the artist’s public profile.
Bernstein allows companies to create a digital trail of records of their innovation processes using blockchain technology.
Blocknotary facilitates their clients for Blockchain enabled (a) timestamps for media files, proof of ownership, proof of integrity, and proof of existence on mobile devices; (b) video interviews for remote identity verification, fraud prevention, and customer service automation; (c) modern official electronic journal for US notaries.
Copyrobo enables security of copyright anywhere in the world in less than 60 seconds, using technologies such as Blockchain and Qualified Timestamps to help clients prove and manage their copyrights.
Proof of Existence
POEX.io offers services to anonymously and securely store an online distributed proof of existence for any document. The documents are not stored in the database or in the bitcoin blockchain, so the clients do not have to worry about their data being accessed by others. The key advantages are anonymity, privacy, and getting a decentralized proof which can’t be erased or modified by anyone (third parties or governments).
A digital signature platform enabling services such as:
Digital Signature – Sign or approve documents between multiple parties through a simple, secure and legally binding process.
Notary – Notarize any document, generating publicly verifiable proof of its origin, date, authenticity and integrity, without exposing its contents.
Custom Integration – Easily add blockchain-based digital signature and notarization to any application using Signatura libraries and API.
Stampery enables users to notarize digital transactions and certify the existence, integrity, and ownership of any file or communication. Stampery is a verification and certification platform that generates legal proofs for all its customers’ sensitive documents using bitcoin’s blockchain.
Limitation of Blockchain technology
As efficient as the blockchain technology seems to be, it has its limitations like any other technology and may also be discussed here for the sake of clarity. There are three major issues that the blockchain technology yet has to reconcile.
The first and foremost issue facing this technology is the very way blockchain works which creates redundancy of data. It can be better understood in comparison with the technology of Cloud Computing where all the information is in a single database accessible by nodes everywhere. Whereas the blockchain technology works in sharp contrast creating thousands of private copies of the same database to be held by thousands of nodes. This is inefficient and unnecessary.
Scaling of Data
The second and perhaps even more significant concern is the scaling of data. Since there are constant updates for each and every private node holding copies located all over the world, this gives rise to high latency (the amount of time it takes for data to move through the network). This ultimately results in scaling issues. For instance, Bitcoin can only process 3-4 transactions per second. Ether can relay no more than 20 transactions per second. Whereas, Visa can process over 1,500 transactions per second. (link)
Irreversibility of Agreements
In IP industry, the permanency of the contracts can become a problem in the long run when any material is left orphaned. Once their owners are no longer available, their work will either become a history or there will be an unregulated record of copyright authorship.
Despite its drawbacks at the time, blockchain technology has enormous potential in the IP industry and it can develop into a godsend solution for IP owners and users everywhere. The technology will surely further develop to overcome its present shortcomings but it is here to stay being an incorruptible and transparent technology offering speedier transactions for reduced costs.
Blockchain advocates have pressed the importance of technology for future infrastructures for its transparency and low costs of maintenance. Different businesses are already showing interest in adopting the technology to update their existing systems. In case of IP industry too, blockchain has piqued the interest of IP owners in streamlining and simplifying the management of IP materials. Blockchain is still a long way from becoming the mainstream technology in the IP industry, but it is surely getting there.