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The Tech Issue — 2016



The cover of this year’s Tech Issue shows a person wearing a virtual reality headset. What’s visible through those goggles? It’s impossible to say. Chances are it’s a more appealing version of reality than the one we’re experiencing in this maddening election year.

VR headsets aren’t some futuristic dream — they’re already on the market. Dan Bolles describes what it feels like to wear one in “Sci-Fi Gets Real.” Bolles played video games wearing an HTC Vive, but he notes that more serious applications of VR devices are on the horizon.

VR is just one way that new technologies are altering our world. We explore a variety of others in this issue. Food writer Suzanne Podhaizer explains how a new Barre business is using a web-based tool to connect Vermont farmers with far-flung customers (“Delivering the Goods”). Ken Picard describes how LiDAR imaging is changing what we know about historic sites (“Remains to Be Seen”).

Cathy Resmer interviews a data scientist whose newly acquired computer programming skills allowed her to change careers (“Work”). And Alicia Freese reports on a new video game created by Champlain College faculty that educates students about the problem of campus sexual assault (“Game Changer? A College Combats Sexual Assault With Technology”).

Adam Alpert, co-owner of BioTek Instruments in Winooski, offers a technological assessment of the controversial F-35 jets that are set to arrive in Vermont in 2019. Alpert, an experienced civilian pilot, got access to a flight simulator and took the “plane” for a test drive. Alpert presents his findings in “View From the Cockpit.”

All these new tools don’t change the fact that even tech entrepreneurs and innovators still need and want to gather in person: The coworking and makerspaces popping up all across Vermont are proof. Cathy Resmer and Sadie Williams map them in “Startup Hotspots.”

Need more evidence? Check out the 10th Vermont Tech Jam, our annual career and tech expo, which takes place on Friday and Saturday, October 21 and 22, at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Junction. More than 70 exhibitors gather under one roof to recruit employees and showcase their products. They range from large companies such as and MyWebGrocer to small startups including BeaconVT and Heco Engineering. Find them all, along with a schedule, in the program guide inserted in this issue.

If you want to try on a VR headset, come to the “Beer and Gear” demonstration on Friday night, October 21, at the Tech Jam After Hours party. From 5 to 7 p.m., you can find out what it’s like to enter an alternate reality.

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