Welcome to Oxus

Oxus is the ancient name for Amu Dariya, a river originating in the lofty Pamir Plateau in Central Asia and weaving its way through Afghanistan and eventually into the large Aral Sea in Russia. Legend has it that when Alexander the Great was conquering the world, he arrived at the Oxus and thought that he had reached India.

The Oxus River of the Greeks has been known to historical record for literally thousands of years. Its present-day name is the Amu Darya (or Amu river) and its course can be traced in any atlas. Turn to the map of Western Asia and find it: the river springs up in the Pamir mountains, runs west through what was once Baluchistan, and forms part of the border of what is now Afghanistan; here, along its banks, were once lapis-lazuli mines famous throughout the ancient world. It runs, gradually curving northward, between a desert marked Kizil Kum (or, the Red Sands) and another marked Kara Kum (or, the Black Sands). Along the way, it supplies irrigation-water for the ancient oasis kingdoms of Khiva and Khwarism. Eventually it empties itself into the southern tip of the Aral Sea.

Further Research: The Course of the Oxus River

The Oxus treasure is the most important surviving collection of Achaemenid Persian metalwork. It consists of about 170 objects, dating mainly from the fifth and fourth centuries BC. This was the time of the Achaemenid empire, created by Cyrus the Great (559-530 BC), when Persian control stretched from Egypt and the Aegean to Afghanistan and the Indus Valley.

The Oxus Treasure

There are very few facts or certainty attached to the story of the Oxus Treasure. The find spot for the Oxus Treasure is in doubt. There is no catalogue for the original treasure, and the historical facts surrounding the final collection of the treasure are few and far between. The story of the Oxus Treasure is perfect matter for a movie or historical novel. The back drop of the Great Game is a perfect one full of intrigue and political machinations.

The Oxus Treasure consists of 170 gold and silver pieces from Achaemenid Persian culture along the Oxus River. The Achaemenid Empire (c. 550?330 BCE) was founded by Cyrus the Great. At its height the Parsa Empire stretched from Thrace in Macedonia to Egypt to the Indus River. The empire reached its zenith under Darius I. The Empire’s borders waxed and waned until Alexander the Great finally murdered Darius III and declared himself the new leader of the Parsa.

Greek civilization owes much to the older Achaemenid culture. The artifacts of the Oxus Treasure are thus vital in charting the development of civilization in both Persia and Europe.

The story goes that the Oxus Treasure was uncovered in the Nineteenth Century. A group of merchants acquired the treasure. They were travelling on the road between Kabul and Peshawar when they were attacked by bandits who stole the treasure. The merchants later ran into Captain F.C Burton who was a ‘political officer’ in Afghanistan. Captain Burton somehow managed to recover the treasure from the bandits. In their gratitude the merchants sold Burton an item of the treasure which today is on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

This was not the end of the treasure. Burton no doubt alerted his superiors of the importance of the treasure. Most of the pieces now belonging to the Oxus Treasure were bought by the British in the bazaars of Rawalpindi and other cities in India.

Now most of the extant Oxus Treasure is on display in room number 52 of the British Museum.

The Great Game lasted from 1813 to when it dwindled out at the start of World War II. Originally the expansionist ambitions of Russia worried the British. They feared for the security of their ‘jewel in the crown’ namely India. The British sent many spies and pundits north of India to map the regions of Central Asia that were composed of many fiefdoms. The British fought 2 wars in Afghanistan to create a buffer state between British interests in the subcontinent and the rapidly expanding Russian forces.

In the end Russia got to Afghanistan and a shaky agreement set the Oxus River as the border between the two countries spheres of influence. The pact had the effect of shifting the Great Game East and West.

Perhaps the end of the Great Game can be seen as the Soviet Era control of Afghanistan and the American connivance to train the Mujahedeen who bought down the Russians but then morphed into the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

This website is not about the complex politics of Central Asia, the Persian Empire or the Oxus River. Rather this website is concerned with bringing the reader the best available information; it is designed as repository for information. We intend to contextualize and explain in order to let the reader gain a clearer insight of the issues involved. Unlike the Oxus Treasure we intend to bring all the pertinent pieces of the puzzle together. And rather than leaving them in a post colonial museum to share them with all.

Further Research: The Oxus treasure

Instinct Proves the Key to Truth   no comments

Posted at 10:50 am in Research

There has been some interesting research in how humans can identify whether someone is lying.  The results have suggested that our initial responses are often much more accurate than when we spend some time analysing a situation or statement.

However we are basically a trusting species and overall most people are actually very poor at spotting liars.  In fact if we are given time to assess then our results are little better than just random chance.    The success rate rises though if people just use instinct and rely on initial impressions without being given a chance to think about it.

This of course suggests that there is something operating in our subconscious mind which is far better at spotting a lie than we are when we actually think about it.  If we start thinking hard about something our success rate drops significantly to the level of just random choice.

So how do people look for the evidence of lies?  Well the majority of people are looking for small physical cues like eye movements, body language or stuttering in voice perhaps.  The reality is though that although this makes perfect sense, we are really not very good at using this information to decide on whether someone is actually lying or not.  Some research by psychologists in the University of California have found that we are unlikely to get over 50% success rate, the expected probability of just choosing at random.

However when the research team used some tests designed to use the unconscious mind based on word association the results were much better.   There seems to be some sort of intuitive sense that can detect a lie much better than when we actually try and work out the truth.  It fits in with other research which suggests that our intuitive mind is often more powerful than our conscious one.  In the UK there is a very funny game in which contestants try and deduce who is lying or not – you can see how people struggle to determine the truth even in such contrived conditions – you can watch it on BBC iPlayer – here’s how to access Truth or Lie outside UK – on YouTube.

The research may seem quite trivial but it’s actually quite important, being able to spot deception is an important skill in evolutionary terms, successful species usually are quite successful at this sort of determination.  It has been detected in other species such as chimpanzees for example who are able to detect falsehoods or deceptions with remarkable success.

For further information on technical input :

See Here.


Can Titan Solves the World’s Problems   no comments

Posted at 4:02 pm in Research

The Titan super computer is a magnificent machine, capable of performing 20,000 trillion calculations every second.  It lives at the Oak Ridge Computer Facility and is estimated to be the world’s most powerful supercomputer  in existence.  Imagine the computing power, it is the equivalent of every member of the human race carrying out 3 million calculations every second – that’s some serious number crunching power.

Up to now though this computing power has been out of reach of most of academia unless you happened to be working for the Department of Energy in the US.  However this year sees the computer being opened up for research development projects who can use the facility for benefit.

It is hoped that this computing power, can be used to help tackle some of the world’s most crucial issues – healthcare, climate, energy and how we feed our planet are some of the problems it will look at.  The criteria for use is that science and research projects which have a ‘high potential for accelerating discovery and innovation’ will be able to use the facility.

There are several target areas but some of the most important from a purely human perspective are climate change, biofuels, Nuclear energy and the study of combustion.  Each area could potentially provide real world benefits and each one can benefit from the computing power of Titan.

So what powers this beast of a computer?  Well it’s amazingly ten times more powerful than the last system at Oak Ridge – Jaguar.  Yet the system takes up about the same space and uses pretty much the same amount of electricity.  Power requirements and physical space are two of the constraining factors in the creation of supercomputers.   Which is why, you simply can’t keep adding CPUs to an existing system.  What they did with Titan was instead to use Graphic chips instead to work alongside the existing CPUs.  They worked with the company Nvidia to implement the GPUs drastically increasing computing power without the corresponding power and space requirements that would normally be required.

The top ten lists of supercomputers rarely stays the same for very long, in fact it’s updated every year or so.  It’s encouraging to see one of the leaders being opened up to all sorts of research though, especially with the target areas of this research.

It’s the kind of cooperation that the internet initially promoted and in some ways still does.  However in this area we are seeing increases in restrictions, blocks and filters in internet access through out the world.    Many people already have to invest in software and subscriptions to access web sites depending on their location like this software – here.

For more information on internet filters: see this site.


Social Networks Still Rule Our Online Time   no comments

Posted at 5:00 am in Research

It probably comes as no surprise to many of us, but a recent report has shown that just under a third of all online time is spent on social networking sites.  The countries covered included Australia, US and the UK who probably represent some of the world heaviest internet users. So to put that into time, for every hour spent online a UK internet surfer will spend nearly 13 minutes of it on social sites like Facebook.    The US users actually spend a little more time on these sites up to 16 minutes out of each hour.

Compare this with other online tasks and you see how socialising dominates our online world.  We spend only a few minutes an hour shoppping and the report didn’t really register the amount we spent on education and research.  You can perhaps see some justification behind the huge price assigned to the recent Facebook share issue in the context of these figures.

However the research also importantly highlighted that although the figures were high, the trend is not up.  In fact there is quite a large fall from the previous years with a surprising rise in the number of people who are using email.  This may be well fueled by technological changes – most smartphones are easily able to access email systems where as in previous years this was more complicated.

The boost in power of mobile devices will definitely have some effect on our online useage patterns.  For example online media such as films and videos would only be accessible from a small minority of mobile devices in previous years.  Nowadays however even an entry level smartphone is more than capable of streaming video of a watchable quality.  There are still restrictions on these however – some based on geography although many sites illustrate how to avoid these – like this site.  The other issue is obviously the quality of internet connection available.  Phone networks are more extensive but until 4G becomes more available streaming video across such a network can be a frustrating experience if a wireless network is not available. 

Online Games – Teach Your Kids Ethics   no comments

Posted at 3:31 pm in Research

Now having seen my eldest son in action in a variety of online games, I’m not quite sure about this latest research.  But apparently a study at the University of Victoria, British Columbia has just published the results of a 5 year study that suggests games can boost many positive traits in children.

What many of us see watching our kids play games, is I suspect pretty much a huge waste of time.  But the study found that there was a lot of learning and character development going on.  Many games have high levels of interation and problem solving, there are also huge elements of strategy involved in succeeding in many games.

Of course today’s online games involve loads more interaction and decision making than the solo computer based games of a decade ago.  To succeed you normally have to interact to some extent and in role playing games like Guildwars and World of Warcraft this is essential.  All the characters in these games are continually confronted with ethical and moral decisions.  Many games offer tracks of good or evil with the results of each track being very different.

The study seems to have been heavily focussed on the online world games citing many examples from games like Guild Wars 2.  On child in the research project seemed to be able to apply leadership skills in the classroom he had learnt in the game.  The boy had managed to rise up the ranks to be a clan leader and was responsible in the game for leading and organising a large group of players.  It’s easy to see how this could have a beneficial effect on someone’s confidence and indeed leadership skills.

Whether there can be any beneficial effect on their ethics and morals from playing these games seems somewhat more suspect.  The reality is that although you can simulate such situations in a game, the repercussions of stealing, lying and killing are obviously much greater in the real world.  Can we really assume that the games developers are able to produce an environment that really teaches our kids about these values.  I suspect not, however appealing the idea may be for parents.

What I think this research does highlight is the very different environments our children are growing up in even compared to a few years ago.  certainly our childrens are experiencing things in their childhood that we parents have very little idea about.  The rise of the internet is certainly at the heart of this – where information and communication is at their fingertips.

This article was written by Gale Strandston who writes on technology and entertainment blogs.  She specialises in solving technical and computer problems like – this site - http://www.uktv-online.com/, which is focussed on allowing people access to specialist proxy servers to watch British TV overseas.


German Scientists Withdraw From Research Project   no comments

Posted at 10:13 am in Research

There’s a fascinating new story doing  the rounds at the moment about the huge scientific research centre – Heimholtz Research, which has withdrawn from a project due to political pressure.  In many ways this sounds quite controversial in itself, a research body being pressurised into not researching something!  However many might believe this is understandable due to the topic concerned.

The research in question was focussed on developing technologies to help reduce the environmental damage caused by exploiting the vast oil sand reserves in Canada. If you’ve not heard of these it refers to the loose sand or shale that are saturated with a dense and very thick form of petrol (also known as tar or bitumen).  These are found in huge quantities in Canada and contain a substantial amount of oil.

These deposits have been known about for many years, however the extraction was always too expensive to be viable commercially.  Now rising oil costs and the introduction of new technologies have made the extraction commercially viable but not ethical in many peoples opinion.

Protestors claim that tar sands cause numerous environmental problems including vast amounts of deforestation to clear the areas and access to the deposits.  They also point out that the mining of tar sands releases over three times as much CO2 as normal oil production.  Many estimates point towards mining of these tar sand deposits becoming the biggest single contributor in North America to climate change.

Scary stuff, it i sthis sort of press that has led Helmholtz to withdraw from the research project.  The argument is of course does the withdrawing of technical expertise help in any way, should researchers be drawn into political and environmental battles.  their role after all was to help minimize the environmental impact of a the project.  It may be the problems for Helmholtz may be due to  the upcoming EU designations of companies involved in producing high pollution oil reserves.

At the very best scenario it was seen as a huge risk to the companies reputation.  On numerous TV documentaries the involvement was highlighted – check out the online versions of ARD and ZDF.  If you’re outside the country you’ll need a German proxy to access these shows (and of course speaking German would help), try here for help.

It’s a very stark example of how research companies need to be careful about what projects they get involved with especially highly commercial and controversial ones.

Looking Into Dieting Convenience   no comments

Posted at 3:08 pm in Research

One of the biggest attractions of the several top diet companies that provide a diet meal delivery service is the sheer convenience of losing weight through a diet that you really have very little to do in order to make it work. It is probably why they have grown on popularity by leaps and bounds as greater numbers of people work longer hours to make ends meet in an economically uncertain world. Let’s take a look at why this way of dieting has grown in stature and what makes it such a compelling way to lose weight for its many customers.

Diets For Lazy Dieters!

If you take the Nutrisystem diet as a prime example of the way in which this type of easy and convenient dieting system works, you will see that when you take all the hard work out of a diet, the dieter who has almost nothing to do other than to eat the food and watch their weight drop tends to be more successful than many people on more complex, hands on diets.

They make it easy for the dieter in every sense by making sure there is virtually nothing to do except take each meal as it is required, take it out of its packaging and either heating it up for a hot meal, or eating it as is in the case of cold meals or breakfasts. All the meals are delivered to your home, meaning you don’t have to go to the store to buy any stuff. You don’t need to prepare, measure or weigh food portions or count calories. You don’t have to cook any meals! How convenient is that!

Reviews by the Boat Load!

It doesn’t take a lot of figuring out that the great number of reviews of Nutrisystem that can be found online are a gauge of how popular this particular brand actually is. And they are not alone in a multi-million dollar industry that is continually growing as the numbers of overweight people carries on growing in proportion.

Even taking into consideration the meals and their size, which is smaller than what most people are used to, it is still a great way to diet and lose weight. It teaches the body to get used to eating less, which is what it has to do in order to reverse the weight gain trend and turn it into a net loss.

Losing weight ought never to be a chore. It should be as simple and enjoyable as possible for the person to stick to the program. This kind of dieting does exactly that.

Biggest Enemies of Online Research   no comments

Posted at 9:48 am in Research

There can’t be many people whether scientists, academics or just causal researchers who don’t turn first to the internet for looking up information.  Of course the internet is definitely packed with excellent well researched and documented infomration, unfortunately there’s a lot more that is merely opinioniated, innaccurate or simply gibberish.   The good stuff is out there but there are two mainn challenges about using the internet for research - 

1) How to find the good stuff.

2) How to ignore the bad stuff.

Now this might sound quite simplistic and in some ways it is, but these two issues stand before anyone who is about to pop their search query into Google.  THey do encapsulate more specific problems such as everyone’s tendency to naturally find, believe and gravitate towards opinions that agree with our own.  Reserachers call this behaviour confirmation bias and it’s a problem for everyone from the school child to the world reknowned scientist.

It’s more than just spotting a link that seems to justify your position.  It’s actually a tendency to ignore information that may be accurate purely because of your preconceived beliefs.  In essence you are merely researching a position you want to prove and ignoring everything else, and that isn’t research.

Be careful where your internet searches lead you, there is nothing worse in online research than ending up referencing questionable sources of information.  Poorly document and cited articles that make jumps in logic or citing evidence that doesn’t even support an assertation.  Needless to say there’s an awful lot of this sort of information online, and I mean a LOT! 

Think carefully about how your online research proceeds, it’s often quite a linear process which depends on where you start your searches.  For instance if I was to start using Google in the UK, I’d probably follow a different path than if I’d started from the USA.  If you don’t believe me, fire up a US VPN or proxy service and complete two research threads  - there’s information about how to get a different IP address here - http://www.proxyusa.com/usvpn.  What you’ll find is that the geographic element that search engines introduce tends to put you on a slightly alternate trail, you might end up looking at the same sites but you might well be on completely different ones.  This is an area that is worth considering.

The Dilemma of Research   no comments

Posted at 10:26 am in Research

One of the most difficult aspects of research I always think is when your conclusion is completely the wrong one.  Of course I don’t mean factually ’wrong’ but rather when you arrive at an answer that nobody believes could be right.  I thought about this after reading about a survey published in the  Journal of American Medical Association - which looks at BMI and life expectancy.

Of course it’s one of those studies where we know the answer before they begin – being obese will lower your life expectancy.  However this is not what they found, in fact the survey announced that peope who were overweight were even likely to live longer.    This conclusion is bound to be unpopular and various groups have already been criticising as ’a load of rubbish’ or a ’horrific message’ to put out.

It has to be said that if you read the study properly there are lots of caveats – firstly being severely obese did cut life expectancy.  Also of course it was only measuring deaths so you could spend those extra years alive with all sorts of miserable conditions caused by being overweight.  But it does illustrate the pressure that reserearchers are under to ’come up with the right conclusion’.  Any researcher knows that expecting a certain conclusion can seriously flaw any piece of research before you start.

At the moment the researchers are now trying to defend their conclusions from people who have decided it must be wrong.   There are of course lots of likely explanations, but again we shouldn’t look at findings and specifically look for reasons why it doesn’t match exactly what we expected.  This atttitude will seriously skew any research.

Here’s a quote from the National Obesity forum for example -

“It’s a horrific message to put out at this particular time. “We shouldn’t take it for granted that we can cancel the gym, that we can eat ourselves to death with black forest gateaux.”

Which seems to imply that the researchers should stop actually looking at the results if it doesn’t match some accepted world view.  When any piece of research like this is posted you’ll notice different attitudes in various countries too.  It’s interesting to see how nationality effects how you react to controversial information too.  I use a inexpensive proxy server (see reference below)  to allow me to check how the News headlines in different countries react – watch these headlines on the BBC, NBC, ABC and perhaps a Canadian or French channel to see the contrast in reporting.

Technical Source : http://www.iplayerabroad.com/

Internet Research and the Pitfalls   no comments

Posted at 4:23 pm in Research

If you ever study journalism at a decent college or University, there’s one simple rule you are told about using the internet.  Never trust a single website for your information and most certainly not the first one you read.  Unfortunately the internet has become synonymous with the expression ’lazy journalism’ and people are happily copying and pasting innaccuracies that naturally appear over the internet.

A rather embarrassing example of this has just been illustrated in a report completed by the Lord Justice Leveson in his high profile report on the press.  If you have never heard about this – it’s an inquiry into the press and it’s culture, practices and ethics.  The report cost millions to complete and has been critical of the press and it’s frequent innacurate reporting.  Unfortunately Mr Leveson looks like he’s been rather careless himself.

In the section regarding the History of the Press, he details the founding members of the British Newspaper – The Independent.  He manages to get two of the correct however, the third founder is stated as Brett Straub who is nothing to do with the paper.  Funnily enough, Wikipedia also has a similar mistake with the real founders name – Matthew Symonds being replaced by Brett Straub.

The article was modified by a user located in Pomona, California last year.  A quick look at social networking profiles finds one Brett Straub from Pomona who describes himself as ’a lazy bum’.  Whether the two are the same we’re not entirely sure, but the Wiki article has now been corrected.  Unfortunately it wasn’t corrected quick enough as it’s now been pasted into one of the UKs most high profile reports of the decade.  The irony is not lost on the journalists slated in the report I’m sure.

It is a vital lesson on using the internet as your sole source of research.  It’s difficult to sort out what’s right and what’s wrong online, appearing on a web siite is no guarantee of accuracy.  Wikipedia attempts to track and block IP addresses from people who deliberately edit articles innaccurately.  However even this is difficult as many people can use proxies to create a completely false IP address - http://www.theninjaproxy.org/tv/a-fake-uk-ip-address/.  

The internet is probably the biggest development in the world of research ever, but it’s still simply another source.  Unless you can verify that information is correct from another source then you should treat it with caution – particularly sites like Wikipedia which can potnetially be edited by anyone.

Researching the Mundane   no comments

Posted at 2:49 pm in Research

Due no doubt partly to the media people are apt to think of scientists as busy trying to push the boundaries of our knowledge by doing such things as accelerating sub-atomic particles around a big tunnel in Switzerland or searching for microbes in the Arctic Circle. When the average person imagines a scientific genius he or she normally thinks of Einstein. Often we think the great minds are mavericks like Tesla that were misunderstood and ridiculed during their lives.

This is all partly true. However, the majority of research in engineering and science is not about radical new paradigms and ways of doing things. Rather it is about improving on existing systems; on finding new sources for resources; of making resources go farther.

One such example is the case of the electrical motor. With Edison’s DC current it was found that a drive shaft would not do a 360 degree rotation because current had to be turned on and off around the casing of the shaft to create the right electromagentic conditions for movement. The solution was braided copper brushes that made contact as the drive shaft rotated thus transferring current.

It was found that the solution could be greatly improved by using carbon blocks instead. Graphite has a higher electrical resistance and allows for a more regular transference of power as the shaft rotates. Although not brush like anymore these pieces of carbon were still called ’brushes’.

Much work has been done using different compositions of graphite in carbon brushes. Also in adding metalic elements to the carbon brushes. These varying compositions all affect the performance of different types of engine. Thus, today we are able to manufacture carbon brushes that fit a multitude of engines. Research is now underway to make liquid metal brushes.

It is important that scientists and engineers work on improving our exisiting technologies as well as trying to build completely new types of technology. Perhaps, the media needs to do more in changing stereotypes to address this dual need.

Further research: types of carbon brush

Research Counts When Assessing Diet Programs   no comments

Posted at 3:01 pm in Research

If there is one vital step that a person should always take before committing to any form of weight loss diet, it is that of doing the necessary research to ascertain whether their potential choice is a good one or not. Far too many people skip this step and blindly sign up for a diet program on the strength of a television commercial or a vague report they may have read in a glossy magazine or newspaper. This leads to a great number of failed diets which could have succeeded had the dieter only known what they were getting into before they got their credit card out of their wallet.

Researching a diet is not such a difficult or lengthy task as long as you know where to look for the right kind of information. That can only happen after you have defined your own criteria of what constitutes a preferable diet program for your personal needs. It may be that you need to investigate a shortlist of the easiest diets for losing weight, the least expensive diet programs or perhaps the most convenient kind of diets. Knowing what you want is a first step to being able to discover if what you want is available and how much it will cost you in terms of money, time and dedication.

From that point you can continue your researches using the Internet to read customer reviews and expert opinions from a variety of websites to learn about all the advantages and disadvantages of your selected diet program while also getting a feel for it from the opinions of past and present customers. This information is invaluable in helping you to ascertain whether your chosen diet program is going to be the right one for you and if it will fulfil all your needs from a nutritional standpoint as well as provide sufficient variety of foods to keep your interest throughout the diet to its conclusion.

If everything checks out, then you have found your diet. More importantly, you will have found a diet that you will in all likelihood succeed at.

Research at Thung Tuk   no comments

Posted at 10:28 pm in Research

The past is there waiting to be discovered. This is the narrative of archaeology. It has taken us many years to refine archaelogical techniques to preserve the records from the past and to use what we find under the ground to try to come up with descriptions about what life in pre-histroical times was like and what were the major influences that created and destroyed ancient civilizations.

Whereas much archaeological work has been done in Egpyt and the Middle East, less has been undertaken in South Asia and East Asia. This is surprising because there is a long history in these parts from which to work from. Indian and Chinese history goes back to 3,000 BC.

Recently, I undertook to study the archaelogical site discovered on the small Andaman Island belonging to Thailand called Koh Kho Khao. There is a site called Thung Tuk on the south of the island that has been discovered. It was an ancient village. At Thung Tuk on Koh Kho Khao there has been discovered a strange selection of artifacts. There was a Ganesh statue uncovered as well as Tang Dynasty pottery and Persian glass fragments. Thus, three major civilizations had an impact on the small Thai island.

The discoveries at Thung Tuk have led archaeologists to theorize that the island was an important base for several waves of immigration of peoples moving from Asia down into South East Asia.

Sadly, the dig was disrupted by the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 that claimed many lives on the island and along the Andaman coast in such places as Khao Lak and Phuket.

More research on health and fitness   no comments

Posted at 1:16 am in Research

Despite the recent economic downturn, companies specializing in health and fitness still invest a lot of money into research and development of new products and solutions to improve health and wellbeing. Fitness companies churn out new and improved versions of equipments each year. Some weight control pills are now approved by FDA, which means they went through a lot of testing to ensure that those pills are safe. Product research involves a lot of money, which is the main reason why BIG companies always seem to release a new product  every year. It’s either that or a new version of an earlier product, but in most cases it is both.

Why product development is still vibrant in the health industry

The health niche is a huge one, dominated by the weight loss industry. With the rising number of overweight and obese people, there is a huge market of people looking to lose weight, be it through exercise, diet or both. The fitness equipment sector alone is a multi-billion dollar market. This is the main reason why there are constant supply of fitness equipments that come in different forms: an ab machine and a door gym are just a few examples.

What this means for you

This industry is where money is at. So if you’re looking to invest your money, find a company that solves health problems. A startup company is even better, provided that they have a promising product that will really address a real issue. Getting into the game early on will more than quadruple your investment once the product hits of.

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Electric Shaver Manufacturing – More Money for Research as the Economy Picks Up   no comments

Posted at 10:53 pm in Research

Electric shaver manufacturers have been affected by the economic downturn as much as any other business in recent years. I think it’s fair to say that they have suffered their fair share of nicks and cuts due to the recent recession. Much of this pain has been caused because the products they make are considered discretionary goods and these goods have seen significant declines due to falling disposable income and consumer confidence levels.

A recent report by IBISWorld market research suggests revenues have fallen to $195 million in the five years to 2011, an annual rate of decline of 2.7%. During that same period, overall domestic demand has risen 0.3% per year, and as consumers start to regain confidence, it is expected that discretionary goods will start to benefit from some of this increase.

Another factor affecting the electric shaver market has been the rising penetration of cheap Chinese imports into a market traditionally dominated by large American and European manufacturers. The demand for cheaper products has resulted in intense price competition between manufacturers which has not been good for the US based companies. So while the Chinese are not renowned for making the best electric shaver, they do make products that most people can easily afford to buy. Overall imports have risen by a shade under 2% since 2006, but the Chinese imports account for a large proportion of this figure, and their sales have increased by almost 5% during the same period.

There is good news on the horizon though, thanks to the first signs of the green shoots of recovery, it is forecast that the electric shaver market will expand by 2.5% a year for the next 5 years. And because of this, research budgets are set to increase considerably which should see some innovative new features for many years to come.

Researching the Best Heart Rate Monitor   no comments

Posted at 10:52 pm in Research

Many people are researching heart rate monitors and looking for the ‘best one’.  The problem with that research is that there is no best heart rate monitor.  In fact, the best heart rate monitor depends on your situation.  Your fitness goals, your budget, and your current fitness level are just a few factors.  There might not be a “best heart rate monitor” but there will be a heart rate monitor that is the best one for you.

After a little careful research you can find the perfect heart rate monitor for your needs.  Here are a few factors you need to consider in your research:  cost, features and whether the heart rate monitor is uses  a chest strap or is strapless.   Cost:  Heart rate monitors comes in a wide range of prices.  They range from $40 to almost $400 dollars.  Obviously the higher the cost, the wider range of features.  If you are a beginner, you obviously don’t need to spend a lot of money.

Features:  One of the bigger differentiators in the feature sets of heart rate monitors is whether you can download your data to your computer.  Once you decide if you need that feature, you can pick the side of the price range you will be on.

Strap or strapless:  Heart rate monitors which use a strap are more accurate and more reliable  Strapless heart rate monitors allow you take your pulse by simply putting your finger on the watch face  

Heart rate monitors are not complicated- they just take some research.