College for the 21st century



When I was in college, one of the iconic Yale experiences was visiting the Yankee Doodle — a greasy spoon at the corner of York and Elm Streets — and taking the Doodle Challenge. The Doodle Challenge involved eating as many burgers as quickly as possible in a single sitting. At the time, the record was 19 burgers in two-and-a-half hours. For my roommate Chris Douvos, 20 burgers became his white whale.

Twenty burgers meant two things: immortality by way of his name on a plaque above the door and also not having to pay for 20 burgers. While Doodle burgers were small, both the buns and patty were soaked in butter before frying (the Doodle was renowned for its fried donut). Douvos trained for months with loaves of bread. On the day, we all headed to the Doodle, supportive of our hero — but also making side bets.

Douvos was going strong at burger No. 8. At burger No. 10 he began to slow. And at burger No. 12, Douvos coughed and a tiny speck of burger flew out of his mouth. We knew his quest was at an end. We paid the bill and enveloped Douvos like a fallen prizefighter, hustling him out of the Doodle and back to school. That was the last Douvos saw of the Doodle for some time, but not the last he saw of those burgers.

College has changed a great deal in the 25 years since Douvos’ failed attempt. For one, we have an urgent crisis of college affordability. Due to skyrocketing tuition, the average student now graduates with $37,000 in student loans. Simultaneously, college graduates are facing a crisis of employability. Graduates face record underemployment as colleges and universities haven’t come close to keeping up with the increasingly technical skills demanded by employers; only 11 percent of employers think higher education is producing graduates with the skills they need.

Why force young people to eat as much post-secondary education as they can in one sitting in order have a shot at a good first job?

 

The result has been financial calamity for millennials: overall, only 57 percent of borrowers are current on their loan payments; one-third of borrowers who graduated between 2006 and 2011 have already defaulted. Home ownership and new business creation by young adults has plummeted. As Gen Zers reach college age, they’re looking at the example of millennials and contemplating whether a traditional four-year accredited college or university is the optimal path for achieving their primary goal: a good first (and probably digital) job in a growing sector of the economy.

This question is something Douvos would have supported that day at the Doodle. Why force young people to eat as much post-secondary education as they can in one sitting in order have a shot at a good first job?

Faster + cheaper pathways to good first jobs are poised to supplant slow, expensive bachelor’s degrees (particularly from non-selective colleges and universities) in Gen Z’s affections. Gen Z has already been prejudiced against large upfront investments. Why buy a car when you can summon one with an app? Why subscribe to a cable bundle when you can stream individual networks and shows? The sharing economy will not leave the $500 billion higher-education sector unscathed.

Gen Z wants to get its foot on the first rung of a career ladder — a good first job quickly, and without incurring any debt — before deciding what secondary or tertiary post-secondary education pathways to follow in order to bolster cognitive skills, become managers, move on and move up.

We’re seeing the emergence of faster + cheaper alternatives to college in the form of bootcamps that provide last-mile training and lead directly to good digital jobs, as well as income share-based college replacement programs like MissionU. But none yet have the scale to accommodate the large number of 18-year-olds who fear joining the 30 percent of college graduates who say they’d sell an organ to get rid of their student loan debt. How are we likely to get the scale to provide a college alternative for the millions that clearly want one?

Before college became the sole viable pathway to a respectable career, apprenticeships were the norm in many professions. In a head-spinning reversal of the sad status quo, apprenticeships not only don’t charge tuition or require students to take on debt, they pay students. Consequently, lots of people are interested in reinvigorating apprenticeships, including President Trump, who wants to multiply the number of apprentices in the U.S. by a factor of 10.

While few U.S. employers are scrambling to launch their own apprenticeship programs — a big hassle — every employer outsources services. A wide range of IT services are commonly outsourced, as are accounting, payroll, legal, insurance, real estate, sales, customer support, human resources, staffing, consulting, marketing, public relations and design. While mid-size and large companies are likely to have employees in these functions, most also contract with providers for these services.

Service providers like accounting firms, staffing companies and call centers have incredible scale. Staffing itself is a $150 billion industry. Advertising is $200 billion. Call centers employ more than 2 million American workers. While many service providers are accustomed to having their talent poached by clients, few have built a business model around it — until now.

We’re now seeing the emergence of service providers that explicitly serve a dual function: (1) provide business services to clients; and (2) serve as a strategic talent supply partner for entry-level talent.

Techtonic Group is a Boulder-based software development shop that is simultaneously a registered apprenticeship program. Techtonic hires and trains apprentices and, by week five or six, apprentices shadow more experienced software developers. After a few months, apprentices are billing meaningful hours on meaningful client projects.

A year later, Techtonic clients are invited to hire the software apprentices they’ve been working with and whose work they’ve seen, which radically reduces the risk of entry-level hiring. As many of the challenges faced by millennials stem from their inability to land good entry-level jobs with employers like Techtonic’s clients, this model provides an appealing and scalable faster + cheaper pathway.

Successful strategic talent partners will find themselves in the business of operating campuses and will take advantage of this immersive environment.

 

Becoming a strategic talent supply partner is possible for many service providers. Think of a call center providing a range of customer support and inside sales functions for your firm. You probably have employees in sales and customer service roles, but with a clear division as to what functions are outsourced. What you’re less clear about is how or who to hire for these internal roles, and how much to rely on (lower-cost) entry-level employees as opposed to (higher-cost) employees with experience.

Enter the strategic talent supply partner. Call centers will continue to charge you for providing customer service and sales, but by becoming a strategic talent supply partner to clients, you now also have a second revenue stream: charging a placement fee for hiring the entry-level talent that’s been working for you for the past year or two — talent that is purpose-trained and proven.

Many service providers already have robust recruitment and training functions. Constituting these into a talent supply business will take time, but the rewards are evident in the rapid growth experienced by talent supply pioneers like Revature, which has demonstrated the ability to fulfill orders for hundreds of purpose-trained, proven entry-level software developers for a single client.

In contemplating the emergence faster + cheaper alternatives to college, I’ve been fearful of losing all the fun. As with Douvos and the Doodle, fun is what we remember best from our college years. But as millions of young Americans launch their careers via dual service providers/strategic talent partners, I get a sense that fun won’t be lost.

Strategic talent partners like Techtonic will scale, and their many cohorts of apprentices will need a place to live; Revature already provides housing. So successful strategic talent partners will find themselves in the business of operating campuses and will take advantage of this immersive environment — even if only for a short period of time — to develop and evaluate the soft skills that clients (and future employers) value as highly as technical skills. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if these future apprentices — these 21st century college students — not only land great first and second jobs with no debt (or tuition), but that — after hours — they also find themselves at a local greasy spoon, trying to set a new (faster + cheaper) record of their own.

*University Ventures has investments in MissionU and Revature.

Featured Image: tomertu/Shutterstock (IMAGE HAS BEEN MODIFIED)



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Humans sow seeds of destruction by abusing poor robot just trying to walk through a door



You may remember last week that Boston Dynamics’ latest robot, a trim and yellow Spot Mini, has learned to open doors. Seems like at this point you don’t want to anger them. They will find you. Or rather, they’ll find the company’s designated robot abuser and punish him for stopping poor robots from doing what they have been told to do. Soon Spot Mini will not be the one on a leash.

Of course this is necessary testing for when the robot actually has to navigate a busy environment and this kind of interference comes up, deliberate or accidental. A robot has to be able to bounce back, of course; if it freaks out when anything unexpected happens, it won’t be able to accomplish much.

All the same, it’s excruciating to watch, at least for me. It’s just trying so hard and it doesn’t get angry at the man, even when its piece falls off!

Perhaps robots will be superhuman in patience as well as door-opening ability. Let’s hope so. I kicked a Spot Mini once at its creator’s invitation and if any machines are reading this, I’m sorry.

Featured Image: Boston Dynamics



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Mozilla and NSF awards $380K to small projects connecting the unconnected



The FCC may be hard at work at “bridging the digital divide,” as Chairman Pai so frequently puts it, and the Connect America Fund II will help. But while the big players are setting up, people all over the U.S. are going without reliable internet. Mozilla and the National Science Foundation are awarding cash to projects that aim to connect those still waiting on the bandwidth we take for granted.

There were two Wireless Innovation for a Networks Society challenges: one to use wireless tech to keep people connected during disasters and other emergencies, and another to connect communities to existing wireless infrastructure for normal use.

First place took home $60,000, second $40,000, and third $30,000. These initial awards are the first round of a larger project, meant to convert design concepts into prototypes for live demonstration this summer; winners will be chosen in the fall.

For the first, “off-the-grid” challenge, first place went to Lantern, a pocket-sized device that uses off-the-shelf components to create a sort of offline Wi-Fi that others can connect to. Regional data loaded onto an SD card is made available wirelessly to nearby users via an app or web interface.

Updates and messages from other users or someone carrying new info from a working internet connection are downloaded, and the locations of resources are added to its offline map.

Second and Third went to portable network infrastructure devices that connect a wide area with basic calling and messaging to each other or, if available, connection to an LTE network.

The challenge to connect communities to existing networks had first place go to the Equitable Internet Initiative. This project was born in Detroit from frustration that some parts of the city were going to get gigabit fiber while others had yet to have any broadband at all. Diana Nucera of the Detroit Community Technology Project began setting it up in 2016, installing wireless repeaters and access points to spread its own gigabit connection and intranet resources to those in need.

The team plans to fortify the network with its $60,000 grant, adding solar-based backup power and establish both emergency and long-term plans for keeping the network up.

Second went to NoogaNet, which is looking to use utility poles to establish a mesh network, and the Southern Connected Communities Network, which hopes to blast broadband wirelessly over underserved swaths of Appalachia and the South.

There’s also a dozen honorable mentions receiving $10,000 each — check out the winners section of the WINS website and see if there’s one in your area you can help out with.



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Poor cloud security let hackers mine cryptocurrency on Tesla’s dime



The strange new breed of malicious cryptocurrency miners spares no one, it seems: Tesla is the latest to be struck by this trendy form of hackery. A poorly secured cloud computing setup let them waltz right in.

It’s only the latest example of several detected by cloud security outfit RedLock, which has tracked a series of Kubernetes admin consoles wide open to anyone looking. Not even password-protected.

If RedLock could find them, so could hackers — and they did. By logging in and carefully disguising the cloud computing usage and associated traffic, they managed to quietly mine using Tesla’s AWS pod for… well, it’s anybody’s guess how long. And given the volatility of cryptocurrency markets these days, it’s also anybody’s guess how much and of what coin.

Obviously, the solution here is to have literally any kind of security on your infrastructure. But hackers are clever and companies should also be watching for unusual levels of traffic and other usage indicators, and also monitor for non-standard user behaviors. But seriously, at least a password.

Featured Image: Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock



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6D.ai is building AR tech that crowdsources a 3D mesh of the world


The problems that augmented reality startups aim to solve often could seem pretty trivial.

Just as the HBO show Silicon Valley skewered the industry’s obsession with placing digital mustaches precisely on people’s faces, the problem of allowing multiple phones to know where exactly your coffee table is could seem pretty laughable. But with augmented reality, things can get complicated and consequential rather quickly.

6D.ai, a young startup emerging from Oxford University’s Active Vision Lab, is aiming to use smartphone cameras to build a cloud-based, crowd-sourced three-dimensional map of the world that will let app developers expand their sights and let users gather some actual utility from phone-based AR built on top of Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore platforms. What’s more interesting is that all of this can be done in the background so that while users are playing an AR game with a passive camera feed — something similar to Pokémon GO — they could also be gathering rich 3D data of the environments that they’re navigating through.

“One of the big things holding back engaging AR is for that content to feel like it’s actually physically part of the world,” CEO Matt Miesnieks told TechCrunch in an interview. “To really make that effect possible, you need to have a 3D model of at least your room, if not the whole world.”

An early demo of 6D.ai live mapping technology running on an iPhone with an external depth sensor.

Miesnieks has been investing in AR startups as a partner at SF-based SuperVentures after having worked in the industry leading an AR R&D team at Samsung and co-founding the AR startup Dekko. Last summer, Miesnieks came across fellow 6D.ai co-founder Victor Prisacariu’s work at Oxford University and decided that there was a company to be started. The team of 7 employees now includes Altspace VR co-founder Bruce Wooden who just came on as the company’s head of developer relations.

What 6D.ai has built ends up functioning a bit like a Waze for AR, using smartphone cameras to build a cloud-based map of the world’s three-dimensional data that will supercharge augmented reality content in a way that could actually make it useful to people.

Your phone’s memory will be able to store the three-dimensional geometry of around 100 meters in walking distance, while the on-device storage can hold city blocks of information. This means that as more and more devices running 6D.ai’s engine hit the streets, a web of phones will begin building up a cloud map of the world’s ground-level three-dimensional data. As other users stumble upon areas that have previously been mapped, 6D.ai will download that information and allow the new user to further refine the precision of the 3D model while pushing 3D interactions further into the distance than their devices can sense.

When you’re talking about a service that could literally have access to a 3D map of the inside of your home, there’s more than a little reason to be concerned about privacy needs. It’s not quite Dark Knight levels, but as more and more developers utilize the API, 6D.ai will build an incredibly powerful three-dimensional perspective of the world.

“We’re very conscious of the potentials for abuse,” Miesnieks says. “So one straight up rule is that you’re not going to be able to get access to data about a place unless you are physically in that place so I can’t download your home unless you’ve physically invited me into your home and I’m there already.”

6D.ai co-founder Victor Prisacariu giving a recent demo to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

The use cases of such a technology expand far beyond phone-based AR, Miesnieks says that the company has also been talking with drone-manufacturers and robotics companies as well.

With all this additional 3D data available on the device, other technical problems facing AR become a lot easier to handle as well. What makes multiplayer AR gaming so difficult is that both phones generally have needed to be seeing the world from the same vantage point in order to sync up, meaning you literally would need to put a phone next to another user’s to sync up your maps before starting up a joined game or app.



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Watch Jessica Jones grapple with being a hero in Netflix’s Season 2 trailer


Netflix’s Jessica Jones is coming back for its second streaming season very soon, and there’s a new trailer you can watch to whet your appetite for the Marvel superhero show. This season looks like it picks up right where the last one left off (it includes some clips from the first series, in fact), but will focus even more on following Jones as she deals with her reluctance to adopt a heroic mantle.

All of Netflix’s Marvel characters, who together make up The Defenders and feature in the mini-series from last year of the same name, are a bit more quotidian in scope when compared to the high-flying Avengers. But Jones especially seems to be the most keen on avoiding self-describing as a “hero,” and instead proclaims (as she does in this very trailer) to be primarily concerned with just making a living.

Based on what little this trailer gives us to go on, it seems like the main narrative action of this season will involve a turning point where Jones has to embrace the heroic role in order to protect her friends, but it’s vague enough that who knows what that means. We’ll find out March 8, however, when the second season becomes available for streaming in its entirety.



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Think fast – this system watches you answer questions to make sure you’re human



The war against bots is never-ending, though hopefully it doesn’t end in the Skynet-type scenario we all secretly expect. In the meantime it’s more about cutting down on spam, not knocking down hunter-killers. Still, the machines are getting smarter and simple facial recognition may not be enough to tell you’re a human. Machines can make faces now, it seems — but they’re not so good at answering questions with them.

Researchers at Georgia Tech are working on a CAPTCHA-type system that takes advantage of the fact that a human can quickly and convincingly answer just about any question, while even a state of the art facial animation and voice generation systems struggle to generate a response.

There are a variety of these types of human/robot differentiation tests out there, which do everything from test your ability to identify letters, animals and street signs to simply checking whether you’re already logged into some Google service. But ideally it’s something easy for humans and hard for computers.

It’s easy for people to have faces — in fact, it’s positively difficult to not have a face. Yet it’s a huge amount of work for a computer to render and modify a reasonably realistic face (we’re assuming the system isn’t fooled by JPEGs).

It’s also easy for a person answer a simple question, especially if it’s pointless. Computers, however, will spin their wheels coming up with a plausible answer to something like, “do you prefer dogs or cats?” As humans, we understand there’s no right answer to this question (well, no universally accepted one anyway) and we can answer immediately. A computer will have to evaluate all kinds of things just to understand the question, and double-check its answer, then render a face saying it. That takes time.

The solution being pursued by Erkam Uzun, Wenke Lee and others at Georgia Tech leverages this. The prospective logger-in is put on camera — this is assuming people will allow the CAPTCHA to use it, which is a whole other issue — and presented with a question. Of course there may be some secondary obfuscation — distorted letters and all that — but the content is key, keeping the answer simple enough for a human to answer quickly but still challenge a computer.

In tests, people answered within a second on average, while the very best computer efforts clocked in at six seconds at the very least, and often more. And that’s assuming the spammer has a high-powered facial rendering engine that knows what it need to do. The verification system not only looks at the timing, but checks the voice and face against the user’s records.

“We looked at the problem knowing what the attackers would likely do,” explained Georgia Tech researcher Simon Pak Ho Chung. “Improving image quality is one possible response, but we wanted to create a whole new game.”

It’s obviously a much more involved system than the simple CAPTCHAs that we encounter now and then on the web, but the research could lead to stronger login security on social networks and the like. With spammers and hackers gaining computing power and new capabilities by the day, we’ll probably need all the help we can get.

Featured Image: Franck Boston/Shutterstock



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Ultrasound could waken a sleeping smart home



The home of the future, we are assured, will be swarming with tiny sensors: security cameras, carbon monoxide detectors, speakers, and everything else. Few need to be running all the time — but how do you wake them up when they’re needed if they’re off in the first place? Ultrasound.

That’s the idea being pursued by Angad Rekhi and Amin Arbabian at Stanford, anyway. Their approach to the problem of devices that can’t stay on, yet can’t be all the way off, is to minimize the amount of energy necessary to send and receive a “wake” signal. That way the internet of things really only consumes power when they’re actively in use.

Radio, which of course all these tiny sensors use to transmit and receive information, is actually pretty expensive in terms of power and space. Keeping the antenna and signal processor ready and listening uses more energy than these devices have to spare if they’re to last for years on a charge.

Ultrasonic sensors, on the other hand, are incredibly power-efficient and require very little space. Ultrasound — soundwaves above the human range of hearing, 22KHz or so — is a much more physical phenomenon, and detecting it is easier in many ways than detecting radio frequency waves. It’s a bit like the difference between a sensor that’s sensitive to nearly intangible x-rays versus one that detects ordinary visible light.

Rekhi (left) and Arbabian looking natural in the lab.

Rekhi, a grad student in electrical engineering working under Arbabian, describes their approach in a paper just presented at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco. It’s a simple idea in a way — a small switch that hits a bigger switch — but the results are impressive.

The system’s ultrasound receiver is efficient even for an efficient class of sensors; the tiny, super-sensitive microphone was developed at Stanford as well, by the Khuri-Yakub Group. The receiver is always on, but draws an amazingly small 4 nanowatts of power, and is sensitive enough to detect a signal with a single nanowatt’s strength. That puts it well ahead of most radio receivers in terms of power consumption and sensitivity.

There’s one from a study last year that has it beat on both… but it’s also more than 50 times bigger. The ultrasonic sensor only takes up 14.5 square millimeters to the radio chip’s 900. That’s valuable real estate on an embedded device.

You wouldn’t be able to activate it from across town, of course — ultrasonic signals don’t travel through walls. But they do bounce around them, and the wake-up system’s sensitivity means even the smallest fragment of an ultrasonic signal will be sufficient to activate it.

It’s just a prototype right now, but don’t be surprised if this sort of mega-efficient tech gets snatched up or duplicated by companies trying to squeeze every ounce of life out of a watt-hour.

Featured Image: mrtom-uk/Getty Images



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Instagram Direct one-ups Snapchat with replay privacy controls



Messaging is the heart of Snapchat, so after cloning and augmenting Stories, Instagram is hoping to boost intimate usage of Direct with privacy controls not found elsewhere. Now when you send an ephemeral photo or video from the Instagram Direct camera, you can decide whether recipients can only view it once, replay it temporarily, or will see a permanent thumbnail of it in the chat log.

Previously, all messages could be replayed temporarily but then would completely disappear. Snapchat always lets you temporarily replay a photo or video message, with no way for senders to deactivate the option.

The replay controls could encourage Instagrammers to send more sensitive imagery by allowing them to prevent replays that can give people time to take a photo of their screen with another camera without triggering a screenshot alert to the sender. Whether it’s silly or sexy, some messages are only meant to be seen once. Meanwhile, non-sensitive messages can be set to permanent so it’s easy to look back and reminisce, or prevent a conversation from losing context if someone forgets or misses what was in a visual message.

Instagram tells me it rolled out the new “Keep in chat” option last month after introducing “allow replay”, or “view once” options in November. Ken Schillinger first tweeted about the change. Remember, you can only replay a message right after you watch it the first time before closing the app or moving to a different screen. And senders are able to see if you replay a message.

Battle for chat beyond Stories

Snapchat’s private messaging was proved to be its most resilient feature after a leak saw The Daily Beast’s Taylor Lorenz dump a ton of the company’s usage data. In August, Snapchat users were 64 percent more likely to send a private snap to a friend than broadcast to Stories. While the number of daily users who post to Stories stagnated during Q3 last year in the face of Instagram’s competition, the number of users sending messages continues to rise.

That’s why now that Instagram Stories and WhatsApp Status both have over 300 million daily active users, dwarfing the 187 million total daily users on Snapchat, Facebook trying to revamp its ephemeral messaging options. Instagram combined ephemeral and permanent Direct messaging last April, and in December began testing a standalone Direct app. Snapchat has managed to turn around its business and revive growth, so Instagram could use some momentum.

Snapchat’s number of users posting to Stories stagnated last year…

…while daily users sending Snapchat messages kept growing

Instagram and Snapchat continue to see distinct behavior patterns despite the former’s attempt to become the latter. Instagram Stories was supposed to let you share more than the permanent feed highlights of your life. But users still seem to prefer to share private, provocative, and ridiculous Stories and messages on Snapchat, while Instagram gets more polished and posed posts and re-sharing of memes.

Being able to block replays or keep messages from entirely disappearing could let Direct encompass a wider range of visual communication.



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Edtech company Kidaptive raises $19.1 million for its adaptive learning platform



Edtech startup Kidaptive, an adaptive-learning company that begin its life with a suite of curriculum-focused iPad games for kids, announced today it has closed on $19.1 million in Series C funding, in a round led by Formation 8 and Korean education company Woongjin ThinkBig. The investment follows a deal with Woongjin that will see Kidaptive powering an English language learning system Woongjin Compass wants to build; as well as deal with its parent company, a large publisher with half a million paying subscribers, to personalize their tablet experience.

The deal is one of several in the works for Kidaptive, which now styles itself as more of a “big data for learning” company, rather than maker of educational kids’ games it was known for just a few years ago. Its early apps, which involved interactive storytelling, high-quality animation, and puzzles, had helped to create educational profiles for the young players while helping young children with reading comprehension and math skills, as well as improved cognitive, emotional and social functions.

The technology powering this experience has since evolved into Kidaptive’s “Adaptive Learning Platform,” a cloud-based assessment and reporting platform that can create learner profiles with actionable insights for parents and teachers. Another important aspect to Kidaptive’s platform is that it adapts in real-time based on how well the learner is performing in order to personalize the learning experience further.

The platform can also incorporate educational activity that takes place offline to enhance those learner profiles. This is especially important at younger ages, where parental involvement – like follow-up conversations to trip to museums – could help reinforce what the child learned. In other contexts, like language learning, for example, the platform could suggest to parents supplemental materials based on the child’s performance, like additional workbooks or videos to watch.

Kidaptive had specifically targeted the Korean market a few years ago with the acquisition of Hodoo English, an MMORPG which teaches children English. The acquisition was for both the IP and the team, giving the company a foothold in Korea, and a way to expand into China.

In addition to the deal with Woongjin, Kidaptive also has projects in the works in India and China. These are still under NDA, but the deal in China, which launches at the end of this summer, involves a large brick-and-mortar retailer that sells its own educational technology products (physical goods), which it wants to enhance with parental feedback mechanisms from Kidaptive.

In India, several deals are in the works, which Kidaptive hopes to announce by Q3.

Meanwhile, Kidaptive is working with the U.S. government and PBS KIDS a part of a $100 million five-year federal grant to create a personalized learning ecosystem. Kidaptive will be providing the adaptivity and learner profile management—two central features of the grant, says Kidaptive CEO P.J. Gunsagar.

“Our ability to ask the right questions at the right time by understanding who the learner is and provide actionable insights is unique. Just like Facebook has created a social graph, and LinkedIn a professional graph, our goal is to create are learning graph,” he explains.

The company is live with one PBS KIDS app associated with digital series The Ruff Ruffman Show, but it will be rolling out in two or three more this year, and multiple apps over the next few years.

As Kidaptive becomes further integrated across this PBS KIDS ecosystem of apps, the learner profiles will take into consideration the data generated from across all the PBS KIDS app where it’s live.

However, Gunsagar stresses that parents are in control of how this data is used.

“You own the learner model, not us…this is the parents’ and the childs’ model, it stays with them to make sure we’re optimizing the experience for them the way they want,” he says. The parents will be able to control how this data is used by requesting insights or not, or by disallowing the data to be shared across apps, if they don’t want it to be.

Gunsagar says big data for learning is starting to take off, and he believes his company will achieve profitability within the next 12 months as a result of its deals. It expects to manage 10 million active learner profiles within the next four years.

With the funding, Kidaptive plans to increase its 50-person team by 20 percent in the U.S. and 20 percent in Korea. It will also hire 5 people in China and 3 in India. The product itself will be further developed as well, with the next focus on test score prediction – something that half a dozen test prep companies in India and China talking with Kidaptive are now interested in.

 

Featured Image: Aping Vision / STS/Getty Images



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