Posted by: crudbasher | July 25, 2014

Video Interview With Elon Musk

I think that history will remember Elon Musk in the same breath as Edison and Ford. Therefore, I tend to listen to what he says.

Now how can we get him to revolutionize the way we learn? :)

Posted by: crudbasher | July 23, 2014

Wireless Virtual Reality

I’m a bit skeptical about this one.

H/T Gizmodo

Subjects in the lab wear markers and are tracked down to the nearest millimeter using infra-red cameras and markers with the same technology used in cinema for motion capture. The system knows exactly where they are, where they are headed and where they are looking. This takes it well beyond the capabilities of the current Oculus Rift.

The key to the immersive experience is that there are no cables attached to the person, who can wander freely through the room.

There is a video too.

In theory this can work. Our brains control our bodies based on electrical impulses generated by our eyes. If you can generate a perfect virtual world, then our brains can be fooled. The problem with the system in the video is it is far from perfect fidelity. I know this is just a prototype but you will have problems with people falling over. The headset doesn’t provide a wide field of view. Our balance is based in part on our eyes peripheral vision.

Even so, in controlled situations this can be an interesting tool. I would be very interested in seeing a multi player version. You can imagine a class of students using this to explore a virtual model of a car or other vehicle.

It’s a cool experiment but it will be very hard to get it to work effectively.

Posted by: crudbasher | July 18, 2014

13yr Old Creates His Own Google Glass

Heh I love stuff like this.

Thanks to my friend Amy Barnabi!

H/T Makezine

When Clay Haight was 8 years old, his grandfather bought him a book that explained how things were made and how to repair everyday appliances. He caught the bug and has been fascinated with making ever since. He’s tried his hand at electronics, robotics, and other DIY projects, many of which he found in Make: magazine.


Clay’s DIY “Google Glass” uses the sensors on the Arduino Esplora along with the Arduino LCD screen and a 3D printed frame. He can use voice commands to bring up a calendar with his schedule, local maps, and temperature and weather info. A headband on the back keeps it from tilting to one side.

What is happening here is the components are becoming very cheap to make and they can interface with each other via software. The result is what I have been saying for a few years. The Internet is going to empower the creative. This kid can make a difference because not only can he build this, but he can also send the instructions around the world for free.


(so how do you keep this child interested in school when he is forced to learn about things that are on the test?)

Posted by: crudbasher | July 17, 2014

Progress In Machine Generated Content

I am convinced that any future learning system will have to work on a global scale. It will also have to be personalized for each student. In order for this to happen, most of the content will have to be created by machines. Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and others are all working on machine vision and various related systems. Amazon’s new Fire phone has a feature where you can take a picture of an object and it will tell you what it is (and how to buy it). Microsoft has announced that they have a system that can interpret what it looks at pretty well.

H/T Gizmodo

This morning at the annual Research Faculty Summit, Microsoft showed off a pretty impressive advancement in its AI tech. An app, entitled Project Adam, is poised to identify all of its surroundings just like a Fire Phone without the merch hooks. The app is still in development but shows promising results.

Here’s the demo video.

I cannot overstate how much of a disruptive innovation this can be. When computers can see as well (and then better) than human, vast amounts of jobs will be able to be replaced. It will be the merging of the digital world and the real world.

So how long will it take for an app to come along where you point your phone at an object and say, “teach me about this”?

Technology is moving forward in a thousand tiny ways, getting ready to be combined into new products and ways to enhance the human experience.


Posted by: crudbasher | July 16, 2014

Cameras Spreading Everywhere

Cameras are a godsend to teachers. Let’s face it, we can lecture about something and have students read textbooks about it but a picture speaks a thousand words.

With the rise of miniature cameras you can pretty much capture anything you want. With the advent of cell phones, you can live stream this to the world. I predicted we would see this in sporting events pretty soon.

Well, sure enough…

H/T New York Times

While it is still early in the experiment, it appears many professional riders, who generally are particular about adding anything to their bikes, are enthusiastic about doubling up as camera operators.

It would seem to make sense to live stream this but experiments with that seem to indicate at least for a long event like this people would rather watch an edited video.

Julien Goupil, the media director for the Tour, said that the organization experimented with live transmissions from a bike using a dedicated motorcycle to capture the signal at a small race in the Netherlands last year. On the whole, Goupil said, the result wasn’t as good as the edited product.

“If nothing is happening, the picture is nothing,” he said. “We need to make something sexy.”

Fascinating stuff. I still think streaming video could work for some sports. Now what will really be cool is a set of cameras capturing a full 360 degrees, coupled with a VR headset like Oculus Rift. It would seem like you are really on the bike. That however is a few more years off.

Here’s a video explaining how the cameras are setup and some actual footage.

Posted by: crudbasher | July 15, 2014

LeapTV – A Game Console For The Youngest

LeapFrog is a company that makes educational type devices for little children. They just unveiled a new game console that is designed to let little kids have a fun educational experience on their TVs.

H/T Gizmodo

LeapFrog says LeapTV will offer a library of over 100 proprietary games and videos available via game cartridge or download. Each game is curated by LeapFrog to offer age-appropriate educational fun. Assumedly, the killshot is a developmental target that lands somewhere after eight years old.

LeapTV will hit shelves in time for the 2014 holiday season at $150 for the system, $30 for each game cartridge, with downloadable games and apps starting at $5. With a wireless Wii-like remote and body-tracking camera, it tries to give younger kids the same sort of gaming capabilities that their older siblings likely enjoy.

So what can we learn from this? Well, it’s clear the cost of entry to the video game console market has significantly dropped. The potential market for this system is fairly niche so that means the business model can work even that that limited level. That makes sense though because even a midrange smartphone can power something like this.

Longer term this means that kids entering K-12 will have a different idea as to what it means to learn. Learning to them will be fun. How excited to you suppose they will be while cramming for their first standardized test?

Posted by: crudbasher | July 14, 2014

Ted Talk – 30 Years Of Predicting The Future

Here is a video of MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte reviewing his past 30 years of predictions about the future. (Spoiler alert: he was mostly right)

The money moment for me come right at the very end where he is asked to make a new prediction. He said that in 30 years we will learn things by swallowing a pill with the information which then becomes available in our brains.

So… what happens to schools then?

These are the sorts of things that interest me. Massive disruptive forces. Enjoy.

Posted by: crudbasher | July 10, 2014

Another Step Towards Smart Toys

I had heard about MOSS Robotics about a year ago but they are finally shipping.

H/T Gizmodo

MOSS is a modular building toy that allows anyone to easily build semi-intelligent robotic creations without the need for a computer, programming know-how, or any prior experience with building bots.

It may sound similar to existing robotic building sets, but the components that make up the MOSS sets connect to each other using metal ball bearings and magnets, instead of the traditional plastic interlocking studs. MOSS introduces a radically new way to build where the connectors not only hold components together, but also allow them to bend, move, and pivot, all depending on how they’ve been attached to each other.

What’s that mean in practice? Since all of the ‘programming’ is dependent on how you’ve connected the various MOSS components, experimentation and trial and error is made easier and more enjoyable. The process is part of the fun.

Note that last paragraph? Experimentation, trial and error and process? That is how we learn most effectively. I’m going to get a set of these in a few years for my son. I can only imagine what kind of pieces you will be able to get then!


Here’s a good overview of the technology.

There are two possible ways to predict the future.

1. Take what currently exists and imagine improvements.

2. Take what currently exists and imagine replacements.

This is the difference between refinement and revolution. Take a device like smartphones. Are they are an improvement? Well you could argue they are just improved phones but actually they replaced land line phones so that makes them a revolution.

Each revolution in technology tends to unlock other advances. This used to take a long time but now it happens more rapidly because our science instruments are being improved and also because knowledge gets around much faster than it used to.

All of this leads to the Law of Accelerating Returns as defined by Ray Kurzweil. This means that technological progress tends to accelerate over time. As I like to put it, we are linear minds in an exponential time.

Ray Kurzweil tends to look at the future in revolutionary ways.

Imagine if we can use the cloud as an extension of our brain capacity! All of this is why I think that mass education in it’s current form is going to be replaced, not just improved. Back in 2011 I asked if mass education as reached the point of diminishing returns. It is becoming more clear to me that it has. We spend more money on mass education for essentially no improvement. Technology like Ray talks about may go around the problem.


Posted by: crudbasher | July 8, 2014

Great Article About Higher Ed Disaggregation

I was sent this great article by my friend on Twitter @dgburris.

In it author Martin Smith talks about how higher education is similar to the music industry. This isn’t a new idea to these pages but it is laid out in the article in a good and clear way. Consider this a primer on what I think is going to happen to higher education.


This last decade of the music industry presages the coming decade of education. Choice is expanding at every level, from pre-k to graduate school. The individual course, rather than the degree, is becoming the unit of content. And universities, the record labels of education, are facing increased pressure to unbundle their services. So what will the future of education look like? 

  • The price of content will freefall over the next seven years. We heard the first rumblings last year when the Supreme Court ruled that U.S. copyright owners may not stop imports and re-selling of copyrighted content legally sold abroad, paving the way for a global market for textbooks.

  • The supply of learning content will swell. This might sound counterintuitive, but as we move toward a global market for content, creators will be price takers, unable to command much negotiating power given the sheer scale of distribution platforms (think iTunes). While it may make less sense for a professor in New York City to write a book, it makes a whole lot of sense for one in Mumbai.

  • Education will be personalized. With learning content available on demand, students will increasingly be able to build degree programs from a wide variety of institutions offering particular courses.

  • Universities will be masters of curation, working as talent agencies. They’ll draw royalties and license fees from the content professors create and curate. In many ways, the role of the best universities will become even more focused on identifying, investing in, and harvesting the returns from great talent.

Yes yes exactly right. The author goes on to say that this will cause great upheaval in the industry. Again, I agree completely. Of course the scenario laid out above is what I think will happen without outside intervention (meaning government). The government is now such a large player in society that it throws off economics trends. For example, the ride sharing service Uber is banned in some cities with taxi companies. There aren’t really any good reasons for this except it will hurt the taxi companies. This is the government picking winners and losers.

The other thing I think the author doesn’t address is the rise of machine generated content. Once computers can generate lessons for students the price will hit the floor.

Barring outside meddling, higher education in 20 years will be marked by a few large learning providers using mostly automated systems with notable brand names (MIT, Stanford, Harvard), plus many many independent providers who will cater to niche markets.

This is the Stormfront of change I have been talking about. Like most transformations it is scary, but in this case it is inevitable.

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 933 other followers