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Smartphone Keyboard Teaches While You Text

Posted by richmore on September 4, 2015 in Electronic |

Eight companies graduated last week from the Intel Education Accelerator. None are going to set the world on fire, but all are prepared to make learning just a little bit easier. I’ll tell you about a few more of them later this week, but I have to start with the product that I think was at the head of the class: WordsU.

WordsU has developed an alternate keyboard for smart phones with an autocorrect function that, instead of trying to figure out what word you are trying to type, tries to expand your vocabulary. (Alternate keyboards are apps that replace the standard keypad image that appears when you need to type on a mobile device. Most are designed to make typing faster, more intuitive, or more fun.) WordsU’s digital keyboard app will make its debut in January.

In their pitch to potential investors and journalists, WordsU founders Sam Mendelson and Allan Zhang said the company is targeting English as a second-language (ESL) learners and SAT test preppers who would otherwise use flash cards. They say their approach is better for learning because it presents vocabulary in context, and does so throughout the day. The keyboard, the founders said, works with any app, including iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat. (The company previously tried to introduce the technology through its own messaging system, but it’s a lot harder to get users to embrace an entirely new form of social media than a new keyboard.)

I think this approach is brilliant—and not only because it’s been only a matter of months since my youngest child finally finished running the pre-college testing gauntlet and the tables and countertops in my house were made free of stacks of SAT vocabulary flashcards. It’s clear that my children spend far more time messaging, texting, and snapchatting than they ever did reviewing vocabulary; I’ve been embarrassingly unsuccessful at reigning that in, and I’d feel a bit better if I thought they were learning a little something during the process. I don’t think it would completely replace those boxes of flash cards—there are just too many things that teens don’t talk about with their friends—but it certainly could help.

And, come to think of it, the app would probably bring a little something to my own text messages too. We all get lazy about word choice when we text.

Besides the more serious versions of the keyboard that teach SAT words and American idioms for language learners, WordsU is having a little fun with the technology, demonstrating Valley Girl and Cowboy variants. In one example, the app took a text message that read “I’m super excited” and came up with “thrilled” (SAT word), “chomping at the bit” (American idiom), and “like so psyched” (Valley Girl) as alternatives

Is Real Wireless Phone Charging Nearly Here?

Posted by richmore on August 29, 2015 in Electronic |

In 1891, Nikola Tesla performed an amazing demonstration: He illuminated a gas discharge tube (essentially a fluorescent bulb) with an electric field, showing that it was possible to transmit electric power without wires. Since then, advances in electronics and computing have given us portable versions of his contemporaries’ inventions—Bell’s telephone and Edison’s phonograph. But when […]

Ossia’s Cota Wireless Power Tech Promises to Enable the Internet of Everything

Posted by richmore on August 27, 2015 in Electronic |

Over the past year or so, we’ve seen enough companies promising to deliver truly wireless power that we’re almost, almost starting to believe in it. But there’s an awful lot of hype, compounded by the fact that there are a bunch of very different technologies all targeting the same goal: charging everything, everywhere, without plugs […]

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Lessons from CES How VR Can Avoid the Fate of 3D TV

Posted by richmore on August 8, 2015 in Electronic |

“Your quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail, to the ruin of all.” So says Galadrial to the fellowship sent to destroy the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings. But that advice might as well be directed to the burgeoning virtual reality industry. Early […]

Hands-On with Ultrahaptics’ Invisible, Touchable Controls

Posted by richmore on August 2, 2015 in Electronic |

Last year at CES, we experienced a very cool demo from Ultrahaptics of an ultrasound-based gesture interface that provides invisible tactile feedback in mid-air. This year, Bristol, England-based start-up is showing how their technology can be embedded into devices like cars, stereos, and stoves. And it’s exactly as magical as we were hoping it would be. Ultrahaptics’ […]

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North Korea may soon be able to strike USA with ultimate doomsday weapon that deactivates (nearly) all electronics

Posted by richmore on July 27, 2015 in Electronic |

Obama administration officials have released new intelligence indicating North Korea is building mobile ICBMs that will soon be able to reach the United States. This was reported in the Washington Times, which states, “New intelligence indicates that North Korea is moving ahead with building its first road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile, an easily hidden weapon capable […]

Move Over Wearables. Make Way for Implantables

Posted by richmore on July 25, 2015 in Electronic |

Wearable monitors for health and fitness seemed to be everywhere in the exhibit halls and on the conference stages at CES 2016. But while this generation of biometric monitoring devices goes mainstream, a little Silicon Valley company is working on what could be the next generation of body sensing technology: the injectable. In a small suite […]

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TSA ‘officer’ who stole $800,000 worth of electronics says agency is a culture of criminality

Posted by richmore on July 12, 2015 in Electronic |

Our regular readers know we’ve got a lot of heartburn when it comes to the antics and actions of the Transportation Security Administration and a number of goofballs this rogue agency regularly employs. As we have well documented, it is one of the most lawless federal agencies in existence. But for the most part, that […]

Medical microchipping is real Scientists develop tiny electronics that dissolve inside your body

Posted by richmore on July 2, 2015 in Electronic |

If you thought the concept of medically-injectable microchips was something out of a science fiction novel, think again. A cohort of scientists from universities the world over has developed a new type of implantable microchip capable of performing various pre-programmed functions inside the body for a certain period of time, and later dissolving into oblivion. […]

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