February 8, 2021

10 Tech Leaders Share Their Favorite Edtech Innovations

The pandemic has caused a major shift in education. Even as students begin to return to the classroom, education technology remains a hot topic. Schools are continuing to look for effective and affordable ways to enhance classroom learning or better support remote learning, and the tech industry has been quick to deliver.

As leading experts in their field, the members of Forbes Technology Council are constantly looking for the most cutting-edge, innovative technologies, including those used for education. Below, 10 of them share the most compelling piece of edtech they’ve seen recently and why they’re impressed by it.

1. AspectO

AspectO is a great artificial intelligence/machine learning product that enhances both classroom and online learning. Through continuous evaluation of student participation, it triggers events to drive student engagement while in class. It also personalizes educational content and assignments based on the attentiveness of students during teacher-led class sessions, remote sessions and even online self-learning sessions on platforms such as Coursera. - Sujeeth KanugantiAira Tech Corp.

2. ClassDojo

Students are learning both remotely and in person, which means that schools today are relying on tools such as Zoom to help teachers connect with remote learners. ClassDojo can help ensure equity for remote students by randomly calling on students and awarding points for participation. Kahoot is another great option for class participation, as it lets everyone contribute to Q&A discussions. - Amy Czuchlewski, Bottle Rocket

3. Kahoot

Kahoot is a compelling edtech platform that uses gamification to make the learning process more fun and engaging. The free portion of their platform helps school kids build and use and/or browse and use others’ online learning content, while corporate users can access the paid version of the platform to build their own and utilize others’ corporate training materials. - Robert Weissgraeber, AX Semantics

4. Khan Academy

Perhaps more than any other segment, education had unexpected scalability requirements, and the success of the virtual learning platforms that adapted with agility certainly caught my eye. Khan Academy faced these sudden changes and quickly took on 2.5 times their typical traffic levels within a week as a result of successfully leveraging edge computing technology. - Joshua Bixby, Fastly

5. LearnPlatform

I’m fascinated by the edtech effectiveness system created by LearnPlatform, which is used to analyze data from students and teachers participating in their program. Currently, there are data available from 4 million students, and that number is expected to grow. I believe that the evolution of this system will eventually lead to deeper personalization when it comes to how educators teach children. - Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

6. Student Journey Mapping

Institutions are becoming more learner-centric in their design and operations, which is giving rise to student journey mapping technologies. A student’s journey map reveals multi-dimensional pathways that they navigate in their educational progression, highlighting courses, skills, learning outcomes and experiences. This equips learners with guidance and analytics to align their education with career and life goals. - Jim Milton, Anthology

7. Asynchronous Forums

One piece of edtech I find compelling in a remote learning environment, especially with students in different time zones, is asynchronous forums. Having recently completed a graduate school formation, I found it useful to receive feedback on my assignments from my fellow students and instructor within a matter of days. It allowed me to think more deeply about the subject and expand my knowledge. - Bob Fabien ZingaDirectly, Inc./U.S. Navy Reserve

8. Virtual Reality

Virtual reality needs to be designed into the new classroom. VR is arguably the most immersive learning tool available today—it turns the educational experience into something exciting and modern. More importantly, full immersion massively reduces distraction from other sources. Paired with high engagement, this leads to better comprehension and enhanced retention for students. - Kyle Rand, Rendever

9. Remote Browser Isolation

Remote browser isolation technology is having a big impact on many verticals, but it is especially helpful to educational organizations given the way they’ve been targeted by ransomware and data theft during the pandemic. Isolating students’ devices from the internet—which prevents them from being compromised by ransomware and other threats—has prevented many schools from showing up in the headlines. - David Canellos, Ericom Software

10. Remote Work Technologies

We’ve seen schools turn to the same solutions as enterprises to enable their remote environments. Technologies such as Microsoft Teams—developed for businesses—are enabling education scenarios and vice versa. Remote work technologies enable virtual classrooms and prepare students to enter a workforce that’s increasingly dependent on such tech to enable collaboration across both large and small businesses. - Bob Bruns, Avanade

This article was published on Forbes.com

January 12, 2021

13 Big Changes 5G Will Bring To Businesses And Consumers In 2021

From wireless service commercials to news stories, the arrival of 5G has been trumpeted far and wide. But while everyone may know that access to 5G is spreading rapidly across the globe, those outside the tech industry may not know why it’s such a big deal.

So why are tech experts so excited about the potential of 5G? Below, 13 industry experts from Forbes Technology Council take a look at the significant—even game-changing—impacts 5G may make for both businesses and consumers.

1. Smaller businesses will be able to access the IoT.

With 5G here, the Internet of Things opens up to a much larger audience, including small businesses. As an example, as the recent holiday season showed, more full-fledged pop-up retail locations were available, with greater capabilities. - Kevin Beasley, VAI

2. IoT systems will be cover entire cities.

In 2021, 5G will open more opportunities for businesses to use the IoT. The limitations of 4G have caused a lag in large IoT industrial systems. With 5G, the IoT will rise to its full potential, allowing developers to unite separate devices and sensors into one system. IoT systems will be able to cover entire cities, making smart cities in 2021 even more of a reality. - Jason Carolan, Flexential

3. Richer and more interactive customer communications will be enabled.

5G will fundamentally change how businesses communicate with customers. It will permit rich HD video, product demonstrations and a greater interactive environment. The standards for doing business and engaging consumers will change, and companies that cannot rise to this level of digital investment will lose connection with customers. - Kevin Parikh, Avasant

4. Businesses will need to become much more agile.

5G will create the need for higher levels of agility in business. Businesses must be able to launch new services and products quickly, analyze their performance and bring them down quickly for nonperformance. For consumers, 5G will bring a host of new experiences in terms of products and services—they will be spoiled for choices. - Padma Ravichander, Tecnotree

5. Multiple radio frequency networks will be replaced with united systems.

Consumers aside, 5G brings enormous potential for highly interconnected, huge-scale systems. To date, smart cities and grids have used multiple RF networks, which are increasingly difficult to manage; 2021 is a good year for them to consider implementing 5G to unite them all. At the same time, cybersecurity should be center stage when telcos pick their 5G providers, and systems should include strong, in-depth defense. - Satyam Bheemarasetti, NeoSilica Technologies Private Limited

6. Information security will be even more critical.

5G brings about faster, stronger and more reliable service; lower latency; less power usage; and the ability to carry more devices than 4G. All of this will impact the security posture of businesses and individual networks. The proliferation of hardware traffic points of contact will decentralize security, while the increased bandwidth capacity will strain monitoring systems. - Bob Fabien ZingaDirectly, Inc./U.S. Navy Reserve

7. Major infrastructure upgrades will be needed.

Data will be created and modified through edge computing with the emergence of 5G, and communication will become more realistic, especially with remote work. It’s important to note that 5G heavily relies on its given bandwidth, so major changes in neighborhood infrastructure will be required to be successful. 5G will also lead to more IoT models with data being collected and analyzed at the edge. - Danny Allan, Veeam Software

8. The transition to the edge cloud will become smoother.

In 2021 businesses should expect to see more services continue to move to the edge cloud in place of their local infrastructures. Cloud and mobility are changing the way we are working, and the internet has become the new corporate network. 5G will allow businesses to make that transformation more smoothly without compromising on performance and security. - Amit Bareket, Perimeter 81

9. Gamers will see decreased latency.

Consumers can expect amazing new experiences in 2021 due to 5G and complementary technologies like edge computing. One example is Cox’s Elite Gamer Service, which optimizes the connection between a user’s gaming laptop and the gaming server. This decreases latency and ensures gamers have the edge against their online competitors. - Maddison Long, CloudOps

10. XR will become a viable commercial channel.

I expect to see extended reality becoming a real commercial channel, shifting from entertaining or training into serving. With the cost of hardware decreasing and marketplaces being more accessible, the scene is already set for XR to become democratized and widely consumed. Still, it can’t reach its potential until the experience is personalized, interactive and fed with tailored content in real-time speed. - Diana Xhumari, Tegeria

11. Apps will be revamped to take advantage of 5G.

When the 4G networks and the 4G phones met, we created an entire digital economy. Uber, Netflix and Doordash would not exist without 4G. With 5G allowing up to 100 times more speed, every app company will now ask, “What can we now do with our app that we couldn’t before?” Every app you know will be redone. - David Moise, Decide Consulting

12. Video streaming will be greatly enhanced.

As 5G proliferates in 2021, consumers can expect to see high-res video, 360-degree views, augmented reality and virtual reality content, and commercials across devices—particularly mobile, as it’s the most personal screen for consumer engagement. Moreover, due to the global pandemic, watching live sports broadcasts and events online will become the norm as buffer spinners get replaced with real-time clips and live viewer-participation widgets. - Dana Ghavami, Spotible

13. Real-time application of collected data will be enabled.

With 5G, the amount of data that can be collected and aggregated will be tremendous. This could allow for real-time diagnosis and mitigation of health conditions, farming optimizations (fertilization, water, etc.), autonomous vehicle tracking, and traffic and city services monitoring (parking availability, crime reporting). There are so many possibilities—all centered around data! - Amy Czuchlewski, Bottle Rocket

This article was originally published on Forbes.com

October 30, 2020

Leveling-up Contactless Guest Interactions with App Clips

Following months of lockdown restrictions, the hospitality industry is no doubt amongst the hardest hit. As international and domestic travel demand continues to lag behind, recovery to pre-pandemic levels is not expected to take place until 2023 at the earliest. As of September 1st, almost two-thirds of hotels in the U.S. remain at or below 50 percent occupancy[1], reinforcing a feeling of cautiousness amongst travelers.

Customers’ needs have changed exponentially since the start of the crisis, as their willingness to travel now depends on safe and convenient ways of accessing products and services. Hotel services typically experienced offline are now more than likely best handled or managed through digital channels – with nearly three quarters of hotel executives agreeing self-service technology will be key to assisting guests while minimizing unnecessary contact[2]. The survival of the hospitality sector now depends on business’ efforts to create a safe and enjoyable guest experience, by identifying existing pain points in the end-to-end customer journey and eliminating them by using the right technologies.

What are App Clips?

App Clips, a new iOS 14 feature created and launched by Apple, is redefining the customer experience and helping to overcome an increasingly complex challenge faced by all businesses alike – settling anxieties over exposure to COVID-19. App Clips – a small part of an overall app experience – allow users to interact with a highly contextual portion of the app, in the exact right moment, without the need for a full download. Users can access App Clips through multiple means, including QR codes, links and Near Field Communication (NFC) tags, and will be presented with an App Clip Card that is matched closely to the experience a user is looking for, based on their needs in a particular location. For example, a user looking to make a purchase will be presented with a different Clip Card than a user who is looking for customer assistance.

How will App Clips impact the hospitality sector?

App Clips are transforming the typically lengthy hotel onboarding process and are set to be a crucial gateway to delivering a ‘high touch, no touch’ service. Prior to arrival, customers can check-in and retrieve their room key via App Clips linked to map location cards on their device. Perhaps the most concerning element of a hotel stay – checking-in – is made avoidable and guests can cruise straight to their room. In supported App Clips, users can also sign in with Apple and make a payment with Apple Pay, which will in turn speed up the check-in experience. No cash or card transactions are required, streamlining the user journey and driving up purchases and interactions.

Companies can also demonstrate they are responsive and helpful by implementing intelligent assistants into the App Clip experience. It has now become non-negotiable for companies to proactively communicate the safety protocols they have in place to protect customers from COVID-19. By levelling up real-time communication, App Clips can have a direct impact on ongoing customer engagement – the cornerstone of business success. The limitations on notifications will have a similar effect, with a reduced chance of user frustration at being repeatedly notified. By having a smooth experience with an App Clip, users should feel more inclined to download the full version of the app for repeat custom and usage. This creates a notion of lifetime value.

The new normal of hospitality

While the industry awaits pent-up demand, hoteliers have a golden opportunity to perfect a superior digital brand experience for customers, with their safety at the heart of all operations. Companies should be looking ahead to a future of contactless travel and investing in technologies that can keep up with what consumers expect from their service under unique and challenging circumstances. By leveraging App Clips effectively, hoteliers can engage with their guests in real-time, and can create seamless experiences that lead to higher conversion, loyalty signup, and repeat stays.

This article was published on HospitalityTech.com

October 2, 2020

12 Things Every Dev Should Know About Ergonomic Software Design

Ergonomic design has long been a primary consideration for developing furniture, hardware and other consumer products. But ergonomics doesn’t only apply to physical objects; good ergonomic design is a factor in everything people interact with, including software and mobile apps. Therefore, tech developers need to be thinking about this as they design and create user experiences.

To help, we asked a panel of experts from Forbes Technology Council to explain what developers should know about ergonomic design.

1. You must consider the audience and platform.

One should flow through the user experience, not be challenged by it. Your fingers or hand should move without your eyes or head struggling to figure out where to go. One essential factor that tech developers need to consider in ergonomic design is the audience and platform. Due to the constant proliferation of new formats, we have to look at the latest studies on user interface and user experience, not just accept the old way. - Jack Weiss, Marena Cosmos

2. Comprehensive accessibility needs to be factored into software and app design.

Accessibility should go beyond ease of use to ensure products are inclusive for all users, whether through voice-over services, designing around color blindness or giving the option to resize text. Often, features designed for accessibility will make the product more enjoyable for all users. - John Machado, UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group)

3. Don’t create friction on the path to value.

Ensure that the solution doesn’t create friction in getting to the value. Specifically, in the case of high-volume systems, it’s important to organize capabilities and data into consumable groups, avoiding the temptation to flood users with all relevant data in hopes they will find what they need. Design to avoid alert and analysis fatigue and deliver outcomes, not capabilities. - Jack Danahy, Alert Logic

4. Don’t try to develop a single solution for all platforms.

The best ergonomics for each platform are pretty well known at this point. The mistake many people make is to try to create one solution that works on everything. Your website should have different ergonomics than your iOS app, and your Android app should be a little different from iOS. It is obvious that voice experiences are very different, but don’t treat all screens the same. - Luke Wallace, Bottle Rocket

5. Consider users with visual impairments.

You need to consider those with visual difficulties. I once worked for a company that had a developer who was legally blind. He had to use special screen magnifiers to use a computer, and he had a difficult time moving back and forth across the screen. If the developers had rearranged the screen when magnified at a certain level, then his life would have been easier. - Graydon McKee, Pyramid Consulting

6. Aim for a distraction-free delivery.

Ergonomics are the foundation by which a user can engage with software. Many think new types of tech—such as augmented or virtual reality—are doing away with ergonomics when in fact they are predicated on it. For a user to be immersed in software, they must be comfortable and undistracted by its delivery. An engineer must consider the environment in which they are developing as a means to their engineering end. - Pierce Brantley, Cytracom

7. Put yourself in the end-user’s shoes.

It all starts with the use case for the end consumers. For example, an online retail shopping app will have different flows than an RPG game. In either case, the dev team must place themselves in the shoes of the user to map out all actions required to complete the digital journey. Once the mapping is done, then it's a matter of working backward to design the UI and layout to maximize ergonomics for each. - Tanvir Bhangoo, Freshii Inc.

8. Recognize potential physical and neurological limitations.

Ergonomic software design is all about usability, user-friendliness and accessibility. To that end, it’s important to recognize the physical and neurological limitations that some users might face. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act mandates that websites be accessible to the blind and those with motor and other impairments. Your software should take the same into consideration. - John Shin, RSI Security

9. Seek simplicity.

Ergonomic design is essential to the success of any digital product. Why? Because no user wants to deal with the hassle of counterintuitive interfaces. Filling your software with cumbersome features or workflows will only get it replaced by a sleeker, more efficient one. Remove as much friction as possible between the user and your product. As Leonardo da Vinci has been credited with saying, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” - Marc Fischer, Dogtown Media LLC

10. Account for variations among mobile devices and operating systems.

The mobile factor is critical. With the variety of mobile devices available today, the way your app or mobile tech behaves impacts the user experience. People with disabilities or larger hands may struggle with small buttons and links. Devices that aren’t up to date with the latest OS may affect UX too, since they may not work with newer Web dev technologies like WebAssembly, AMP, etc. - Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

11. Make needed data accessible via comfortable, intuitive actions.

At a jet engine overhaul plant in Brazil, I saw amazing consideration given to the preparation of work and ergonomics. Parts were laid out in order, seats were in position and tools were ready for comfortable and safe usage. Software needs the same consideration for the user. Given the user decision, is all the data they need accessible with comfortable and intuitive actions? Is it a pleasure to use in their workflow? - Steven Gustafson, Noonum

12. Put your product through rigorous testing and refinements.

When thinking about ergonomic design, tech developers need to consider the varying degrees of needs, usability and comfort for end-users. To achieve good ergonomic design, a product will need to go through rigorous testing and refinements to achieve exceptional results. The goal of this process is to remove all unnecessary friction while creating an experience worth revisiting. - Abishek Surana Rajendra, Course Hero

This article was published on Forbes.com.

October 1, 2020

10 Exciting Ways 3D Printing Will Be Used In The Future

As 3D printing continues to mature, its practical uses are seemingly infinite. From artwork and toys to entire buildings and even transplantable organs, this technology can go as far as our imaginations will allow.

While 3D printing may be most exciting for companies looking to streamline their prototyping technology, its potential for the non-tech consumer world is growing and evolving. That’s why we asked members of Forbes Technology Council what potential uses of 3D printing non-tech companies should be excited about and why. Keep an eye out for its use in these 10 applications.

1. DIY Product Prototyping

Prototyping of products has long been the barrier to innovation because inventors could do little more than dream about a product or idea. A friend’s 12-year-old son ordered a 3D printer on the internet, set it up without any parental guidance and started manufacturing fidget spinners. For a couple of weeks, this kid was making a killing—until all his classmates bought 3D printers. - Jack Weiss, Marena Cosmos

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2. Additive Manufacturing 

Additive manufacturing is an important supply chain management tool that’s currently helping the U.S. Army enhance readiness to support soldiers on the battlefield. Because it relies on digital blueprints, the authenticity, confidentiality and integrity of the “digital thread” is critical to mitigating risk while achieving successful outcomes. - Arshad Noor, StrongKey

3. Rare Parts Replacement

The potential of metal-based 3D printing will allow for the creation of rare discontinued replacement parts in a wide variety of applications. Repair shops could handle a much wider variety of clientele, and online retailers may be able to print unique parts, providing more products through a just-in-time inventory approach. - Luke Wallace, Bottle Rocket

4. Automotive Prototyping

3D printing has overcome the hype and is now broadly adopted by non-tech businesses. The automobile industry is using it to rapidly prototype new car models. 3D printing is used to produce spare and replacement parts in sectors such as aerospace. Healthcare has a wide variety of 3D printing applications ranging from molds in dentistry to prosthetics, as well as 3D printed models for complex surgeries. - Swathi YoungIntegrity Management Systems Inc.

5. Fraud Prevention

3D printing is showing promise in terms of preventing card-present fraud in things like point-of-sale systems and ATMs. For example, banks are now using 3D printing to design and produce ATM components that prevent credit card skimming. As the digital and physical security worlds meet, 3D printing will play a vital role in creating hardware to fight fraud. - John Shin, RSI Security

6. Customizable Solutions

The shift from broad, one-size-fits-all solutions to more customizable and personalized offerings has been a major trend in recent years, and 3D printing has the potential to take it a step further. Companies will be able to offer greater flexibility and personalization on the specifications and design of products sold without the need to dramatically mark up the cost. - Ron Cogburn, Exela Technologies

7. Manufacturing And Logistics

3D printing is upending the status quo for how companies develop, build and deliver products. People are even 3D printing food and houses on site! Thanks to this technology, sourcing for raw materials, manufacturing and logistics will never be the same. The efficiency, flexibility and lower costs that 3D printing brings can change how organizations get things done in practically every industry. - Marc Fischer, Dogtown Media LLC

8. Lowered Production Costs

3D printing is being used to lower costs for companies so they can offer products at lower costs. For example, in 2018 ICON 3D printed a house at the South by Southwest festival. It not only could be used to provide sustainable housing around the world but could also help people affected by natural disasters by quickly providing replacement housing. - Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

9. Apparel Printing

I think the apparel industry is ripe for disruption with 3D printing. With 3D, customers can print their own gloves, belts and glasses to meet their needs. This can provide co-creation opportunities for retailers and provide personalized design to customers. - Buyan Thyagarajan, Eigen X

10. Medicine And Healthcare Applications

I see 3D printing having a tremendous impact on medicine and general healthcare in the coming years. There are millions of people who need access to affordable prosthetics, and 3D printing is a cost-effective solution. It gives medical staff the ability to map and uniquely design each printout to a patient’s specific needs. This technology will certainly improve the lives of many people. - Abishek Surana Rajendra, Course Hero

This article was published on Forbes.com.