8 Inspiring Mobile Innovations From People Under 35

MIT Technology Review’s Annual List Includes Applications for Mobile Learning

Industry News, Pedagogy and Learning Comments (0)

One of my favorite magazines foreseeing the near future is the MIT Technology Review. The September/October 2013 issue, now available, did not disappoint.

MIT Technology Review - September/October 2013In particular, there was the annual review of “35 Innovators Under 35,” which features up-and-coming young people with terrific ideas and the drive to see them carried out. Here are people who I thought were relevant to a mobile learning audience:

Morgan Quigley, 32, has developed an open-source Robot Operating System, or ROS, that is distributed rather than centralized. For example, the four-fingered hand that Quigley has developed is not controlled by a central processor. Instead, its fingers and palm use 14 low-cost, low-power processors to control each joint directly. If one finger doesn’t work because of a failure in the processor, the other fingers will continue to operate. This shift in thinking has profound implications for the future design of robotics. (And yes, robotics are coming soon to a learning situation near you.)

David Fattal, 34, is a French-born quantum physicist who now works as a researcher at HP Labs. He has developed a new kind of display that can project colorful moving images, viewable in three dimensions from multiple angles without any special glasses. Watch for this technology to be built into mobile devices in the next five years.

Vijay Balasubramaniyan, 33, can detect where a call is coming from by analyzing its audio quality and the noise on the line. He has built a database of “audio signatures” for many locations that pinpoint the origin of any call, a useful trick for improving security by comparing the signature with where the caller says he or she is located. This idea seems to be a sideline to Balasubramaniyan’s more profound work on black holes and particle physics.

Leah Busque, 33, started a company called TaskRabbit that allows users to go online and easily hire their neighbors to do quick errands and other odd jobs. They do everything from delivering lunches and fixing toilets to dressing up as a hot dog for a surprise birthday party.

Eric Migicovsky, 27, built a prototype smartwatch in 2008. The watch is wirelessly tethered to a cell phone to tell time, as well as display emails, texts, and other basic notifications. Eventually, this became the Pebble smartwatch, selling today at Best Buy for $150.

Laura Schewel, 29, developed software that aggregates and analyzes the signals from cell phones and dashboard GPS navigation systems to produce detailed maps of where, when, and how people travel through cities. With this software, you can type in an address and find the demographics of the people who drive by or stop near a particular location. The system even shows what neighborhoods they are coming from.

Per Ola Kristensson, 34, has produced ShapeWriter, an easier, faster and more intuitive way to input text on mobile devices. ShapeWriter lets you enter text by dragging a finger over the letters in a word. Practiced users can then gesture-type in excess of 30 words per minute on their mobile device. The product has been removed from the market as the company was purchased by Nuance Communications, which plans to incorporate it into future products.

Caroline Buckee, 34, is an epidemiologist who uses cell phone location data to predict malaria outbreaks. Locals can then be warned via text messages to avoid a particular area or to use bed netting if they live in that location. Buckee now works at Harvard.

All the young people featured in this issue are inspiring. The eight featured above are the ones most relevant to mobile learning.

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Gary Woodill is a senior analyst with Float, as well as CEO of i5 Research. Gary conducts research and market analyses, as well as assessments and forecasting for emerging technologies. Gary is the co-editor of "Mastering Mobile Learning," author of “The Mobile Learning Edge,” and the co-author of “Training and Collaboration with Virtual Worlds.” He also presents at conferences and is the author of numerous articles and research reports on emerging learning technologies. Gary holds a doctor of education degree from the University of Toronto.

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On October 7, 2013
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