Number of employees: 6-15
Short URL: vator.co/intelligent-papers
Revolutionary Education System
The vision of Intelligent Papers is to build a revolutionary education system and the backend software that:
This approach gets us closer to education equality across the globe.
“The Next Textbook”
Our solution to this problem is a product we call the nBook, which is the “next textbook”. It is based on a very simple touch based embedded device. While our goal is to support multiple devices in the future, our first version is a 7 inch touch device. There are only two buttons on the device: the power button and the home button. The home button is used by the software to go back the previous screen or to exit out of applications. In addition, we provide an SD card interface for memory scalability, headphone output, microphone input and a micro USB based charge socket. For communication, the current device comes with WiFi and future versions will support 3G.
This device runs our own client software which is currently built on Windows CE, however, Widows CE is neither accessible nor even visible to the user. The purpose of this is to present an application specific, touch optimized interface to the user. The software is first organized around various subjects the student is taking during the academic year. For each subject, there is a textbook, an exercise book and multiple audio visuals (this organization of content may change based on the school system). A book reader application is used to read the books. The application comes with the ability to write on the book, as well as highlighting. The ability to write on the book is especially important to solve the exercises in the exercise book. In addition, there is a notebook attached to each book as well as various navigation options to navigate within the book. There are also supplemental content such as a dictionary and an encyclopedia which can be accessed either from within the book or from the top level. Currently, the audiovisual formats supported are music, pictures, video, and Powerpoint presentations. In the near future, we will be supporting Adobe Flash content, which will allow us to leverage existing interactive content written for web based education applications.
Our client software is designed to operate as a book (including all audio visual content) even when a network is not present. When the student goes to school, the device connects to the network and the client software performs various synchronization tasks such as downloading content, which may include the teacher’s notes for the day, uploading homework and student usage statistics. The client software also supports multiple distributed applications in conjunction with the back end. These may include shared whiteboard applications, teacher controls, educational multi-party gaming, and centralized or individual testing.
Back End Systems
The function of the backend system is to manage users, content, and applications. When the student is first handed a device, it is typically empty. When the student completes authentication the device downloads all relevant content for that student as soon as it is connected to the appropriate network. The back end, from then on, is responsible for all content synchronization and book keeping for that student. It is also responsible to make sure that the student is properly licensed for all content received. This may include full license, limited seat license, individually paid license, etc.
The back end also keeps track of all student usage and performance related statistics and makes them available to all other applications. For example, a math exercise application may make use of student math aptitude information gathered by a separate math application. A history teaching application may use information on whether the student learns better by reading or listening, which may be assessed by a separate application.
We started trials in the Riverside district in California two months ago. The district has ordered a second paid trial and notified us that they are planning to order more.
We have also been contacted by other districts in California who are interested in starting pilots. Finally, we started exploring other states in US.
Our strategy in US has been to start in California leveraging the Digital Textbook Initiative. So far, we have had a very successful start. We are now using our experience in California to penetrate other states that are also progressive in education.
Our business plan is a combination of software licensing and a service model. In particular, we license device software to schools for a yearly, per student license fee and we also provide a backend service using cloud servers. The purpose of the backend service is user and content management and synchronization and back up of student data. In addition, the backend service will also be used to assist in shared classroom activities.
Web Based Education Tools
There are a number of web based education tools. Since the PC penetration and the internet penetration are minimal in most markets that we consider, we do not see these tools as competitive. On the contrary, these companies are all potential content partners for us. In fact, all such companies we contacted were very excited about the distribution potential of our platform.
Lessons from One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)
One potential direct competitor is the OLPC project. However, there are several reasons this project is not competitive in the markets we consider and in fact there are a number of lessons we learned from this project:
Laptops and Netbooks
We see several problems with laptops and notebooks, some of which are similar to problems with OLPC:
e-Ink Based Devices
More recently, e-Ink based devices, such as Kindle have been proposed for students to read books. These devices which were really optimized for reading novels also have several issues when it comes to replacing textbooks: