I am preparing.  They are circling. They have invested the money, the time, the energy. They assumed that the answer was in the palm of your hand. They marketed this device that millions upon millions purchased and are purchasing. It was the savior to mobile learning.

Then something happened.

It wasn’t really a pure form for it. No.  Now, you can do all these amazing things, but it’s real strength was for collaborative learning. Social learning. Take assessments. View documents and PDFs.  Add to the learning experience.  They hyped it as the answer to everything mobile.

They never expected something to happen in the market. A new device to show up. A device that was bigger than a smart phone. It doesn’t fit into your hand. It is like a laptop. Why would people buy this? They have a laptop.

The tablet market grew.  No worries, companies are not buying it for their employees. No commitment there.

Nope, tablets not happening.  The spin stayed.  Then slowly, in a scene similar to the Colts bolting from Baltimore in the dark of night, something started to happen.

They started to developing their solutions to work with tablets.

Kinect

If you own an X-Box, you know what this technology is and what it is capable of doing.  If you do not own an X-Box video game console, here is a brief explanation of the Kinect technology.

  • Ability to track a person in real time without having them wear sensors
  • Detects gestures and movements as you stand in front of its 3D camera and infra-red detection system
  • It is wireless
  • Devised in a research lab in the United Kingdom

Before you say, well that is great for the television or the computer, but it won’t ever be possible for the tablet, there are other solutions that are showing that such a capability can be eventually developed for the tablet.

I know I said “eventually”. With the speed of technology development, in less than two years.  Why?

  • Touch free gesturing is already in existence and is being developed for tablets (those that have front cameras)
  • Tablets are available wireless or 3G, and a few are available in 4G, with more coming this year
  • At least one tablet vendor is launching a 3D version, although you have to wear glasses
  • The technology for Kinect exists – its not sitting in a lab or in someone’s head as theory – that is a Huge PLUS
  • With mobility, the tablet offers an extension capability because you can add additional features into it – such as Augmented Reality
  • A company called Sony, is creating a Playstation 1 tablet that will come loaded with games; so e-learning companies could create fun and innovative game sims that adults would want to use, or develop product training games

Kinect Hacking

At one point, Microsoft was strongly against anyone hacking their Kinect device. Now, they fully support it.  As such, people are trying to do things with the Kinect and mobile tablets.

Enter end user going by the name, “HirotakaSter”.  He hacked the Kinect and connected it to a mobile tablet using the Android OS and OpenFramworks video.

Touch Free Gesturing

It exists today.

A company called eyeSight uses software with your front end camera to use your tablet without ever touching it.

  • Currently works with Android OS
  • Tracks and recognizes hand gestures from the end user
  • You just wave your hand, rather than swipe across the screen
  • You can remotely control your music & video players
  • Flip the pages of your e-books as you read them
  • Control various apps, games without using the keyboard

Once the iPad2 comes out -reports say it will have a front end camera – I surmise this solution will work with it too. And since it works on computers with Windows OS, I surmise the same thing with Windows 7 tablets.

Texas Instruments and XTR Extreme Reality recently showed their Kinect like technology at Mobile World Congress.  It will go into the RIM Playbook tablet.  It captures gesture movement via a 2D camera.

Another vendor called Elliptic Labs doesn’t even use the camera for touch free gesturing. It uses ultrasound.

So, can you do this with smart phones. Sure, to a point. But why would you?  The screen size still is an issue and the robustness of features that are available and reportedly coming down the pipeline for tablets will far exceed the smart phone.

Kinect and touch free gesturing experience with mobile learning tablets

  • Virtual Worlds – I am now the avatar – seriously – I can jump into any product training and actually work and learn on the product; experience the world of Plato, go into their libraries, pick books using without touching the screen, talk, fully interact
  • Presentations – Yes, there are virtual presentations, where you sit in a virtual learning environment, but you have to use your mouse. Me? Hands free to grab documents – instantly send them with a gesture to Susan who is outside of the environment sitting at her desktop and she gets it via a desktop app.  Perhaps I just say, “Page 4″ and it automatically goes to page 4. Why not? It is possible. Not yet, but Speech to Text already exists
  • Collaborate with learners anywhere in the world, real collaboration, I see them, they see me, they gesture to pick video y, I gesture to select video X; we work together on a document using gestures; the document appears 3D , off-site, at the airport, wherever – no longer tethered to the workplace
  • The LMS experience can become a whole new experience, beyond what we do today, virtual widgets, adding APIs to enhance the gesturing and Kinect like technology into the systems; and I’m experience it with my mobile tablet
  • Think about this technology and an extended enterprise learning solution – WOW

I know.

They are circling. They are coming.

Their shields are up. They are yelling “heresy”, “smart phones are better”, “not everyone has a tablet”.

It is the battle cry others have used in the past, when something that peaks up and shows that it offers far more to the end users in a specific space, then then in general.

So, let the lines be drawn. The vendors are drawing them as we speak. Some are doing nothing. Some are hedging – part smart phones, part tablets. Hopefully, some one will just say tablets.

There has to be one out there. One who sees the capabilities, features and possibilities.

Perhaps there is a Tucker car out there, not afraid to challenge the market. Or a person like Nikola Tesla.

I sure hope so. I’m ready.

Are you?

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