Kinecting to the Classroom
- Posted: Feb 18, 2015 at 6:00AM
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Victor Cervantes was searching for a solution. As IT director for COBAEP, a public high school system in of the Mexican state of Puebla, he was committed to introducing digital technology into the system’s 37 high schools. Cervantes firmly believed that the use of technology would both improve students’ learning and prepare them for the tech-heavy demands of college and the modern workplace.
The problem was finding a technology solution that was pedagogically sound and user friendly—and that wouldn’t bust his budget. He considered interactive white boards, but was put off by their high price tag and the steep learning curve for teachers. He was already exploring the potential of Kinect for Windows when he learned about the educational promise of Ubi Interactive, an innovative, Kinect-based system that turns virtually any surface into a touchscreen.
He contacted Anup Chathoth, co-founder and CEO of Ubi, and arranged for a month-long trial of the product. Cervantes soon realized that Ubi was just what he was seeking. The product would allow teachers to project teaching materials onto their existing classroom whiteboard, turning it into a fully interactive touchscreen. Teachers and students could then page through the content with simple, intuitive touch gestures. Moreover, by using an Ubi Pen, a specialized stylus that runs on the Ubi Annotation Tool software app, students and teachers could mark up materials right on their giant touchscreen and save their annotations to the digital file.
Cervantes recognized that the immersive, fun experience of Ubi would engage students and draw them into the learning process. And he liked the simplicity of the product; the fact that it uses intuitive hand gestures and the familiar action of writing with a pen meant that teachers could master the system almost effortlessly. Moreover, he appreciated the broad applicability of the application. It could work on any digital materials, including published educational products, materials created by the teacher, homework submitted by the students, websites, and any Microsoft Office documents.
Chathoth also notes that the Kinect v2 sensor also enabled a new Ubi feature: a simple way to control any Windows application by using gestures. “A user can turn toward the Kinect sensor and control the interactive display by simply waving their hands in the air,” he explains. “If the user hovers over a spot and makes a fist, Ubi will tell the Windows application that the user is touch-activating that interactive part of the onscreen display. This is especially useful for teachers, allowing them to roam more freely while presenting a lesson.”
All of which makes Cervantes eager to deploy Ubi in the remaining unequipped classrooms. “We’ve had great success with Kinect for Windows and Ubi software, and we plan to put the v2 version in the classrooms at our other 17 schools over the coming year. This has been a great partnership with Ubi Interactive.”