Tech headlines for February 2014 include: Google Acquires Deep Mind, 2018 North America Mobile Edugame Market to Reach $410.2M, New Patent Mapping System Helps Find Innovation Pathways, More Than 7 Million Students Taking Online Courses, TrainingIndustry.com Announces Top 20 Authoring Tools Companies.


Google Acquires Deep Mind

Google has acquired London-based start-up DeepMind to expand further into the field of artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence, or AI, is a branch of computer science that aims to make computers behave more like humans, with capabilities such as reasoning, learning and planning.

This is just the latest move by Google to fill out its roster of artificial intelligence. Google already uses this type of technology for many projects, such as its expanding language-translation services.

Founded by chess prodogiy Demis Hassabis with Shane Legg and Mustafa Suleyman, DeepMind combines techniques from machine learning and systems neuroscience to build powerful general-purpose learning algorithms. Its first commercial applications are in simulations, e-commerce, and games.

If all three of DeepMind’s founders work for Google, they will join inventor, entrepreneur, author, and futurist Ray Kurzweil, who was hired in 2012 as a director of engineering focused on machine learning and language processing.

The company reportedly beat Facebook to the deal. Indeed, Google’s acquisition of DeepMind will help it compete against other major tech companies as they all try to gain business advantages by focusing on deep learning.  For example, Facebook recently hired NYU professor Yann LeCunn to lead its new artificial intelligence lab, IBM’s Watson supercomputer is now working on deep learning, and Yahoo recently acquired photo analysis startup LookFlow to lead its new deep learning group.

2018 North America Mobile Edugame Market to Reach $410.2 Million

The revenues for Mobile Edugames in North America reached $227.9 million in 2013, according to a new report by Ambient Insight called the "2013-2018 North America Mobile Edugame Market." The five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is 12.5 percent and revenues will spike to $410.27 million by 2018.

"Consumers are by far the major buyers of mobile edugame digital content in Canada and the US and they will continue to dominate throughout the forecast period," reports Tyson Greer, CEO of Ambient Insight and author of the report. "The majority of consumer edugame purchases fall into the two ends of the age spectrum: math and language learning for young children and brain trainers and brain fitness apps for elders."

There are four analysis sections in this report: trends, demand-side, supply-side, and investments patterns/business models. The demand-side analysis provides suppliers with insights into the buying behaviors and market catalysts. The supply-side analysis breaks out forecast revenues by six types of mobile edugames: knowledge-based, skill-based, brain trainers, language learning, location-based learning, and augmented reality.

"A significant challenge for edugame suppliers serving the consumer segment is determining the mobile platform they will target," comments chief research officer Sam S. Adkins. "Some segments are easier to target, since they often standardize on specific platforms. The consumer segment is more difficult since it uses all the mobile platforms including dedicated gaming devices, rarely in use in the other segments."

The number of new edugames coming on the North America market is exploding. New products are coming from veteran game developers, brands, ad agencies, one-person startup shops, and hobbyists. Targeting specific buyers with particular edugame types is key to generating revenues in North America.

"Typically, the buyer segments that contribute the most to revenues for edugame packaged content are consumers, PreK-12, and higher education," adds Greer. "Revenues for content services are concentrated in the government, corporate, healthcare, and nonprofit segments. This report identifies trends that affect buying behaviors." 

The free abstract is available at www.ambientinsight.com/Reports/MobileLearning.aspx

New Patent Mapping System Helps Find Innovation Pathways

A new patent mapping system, the Patent Overlay Mapping system, considers how patents cite one another may help researchers better understand the relationships between technologies — and how they may come together to spur disruptive new areas of innovation.

“What we are trying to do is forecast innovation pathways,” said Alan Porter, professor emeritus in the School of Public Policy and the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the project’s principal investigator. “We take data on research and development, such as publications and patents, and we try to elicit some intelligence to help us gain a sense for where things are headed.”

Patent maps for major corporations can show where those firms plan to diversify, or conversely, where their technological weaknesses are. Looking at a nation’s patent map might also suggest areas where R&D should be expanded to support new areas of innovation, or to fill gaps that may hinder economic growth, he said.

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Innovation often occurs at the intersection of major technology sectors, noted Jan Youtie, director of policy research services in Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. Studying the relationships between different areas can help suggest where the innovation is occurring and what technologies are fueling it. Patent maps can also show how certain disciplines evolve.

“You can see where the portfolio is, and how it is changing,” explained Youtie, who is also an adjunct associate professor in the Georgia Tech School of Public Policy. “In the case of nanotechnology, for example, you can see that most of the patents are in materials and physics, though over time, the number of patents in the bio-nano area is growing.”

The patent mapping research, which was supported by the National Science Foundation, will be described in a paper to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology(JASIST); an open-access draft is available on arXiv.

For more information, read the complete article at www.kurzweilai.net/new-patent-mapping-system-helps-find-innovation-pathways.

More Than 7 Million Students Taking Online Courses

The 2013 Survey of Online Learning conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group reveals the number of higher education students taking at least one online course has now surpassed 7.1 million. The 6.1 percent growth rate, although the lowest for a decade, still represents more than 400,000 additional students taking at least one online course.

"While the rate of growth in online enrollments has moderated over the past several years, it still greatly exceeds the growth in overall higher education enrollments," said study co-author I. Elaine Allen, co-director of the Babson Survey Research Group.

"Institutions with online offerings remain as positive as ever about online learning, but there has been a retreat among leaders at institutions that do not have any online offerings," said co-author Jeff Seaman.

"Core to growing our nation's economy is the need to provide relevant educational opportunities that will help students meet their career goals," said Todd Hitchcock, senior vice president, Pearson Online Learning Services. "Institutions are identifying new degree offerings and delivering these programs online due to the fact that they can be delivered more affordably and with greater flexibility."

Key findings include:

  • More than 7.1 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2012 term, an increase of 411,000 students over the previous year. 
  • Thirty-three (33) percent of higher education students now take at least one course online. 
  • The percentage of academic leaders rating the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to-face grew from 57.2 in 2003 to 77 percent last year, but fell back to 74.1 percent this year. 
  • The proportion of chief academic leaders who say online learning is critical to their long-term strategy dropped from 69.1 percent to 65.9 percent. 
  • Ninety (90) percent of academic leaders believe that it is likely or very likely that a majority of all higher education students will be taking at least one online course in five years’ time. 
  • Only 5 percent of higher education institutions currently offer a massive open online course, while another 9.3 percent report MOOCs are in the planning stages. 
  • Fewer than one-quarter of academic leaders believe that MOOCs represent a sustainable method for offering online courses.


TrainingIndustry.com Announces Top 20 Authoring Tools Companies

TrainingIndustry.com has announced the third annual Top 20 Authoring Tools Companies List. Selection to this year's Top 20 Authoring Tools Companies was based on the following criteria:

  • leadership and innovation
  • features and capabilities of the authoring tools
  • company size and growth potential
  • company focus on the authoring platforms
  • strength and number of clients/users
  • geographic reach.

 “The Authoring Tools segment of the learning technologies market has seen continued growth over the past year while continuing to provide the industry with innovations to the essential tool kit for developing excellent programs,” said Doug Harward, chief executive officer of Training Industry, Inc. 

“Submissions for the third annual Top 20 Authoring Tools Companies were the most robust we have seen for this segment of the market,” added Ken Taylor, chief operating officer, Training Industry, Inc. “We are seeing the emergence of a number of top tier players with substantial global footprint and extensive capability set.” 

Here’s the 2014 list (in alphabetical order):

  1. Adobe
  2. Allen Interactions
  3. Ancile Solutions
  4. Articulate
  5. Brainshark
  6. CB Studio
  7. Cornerstone
  8. Cross Knowledge
  9. dominKnow Learning Systems
  10. DuPont Sustainable Solutions
  11. e-doceo
  12. Indecomm Global Services
  13. Lectora
  14. Lumesse
  15. MO S-MindOn Site
  16. Mobile Paks
  17. Mzinga
  18. SumTotal
  19. Xleyme
  20. Zenler.

For more information, go to www.trainingindustry.com/top-companies-listing/authoring-tools/2014/2014-top-20-authoring-tools-companies.aspx.