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Naspers invests $540m in education app

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Naspers has led a $540-million investment in BYJU’S, the creator of the most popular school learning app in India. A significant portion is also being contributed by the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB).

Naspers says the investment will drive the BYJU’S team to further innovate, explore and set new benchmarks for tech-enabled learning products. The company has plans for international market expansion and will make investments in technology that will further personalise learning for students. BYJU’S also represents Naspers’ investment in India across multiple sectors and entrepreneurs in this high-growth market.

Launched in 2015, BYJU’S Learning App is the leader in offering personalised learning programmes for school students in grades 4 to 12 in India. Delivering world-class learning experiences, the app merges videos, interactives, and teachers to bring concepts to life. It also adapts to the learning style of every student, adjusting to the pace and style of their learning. More than 30 million students have used the BYJU’S Learning App, and it has amassed over 2 million cumulative annual paid subscriptions, with an average engagement of 64 minutes per student daily.

“This partnership will strengthen our ability to deliver on our vision to build the world’s largest education company,” said Byju Raveendran, Founder and CEO of BYJU’S. “India has the largest population attending primary school in the world and Indian households are willing to invest a lot in their children’s education, because a good education is viewed as the best path to success. I believe the importance of quality education amongst the entire population in India fuelled our ability to create an engaging and high-impact learning app.

“While near-term profitability is important for us, as a company our main focus continues to be on long-term sustainable growth. The education technology (edtech) industry is undergoing massive shifts; modern students want to learn through engaging and interactive methods. We are pioneering ‘better learning for tomorrow’ with technology as an enabler and we have been working towards making students active learners. It is only through active learning that we can prepare our youth for jobs of tomorrow.”

Russell Dreisenstock, head of International Investments at Naspers Ventures, who will be joining BYJU’S Board of Directors said: “Naspers partners with high-potential companies that are tackling big societal needs like education, which represents a significant sector ripe for disruption across the globe.

“With the largest school-age population in the world and a growing middle-class with the willingness to commit significant resources towards quality education for their children, BYJU’S is perfectly positioned to provide an effective supplemental education solution for students across India.  We partnered with BYJU’S because we believe the company’s success in India will translate across borders in any country where students are looking for an innovative and engaging form of education beyond the classroom.”

In addition to BYJU’S, Naspers has built a significant edtech portfolio around the world. It includes Udemy, a leading global marketplace for learning and instruction; Brainly, the world’s largest social learning community; Codecademy, an online interactive platform to learn to code; and SoloLearn, a mobile-first community learning platform where students can learn, create, and share programming content.

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CES: Most useless gadgets

The worst gadgets of CES also deserve their moment of infamy, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s fairly easy to choose the best new gadgets launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Most lists – and there are many – highlight the LG roll-up TV, the Samsung modular TV, the Royole foldable phone, the impossible burger, and the walking car.

But what about the voice assisted bed, the smart baby dining table, the self-driving suitcase and the robot that does nothing? In their current renditions, they sum up what is not only bad about technology, but how technology for its own sake quickly leads us down the rabbit hole of waste and futility.

The following pick of the worst of CES may well be a thinly veneered attempt at mockery, but it is also intended as a caution against getting caught up in hype and justification of pointless technology.

1. DUX voice-assisted bed

The single most useless product launched at CES this year must surely be a bed with Alexa voice control built in. No, not to control the bed itself, but to manage the smart home features with which Alexa and other smart speakers are associated. Or that any smartphone with Siri or Google Assistant could handle. Swedish luxury bedmaker DUX thinks it’s a good idea to manage smart lights, TV, security and air conditioning through the bed itself. Just don’t say Alexa’s “wake word” in your sleep.

2. Smart Baby Dining Table 

Ironically, the runner-up comes from a brand that also makes smart beds: China’s 37 Degree Smart Home. Self-described as “the world’s first smart furniture brand that is transforming technology into furniture”, it outdid itself with a Smart Baby Dining Table. This isa baby feeding table with a removable dining chair that contains a weight detector and adjustable camera, to make children’s weight and temperature visible to parents via the brand’s app. Score one for hands-off parenting.

Click here to read about smart diapers, self-driving suitcases, laundry folders, and bad robot companions.

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CES: Language tech means no more “lost in translation”

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Talking to strangers in foreign countries just got a lot easier with recent advancements in translation technology. Last week, major companies and small startups alike showed the CES technology expo in Las Vegas how well their translation worked at live translation.

Most existing translation apps, like Bixby and Siri Translate, are still in their infancy with live speech translation, which brings about the need for dedicated solutions like these technologies:

Babel’s AIcorrect pocket translator

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The AIcorrect Translator, developed by Beijing-based Babel Technology, attracted attention as the linguistic king of the show. As an advanced application of AI technology in consumer technology, the pocket translator deals with problems in cross-linguistic communication. 

It supports real-time mutual translation in multiple situations between Chinese/English and 30 other languages, including Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, Russian and Spanish. A significant differentiator is that major languages like English being further divided into accents. The translation quality reaches as high as 96%.

It has a touch screen, where transcription and audio translation are shown at the same time. Lei Guan, CEO of Babel Technology, said: “As a Chinese pathfinder in the field of AI, we designed the device in hoping that hundreds of millions of people can have access to it and carry out cross-linguistic communication all barrier-free.” 

Click here to read about the Pilot, Travis, Pocketalk, Google and Zoi translators.

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