eGlass Deluges FETC

I miss no longer going to in-person ed tech conferences. I especially miss the hubbub of activity in crowded exhibit halls, the din of crowds in search of the next shiny object. I fondly remember the exhibit hall ‘deluge’, when crowds suddenly roll in like a pressing thunderstorm and surround a booth, occupying if not altogether blocking all adjacent aisles.

This happens because some never-seen-before products or promotions have attracted everyone’s attention, so the atmosphere suddenly becomes utterly carnival-like. But, sadly, such manifestations are rendered only as faint memories of a seemingly distant pre-covid past.

While attending virtual conferences over the last year, I have never seen this ‘deluge’ phenomenon until recently at the 2021 virtual FETC conference. The Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) is a highly respected ed-tech conference that rotates from Orlando to Miami, convening each January. A face-to-face delight, usually replete with fresh products being introduced into the U.S. market for the start of a new year, this conference has been relegated to virtual purgatory for the last two Januaries.

But then everything changed: a ‘deluge’, a rush on the expo floor, happened – virtually. Everyone talking, posting, tweeting, or messaging about something new. The chatter was about the arrival of a new educational technology “for the times we are in”. I knew this would happen. I wrote about the potential of breakthrough technologies in two past articles. In my August 2020 article, What to Expect in Education, I predicted: “This entire coronavirus messiness is likely to lead to new ways of educating, which in turn will fillip new business and sales opportunities.” And in my article, Opening U.S. Schools, I anticipated: “Opportunities will undoubtedly rise for clever and crafty ed-tech solutions … in a post-covid world”.

And that’s exactly what happened at FETC. What created the excessive virtual commotion was the arrival of a new-to-the-classroom transparent writing glass with an integrated camera, a display that seems to offer great possibility for distance and blended learning. In an apparent collaboration between two manufacturers, HoverCam and Learning Glass, the new eGlass product merges lightboard and visualizer technology in an elegant teaching solution for the Covidian era. According to Craig Justice of HoverCam, “eGlass is a new product that anticipates the future hybrid classroom”. Since, as the Chinese proverb goes, it’s better to see something once than to hear about it a hundred times, take a quick look at the core functionality of this eGlass product:

For an example of this product in a university setting, see this short video:

Lastly, for another glimpse at some of the instructional pain points solved with this solution, view this final very short video:

The upside of this technology in the 2021 covidian era is starkly evident: the ability to write on the glass and on pop-up illustrations; software with the ability to easily record instructional lessons or take snapshots of notations; the flexible lighting of background or presenter for compelling views; the ability to make annotations neon-like, garnering more attention; and integration with common educational apps (Zoom, clickers, and PowerPoint).

Importantly, the eGlass enables deeper human connection via remote instruction. Teachers can talk face-to-face, clearly expressing gestures and facial emotions, without turning their backs on students. In face-to-face classrooms, this means better control of behaviors in the classroom, which is always a concern when teachers turn their backs to students in order to write on the board. Now teachers can keep their eyes on the little darlings.

eGlass is a great example of the emerging opportunities presenting themselves during the times we are in. No doubt, the ed market will continue to experience innovation, and might even see success in scaling new products within schools and universities, as long as pricing strategy failures don’t dethrone these newly crowned royals. (Any firm hoping to successfully conquer the education vertical must also demonstrate hyperawareness of the importance of pricing and the pitfalls of “pricing failure”).

“Pricing failure” occurs often when there isn’t a direct and clear correlation between an item’s cost and its perceived value/quality in a specific vertical, like the education market. Whenever “pricing failure” occurs, it is noticeable from the gut-wrenching reaction seen exhibited by educational buyers. It remains obvious that education markets are more sensitive to the issues of price, warranty, total cost of ownership and training than other industries.But for now, the deluge of interest for eGlass is genuine. – Len Scrogan