Pens as social tools for classrooms

| April 14, 2010

Tino Agnitti, the founder of, gave a seminar presentation about his entrepreneurial experiences today at EdLab. I really enjoyed his keen insight into his current work, ideas, and past experiences working on projects. He told his story of starting a business around the “IR Pen,” which is significant for the EdLab since it’s a good example of a technology-inspired educational tool.

For me, his company is in an analogous position to Apple creating the iPad – they are working on refining a computer/human interface. In Tino’s case, he is allowing his customers to engage a more social computing experience: the user will likely stand in front of a projected image and manipulate screen objects in a very direct way than is currently the norm. Plus – and this is where I think the iPad analogy really does some work – there is a great hardware/software combination potential. (For example, Tino showed how one could create OS and software shortcuts by writing text on the wall.)

I wonder how this kind of technology will be used in educational settings in the next 5-10 years… Today, I think the fact that it’s still a novel technology might be it’s biggest draw (I’m reminded of the related Techknowledge series on the “Wii in the Classroom” below). But one can see the innate social nature of technologies like this, and it’s not hard to start imagining this kind of interface working its way into all aspects of work and play.

[brightcove video=”3250891001″ /]

My other favorite ideas from the seminar:

  • Build a “feedback interface” into any technology (especially for the end-user – in the IRPen’s case it’s part of the software).
  • Tend carefully to the balance between a product’s price and your future product development cost (Tino: “What’s your value proposition?”).

Tino at work:

  • Starts the day by reviewing (and working on) problems… tech problems, customer problems, etc.
  • My question for Tino or anyone else: if one always waits until the afternoon to work on product development (designing the product), are they going to eventually fall behind others who don’t have to worry about problems of all kinds (see above)?

Tino doing project management:

  • Looks forward 6-10 months.
  • Puts the necessary steps into order in project management software.
  • Very important: organic search results and creating a “buzz” campaign.
  • “Exit strategy is as important as entrance strategy”

More about the product:

Thanks Tino!