Digital wellbeing in EdTech — reimagining devices for students

  • by David Henderek
  • 2 min

Tobii learning online

Last year (2020), Tencent, Kylinsoft, and Intel got together to formulate the design of a cloud-centric PC explicitly for students. They challenged themselves to design a computer that would fit the specific needs of students, connecting seamlessly to diverse learning resources and delivering a personalized experience for every learner, with the ultimate goal of revolutionizing education for China's 170 million students.

In this post, I will talk briefly about the project, Tobii's role, and how attention computing helps students to focus and take a break when needed.

Creating such a device required a collaborative team of specialized tech providers. Intel's AI, cloud, and software knowledge and hardware capabilities helped Tencent and Kylin form the core project team. Beyond that, a range of PC OEMs helped develop innovative features, such as warnings if students get too close to the screen, desired by parents, teachers, and students. As this genuinely groundbreaking PC became a reality, the next step was to optimize the device for digital wellbeing.

And that's where Tobii came in. Because our attention computing technology generates attention signals, we have empowered the education PC with the capability to sense and understand the user. By tracking head placement and user attention through the integrated hardware, the education PC can identify issues such as poor body posture and excess screen-time. So, if you've become engrossed in a math problem, Tobii's AI will send you healthy reminders to relax and sit back. If you're not taking enough breaks or staring at the screen for too long, which can cause headaches and fatigue, Tobii will let you know.

For me, our contribution to this project highlights how we are working to usher digital wellbeing into EdTech. With the ever-growing demand to constantly engage with our devices, learning to stay healthy and happy in the digital age is a critical need. The pandemic has further intensified our digital habits. Many of us interact socially and spend large portions of our leisure time, work, and school day on our devices. Finding ways to keep our bodies and minds healthy is critical to sustainable digital evolution.

Digital wellbeing continues to gain traction among providers who realize that comfort and stress levels set the foundation of our ability to interact meaningfully with technology. More specifically, EdTech companies are discovering that efficient and sustainable learning, environments of focus and wellbeing are critical, which technology can help to achieve. Attention computing features like accurate screen-time information and posture tracking are becoming standard in new devices.

So, how will attention computing contribute to the evolution of EdTech and the adoption of digital education? Our idea is to optimize every device with a deep understanding of student attention and intent. In addition to the wellbeing factors, attention computing can deliver the insights needed to assess a variety of cognitive and reading challenges across all levels — helping every student to learn with confidence, teachers to set individualized goals, and parents to feel comfortable in the knowledge that their children are progressing appropriately. 

Written by

  • David Henderek

    David Henderek

    Director of product management for PC, Tobii

    As the director of product management for PC, I am responsible for the PC products, experiences, and OEM integrations in the PC Business Area at Tobii. For more than a decade, I have had the pleasure of being a part of this company, and watch it mature. During that time, I’ve held a bunch of roles and have been part of our transformation from eye tracking everywhere to our current vision of a world where all technology works in harmony with natural human behavior — it’s been quite a journey so far!

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