ThingLink’s Finnish team continues to grow as Henri Pennanen joins the team to lead new content production initiatives for education and workforce development. We’ve had the pleasure to collaborate with Henri already in several projects that involved virtual tour and course creation for teacher training and skills development, and are very happy about him now joining ThingLink full time! In this interview, we asked Henri about teacher training; its current challenges and opportunities.
ThingLink eLearning and education licenses have this week become available via Azure Marketplace, Azure Portal, and AppSource. This means Microsoft Cloud Solution Providers can now sell ThingLink to their customers and create bundled solutions. ThingLink will provide Microsoft resellers and their customers support with training so that partners in the CSP program are equipped to handle ThingLink related requests from customers.
One of the most interesting application areas for virtual lessons and visual learning environments is technical and vocational education and training (TVET). Examples that we have so far seen from ThingLink users include interactive user manuals, simulations, virtual campus tours, introductions to working environments, safety drills and teacher training. These examples and several discussions with customers and potential partners have inspired us to think about the next step for TVET and online learning, and the ways in which 360 degree learning environments in the cloud can cost-efficiently improve access to quality education and increase instructional time in real-world working environments.
ThingLink has been selected as one of the two winners of the 2018 UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa-Al Khalifa Prize for the use of ICT in Education. The Prize awards individuals and organizations that are carrying out outstanding projects leveraging new technologies to expand educational and lifelong learning opportunities. The laureates of the Prize receive international recognition as an innovative example of the use of ICT in education worldwide, as well as a diploma and a monetary award of USD 25,000.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, ThingLink has created a series of interactive 360 stories highlighting information about education, healthcare, social justice, as well as women’s economic and political participation globally. The goal of the project is to help educators, students or parents address complex topics such as global gender equality with a new kind of immersive learning experience. The stories are narrated by women from around the world and can be viewed by anyone on desktop, smartphone or with mobile VR headsets such as Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR.
We are excited to announce a partnership with 360Cities.net, the world’s largest network of 360 photographers. As ThingLink’s technology lets users drive engagement with annotated 360-degree photos that can include text, image, audio, and video as well as custom widgets for e-commerce, 360Cities’ worldwide network of panorama photographers can in turn be called upon to capture any place or space around the globe.
We are excited to launch VR Lessons, our first virtual reality content app. The app is designed for elementary school students, their teachers and parents.
VR Lessons by ThingLink is a collection of interactive, 360° image and video journeys on a variety of topics including science, language, and arts. The first stories take students to visit different kinds of ecosystems from the French Alps to a jungle in the archipelago of northern Australia. As students turn their heads to look around, they can spot details and unlock additional information of each habitat in a narrated virtual reality environment.
At a time when 360 and VR content is seeing exponential growth, we are happy to announce that ThingLink has just closed $1.3M in new funding to expand our SaaS offering to virtual reality annotation. Among the investors are Inventure Oy, Steelhead Ventures as well as Run Capital, led by Andrey Romanenko, founder of global payment service, QIWI.