eDoorways International Corporation
(Pink Sheets: EDWY) announced today that the Company’s subsidiary, Smart1Systems
, has engaged Alison Savitch
of Digital Fortress
as Vice President of New Media Technology. The first question you may ask is “who is Alison, really”? Here’s a summary of her bio from iMDB:
“Alison Savitch is President and co-founder of Threshold Digital Research Labs (TDRL), a groundbreaking digital animation and effects production studio, that creates original ,full-length digitally animated feature films. TDRL also has a production services division that creates and produces digital visual effects and digital animation for movies, television, web sites, games, IMAX movies, and location based theme park entertainment. Ms. Savitch is recognized around the world as one of the industry's leading visual effects supervisors and producers. Her skill at combining technology with entertainment is virtually unparalleled. Acknowledged for her ability to combine advanced technology and filmmaking creativity in a cost-efficient manner, she has received numerous awards for her distinctive digital visual effects and animation. Savitch was in instrumental in building TDRL into a state of the art digital animation facility headquartered in Santa Monica, CA. She created a global network of animators which have enabled TDRL to erase the vast distances that once separated Hollywood from other amazing talent around the world.
“Alison Savitch has substantial experience in creating, developing and producing visual effects for feature films, television, interactive entertainment as well as games and large format or location based entertainment. Her credits include The Abyss, Dracula, Terminator-2: Judgment Day, The Shadow, Arachnophobia, Mortal Kombat and The Last Action Hero movies. Her television series credits include, Weight of Water, Highlander Endgame, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Beowulf, The Faculty, Dogma and others. Her groundbreaking work in both The Abyss and Terminator-2: Judgment Day won two Academy Awards for special effects. Savitch also produced Mortal Kombat The Journey Begins, a direct to video animated special that went on to become number one the Billboard Kid Vid sales and rental charts.
“Ms. Savitch pioneered the use of Motion Capture to create extremely realistic animated fighters in battle. This was the first time Motion Capture was ever used in the creation of an entertainment production. Savitch went on to further develop Motion Capture through Mortal Kombat Annihilation wherein digital creatures battle live action fighters and again in Beowulf (a feature-length science-fiction film based on the classic poem), where it was used to create a digital actor. Most recently Alison supervised Edward Fudwupper Fibbed Big a fully CGI animated theatrical short for Nickelodeon. Currently, she is producing and supervising the visual effects on TDRL's first full-length digitally animated feature film Foodfight! (2002). Ms. Savitch is also one of the founding Board Members of the Visual Effects Society.”
So, as you can see Alison brings great expertise with motion capture to eDoorways and she brings the “best in the business” artistic and technical connections who can convert the nuts and bolts of that motion capture into compelling visual characters who you won’t forget in a lifetime. Remember the Company’s current objective has been downloading an expert’s knowledge onto a mobile device to enable a user to verbally interact with him/her 24 hours a day. Alison’s motion capture technology will extend that process from audio and text into a full range of human emotion, capturing not only what’s inside the head of those experts but now, for the first time ever, capturing and presenting an individual’s entire “look and feel” while they’re working with you. Instead of mere text bubbles or even speech recognition and text-to-speech, imagine what it will be like to chat with and ask questions of a state-of-the-art totally-expressive avatar of the expert himself who resides inside that device you’re holding in your hand? How cool will that be?
And then, after wrapping your head around that possibility and accepting that eDoorways can indeed pull that off under Alison’s guidance, extend your thoughts just a bit to include far more than the original vision of learning apps (which is why we changed the name of Learning Research Inc. to Smart 1 Systems, Inc.). When you can not only talk to but also watch that expert, why not extend the interaction to the entire range of human experience? Suppose you’re a well known celebrity with millions of Twitter followers, or a brand name service provider with millions of customers, Would you want move beyond the 140 character limitation and present an almost-alive avatar of yourself talking, chatting, winking, walking, and generally just being there with each and every person who loves and hangs on your every word? This visual interaction between a major brand and the target audience in addition to the educational benefits of full motion capture visuality using eDoorways’ new technology will soon be, quite simply, as good as it gets.
Speaking of which, a picture, or in this case a video reel, is worth a thousand words. Check out the reels from the studio who Alison has already hired on behalf of eDoorways to start the motion capture of Mike Torchia:
Yes, that’s the same studio who’s currently working on Avatar II and III for you-know-who. They fit us in just for Alison, because they believe in what we and Alison are doing with eDoorway’s entirely new approach to brand recognition and knowledge capture, representation, and exposition via avatars on mobile devices.
And, yes of course there are a number of deep-pocketed clients looking to exploit this technological breakthrough in branding and social media interaction once it’s completed. They are evaluating the management team as well because they know the solid and stable business experience of the existing executive team (in particular, Dr. Bob Wesson, Rick Henderson, and Chris Mitchell), will support the insanely-great creativity and movie industry connections of Alison Savitch as she enables a continued reinvention of eDoorways that will catapult its valuation.
Alison, we welcome you to our team and we look forward to working with you and your crazy/brilliant movie and video game makers who will let us finally manifest the vision that Gary has been creating.
Sample iOS Interface
We have received a few requests for status updates lately, and it has indeed been over a month since our last update to this blog...
(Re)building a company requires balancing financing, product, production, marketing, and sales. LRI is moving forward on all of those fronts, as described below:
In terms of financing, eDoorways International Inc. (EDWY) is covering LRI's initial capital requirements as well as its own. EDWY is now on the verge of completing its audit (draft balance sheet is complete), S-1 filing, and eventual jump to trade on the OTC bulletin boards. It already has multiple offers for substantial financing opportunities after that transition has completed. On the strength of LRI's business plan and progress, EDWY will continue to raise capital from private investors as well as via the public markets to fund LRI's operations.
On the product and production fronts, we are moving along with our plan to produce a demonstration product based on the expertise of Mike Torchia of Operation Fitness that can converse with the learner about fitness, health, and wellness issues. Programming always involves design followed by a methodical implementation of capabilities. In our case, we want an A.I. app that can converse with the student about almost anything, but focus on the expertise derived from the teacher. As of today, we can prototype its foundational, speech-enabled chat capability. It currently uses a conventional back-and-forth messaging presentation, although we will "amp up" the display later on.
Baseline Chat Capability
Concurrently, we are adapting the SmartONE learning technology to guide this interactive conversation according to general rules of learning that impart the expert content provided by Mike according to how the system ascertains the student will best perform. This will include the ability to intersperse between these chat bubbles other multimedia content, including videos of Mike demonstrating specific exercises and explaining concepts in his own voice, photographs of recommended foods and portion sizes (see below), and audio files (background music for his recommended meditations, for instance).
On the marketing and sales fronts, we are negotiating deals with publishers and corporations who wish to use this technology within their own organizations. In particular, as of this writing, we are preparing a proposal for a global news organization to be presented at the end of this month at their headquarters in New York City to produce a complete "wellness portal" in conjunction with the joint venture that we have already established with Operation Fitness named Learning Fitness LLC. Moreover, we are presently in intense negotiations with other publishers and agents (who I cannot specifically name yet) who represent various "thought leaders." Some of these well-known authors have social network followings in the millions; others have deep connections into governments around the world, such as China, who want or need to understand more about American culture and morality. All of these publishing deals are slated to recover development costs of LRI's programming and production of their apps, followed by a revenue sharing arrangement negotiated according to the strength and depth of the organization's reach.
In the end, right now, we are mid-way through the initial demonstration process with development proceeding nicely. We have identified no show-stoppers that could end our quest to produce the best mobile-optimized, speech-enabled, learning platform in the world. In terms of market opportunities, it's like the old story of an engineer and salesman sharing a cabin in the woods. Salesman agrees to go hunt down dinner. Later, he runs into the cabin front door chased by a bear, shouting as he runs out the back door, "There's the first one; you skin 'em while I go get another!"
Events are unfolding quickly here and over at eDoorways Int'l.
The most exciting news is that the audit of eDoorways is now well underway and projected to be completed within the next few weeks, after which our parent company can file an S-1 to return to the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Boards. This should enable more people and institutions to trade in the stock.
We have spent quite a bit of time lately confronting Jerry McGuire's classic cry of "Show me the money!" While our full business plan is still in progress, we have drafted a one-pager for prospective and current investors that summarizes our vision of the Problem we will attempt to solve, our proposed Solution, and the usual business metrics associated with executing on that Solution. It can now be found under the new Investors
As we at LRI race helter-skelter ahead to join the educational revolution brewing in a viral, almost underground fashion in this country and around the world, we are from time to time reminded that we are not alone in having spotted "the next big thing" in education. Just today, an article published
in the Wall Street Journal begins by noting, "Revolutionaries outside the ivy walls are hammering their way not onto campus but straight into class."
Revolutionaries indeed. The article goes on to spotlight an A.I. class at Stanford that was taken not only by the 30 or so students in the physical on-campus class, but 160,000 additional online students from around the world. Of the 210 students who aced the final exam, every single one came from the online group.
It continues, "In this new educational model, the shy and the easily distracted get advantages. You can rewind a video and watch whenever and as many times as you like. Plus, teachers save time with computerized grading and students save money. (U.S. college debt, nearly $1 trillion, is bigger than housing or credit card debt.)
Most important, the system promotes driven and talented students who might otherwise be denied access to higher education: a kid in Afghanistan, a young mother in Scotland, an ignored pupil in Detroit."
The article ends by saying, "To be truly egalitarian, classes will need to go not just online but mobile. Still, the upshot of it all is clear: more smart people is better. Just watch that ivory tower topple."We couldn't have said it any better ourselves. Let the revolution begin!
The following question was posted on our parent company eDoorways' blog:
"Can you share where your current management team wants to take this company in the short term and long term? Any discussion with your team on how much revenue this could bring once the business plan has been executed?"
eDoorways’ (EDWY) goal is to become “The App Store for Learning.” Since EDWY spawned and retains a major interest in Learning Research Inc. (LRI), our near-term objective is to support LRI by refocusing our eDoorways platform so it will support the initial roll-out of its first “Doorway” -- LEARN.
LRI is already engaged in developing an “integrated development environment” (IDE) like Apple’s XCode derived from eDoorways’ SmartONE technology that will enable virtually anyone who has something to teach, from precocious children to university professors, to compose and package learning apps. The immediate goal for LRI is to get our project team up and running so they can craft an initial learning product-development platform. In addition to the CEO, Dr. Wesson, both a Chief Technical Officer and a Chief Design Officer have already been hired but not yet announced.
LRI’s baseline technology called SmartONE enables learners to “test out” of already understood subject matter within a planned curriculum and focus only on the areas they need to learn, thereby shortening the time and cost to learn a new skill or complete a certification process. Adding speech recognition will enable users to interact with each learning app in the most natural way conceivable.
Delivering such learning apps to the end-user via eDoorways.com will enable learners to identify others with similar interests or studying similar subject matter, then to communicate with each other individually or in group settings via video, audio, or messaging conferences. This “town hall” approach to gathering and sharing learning apps should create a new and unique opportunity for users to learn from each other, in addition to learning from the teachers, experts and curriculum developers who crafted the app(s) in the first place. This breakthrough technology has been recognized by the United Nations, the US military and the White House for its ability to improve and streamline the way we learn.
We are planning for eDoorways to serve as a distributor or delivery gateway for LRI's products and services. eDoorways may also acquire and offer its own training and learning apps directly, perhaps through targeted mergers and acquisitions, perhaps via licensed, profit-sharing arrangements with influential outside authors. As we implement Apple’s (and Amazon’s and Google’s…) app store revenue split model, we expect to be sending 70% of learning app revenue to its authors (which may include eDoorways itself), and retaining 30% for eDoorways and LRI. Finally, eDoorways’ LEARN platform coupled with LRI’s IDE for app creation will natively facilitate proportional use and billing (pay only for what you use), thereby reducing cost even as they, together, speed up the natural learning process.
Regarding revenue potential, the numbers associated with the learning marketplace are large. For example, approximately $125 billion is spent each year for corporate training in the US, and the consumer learning market is larger still. We intend to create a type of service for the education marketplace that is similar to what Apple created with its iTunes-based App Store. If we can achieve even a modicum of traction within the learning app marketplace we are trying to create, the revenue generated could become remarkable. Whether it arrives $0.99 or $99 at a time, Apple has proven that apps is a billion-dollar business.
For now, we are concentrating our immediate efforts on designing and building an initial prototype of the above-described system of interlocking IDE, LEARN doorway, and demonstration learning apps.
A number of years ago, eDoorways launched its SmartOne™ platform that enabled learners to “test out” of already understood subject matter within a planned curriculum, focus only on the areas they need to learn and thereby shorten the time and cost to complete subject matter, learn a new skill or complete certification process. Why spend three days in a classroom when the eDoorways method allows you to accomplish the task or learn the subject matter in (say) three hours for ¼ the cost?
In addition, this system enabled users to instantaneously identify others with similar interests, performing similar searches, or studying similar subject matter and allowed them to communicate with each other individually or in group settings via video, audio, or messaging conferences. This “town hall” approach to gathering and sharing information created a new and unique opportunity for users to learn from each other as well as teachers, experts and curriculum developers. This breakthrough technology has been recognized by the United Nations, the US military and the Whitehouse for its ability to improve the way we learn.
In 2012 eDoorways subsidiary Learning Resources Inc (LRI) began assembling an A.I. development team of highly skilled programmers under the direction of Robert B. Wesson Ph.D. Their charter is to build a platform that will ride on top of eDoorways SmartOne™ and like Xcode from Apple ™, the LRI software will enable virtually everyone with knowledge or a skill they want to share to create training/educational curriculum, upload it, optimize access to it via social media, and present it to student customers in a video format like YouTube™ and of course, receive payment for their service. Optionally, records of completed courses will be made available to agencies and organizations who want to use LRI learning systems to certify accomplishment for accreditation in specific fields. Customers can access training programs via a host of mobile devices from smart phones to tablets and PC’s delivering the solution to their point of need almost anywhere in the world.
What makes this new method of teaching and learning revolutionary will be its Siri-like speech recognition interface for both teachers and learners: teachers will be able to much of the content of their lessons, while learners will be able to ask questions during the course material presentation. Learners can use their voice to direct their sessions to stop, go back, repeat and even add supplemental material until they “get it” and understand the topic. Imagine having a private tutor that will listen to you when you say “I don’t understand your last point, go back and tell me again.” Think about being able to stop the class and say “I still don’t understand, do you have any additional information that can help me?” Without interrupting the teacher’s flow or disrupting other students, individuals can interactively and individually go over detailed building blocks in the learning process until they fully understand them before they move on. And, if they still don’t understand, the LRI system will optionally permit curriculum creators to provide interactive messaging to the LRI customer support center where a student can ask customer support staff to send their question back to the course creator for an answer or to schedule an optional live video tutorial meeting within the next working day.
The coalescing of eDoorways SmartOne technology with LRI’s interactive A.I. delivery system will allow subject matter to be delivered anywhere a mobile device is available. Courses with video instruction can be created by anyone with information to share and presented to student customers in a voice controlled interactive process that ensures learning because of its self-paced, one on one tutoring environment. And, with speech as its primary interface, LRI’s system can be used not only by learners who are on the go (driving, walking, exercising, etc.) but also by users who are may be minimally computer-literate (third-worlders, young children, etc.) Learners
: Can select from a vast network of subjects, concentrate only on what they need to learn, pay only what they should, and interrupt the presentation whenever they need to with voice activated interaction and even overflow to an offline, interactive CSR for tutorial support when needed. Teachers
: Can create their own video course material using powerful automated curriculum development, as well as performance support and tracking tools from LRI, thus sharing their specialized knowledge by creating video courses, with the eDoorways front-end managing the uploading, marketing, delivery, proportional (pay only for what you use) billing, and collection for them. Most importantly, course creators can select a desired learning modality for their course:
- group or individual "experiential learning",
- self-paced individual learning,
- group or individual "game learning",
- group collaborative learning, and/or
- group computer-assisted collaborative learning.
: Will host and support LRI interactive A.I. powered platforms that accept courses created by teacher input, inventory and present them in a speech-enabled environment, track learner activity and proficiency, and manage customer support for paid, interactive remedial tutoring when requested.
Because eDoorway’s existing code can be combined with LRI’s new voice controlled systems, the Company is already much of the way there in terms of delivering this platform. And as we know, our educational environment is 100% in need of revolutionary tools and methods to improve the learning environment.
In short, eDoorways and LRI are at the right place at the right time with the right technology to improve the lives of over a billion people around the world
My first order of business in joining this (or any) organization is to evaluate and review the "raw material" that LRI has to work with -- owned intellectual property as well as existing and/or previous personnel resources. As an executive who has many times been tasked to "figure out and fix what's broke," I've found that all existing organizations come with a mixed bag of useful or obsolete institutional knowledge, products (in this case software) that may or may not be well-designed, properly coded, and able to be evolved instead of tossed and totally rewritten, and personnel who may be anxious to work with the new guy or who resent an outsider's meddling. As usual, in eDoorways and LRI I've discovered challenges and opportunities abounding.
On the software front, most of what I had expected to need rewriting from scratch is more-or-less fairly usable for our near-term development. Note that eDoorways has a relatively long history, having actually begun in the late 90s during that decade's tech boom. Back when the company was worth tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars (quite a contrast to the pittance it's worth today), it heavily invested in the SmartONE learning module building and interpreting code that has languished on its shelves to this day. Similarly, just last year eDoorways launched a fairly complex content management system (CMS) that they called PowerChannels to support user-generated content uploading, managing, and marketing via the eDoorways.com website. My initial reaction to SmartONE was rather negative (to even load it, I had to roll back my Windows 7 system to Windows 98 compatibility mode!). But the more I've talked with the A.I. expert who wrote it, the more I realize that its C++ core engine can easily be "reskinned" to meet today's design standards, and its core A.I. software remains world-class to this day, just as Apple's Siri actually contains many responses that derive from the A.L.I.C.E. open source code whose history itself harkens back to Joseph Weizenbaum's ELIZA
written at MIT over 50 years ago. Now, given that core validity, software user interface design is something that I both enjoy and am pretty good at. Moreover, I have accumulated a variety stellar software design personnel resources over my years in this industry. So dragging SmartONE kicking and screaming into the 21st century should be reasonably straight-forward.
eDoorsways.com will be more difficult challenge, but it's actually something I'm planning on attacking first, since it's where the early revenues might lie. The site, presently hosted on a Rackspace server (but needs to be moved to Amazon's EC2 cloud to handle our anticipated traffic), went down this past weekend. Its original outsourced developer was unavailable on short notice, and eDoorways' previous project manager, a Windows server guru, and I were all unable to bring it back up. The original developer finally checked in and waved his magic wand (as software types do), and it was back in 5 minutes. During the fire drill of trying to figure out what had gone wrong, I learned far more about its internal database structure than I had expected in a very short time, and I now understand that there is more there than its (again, very old 90s-ish) look and feel implies. For instance, it's got, but has currently disabled, an interesting twist on social networking already built-in to it, with the ability of mutiple PowerChannel users to interconnect based on keyword searches (e.g., "Are there any other users online now who are interested in today's solar flare activity?"). It has a chat client, again currently disabled, that I expect to replace with something more powerful and current. It has a Paypal-based shopping cart module, again non-functional, that I also expect to replace with something more recent and superior. But overall, its underlying Java-and-MySQL database implementation of PowerChannels for individual users, when suitably renamed and augmented with a designed-and-built-from-scratch graphical user interface (GUI), can be used intact to support our iTunes-like learning app store concept.
Bottom line so far via analogy: Whenever you inherit a broken-down car, it's hard to tell how much work it needs to get it running again. While this one has broken headlights, a ripped headliner, and sagging seats, and has rusty and dented fenders, out-of-favor fins, and an AM radio from way back when, the engine and chassis actually look and run just fine. So, at least at this early stage, I believe that it shouldn't be all that expensive -- in time or money -- to let my designers and developers have their way with it, building from that strong foundation. As promised before, I will keep you appraised of their progress via this blog.
This is the first post on the blog of Learning Research Inc. We are truly excited to be here. Please stay tuned for more news as our adaptive learning software initiative takes off.