Education AI gears up in Hong Kong

 

Artificial intelligence (AI) has a huge impact on our daily life from using “Siri” to find the nearby restaurants, set auto-responses to customers to steer self-driving cars.

Its influence is likely to grow in the coming years and one of the areas that AI could make big changes in the future is education.

“Applying AI to the education industry has a great potential,” said by Dr. Andy Chun, associate professor at the City University of Hong Kong, who is also a pioneer in the field of Artificial Intelligence.

Tracking student performance with AI

Viola Lam, the founder of Find Solution AI, has spent six years working on a learning system involving AI technology with her husband, who is a specialist in science and technology research. Her company is under transformation from traditional cram school to a mixed education system combined with AI technology.

The AI adaptive learning platform, which works through an application, enables effective detection of learning disability and measures real-time learning engagement by face and eye tracking. It can analyze students’ facial expressions like happiness, surprise and sadness within 0.1 second. After that, students and teachers can get an auto-grading transcript and feedback report.

Based on the reports, AI tutors can offer the students solutions to help them avoid making the same mistakes and the students can practice more on the same types of questions they often got them wrong. Besides, teachers can also monitor students’ progress and be alert when there might be problems with students’ performance.

AI helps diagnose special learning problems

At first, Viola designed this application to assist ordinary students, but then she found the AI-cased technology can help diagnose, both in children and adults, learning difficulties or potential mental issues like autism or dyslexia effectively. She pointed out: “AI education creates a new learning model for analyzing and predicting different types of students’ grades. It can automate basic activities like grading and easing teachers’ pressure.”

She said her research teams and another two university professors are designing a new app that uses identifying biomarkers to develop more preventative measures early on Alzheimer’s disease. It is expected to hit the Hong Kong market by the end of this year.

Sufficient funding makes company run smoothly

Viola uses the cash flow of her education center and a marketing company’s revenue to support the research and development cost of the AI company.  At present, there are around 600 students having classes in Viola’s education center. She said all students in the center are using AI app for free, and the center pays for them. “We do B2B (business-to-business) only”, Viola added. So far, her AI company has already had several million sales revenue.

However, the shortage of AI talents and immature AI technology were the biggest challenges for Viola’s company at its start-up stage. Several years later, she found a strong team whose members are from around the world.

According to a research company Tractica, AI software revenue will increase to US$59.8 billion worldwide by 2025 from US$1.4 billion in 2016.

Viola considers education as one of the most competitive and popular business in the era of “increasingly expensive children”. “Combining AI with education industry can be a good opportunity for Hong Kong entrepreneurs to start a new business,” said Viola.

Ten local primary schools plan to cooperate with Viola’s company in the form of monthly subscription service.

Viola would like to raise US$2 million from different kinds of investors including local schools, institutions and individuals. The funds are mainly for conducting deeper research in AI education, recruiting talented people, continuing expanding the international market, and testing new products.

She is planning to transform the educational model through the novel AI technology and provide adaptive and personalized learning experience for students worldwide.

AI can apply to various industries

According to Tractica, as AI technologies and deployments sweep through virtually every industry, a wide range of cases are beginning to illustrate the potential business opportunities, attract investment, and inspire changes to existing business processes while pointing the way toward new business models with AI. Dr. Chun said there were a variety of potential applications of AI in assisting both teaching and learning. “For example, adaptive learning can make AI learning materials suit student needs. They can also use AR and VR to create a virtual learning environment,” he said.

AI could be used not only in education but many types of industries. Dr. Chun said that any industry that requires highly trained and experienced individuals are potential areas for the use of AI, such as transportation, government and health.

Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, in her policy address proposed to inject HK$700 million into the building of a “smart city”. She also stressed the importance of AI and other innovative technology in big data era.

Looking ahead, Viola sees AI education as the future for the development of her company. She also believed there were a lot of growth opportunities in the education industry with the usage of AI.

 

《The Young Financial Post 新報人財經》

新報人財經(TYFP)為香港浸會大學新聞系財經專業的實驗平台,由學生自主編採,為社會大眾提供中港相關的金融財經消息。

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