Last week my girlfriend and I shoved the furniture to the walls and decided it was time to finally learn how to tango. We’d been meaning to take classes forever, but for lots of reasons, we never made it. We cued up our first YouTube lesson and began… arguing. (Good for the intensity of the dance, right?) What we were missing was the kind of help Kinobi can provide.
The Kinobi Teacher
Kinobi, soon to work in conjunction with Microsoft Kinect, provides real-time feedback while following instructional videos. A browser, webcam, and the Kinobi application, and you’re good to go, as if you have a live instructor in the room to correct your mistakes or salute your success.
Sure, my girlfriend and I could have recorded ourselves and compared our awkward movements to the original video, but that probably wouldn’t have ended the disagreements as to who was responsible for the near spills onto the floor and coffee table. We needed an outside voice telling us what we were doing wrong.
What Might Be Learned
Early efforts at Kinobi have been geared toward creating videos for dance, yoga, and exercise. Given time to refine and develop videos, the startup has the potential to redefine home schooling. From the comfort of the living room, a person might be able to learn any number of physical skills–martial arts, playing a musical instrument, even performing medical procedures.
Enlisting Kinobi as an instructor–just using the phrase makes me think of receiving Jedi training from Obi-Wan Kenobi–should appeal to eager students too embarrassed to make mistakes in public, those who can’t afford to take lessons for everything they might want to learn, or people with schedules that can’t accommodate more traditional classrooms.
Even for practices like yoga, where the offerings continue to multiple, individual attention remains hard to find. Kinobi offers a nifty alternative to the live teacher who might not have time to give personal feedback.
Founder and CEO Chapman Snowden started the company with teacher training in mind. He was developing Kinobi as a tool meant to record teachers and help them manage classes. Figuring out how to provide teachers with the feedback they requested proved challenging. Inspiration came when Snowden noticed kids using a Kinect while he was in a department store line. He realized the device would be compatible with his project. Kinect not only presented a solution for supplying responses but expanded the possible applications of the Kinobi system.
The learning-disruptive startup has generated enthusiasm at demos in New Orleans and New York this year. The company will still need to learn how to make the leap from buzz-worthy technology to profitable business.
I hope they excel. If I’m ever going to impress on the big screen dance floor like Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman, I’m going to need a lot of help. A lot. Much more than Snowden will need I’m sure. Though I do have one recommendation: the Kinobi tango video should include instructions that discourage a partner from threatening to take out an eye with sharp heels.