Author Archives: Jakub Klicpera

Vividbooks – the future of education

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The world is evolving in every aspect and the IT industry changes the fastest. Technology affects us at almost every step. It is important to keep up with it and be able to use it to our advantage. However, education is developing much more slowly and fails to integrate IT appropriately into teaching. Of course, there was an effort, but just computers and interactive whiteboards are not enough for today’s children, who are surrounded by technical innovations of the 21st century. It was clear to everyone that a change in education was approaching. Even thanks to the pandemic, it will be much sooner than expected.

The Czech startup Vividbooks focused on the digitalization of education. Project Vividbooks comes with an interactive textbook that combines traditional teaching methods such as pencil and paper with an innovative way of teaching using smartphones/tablets and augmented reality. It’s really easy to use, all you have to do is install the Vividbooks application on your smart device (tablet or smartphone), aim the device at the printed worksheets and watch what happens. The static image of the worksheets turns into an animation on your display, which also makes sounds. It is like being in the world of Harry Potter.

The animation explains the topics more clearly than just the formulas and the teacher’s simple interpretation. Children then discuss topics and develop their critical thinking. And at the end, they draw their newly acquired knowledge in the worksheets, which leads to better memorization. The application contains over 160 lessons and is available for both iOS and Android. It is also a suitable way for distance learning. And now, during pandemic, it is possible to try its basic version for free. The application is now used by over 40 schools in the Czech Republic.

Unfortunately, a wide range of subjects is not yet available. Currently, children can learn just physics this way, but chemistry textbook should appear soon. Overall, Vividbooks focus on STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). These subjects are usually less popular because their interpretation is often boring and complicated. However, thanks to a fun and interactive form of teaching, children’s opinion could change. Increasing children’s motivation to study is also the main goal of the Vividbooks.

The Vividbooks project succeeded in the European accelerator Impact EdTech and now is trying to get into Y Combinator. Vividbooks = the future of education.


The Ocean Cleanup’s vessels expanded to the rivers

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In September 2018, massive cleansing of the oceans began when non-profit organization The Ocean Cleanup, founded by Dutch Boyan Slat, launched their floating system for capturing plastic pollution from oceans. The vessel’s first destination was the largest collection of floating trash, The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Its area is three times larger than France. After the initial failure with the broken net, the system began to function properly and after one year, the first bags of collected garbage reached the land. Boyan Slat’s vision is to remove 90% of floating plastics from the oceans by 2040. But what can we do with the collected plastic garbage? Slat decided to upcycle, which means turning garbage into new materials or new and better products (for example sunglasses made of collected plastic garbage).

One year ago, The Ocean Cleanup also focused on cleaning rivers. They found that 80% of ocean plastics comes from 1000 rivers (mainly from Asia). It is not just about removing plastics from oceans, but also about stopping the arrival of new garbage to oceans. Boyan Slat’s goal is to clean up the most polluted rivers within 5 years. Special vessels, called The Interceptors should be used for this purpose. The Interceptor consists of two parts. The first is a vessel similar to a catamaran with giant containers and the second one is a several meters long floating barrier that directs garbage to the conveyor belt of the catamaran. Interceptors are powered by batteries, that are recharged by solar panels located on their roofs. Thanks to these batteries, the work is quiet and environmentally friendly. The system is fully automatic and its sensors indicate that the containers are full and need to be emptied manually. It is stated that the Interceptor can collect up to 100 000 kilograms of garbage per day.

Currently there are 3 Interceptors in operation, in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Dominican Republic. In the near future, new vessel should also appear on the Mekong River in Vietnam. To meet all goals, the Ocean Cleanup has now teamed up with the Finnish company Konecranes, which will produce new types of Interceptors, with a number of improvements such as wider conveyor belts, bigger inner containers or smarter system of energy storage.

We will certainly hear more about this project, which was underestimated at first. Ocean pollution is a really big problem that needs to be solved as soon as possible. Without the necessary intervention, an environmental disaster can soon occur. However, I believe that The Ocean Cleansup’s mission will be successful. However, without the help of all of us, it will not work.


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New regulations for the use of drones

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The popularity of drones is growing every year. Thanks to better availability (greater variability of choice and lower price), almost anyone can buy a drone, so it is not just the privilege of a group of enthusiasts and geeks. With the increasing number of amateur drone pilots, the number of accidents also increases. It was necessary to create a set of new rules. So, in many countries, new regulations will be in place starting from the new year to reduce accidents caused by the misuse of drones. Until now, each country of the European Union has regulated the operation of drones itself, but this is going to change on 31.12.2020. From this date, the rules will be uniformed for all Member States of EU.

The rules apply to all drones, except drones lighter than 250 grams without camera. Drone owners will need to register and pass the test. Then the owner will receive a specific number which will be indicated on all his drones.

New legislation divides drones into 3 categories, Open, Specific and Certified. In the first category, drones can fly a maximum of 150 meters above the land, however, no additional equipment is required. Drones from the other two categories must be equipped with remote identification, failsafe system against signal loss and geo-awareness (restricted flight zones).

New drones are already equipped with these essentials. But what to do with older ones? For example, we can use a smart solution from Dronetag. It is an IoT device in the form of a small box, which is attached to a drone. These devices send the current position and identification number of the drone to the central system and communicate with other drones via Bluetooth. There should be no collision between the drones. Dronetag also provides an application that facilitates compliance with all EU regulations. The application also displays the current state of the airspace with all participants (airplanes and drones).

The new regulations will also apply from the new year in the US, where the rules will be even more strict. If someone wants to fly with drones at night, they will need to undergo special training and equip the drones with reflective lights. Drones will also need to be provided with a position identifier.

So, if you got a drone for Christmas, don’t forget to register and pass the necessary exams before your first flight.