Harness Handitouch bets on cloud to digitise classrooms
Jun 19 2012, 12:03 | By CNBC-TV18
Twenty nine year old Subramanian Vishwanathan founded Harness Handitouch. It is an educational technology start up promoted by the alumni of premier institutes like IIT, ISB, IIM, McKinsey, Ernst and Young, KPMG and Reliance.
The team at Harness Handitouch has pioneered a new in class teaching solution developed on HTML 5 which works on all Android based products. To put it simply, Harness wants to do away with the need for a blackboard and help teachers provide personal attention to a classroom full of students.
'Touch on cloud' is the new operating system that Subu and his team will help digitise our classroom. A finalist at the Microsoft Bizpark start up challenge in 2011, Harness is targeting revenues of Rs 4 crore by 2013.
Subramanian believes asking a student to multitask in a classroom takes away from learning. After all, it is a bit much to copy what is being written on the blackboard before it is wiped clean, listen, assimilate and answer questions at the same time. So, he decided to harness the power of tablets and cloud to create collaborated classrooms.
Started in 2011, his venture Harness Handitouch has created a new way of learning, called 'touch on could.' It is based on network devices and delivers engaging and effective learning for students. Whatever is taught in the classroom gets saved on the cloud helping students access it from their homes. It also gives teachers the power to customise their lectures.
With pilot projects already being carried out in five schools, Subramanian claims he has orders worth Rs 60 lakh and expect to reach out to 3,000 students by the end of the year.
Subramanian says, "Let us say, Madhu is a smart student and the teacher gives a problem for five minutes and immediately at the touch of a button she can look at what Madhu has done. If the answer is interesting, she can actually broadcast Madhu's answer to all the fifty students. So, within a span of a couple of sections, all the 50 students get to know how Madhu has solved a particular problem. It can be a good answer, it can be bad answer, either way it is a learning experience. So, through technology, we are trying to promote collaborative peer learning."
He further says, "The teacher is free to use any multi-media material. So, it's like your physical class book, but with digital layers of efficiency added on top of it. So, whatever you have taught in the previous in 10-15 classes comes there automatically, so you can go back home and revise. You can blend YouTube video. You can blend a flash material. One can even open a textbook on the tablet, take a couple of paragraphs embed it, open a wikipedia article on the same topic, take three-four paragraphs embed it, go to YouTube search for a particular video, embed it and create a very collaborative custom lesson."
He says, "Teacher launches quizzes in the classroom. So, it is almost like Kaun Banega Crorepati in the classroom where every body on their tablet gets a question, they get 60 seconds to answer and teacher views the responses in real time. Depending on what the responses are, she can tailor her lecture."
Targeting the K12 segment from Class 4 and above, Subramanian is also looking at engineering, medical and business schools. He has also set his eyes on USD 10 billion private coaching industry in India, where he would use his innovation to provide supplementary lessons to students in classes 9 to 12 and those preparing for entrance examination as well.
With a team of 12, Harness Handitouch hopes to touch revenues of Rs 4 crore by next year. How does he hope to achieve this?
Subramanian says, "As far as the few revenue models are concerned, if you are a really premium international school like the school that follows the IB or IGCSE curriculum, we propose that every student carries a tablet and they buy that from us. So, we actually bundle hardware which can be an Apple iPad or a Lenovo Tablet, we bundle that with our HTML 5 learning operating and we give one to each student. They carry that back home. So, whatever they teach in classroom is available back home that is why our platform is called 'touch on cloud'. That is model no 1 where we give one tablet per student."
He further says, "Our second model is we have a Tablet Lab Model where if you are a tier I school, not every student maybe able to afford Rs 25,000 tablet, we have Tablet Lab Model where a tablet lab with 50 iPads or 50 Lenovo tablets is set up and for example three out of five math classes will happen in that tablet lab. So, if the class is for class 6 and class 7, each has five-six sessions, so over ten sections. Each student attends a class in the table lab three-four times a week, thereby students end up sharing devices. Therefore, the cost goes down."
Subramanian has devised a mode for his international clients as well. Here students will bring their own device to the classroom and subscribe to Harness' software. In the works are plans to carry out pilot projects in the US and UAE and one pilot project in Singapore is slated to start in January 2013.
Subramanian says, "Our broader vision is to reach out atleast one lakh students in the next 3 years. So, by 2015, we want one lakh students to be using our platform and the cloud for collaboration. In four years time, we want to be breaching the Rs 100 crore mark. That is broadly our financial target. We have a long road map and product release. We want to get into greater and greater collaborations in the classrooms. So, we want students to be playing network based games in the classroom to improve their conceptual understandings."
With a long product road map ahead, Subramanian believes that his tie up with tech giants like Apple and Lenovo both will help him stay ahead in the innovation game.
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