We were fortunate to spend some time recently with the UAE's first developer of augmented reality and iBeacon technology, Etechan International. Based in Dubai, they are spearheading the use of next generation technology across the region in various sectors, including education
After demoing some of their amazing tech, they shared some insight into the company, its vision and the role of AR in education.
What led to the formation of Etechan?
Etechan International is the idea and passion of Mr. Adnan Bin Abdulla, an Emirati energetic young man who is highly qualified in the areas of management and information technology, after serving for many years in senior management roles in the public sector in the UAE, he decided to follow his heart and passion and establish Etechan International to be the platform from which he can work on advanced technologies, something he is fond of, in order to provide outstanding solutions in the areas of health, learning and education, the areas he felt are crucial to the well being of man kind.
Why did you choose to focus on augmented reality in particular?
Given the recent developments in the software industry, especially after mobile devices emerged as some of the most promising technologies and becoming somewhat affordable and available to almost everybody, the market has been flooded with hundreds of thousands of applications that fit almost any purpose out of the box, it seemed difficult to compete in such a fierce market, augmented reality is a technology that existed for quite sometime, but mobile devices provided a tool that made augmented reality way more accessible than it used to be. We believe that a carefully designed and professionally implemented augmented reality application will be very attractive and will astonish anyone, even those who developed it. Astonishment and the WOW dimension are what learning and education applications need to capture the attention of all learners.
What is Etechan's aims for Education and Health?
Etechan International considers servicing Health and Education a noble target, in fact, it is in our mission statement to "provide outstanding products and services to our customers in the field of learning and education”.
We believe that the younger generation will one day lead our world, providing the best possible education opportunities and the best health support is critical for the future of any nation.
How has Etechan harnessed Augmented and Virtual Reality for UAE Smart Government initiatives?
Etechan International realise the fact that the UAE is a highly advanced country and the government of the UAE keeps an eye on the latest advances in smart technologies in a continuous pursuit of providing quality services to the citizens and residents of the UAE, it is certainly a big challenge to satisfy a demanding customer who does not compromise on quality, we think that Augmented and Virtual Reality are very powerful tools with which we can craft solutions that are both very useful and highly attractive, we also rely on our senior management’s long record of experience in the public sector, they know how the efficient government of the UAE work and what are the most appropriate solutions to build for a UAE smart government.
Some thought that AR was a flash in the pan, do you think that augmented reality is here to stay?
Augmented reality has so many forms, it is not only showing a 3D object on top of a piece of paper with a tracking image, augmented reality include “Star Trek” or “Matrix” like worlds where you can be in the north pole (including freezing temperature) or lay on a beach (including the nice weather) in Hawaii or even fight Bruce Lee or Mohammed Ali (including being punched), the technology will certainly take us there some day, it will probably take a long time, maybe decades, but all along, there will be smart people improving the technology step by step, so the answer is Yes, augmented reality is here to stay.
Your augmented reality coloring app was on display at Modhesh World this year and actually featured Modhesh himself. Do you have plans for further content like this that is focused on local culture?
Being an Emirati company concentrating on modern technologies, we are always looking for the best ways to utilize augmented reality for learning and education, we are also keen on blending well with the local culture, so we take it as a priority that our content is compatible, we also have to keep in mind that the UAE is a multi cultural hub for people from all over the world, so we also take this dimension into consideration and try to reflect the concept of the harmony of cultures in our applications.
What about the beacon technology that you are developing? iBeacons are becoming more and more popular in edtech circles, what uses do you see for this technology in schools?
Beacon technology is the answer for accurate location identification capabilities requirements in smart and mobile devices, especially indoor where satellite based location services are not good enough. We believe that schools are an ideal place to use this technology, attendance and registration automation is one area, security and students whereabouts is also to be considered, but more importantly, we believe that beacon technology can be greatly utilized in learning and education, we need to join hands with experts in the education sector who share with us the enthusiasm to technology and using it to enhance learning and education, they can broaden the horizons for us and share the knowledge and experience on the latest and most effective trends in teaching methods so that we can start on solid grounds.
What successes have you already enjoyed as a company?
In terms of time, Etechan International has been in operation for less than two years, we invested plenty of time in research to identify the best tools and technologies to use in our business, join hands with partners who can add value to our business and we can add value to theirs and target clients that we’ll be proud of serving.
We have been awarded by “Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University” in 2014 in the category of “Technology Exploitation”
In identification to our sense of social responsibility, we were awarded the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) label from Dubai Chamber in 2014.
What educational projects do you have in the pipeline?
As education is our first interest, in the short term, we are planning to provide augmented reality solutions for learning Arabic for non-Arab students, this way we can target a truly large sector of students as Arabic is a must learn subject to all students in the UAE, it is also our language and we are so passionate about it, we also feel that many students are not finding it easy to learn this beautiful language, so we want to try our best to change that fact. In the long term, we would like to expand to other subjects where augmented reality can really make learning fun, easy and effective, this is not limited to any particular subject and includes Islamic Studies, Mathematics, Geography, Science and even PE.
How can our readers find out more about Etechan and what services you offer?
For general information service inquiries, the following channels are available: