Virtual Robot Facilitator for Small Group Discussions in an Online Environment

In the post-COVID era, many activities has transferred to a collaborative online environment. Both in the education system as well as the workplace, many classes and meetings are held in videoconferencing of small groups. These have been repeatedly shown to be the most effective mode of operation.

The problem
Online meetings of small groups tend to diverge, not include all participants and be far from optimal, both in the deliverables expected, as well as the social impact on the participants. A good manager, teacher or facilitator can drastically improve the efficiency and engagement of such online activities. However, these are rare and require years of training and expertise. 

Our solution
We developed a virtual Robot Facilitator (vRobotator) for small group activities. The virtual robot, or avatar, can facilitate the discussion, teach the material or present the agenda, personalize the activity to each individual and group and perform according to best practices of group facilitation. The platform is a dedicated website that integrates videoconference, a virtual character facilitator and an agenda/activity interface to present dedicated content. The platform is enriched with state-of-the-art AI, such as speech and facial expression recognition, as well as best practices of group facilitation, e.g. personalized feedback, inclusion of all participants and focusing the group discussions on topic. 

The markets
There two obvious markets for our solution. The first is education, both formal and higher education, with an emphasis on augmentation of MOOCs |(massive online open courses, e.g. Coursera, EdX) to engage groups of learners in long-term and continuous learning.  The second is corporates in which small group meetings are ubiquitous and increasing their efficiency can drastically increase the productivity and value. 

Current status
We have developed a PoC and piloted it in four schools (three in Israel and one in Italy), , with more than 100 children and adults users, with support of Ministry of Education R&D. We have shown, in three published papers, the efficacy and capability of the platform to drastically increase participation and engagement of participants, along several consecutive activities. We have shown that usage of our system can be customized to different contents, e.g. science, SEL, parental discussions. We have a patent pending and a development partner already enlisted.
Prof. Goren Gordon, head of the Curiosity Lab in Tel Aviv University is the inventor of the technology. Ramot (Tel-Aviv University technology transfer) holds the IP and can grant exclusive license to the startup.
Looking for entrepreneurs to become the founders of a startup, people who want to drastically improve how people learn and interact, that want to bring AI into videoconferencing for a more efficient, engaging and reward discussions:
• CEO with experience in startups, network and access to VCs, that can lead the vision of the company.
• CTO with experience in full-stack development, that can spearhead the technological development and integration of state-of-the-art AI.
• CPO with experience in software development of complex and integrative systems.

For more information, contact:
Prof. Gordon: goren@gorengordon.com, Tel:+972-52-537-4429
Yair Eran: yair.eran@ramot.org, Tel: +972-54-453-3264

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