China is taking its education to a virtual level. With the advances in technology such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence, China seeks to enhance its quality and accessibility of education.
Traditionally, the country has been known for its notorious gaokao (高考 or college entrance exam in English) where students cram impractical knowledge for years to get into top schools. In recent years, however, there has been a growing demand for education reform to better prepare students for post-college life.
While most education technology focuses on creating online content, one company from Boston is tackling education reform from a different angle.
Brainco, founded in 2015 and incubated in the Harvard Innovation Lab, has ambitious goals to improve Chinese education by providing neurofeedback training. The company is one of the pioneers of BMI (brain-machine interface) wearables, armed with 5.5 million USD funding from various investors and pitch competitions.
Han Bicheng, the founder of Brainco, aims to break the traditional classroom mold and help schools use the most advanced technology to enhance the future of education. As China gradually increases its investment in education technology such as integrating MR and AR, Brainco takes a different angle to directly enhance students’ academic performance.
“In a traditional classroom, it can be challenging for teachers to easily understand how well their students’ are comprehending the material. It can also be difficult to have insight into what teaching methods are most effective at engaging their class. Additionally, students can feel frustrated when they are not engaged and perform poorly,” Han says.
That is where Brainco’s Focus EDU comes into play. The product aids teachers in analyzing students’ learning experience and outcomes. The data provides personalized student analysis to better understand their performance. The device also provides a school or district-wide approach to quantitatively measure student engagement in class. Han believes Focus EDU can maximize student participation through identifying individuals’ strengths and weaknesses.
Brainco currently works with the Harvard Graduate School of Education to solidify their strategy to enter into the US education market. They will also have their first clinical trial in Spring for children with ADHD in the US.
The company is smart to position itself in a specific niche market in China. With the growing middle class and demand for education reform, education technology has a huge room for investment in China. Few companies, however, focus on mental health wearables that combine neurofeedback training, attention level algorithms, and the most advanced realtime electrical signals (EEG) detection technology like they do.
According to the Mental Health Research Institute of Peking University, there are 15-19 million children suffering from ADHD in China. Han’s goal is to provide neurofeedback training to these students to enhance their attention span and performance.
Han admits, however, that there are cultural barriers entering the Chinese education market.
“Chinese parents are more amenable to neurofeedback training that takes the form of traditional academic tasks such as reading and mathematics. In the US, parents are open to using video games as a medium of neurofeedback training,” he says.
Such difference in education training challenged the company to come up with different cultural contents for the US and China.
Han is confident Brainco has been teaming with some of the best neurofeedback therapists in the world to create a training system that minimizes any side effects.