Your computer becomes a mentor with Loqu8's 'augmented learning' tool

Loqu8 is one of seven startups featured at Microsoft SharePoint 2010 SocialFest, an event led by the Emerging Business Team of Microsoft in Silicon Valley.

Tim Uy's and Jim Hsia’s eyes light up when they talk about “augmented learning.” Both co-founders of Silicon Valley-based Loqu8, their software applications aim to provide contextual information in a small pop-up window, simply by hovering over a word or two. Say you’re writing a digital training plan for the latest IT system your team rolled out. As you type into a Microsoft Word document, Microsoft PowerPoint slide, Microsoft Outlook email message or even on Microsoft SharePoint, imagine hovering over a word, such as “social media” and getting a pop-up window of content that is contextual to what you are writing about. This could include the contact information for your company’s social media guru or presentations made by colleagues on other teams who ran social media campaigns. Or, it could include results from web search. By accessing internal data sources and external web sites, the application delivers relevant content just-in-time, enhancing your productivity.

This kind of targeted, readily available data is called “augmented Learning.” What is neat about Loqu8 is the creative ways in which they use the concept of augmented learning to develop an app that is relevant for both consumers and enterprises. For instance, take a look at iCE (iNterpret Chinese English), an application that can help you leverage contextual linguistic knowledge to learn a new language. If you are attempting to read email messages or documents written in Chinese, Loqu8’s pop-up window will help by translating words into English, telling you how to pronounce them, and even offering to show examples of how those words are used on the web.

What might be the enterprise applications of Loqu8’s Prelude? Consider workflow. By hovering your mouse over a word, a pop-up window opens and immediately displays related information from documents, databases or search results. Users have just-in-time access to relevant information including products (part numbers, pricing), organizations (staff, contact information) and more. Prelude seamlessly delivers key information without you having to go somewhere else to look it up.

Prelude works with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook), websites and line of business (LOB) applications. The enterprise edition, to be launched in Spring 2010, provides a semi-custom platform for accessing key information from within an organization. Enterprise-wide information sources like Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft SQL Server will be supported.

At Microsoft’s SharePoint SocialFest, Loqu8 is planning to spend the week integrating their nifty application with the FAST Search Server on Microsoft Sharepoint 2010.

As you know, I am always interested in how startups succeed. Here are 5 tips from Tim and Jim for new startups:

  • Build something for yourself or someone you love. Yes, it really does make a difference!
  • Free is good, but paid is better. Let your customers vote on your product or service with their wallets.
  • Take smart risks. Start with a simple business model. Scale up only when it’s successful.
  • Assemble a team that’s passionate about turning your vision into a reality.
  • Realistically evaluate your strengths and stay focused on them. In your areas of weakness, look for partners who can complement you.
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