"Empath" was a series of devices and experiments
in the 1980's to create very low cost teaching and training devices which could
operate over phone lines of any type and still provide high
quality motion visuals by preparing all visuals prior to presentation
to one or more
classes. In operation, the teacher prepared visuals as
DVDs, VCDs, hard disk files, or even slides! All visuals were
sent to as many locations as desired before the class took
and when the class began, the teacher set up a conventional
call to one location or a conference call to many locations.
An Empath device was plugged into the phone line at the socket above the
pen and a telephone (speaker or regular phone) was plugged into the
other socket. Each unit could either "teach" or "learn" depending
on the position of the black slide switch. An infrared remote
control for the "teaching" device which presents the video was
pointed at the
blue box on top of the unit and relayed the command signals over the
line to the other end where an infrared emitter at the end of the other
identical "learning" box relayed the signal to the remote control input
the DVD player or computer at the student's end, thereby operating all
and training units in synchronization.
The teacher spoke over the phone line without difficulty and answered
questions from the students who operated a speaker phone at the student
end. The phone line was fully available except for a small
a second during which the sound was suppressed while a control
signal was sent over the phone line. Since control signals were only
sent when a change of visual was needed, there was insignificant
interruption of the conversation.
This unit may be very useful for distance learning situations in developing
countries and places where there is no high speed Internet
for all types of industrial and commercial business training since
units in production should only cost about $30. The good
part is that
a class could have full color, full motion, high quality video without
concern for bandwidth and costly studios and cameras. The down
side is that a teacher had to prepare all visuals in advance of the
class and distribute them to all locations before class time.
Since most classes have a
format which allows for prepared visuals in any event, this is
not a problem. Gordon taught for nearly 10 years in college
university classes and could have used this type of device were it
He also did several experiments with classes and found there
little if any difference in classes which used various types of
learning as opposed to conventional 'live teacher" classes at the
Advanced versions of this unit are available for license should a
client in a third world country be interested in distance
learning which doesn't break the budget and can operate over low bandwidth voice grade lines.
This is an example of a simple device that can have enormous
implications for society in areas outside of high cost, high bandwidth
areas. Third world emerging markets are becoming very
viable and this sort of applications are areas we have a number of
abilities in having spent quality learning time in India. Ask us about it if you would like a very inexpensive training tool.
Trade your unhappy students for happy ones!