Category : From the lab

7 updates to ThingLink editor: text labels, simplified tag selector, radar, and more!

 We are very excited to share seven feature updates to the new editor:
1. Support for text labels (size limit 140 symbols)
 Short text labels are a great way to guide attention to details, introduce new vocabulary, or help the viewer understand what they are looking at.
This is a photo of the new text label
2. All custom fields are empty by default
No more Niagara Falls! The tag preview starts from an empty canvas. Just add your text, title, link or photos!
3. Tag shape automatically adjusts to your content. See examples below:
+ If you only have three or fewer lines of text, it will align at the middle of the tag:
+ If you have more then three lines, the text will align to the left:
+ Same alignment when you upload an image:
 
+ Without title and link, text shows under the image
+  Images in a tag that have text on the right side will open in full when you click them. Click again and you see the text.
  
4. Support for markdown that unlocks bold and italic in tag text
Use asterisks for *bold* text, underscores for__italics_.
 
5. New look and behavior for the transition tag 
The new version has a line underneath the icon and it blinks on hover. Clicking transitions the viewer to the next scene.  Note: Transition does not anymore have a label so that we can differentiate it from the new text label.
6. Tour has a default BACK button for easier navigation 
The button appears automatically in the upper left corner of each image or video.
7. A Radar view for 360 images and videos 
The packman looking icon in the upper right corner is a radar that shows your position (yellow dot) and viewing range. This helps you get an idea of the number and location of hotspots in a scene.
We hope you like these updates — we will be sharing more exciting product news next week from ISTE, Philadelphia!
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How to Increase Your Virtual Instruction Time Without Putting in More Hours

360-degree images and videos can help students develop understanding of real-world environments outside their classroom, but trying to successfully setup twenty-five headsets for a shared VR experience is not easy. For a while, we have been thinking of an alternative solution, based on the following three assumptions:

  1. A learner benefits from an expert introduction: a teacher guiding a VR tour helps a student pay attention to relevant things.
  2. Shared VR does not have to be live VR. Asynchronous viewing is improves access and flexibility.
  3. Students should be able to revisit the experience and explore at their own pace.

When Google launched Expeditions in 2015, ThingLink team started getting two kinds of emails from teachers. Most wanted to know if we could support 360 image annotation so that teachers could create their own expeditions and tours together with students. Shortly after, in May 2016, we launched our 360 image editor.

The second question concerned the ability to guide the tour to make sure students would pay attention to things that were relevant for the lesson. This one was tricky, because we did not think it was conceptually right to replicate the traditional classroom experience in VR.

In the traditional setup, a teacher stands in front of the classroom, and students are trying to get what the teacher says and means. It’s the same story, speed, and highlights for everyone, no matter if you are a fast or a slow learner, or if you speak the language or not.

Now, if you keep this setup and just put VR headsets on all the students, not much changes, except:

– You will need a lot of headsets, a budget to cover them, and a space to store them.

– Getting students to open the right app from the phone settings does not go smoothly. This eats time from instruction.

– Not all the devices will work properly. Not all the kids are patient.

– Some kids will stand up and bump into each other.

– It is harder for the students to hear the teacher wearing a headset.

Nevertheless, 360 viewing is a wonderful way to extend the boundaries of the classroom, but how to do that without complicating the logistics during instruction time? How can students get more quality time with their teacher in both the virtual and the physical learning space?

A narrated VR tour with sequential hotspots

The solution we came up with lets anyone record their introduction to a topic and save it in the background of a virtual tour. This also includes being able to define a sequence for informational hotspots that matches with the narration and guides viewers’ attention during a tour.

This new format came from the marriage of two existing ThingLink editor features: background audio and video editing. For lack of a better term, we will refer to it as a narrated VR tour with sequential hotspots.

Physical instruction time vs. virtual instruction time

Let’s say you have prepared a unit introduction of ancient Egypt, and the total physical instruction time for this one-time orientation in the classroom would be about 20 minutes.

Now, if you record the introduction and add it in the background of selected 360 images from Egypt, you as an educator have created yourself a presence in the cloud. From now on, views of this narrated VR experience by students will increase your virtual instruction time. Let’s continue the thought experiment and say all the students view your introduction at least once, and half of the students want to revisit the introduction from home as they are writing a related essay. In total, the virtual introduction is viewed 60 times each year (60 x 20min). This adds up to a total of 20 hours of virtual instruction time per year for this specific class and unit about ancient Egypt.

 

The introduction that was previously available for students only once in a certain physical space is now available and accessible to students any time. The teacher does not have to stress about giving the introduction on the spots while helping students to set up their headsets. Instead, this time can be saved for individual and group discussions.

Accessibility, flexibility, and cost savings

To sum up, a narrated VR tour with sequential hotspots is an asynchronous shared VR experience that benefits teachers, students, and schools in three essential ways:

1.It takes learning out of the classroom, but keeps the teachers guiding their students. Just like in any other environment, teachers help students to pay attention to the things that are relevant to their learning process. This can include introducing key concepts, giving general instructions for viewing, or inviting the classroom to think about certain questions as they explore the tour.

2.Narrated VR tours increase accessibility and flexibility in learning. A recorded VR introduction can be explored at any time, on any device, and from any location. This leaves more time for group and individual discussions.

3.Viewing VR tours in small groups or individually saves money: Not every student needs their own headset. Headsets can be kept clean and shared with multiple students. This makes immersive learning experiences possible for schools with smaller budgets.

5 steps for creating your own narrated VR tour with sequential hotspots

1. Upload a 360 image to ThingLink or select one from ThingLink image library

2. Record your introduction using a voice memo app on mobile or desktop

3. Open ThingLink editor and add the voice memo file (mp3, m4a) as a background audio to your image

4. Click “Play” to listen to your audio in the background and start adding informational hotspots

5. Adjust duration for tags, when you are done, click Save and share via LMS or link.

We look forward to seeing your work so please keep sharing projects, ideas or comments to ThingLink Education Facebook group or ThingLink Education on Twitter!

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Upcoming: Five Major Product Updates

We have very exiting news: in the next couple of weeks ThingLink is launching:

  • a new Premium teacher plan
  • a new school package
  • a new student management interface
  • a new version of the image editor, and
  • a new mobile creation experience.

Here are the main highlights for each:

A new Premium Teacher plan: all features for one classroom

The new individual teacher plan includes all features such as 360 editing for one classroom (35 students) at $35 per year. The plan will be available for new signups already this week! Read more about who should sign up or transition to the new plan. 

 

A new school package

Our new school starter package at $500 includes 500 accounts for use by teachers or students. This means new teachers in a school can now try ThingLink at much lower price ($1 per user). The school plan is designed to grow throughout the adoption phase, with the option to purchase additional accounts in increments of 250, or professional development on demand.

A new student management interface

The new interface offers more flexible ways to manage students and groups for individual teacher and school accounts. For example, teachers and school admins can now easily add more students to their account and see how many students have signed up. The new interface is available for teachers on Wednesday, May 2nd. 

New ThingLink editor

This new streamlined editor supports flat and 360 images with the same feature set. It features a new selection of layout templates for different types of content, which makes the creation flow faster and easier. The new editor will be available to our beta users users in May and all users in June.

 

New mobile creation experience

In addition to a new look and feel, the mobile editor supports direct audio recording to camera images. The iPad version that will be in the App Store in May, will support  audio recording to 360 images as well!

 

This is a lot to digest, but we believe these new features, packages and improvements will make ThingLink the most flexible and affordable immersive storytelling tool to improve digital literacy skills.

In the next weeks we will be writing about each feature in more detail based on the questions we get. We would like to invite you to join the discussion about new features on the ThingLink Education group on Facebook!

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Introducing Instagram Profile Tag

Most of our users have awesome Instagram profiles, and in the past months we have seen impressive visuals created by ThingLink publishers combining infographics with individual Instagram images.

Adding to our family of 70+ rich media tags, we are now excited to announce our new Instagram profile tag that allows readers to view Instagram user profiles directly within images and videos. This gives publishers and brands the opportunity to tell engaging visual stories with a rich combination of media resources.

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News from ISTE: ThingLink gives educators a free early access to its new video editor

Exciting news: in the past months we have been hard at work building a new editor for annotating video content with rich media.  The new editor allows users to add notes and links to existing video content, and this way turn video into a digital discovery platform.

An early access to ThingLink for Video is announced at ISTE, one of the largest international conferences for educational technology. We at ThingLink believe that interactive images and video will become the 21st century textbook, and teachers are driving this change by being fast adopters of, not only new technology, but also a new way of thinking. As the use of video in education grows, ThingLink is empowering teachers and students to easily create interactive video content and facilitate in-video conversations.

The ability to creatively combine web content with interactive images and video opens up new possibilities for teaching and learning. With ThingLink for Video, teachers and students can enrich educational videos with facts, detailed articles, additional content and questions. They can also search and share videos created by their colleagues, and this way access a wider network of interactive video content creators.

ThingLink for Video is currently available via invitation only. Educators can request a free early access starting from today.

If you are visiting ISTE this year, please come to meet us at ThingLink’s booth no 2869 and share the news with your colleagues!

Here are two examples of videos annotated with ThingLink. Kingdom Of The Forest – Fungi (National Geographic) Mushroom The Long Way Home (Health Equity Institute Documentaries) LongWayHome

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ThingLink launches Interactive Image Channels

Today ThingLink is launching a new feature called “Channel”, an easy way to organize images into embeddable interactive albums. ThingLink Channel is an exciting feature that will allow for a multitude  of new storytelling applications via rich media tags.  Below are some examples for personal, business, and educational usages:

I. Channels for Personal Use

Interactive lifestyle magazines  and and guides for travel, recipes, design, arts & crafts: Think about channel as a new way to start your own mobile magazine. If fashion or food are your passion and images are your preferred mode of expression, you can now start your own interactive magazine on ThingLink. ThingLink Channel works as a YouTube Channel: you can update it anytime and when you add new content it will be shown to your followers.

Interactive family albums: We all have our cameras full of images and videos of our pets and kids. With ThingLink you can combine the best of your gallery, adding notes, quotes, and music to images, ultimately creating albums that allow you to travel back in time and remember how your darlings looked and sounded just a couple of years ago!

Interactive slide sets and storybooksOnce you start using interactive image channels for your professional presentations, you can forget about powerpoint and keynote and problems with large file sizes. Not only will your slides be more visual, they can now play music, show video or embed any content from the web. Sharing? Just share your channel URL and people can replay your content at any time.

II. Channels for Businesses

If you run a small or large business, ThingLink Channel will be your new favorite tool for creating engaging material on social media. From now on, you can serve fans and followers interactive product catalogs and PR images.

For publishers, interactive image channels work both in display or native advertising. Contact us at sales @thinglink.com to learn more!

III. Channels for Teachers Teachers can use ThingLink Channels to organize student homework and projects. For example, a history teacher could create a channel for each course they are teaching this semester and have students add their homework to this channel.  At the end of the semester, a channel will become a collection of student work that can be shared with other classes and studied for examinations.

Start using ThingLink image channels with 3 simple steps:

1. Above every image, you will see an “add to channel” link

  2. Select a channel or create a new one by clicking “new channel”     3. Now click “done”. To view your images as a slideshow, click the slideshow button on the left.  Some channel functionality will still improve, such as adding an option to arrange images within the channel, as well as the possibility to add other people’s images into a channel and be notified when that happens. All of this is in the works! If there is anything else you would like to see, as always, please let us know!

 

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New in iPhone & iPad ThingLink App

Have you checked the latest update of ThingLink iOS App?

 

Automatic tagging
photo 4 (1) - Copy

In order to make ThingLink fun and fast, we are adding 2 images and 1 info tag on each of your newly created ThingLink image.
Before saving, you can delete those 3 tags or add more tags if you like.

 

Visual editor

photo 2 (2) - Copy

Now you can preview, right from the editor, your  link tags, video tags, image tags and other tags.

 

Download ThingLink App NOW, it is free.

 

 

 

 

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ThingLink is Recruiting: Sales Engineer Position – New York, NY

This is a full time position based in New York City with a start date between mid December and January 1st. Some travel may be required.

To apply, please email a resume and cover letter to cyril@thinglink.com.

Sales Engineer – New York, NY

As part of the sales and marketing team, you will primarily handle tasks related to premium client technical support, partnerships, and community support. You may also participate in our mainline software development, as much as other duties allow. As in many startups our team members wear multiple hats, and for this position we are looking for a flexible generalist more than a specialist. You should have good knowledge of HTML/CSS/Javascript and you care about making things work for other people. 

Main responsibilities are:

  • Support the sales team based in New York and
    • Assess project feasibility
    • Find technical solutions for customer or partner requests
    • Implement technical solutions
    • Participate on customer and partner calls (US time zones; sometimes Europe)
  • Support our community with their questions and requests

Desired Skills & Experience:

  • HTML/CSS/Javascript
  • Great customer service skills
  • Self-motivated and self-organized
  • Flexible and open-minded attitude
  • Solutions-oriented

We consider as a plus:

  • JQuery knowledge
  • Java knowledge
  • iOS/Android development experience
  • Haskell knowledge
  • Previous start-up experience or start-up minded
  • Passionate about internet services

 

ABOUT THINGLINK

ThingLink is an easy-to-use platform for creating interactive images.  Our products are being used by small and large companies alike, all across the globe; from teachers in Australia to Fortune-50 companies in the USA.  We’re serving hundreds of millions of API calls every month; yet keep a tight, informal organization. For more information about ThingLink, visit www.thinglink.com/business or www.thinglink.com

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ThingLink: Upgrade to our Small Business Premium Starter Package: Now Self-Serve

If you’re a startup, a small-to-medium sized business, a not-for-profit, a political action committee, an indie record label, a college, a small publisher or a professional educator interested in using ThingLink’s premium features, now you can upgrade online to our Small Business Premium Starter Package.

For as little as $250 you get an annual account license with:

  • 50,000 Views — Add more views as you need them.
  • Unlimited Images — Post an unlimited number of images to your account.
  • Multi-User – Invite multiple team members and colleagues into your group/channel to create, distribute and manage images.
  • Make Images Public, Private, Unlisted — Set a preference for each image and control views – from public to private to unlisted.
  • Advanced Dashboard — Get detailed metrics on how your images and content perform, and metrics for web and social channels where your images are shared.
  • Personalized Icons — Upload company logos and graphics to customize your images.
Premium Small Business includes comprehensive performance metrics on each image.

Premium Small Business includes comprehensive performance metrics on each image.

 

Upgrade to Premium Small Business today and start driving higher engagement for your images on web pages and social channels.

Questions? Write Sales@ThingLink.com.

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ThingLink Expands Publisher Ad Network with Discovery Communications and Flite

Print
ThingLink and Discovery Communications, the world’s #1 nonfiction media, have announced a partnership for deploying ThingLink-powered interactive images and display ads across the digital destinations for Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Science and other networks in their portfolio.

To enhance the partnership, Discovery, ThingLink, and Flite announced an integration of ThingLink inside Flite’s Ad Studio. Flite publishers like Discovery, as well as advertisers, agencies and brands with ThingLink premium accounts, can now deploy ThingLink-powered rich media display ads for desktop and mobile through Flite’s ad server platform.

images

Discovery is driving digital advertising innovation by utilizing Thinglink’s interactive tagging capabilities to enhance their content and to deliver value for partners. By using custom-designed images, Discovery can tell more compelling creative stories that offer clients and brands the chance to integrate more seamlessly around sponsorship initiatives or custom-produced programs.

Key to their strategy is organically driving views and engagement beyond traditional advertising techniques through SEO and increased fan engagement that extends to social connections.  Discovery will strategically target these new rich media ads to compliment their image-based editorial content thereby creating a cohesive user experience that feels very integrated and blurs the line between content and traditional ad spaces.

ThingLink’s Premium platform enables publishers to serve 3rd party content over images. Publishers can use custom graphical icons on ThingLink images and build proprietary in-image applications for shopping, content marketing, and social connection. ThingLink’s real-time metrics allow for invaluable data collection with click-through-rates that continually outperform standards. ThingLink images are also viewable across social channels and web pages and shareable to social channels like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.  Four of the top ten newspaper publishers and ten of the top fifty global brands use ThingLink for creating and sharing interactive images.  ThingLink publisher partners also include CBS Interactive and New York Magazine.

Flite empowers their publisher and brand clients to easily publish brand assets and messaging directly into their paid media. Flite has an expanding library of third party ad components, which allow clients to easily bring in content from providers such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and more. With the added integration of ThingLink, Flite continues to offer interactive functionality within display advertising for both clients and partners.

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