tech open air festival berlin


Tech Open Air is an annual technology festival that takes place in Berlin, Germany. It first started in 2012 as the very first tech festival organised through crowdfunding. The festival has developed into a well known tech gathering that brings together technology, music, art and science.

This year, TOA festival will take place for three days with more than 150 live speakers and 175 satellite events around Berlin, enabling attendees to connect and learn from industry experts in Europe’s startup capital, Berlin. Attendees will experience inspirational storytelling, interactive forums, art installations and live music at the beautiful Funkhaus Berlin.

The festival started off with an opening keynote from Duolingoʼs CEO Luis von Ahn. Von Ahn is an associate professor, entrepreneur and inventor of CAPTCHA. Today he presented Duolingo. Duolingo is a free language-learning platform that includes a language-learning website and an app that people can use on their smartphones or tablets, as well as a digital language proficiency assessment exam.

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What impact Duolingo has on Freelancers and Digital Nomads?

For people who are moving from place to place and traveling a lot, Duolingo is a great option to learn a new language anywhere they go. People can travel and learn a new language from their smartphone on a daily basis.

Nowadays, freelancers have the ability to learn a new language remotely without necessarily going to school, which enables them to travel all over the globe.

Duolingo’s impact on education

When talking about education in developing countries, a lot of people are having problems with learning a new language due to its high cost. At Duolingo, they are trying really hard to make knowledge accessible to those less fortunate. In other words, they transmit their knowledge for free. One of those developing countries is undoubtedly Guatemala, country where von Ahn is from.

As a response to thousands of letters from language teachers and education ministries from governments all around the world, Duolingo announced the launch of Duolingo for Schools.

Duolingo requires no begging for funds from administrations. Many language classrooms in the US and abroad had already begun using it as a technological companion and recognizing its usefulness. The governments of countries like Costa Rica and Guatemala, for example, recently started doing pilots in some public schools, where teachers with high English proficiency are limited.

After van Ahn presented the way in which a mobile app can change the way we learn new languages, and after he explained how education can be disrupted, Nic Cary, the co-founder of Blockchain, hosted a session about how technology will enable us to change a financial paradigm.

Blockchain: Creating a borderless world by storing information in a distributed way

Modern tech allows us to communicate directly, with all kinds of media, from person or place A to B. Trust between people is maintained no matter how far apart they are, in other words, there is no third party between people using technology.

And what about money transactions? For this, we have to trust a third party (banks and credit card companies) to complete our transaction. But can we challenge the status quo? Moreover, can we challenge it in a radical way?

Technology can help us create a borderless world where financial transactions will be better, more secure and transparent than they are now.

Can we move from a system with a centralized ledger to a system with a  distributed ledger?

What will happen to first-world institutions (e.g. Wall Street) that haven’t changed a lot over the last few decades but are, without a doubt, the foundation of our economy?

There is a way to structure data so that we can share a digital ledger of all transactions across a network of computers without a need for central authority.

Turns out, we already did this. It’s called Blockchain and it’s more cost efficient, secure and transparent than the systems most of us use today.

Although today, Blockchain is the financial tech mostly underpinning the bitcoin digital currency, it has a potential to change the way we as individuals and companies make and verify all transactions, from money to goods and services.

Some of the people we’ve talked to think Blockchain might be as big and significant as the relational database was back in the day. Where it could bring us in 10 years nobody knows. Remember, 10 years ago there were no iPhones.

Blockchain could be applied to almost any form of record-keeping, agreement, contract or register processes. It’s true potential lies beyond cryptocurrencies – blockchain network enables the development of a non-refutable, and unbreakable record of data. This could become a fundamental feature in many businesses or lead to building a fairer and more transparent voting environment.

Wherever this exciting tech shift will lead us, we’re looking forward to witnessing the change it will bring to our world and the system we’re living in.

All in all, day one was filled with with keynotes, ignite talks and workshops ranging from virtual reality and education to technology innovations.

We decided to look around and enter into the realm of virtual reality. Our next station was Studio 4, dedicated to NEU China.

Disrupting technological creativity and innovation – a Nexus Europe China’s (NEU) impact

Disruption is escalating on a global level, as a new-fangled trend affecting various technological niches.  Itʼs empowering growth and fuelling open innovation are finding its place and reassuring the influence within the VR world and Makers initiative.

Stanley Chan, Vice president of Noitom demonstrated an enormous potential of VR disruption within domains of engineering and education. Engineers and teachers will, in a future not so far away, have to upgrade their working stations and classroom environment with an abundant dose of technological injection. Soon we will have teachers standing in the center of the classroom and enabling the students to virtually dig deeper into the anatomy of the human body. Engineers will see their constructions being built and raised in the virtual world, enhancing the sole perfection of their work.

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David Li, co-founder of Makers Collide showcased multiple success stories originating from China’s collaborative electronics design ecosystem – Shanzai. The emphasis he made was set on underlining the massive influence of disruptive management practices originating from the Far East.

One of them is MeegoPad Mini PC which was created by a team of five Shenzhen’s enthusiasts who developed a product within 6 months. Launching in 2014 and having sold 80 000 units, making 12 million dollars in sales, reaffirms the fact that an adequately established ecosystem can pull together more valuable products than a VC initiative would yield.

Brand your innovation or your users will do it for you

If you don’t brand your product, your consumers will name it for you – a fact excerpted from Hoverboard’s story. Hoverboard world takeover, which originated as a nameless product from Shenzhen ecosystem as “just another” prodigy of innovation with the hunger for world domination. So, who named it? After a hoverboard related accident that grabbed media attention, authors were trying to put a common denominator to the product in order to spread the word. Since there was no official product label, journalists gave it the name we are all familiar with today, despite “looks of disapproval” from “Back to the future” fans – a Hoverboard.

Baseline of Asian success stories lies in adapting to the needs of the niche, adapting to the needs of your potential customers and today’s virtual reality movement. The estimated worth of 46 billion dollars of virtual reality industry in China alone is setting the stage for the next technological breakthrough, changing the way we connect, learn and experience the old world through new eyes.

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Special thanks to TOA BerlinZimo Digital and FOI.

Photos are courtesy of Tech Open Air festival Berlin – Facebook page.

About The Author

I like building new things, exploring the world, ideas and my mind.

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