Skip to main content

Got a second? This app from MIT helps you learn a language in your spare time

WaitSuite: Using moments of waiting productively
Even in an age of connectivity, our lives are full of relatively empty moments. We may be waiting for an elevator to arrive, for a text message to come through, or for our device to reconnect to Wi-Fi. Through a new series of apps called WaitSuite, a team of researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory want to turn these moments into learning opportunities.

WaitSuite was inspired by apps like Duolingo, a “micro-learning” platform that challenges users to learn new languages in what little spare time they have. The idea is that even short sessions of engagement can accumulate into significant learning over time. However, where Duolingo requires users to open its own app, WaitSuite is integrated into the apps at hand.

“With stand-alone apps, it can be inconvenient to have to separately open them up to do a learning task,” Carrie Cai, an MIT PhD student who leads the project, said in a press release. “WaitSuite is embedded directly into your existing tasks, so that you can easily learn without leaving what you were already doing.”

WaitSuite covers old school tasks like waiting for an elevator (WaitSuite’s ElevatorLearner application activates when it detects Bluetooth iBeacons near elevators) and more modern-day ones like waiting for your device to reconnect to Wi-Fi. When the platform senses that its users are in a state of waiting, it prompts them to answer language vocabulary questions.

“The vast majority of people made use of multiple kinds of waiting within WaitSuite,” Cai said. “By enabling wait-learning during diverse waiting scenarios, WaitSuite gave people more opportunities to learn and practice vocabulary words.”

Although brief, the researchers say these “wait-learning” sessions enabled users to learn some four words per day just while waiting for text messages. And since WaitSuite engaged users through the waiting time, it even kept them more focused on the task at hand since they weren’t tempted by some other time-consuming distraction. Moving forward they hope to include audio capabilities — or even refine the apps to encourage digital downtime.

Editors' Recommendations

Dyllan Furness
Dyllan Furness is a freelance writer from Florida. He covers strange science and emerging tech for Digital Trends, focusing…
You don’t want to see this warning on your Google Pixel phone
Someone holding the Bay blue Google Pixel 8 Pro.

It's summertime in the U.S., so it's getting hot. When that happens, keeping yourself and your mobile devices cool is important. With that in mind, Google is developing a new message that will be displayed on Pixel phones when they overheat.

As 9to5Google discovered in fresh code, Google will no longer show a basic message warning when a phone may be overheating. Instead, it plans to post: "Phone needs to cool down: You may experience slower performance. Try avoiding direct sunlight or close any battery-intensive apps."

Read more
Apple is working on a futuristic iPhone feature that sounds too good to be true
A person holding the Apple iPhone 15 Plus.

Apple’s numerous teams are constantly working on innovative projects and regularly file new patents for them. One of the company’s recent patents pertains to a new feature for the iPhone that, if brought to fruition, could significantly transform how we use our mobile devices.

Patently Apple recently discovered a new patent that covers a concept for a new iPhone that would allow you to replace the standard back panel with something else. In other words, it would add modularization to the iPhone.

Read more
5 phones you should buy instead of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 on a flat surface with the purple Galaxy Buds 2 Pro TWS Bluetooth earbuds on the side.

Though foldable phones are still a smaller part of the smartphone world, they appeal to users who want something more from their phones. Having a phone that can become a mini tablet opens up a whole new world for productivity and creativity.

If you’re in the market for a foldable, you may be considering the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, which is one of the more popular choices. But it’s not the only foldable out there. Here are some alternatives to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 that you should look at first.
OnePlus Open

Read more