Prezi is doubling its efforts to make online presentations more attractive to teachers and students by introducing hand controls for digital video content. The announcement comes after the pandemic forced thousands of schools and universities around the world to dedicate themselves to online learning, with results that are often less than engaging.
Founded in Hungary in 2008, Prezi has evolved into a next-generation presentation platform that promises to save everyone from “death by PowerPoint,” as VentureBeat discovered nearly a decade ago at Prezi’s Accel-led Series B funding round.
With 100 million users today, Prezi is probably better known for its “zoomable” canvas that allows users to draw and visualize the various components of their presentation. Last year, the company launched Prezi Video, a new tool that enables presenters to easily merge videos with slides and graphical components (like graphics or images) on the same screen – like a news anchor – and either stream or stream them send at a later date.
The video creation tool, available as a desktop app or a Chrome browser extension, is compatible with many of today’s popular social communication tools. This means that users can integrate their video-based presentations with Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex, Google Meet and YouTube, Slack and Facebook.
Prezi added other options to the mix, including a recently announced “video-in-video” feature that allows presenters to embed a recorded video right on the screen next to them while they speak. This can come in handy for a teacher who wants to bring their online biology class to life, for example by showing how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly.
With gesture control – now in the pilot phase – Prezi software uses the camera and image processing of a laptop to recognize the position of a presenter’s hand. It then puts together the desired visual elements and follows the hand of the presenter wherever he wishes to place a particular visual image.
This means that a teacher can bring a little magic into an otherwise “boring” science lesson on mosquitos.
While schools are an obvious use case for Prezi video and hand gesture controls, the tools could also find friends in the business world, be it for corporate training, product demos, webinars, or other functions.
“Teachers testing creative communication tools is a new path to mainstream and we are seeing the ripple effect in business,” Jim Szafranski, CEO of Prezi, told VentureBeat. “We expect tech and business professionals to use gesture control for meetings, training, webinars, product demos, or any other use case where visuals help provide full context or add depth to a presented topic.”
Prezi’s latest announcement comes as the demand for digital teaching aids hits an all-time high that entrepreneurs and investors are keen to capitalize on. Just this week, Engageli emerged from Palo Alto with $ 14.5 million and some notable supporters from the hiding place to help universities make the transition to online learning through a platform that seeks to recreate the classroom environment. Zoom also recently announced that they were online courses and events. And last month, Strigo raised $ 8 million for a platform that software companies can use to train their customers remotely.
While Prezi couldn’t foresee the surge in demand for video communication tools when it launched Prezi Video last November, the company was well positioned to benefit from the rapid move to remote learning during global bans.
“Prezi has seen teachers in 175 countries and teachers in more than 10,000 schools in 60% of the US school districts give virtual presentations on video screens to maintain the human connection while also having the benefit of being in the same room how their contents are, ”added Szafranski.
The new gesture control feature is currently being tested by some existing Prezi customers who will provide feedback at an as-yet-unknown date before a full launch. Prezi Video is available to educators through a variety of Prezi pricing plans, from basic (free) to edu teams that cost $ 50 per month.