Q&A with Emil Brunner, CEO of Takeoff1 GmbH

MEDIA 7 | June 13, 2019

Emil Brunner, CEO of Takeoff1 GmbH is an experienced businessman who has worked in many countries. He has dedicated more than 10 years to the intuitive method of language acquisition called the “Birkenbihl Approach” formulated by Vera F. Birkenbihl.  Emil and Vera have worked together on the digitalization of this language acquisition method which has been incorporated into Emil's language-learning platform, Brain-Friendly. 

In this interesting Q&A, Emil takes us through the Birkinbihl approach which is helping users worldwide to learn languages with ease.

MEDIA 7: Could you please tell us about your background?
EMIL BRUNNER:
 I started as a technician; then I changed to sales. In my heart, I’ve always been a salesman. I started my business as the first Xerox Partner in Austria, and then I managed a company selling office machines and equipment. It was my first time going into other countries, like Germany and Switzerland. In that business, I worked with many phone agents, so the company grew to an outbound sales call center. In the USA, I had my first technology experience and built an automated call machine. We then got the franchise partner of RTL Teleshop - it was after QVC the second largest in DACH, for Austria.  I gained knowledge in TV-Power plus Sales power and found it fascinating. The next step was to automate the call center.

In 2004, we ran a call center in a pizza box (computer) for teleshop companies. In the States, we closed orders for up to 60% of callers fully automated, the rest were connected to the classical human call center. It had a great future, but I did it with the wrong people. So the company went bankrupt, and we went back to Austria.
After that experience, back "home" - felt so small, and we went on to start a software development business.
I began working and studying TV & Film making at the same time. My master's degree was a documentary film about "Teleshop and new technologies.”

I met Vera F. Birkenbihl, and she was one of the most successful scientists for learning methods and strategies and held a lot of live seminars - long before TEDx came up. I produced about 10 of those seminars, gaining many skills in the process, and that's when I found out about the language learning method. Me and language? I had trouble all the time while I went to school. I was sure languages were not for me. However, my son was a successful young developer and was interested and started to develop an app for language learning - using the brain-friendly Birkenbihl method. Which means, you never waste time cramming vocabulary and you don't need to learn any grammar rules.

I don't know anyone who’s happy learning vocabulary. About 90+% of all people using a language (mother tongue and foreign language) are not able to describe a grammar rule — only the teachers can do it. So there must be another way without the pain. And here it was!
I tried to learn English. The goal was to speak well without thinking about what to say. I just wanted to talk.

That's it. It took me more than a year, but I had an experience I’ll never forget. I was working on my phone with many customers and collecting orders. After a while, I put the orders from my notes into the computer. Wow! I had made a request for English courses - an order from a bookstore in Birmingham. How did I do it? Yes, I did it in English, and I didn't even realize it. It was automatic. The gap, switching from German to English, was gone - forever.

In the meantime, both my sons, Herwig and Gerwin, were now professionals in software development on the international stage. I had a Swiss partner and last year, I sold my shares to set up a new company with a new app - the Birkenbihl language learning movies. The digitalization of language learning - watch a movie and get the language. Based on subscription models, we sell it now in DACH, US, and European Single markets.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning, that I am the only one, who got the okay from Vera F.Birkenbihl (she died 2011), to follow the method of the new science of language learning and take it to the next level. I got the seal of approval for the "Birkenbihl Approach" to honor products they follow with the principle of "brain-friendly" learning method.

I have put all of this experience into a new book, the follow up of Birkenbihl's bestseller "Einfach Sprachen Lernen". I completed it with Katharina Rucker, she has been on board since 2008 and is still the best blogger for language learning knowledge. The book will be published in English in Q1-2020.

"Using the brain-friendly Birkenbihl method, you never waste time cramming vocabulary and you don't need to learn any grammar rules."



M7: How far is the Birkenbihl method’s idea of ‘learning a language need not be difficult’ serving its purpose of making language acquisition effortless?
EB:
 Let me say 100%. Because the "classical" way to learn a language is totally different from the way our brain works. Our brain is trying to find new things to discover, to get new experiences and so on. What is there to discover when you use a vocabulary list? For example, table - Tisch / table - la mesa, etc. it could also be shown as table - Katze (cat). There is no sense, no meaning, no context.

If you learn it the brain-friendly way as a full sentence, and you "de-code" it, your brain has enough context, and there are new words to learn. 

So it works, and it takes a minimum amount of time because our brain is memorizing everything in connections, like synapses, and that works very well, making it fun and available to use for the rest of your life.
The newest thing we have developed is the Movie(c) courses. Birkenbihl told us all the time, "a movie is the closest experience to real life". Watching a movie is like experiencing an actual event. 

When the "de-code line" is integrated into the movie,  entertainment and learning become cohesive. The "de-code line" in the movie, works as a karaoke player. The spoken word-pair is synchronized and highlighted. So you can close your eyes or your brain will automatically follow the decode line, and you will absorb the language. Repeat it, and you become perfect. It’s the digital way to learn a foreign language.

M7: How do you develop the movies and what is the approach for making users learn new languages easily with these movies?
EB: 
The classical way to learn a language is to cram grammar rules. Understanding and speaking are two processes in our brain that we have to learn separately. The idea developed by Birkenbihl was to find out how to use the mother tongue to understand a foreign language. She had done a lot of research and observed neuroscientists and decided to call the it the decode line which means you have two decoding lines – the upper line is the foreign language that you want to learn, the lower line is the word-by-word translation where you get the information about the meaning of the words.
It’s easy to follow them if you like to follow, but it’s enough if you just watch the movie. Your brain is automatically looking at the decode line and getting the information so if you repeat that you become more familiar with the sentence and you’ll understand it.

M7: How has your working with Vera F. Birkenbihl for more than 10 years helped you to come out with an intuitive method of language acquisition called the “Birkenbihl Approach”? What was the idea behind this?
EB: 
Birkenbihl told me that she’d had an experience with teachers and children. The problem was that the children didn’t enjoy learning vocabulary. It was, and still is, a pain. After a couple of days, all of the learned words go. So she thought, if most people have this problem then the problem couldn't be the people, it must be the method. There must be a better way.

After that, she started researching, and she found old documents, detailing how the aristocrats (the European marriage expansion) learned languages. There were many connections between the European Aristocrats, and this old document described how they learned. There was a transcript, a direct translation underneath and a live speaker. So the learners followed the speaker and read the word pairs.

All of the experiments she did, worked very well. I remember, it was approximately 2008, there was a teacher in Odelzhause who gave the children private English lessons Coached by Birkenbihl, in 3 months, the whole class were able to speak English very well and had no problem with vocabulary tests. That was the point we realized we were onto something. Based on our findings, my son built the first application for Windows. However, if you think that’s it, no. It took a lot of time to optimize it and to do all the beta tests. But after a while, we saw that it worked, and my experience was. WOW! - I got it.


"Watching a movie is like experiencing an actual event.   When the "de-code line" is integrated into the movie,  entertainment and learning become cohesive."


M7: How is the “Birkenbihl Approach” assisting people around the world to learn more languages efficiently?
EB:
Thanks, that’s an excellent question. You can do it, totally without any app, with paper or music. Take the lyrics of the song you love and start to “de-code” (translate it word-by-word). Yes, with the app, it’s much easier, and if you have a device ready, you can fit, learning a language, into every spare moment you have. So you waste no time, get entertained and learn simultaneously. After a while, you begin to speak automatically like a baby, who is listening for a long time.
When it becomes a year old, it starts with some words, after the second year it begins, from one day to the next to speak full sentences, only by listening. So while you improve upon your spelling skills, in your mother tongue or foreign language, always listen (day and night) in the background. Your sub-conscience will do the rest.
It is a kind of democratization of language learning; everybody can do it, independent of age or origin.

M7: You have played a vital role in digitalization of this language acquisition method. What inspired you to take up this challenge and what was your vision behind this?
EB:
Yes, first, it was a curiosity about the possibility and a challenge for myself to learn a language up to a level to be able to sell anything. Remember, I was a weak student.
Additionally, it was the feedback from the first beta tester, later from customers that they had the same experience I had, and they are now happy and successful.  So it was sensible. Yes, a little bit also to make it easier for people. So now, I see that the end of the traditional way to learn a language is coming.

Think about it... you can watch a movie, it doesn't matter which one, and you get automatically delivered the “de-code” line. I think we'll be able to get it in the near future, we are still working on it. So you don't need any teacher, because every child is learning it like their mother tongue, additionally. For example, a Hollywood movie uses about 1000 to 1500 unique words, a daily newspaper uses about 500 to 700 unique words. So let's watch Spanish movies this weekend, and that's it. My idea is that no child should have to suffer the cramming of vocabulary.


"While you grow up your spelling skills, in your mother tongue or foreign language, always listen in the background. Your sub-conscience will do the rest. It is a kind of democratization of language learning."



M7: As a language instructor, how important is resolving the problem of language acquisition as a barrier to businesses and marketing when globalization is the trend?
EB: It is vital. In two cases, one of them is, that companies spend a lot of money, year by year and nothing is changing. The costs go up, and success is equal to or less. Especially the production industries who have many difficulties, i.e. when the company is based in Germany, and the production is in Mexico. In this case, we can help. We can produce a learning movie for the technical process and add the “de-code line”, so the employees get both, the knowledge and the language. I think this is an excellent opportunity for all instructors and trainers of language. They can supply companies to work with the Birkenbihl method, and it gives more success with less time to spend. 

M7: Do you think that the Birkenbihl method will encourage more people around the world to learn languages swiftly?
EB:
Yes, that's what I hope, and it is essential to tell everybody that with this method it is possible, yes it works. Also, my hope is that it could connect people and bring more happiness. It's okay, if you start now and only spend 10 minutes every day. After approximately 6 weeks, you will get about 400 to 600 unique words. However, you can also do it in 2 weeks if you spend 10 minutes, 10 times a day (less than 2 hours). Alternatively, if you spend only 10 minutes every 3rd day, it takes a little longer. Do it when you want with the time that suits you. Overall, you get it.

M7: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?
EB:
Not much, except one thing: Whatever you do, if it doesn't work, find out how it could work, there is surely another way. But, just do it.

ABOUT BRAIN FRIENDLY

The Birkenbihl Approach (BBA) means, learning as the brain loves to learn. Our brain - look to the minds of children - how they like to discover and to understand how things work. It uses neuro mechanisms like abstracting rules (grammar) and background listening (to build synapses for spelling). To know more, visit Brain-Friendly.

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Assignar Kicks Off Expansion Plans with Launch into the UK Construction Market

Assignar | September 30, 2022

Assignar, the global leader in cloud-based construction operations software, today announces the expansion of its business operations into the United Kingdom. Assignar’s initial expansion will target the heavy civil, excavation, demolition and rail sectors. The company is designed to bring all construction operations under a single view, making it particularly effective for highly regulated verticals. The platform allows contractors to remain compliant and safe in their operations with real-time visibility and communications across multiple projects. “Assignar was designed from a boots-on-the-ground perspective because it’s the solution I needed for my contracting company, Contractors don’t need a hands-off management system. They need a tool they can take into the field that solves for common operational problems. And that’s what Assignar is purposefully designed to do.” -Sean McCreanor CEO Assignar. Construction in the UK has experienced impressive growth in recent years, and experts predict the industry to grow an additional 14% in 2022 alone. Additionally, the recent passing of the National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline will funnel an additional £650 billion into the industry over the next ten years. In recent years, the software provider has partnered with numerous UK-based contracting companies for their operations in Australia. Continued success with these clients, along with strong similarities between the nations’ construction markets, made this expansion a natural next step. The company aims to get a sample size of UK customers by the end of 2022 and will expand the team from there. “It’s really exciting to be on the ground as we begin to expand our presence in the country and look to bring improved operations to the construction industry, I’ve been reaching out to local contractors and people from my time working as a civil engineer. They’ve responded with a lot of excitement, especially in the traffic management and highway sectors. From my own experience, I know the UK market is more than ready for the tools offered in the Assignar platform.” -Mark Milner, a Senior Account Executive at Assignar. London is a fantastic place to scale a global tech business, said Laura Citron, CEO of London & Partners. That's why we're delighted to welcome Assignar to London this October and are thrilled they have chosen to grow their team and operations in our thriving ecosystem. I look forward to seeing how Assignar will continue to go from strength to strength in providing safety and compliance for the UK's construction sector. About Assignar: Assignar is the global leader in cloud-based construction operations. Its platform helps self-perform general and subcontractors improve productivity and operations, such as labor, crew and equipment management, resource-loaded scheduling, field data, timesheets, and more. Assignar works with hundreds of customers, ranging from multinational, multi-billion-dollar companies to specialist contractors with as few as five crews. Assignar’s customers operate in infrastructure, road, rail, civil, utilities and other construction disciplines. The company has offices in Denver, Colorado and Sydney, Australia and is backed by Tiger Global, SecondQuarter Ventures, Fifth Wall, Ironspring Ventures, Our Innovation Fund (OIF) and Tola Capital.

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ENGINEERING TECH,CONSTRUCTION

New Model-Based Workflows, Reality Capture and Extended File Support in Autodesk Construction Cloud Make BIM More Valuable to Construction Teams

Autodesk | September 28, 2022

Autodesk University – Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) today announced a suite of new capabilities across Autodesk Construction Cloud, making it easier for construction project teams to use and maximize the value of BIM from the office to the field. The enhancements provide all stakeholders with immediate access to model data and information that's relevant, empowering team members to simplify workflows and make critical decisions faster. Also announced today are significant advancements to Schedule and Cost Management capabilities within Autodesk Build, the comprehensive construction management and field collaboration solution of Autodesk Construction Cloud, aimed at helping customers deliver construction projects on time and on budget. "To stay in command of increasingly complex and demanding construction projects, we need to ensure teams can work from the latest information and quickly make informed decisions, The model is a great source of truth during design and planning, but data isn't easily transferred to construction teams during the build phase of a project. With the new model-based capabilities added to Autodesk Construction Cloud, we can use live Revit data to create assets, tie model properties directly to the assets, and view all the information we need in either 2D or 3D. We're now able to take full advantage of model data to save time across all projects, minimize miscommunication and make smarter business decisions." -James Mize, VDC and digital delivery specialist at CRB Group. Model data made easier for every stakeholder with new Autodesk Construction Cloud releases With the new advancements launched across Autodesk Construction Cloud today, construction teams can get immediate access to and work more easily with BIM data, empowering stakeholders to use model data to identify potential project impacts, operate more efficiently and make better decisions. Model-Based Workflows in Assets – Assets in Autodesk Build are now mapped and visualized in 3D using the latest design model, providing field teams with up-to-date asset tracking and equipment details. This simple automation helps to prevent errors associated with outdated model data and makes it easier to connect assets to RFIs, Submittals, Issues, Schedule, and other workflows. Model Property Breakdown – Massive design files can now be parsed out into more digestible portions by creating custom views of model properties that are relevant to that day's work. Now, customers can simply select or deselect elements including levels, property categories, rooms, disciplines, objects, or a custom property, to create a more readily and easily shareable view of the model. Model Property Breakdown will be available in Autodesk Build, Autodesk BIM Collaborate and Autodesk Docs. Read more and watch a video about this new feature on our blog. Publish to the Field – VDC teams in Autodesk BIM Collaborate can create and share ad hoc views and sign-off models with field stakeholders using a mobile device, all without leaving Autodesk BIM Collaborate. Paired with Model Property Breakdown, these tools remove manual steps, simplify model data for the field, and save time for the entire project. Publish to the Field is currently in open beta. Extended File Support for Mobile – Now customers can use their mobile app at the jobsite to navigate and interact with an expanded list of supported 2D and 3D design file types, including DWGs and 2D RVTs. Reality Capture in Autodesk Construction Cloud – Files from reality capture such as laser scans or photogrammetry can now be brought directly into Autodesk Construction Cloud, enabling VDC teams to record precise measurements, aggregate with other models, identify and resolve issues, take progress snapshots, and provide comprehensive closeout documentation. For example, using reality capture methods like laser scanning or photogrammetry, project teams can create and work with 3D models of existing structures, such as for new builds with existing facades or capturing existing conditions for infrastructure projects, all within Autodesk Construction Cloud. "Design files are packed to the brim with essential data, but each project stakeholder needs something different from the model, The advancements we're announcing make it easier to access model data, removing unnecessary steps and ensuring the latest information is directly in the hands of those who need it, whether they're in the office, the trailer or out in the field. Autodesk is empowering our customers to truly connect design to construction and drive tight collaboration across the entire project lifecycle." -Ilai Rotbaein, senior director, research and development, Autodesk Construction Solutions. About Autodesk: Autodesk is changing how the world is designed and made. Our technology spans architecture, engineering, construction, product design, manufacturing, media and entertainment, empowering innovators everywhere to solve challenges big and small. From greener buildings to smarter products to more mesmerizing blockbusters, Autodesk software helps our customers to design and make a better world for all.

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ENGINEERING TECH

IBM Acquires Dialexa to Speed Digital Innovation

IBM | September 26, 2022

IBM ( NYSE:IBM) today announced plans to acquire Dialexa, a leading U.S. digital product engineering services firm, to help companies drive innovation and achieve their digital growth agendas. The acquisition is expected to deepen IBM's product engineering expertise and provide end-to-end digital transformation services for clients. Dialexa will be the sixth acquisition IBM has made in 2022, further bolstering the company's hybrid cloud and AI skills and capabilities. Since Arvind Krishna became CEO in April 2020, IBM has acquired more than 25 companies. Thirteen of those acquisitions, including Dialexa, have been in IBM Consulting. Today's news builds upon IBM Consulting's prior acquisitions, including Neudesic, Sentaca, Nordcloud and Taos. The acquisition of Dialexa will be IBM Consulting's first in the fast-growing digital product engineering services market, which is estimated to reach $700 billion by 20261. Upon close, Dialexa will join IBM Consulting, spearheading IBM's digital product engineering services presence in the Americas. "In this digital era, clients are looking for the right mix of high-quality products to build new revenue streams and improve topline growth, Dialexa's product engineering expertise, combined with IBM's hybrid cloud and business transformation offerings, will help our clients turn concepts into differentiated product portfolios that accelerate growth." -John Granger, Senior Vice President, IBM Consulting. Founded in 2010, Dialexa delivers a suite of digital product engineering services, helping organizations create transformative products to drive business outcomes. Its multi-disciplinary and highly skilled team of 300 product managers, designers, full-stack engineers and data scientists, based in Dallas and Chicago, advise and create custom, commercial-grade digital products for clients such as Deere & Company, Pizza Hut US, and Toyota Motor North America. Dialexa has deep experience delivering end-to-end digital product engineering services consisting of strategy, design, build, launch, and optimization services across cloud platforms including AWS and Microsoft Azure. "Digital product engineering represents the tip of the spear for competitive advantage, IBM and Dialexa's shared vision for delivering industry-defining digital products could be a game changer. We are thrilled to become part of one of the world's most iconic companies to continue to scale and grow our global client relationships in this rapidly growing market." -Scott Harper, CEO and Co-Founder, Dialexa. The Dialexa team has been an outstanding partner for us in deepening our product thinking and assisting in our design practice on some of our key digital initiatives. It is rare to find a partner with such a strong combination of great thought partnership and deep execution capabilities, said Chuck Rhoades, Chief Technology Officer, Pizza Hut US. We're excited about the possibilities of bringing these two companies together. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year and is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory clearances. Financial details were not disclosed. About IBM: IBM is a leading provider of global hybrid cloud and AI, and consulting expertise. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. More than 4,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM's hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM's breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and consulting deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM's legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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