Don’t waste your precious seconds.
Every day, there are countless seconds that slip by that could probably be put to better use.
A set of new apps from researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) looks to take advantage of those "micro-moments," giving lifehack junkies a new opportunity to wring every last bit of productivity out of their days to learn a new language.
WaitSuite is billed as an opportunistic micro-learning package — just imagine a more obtrusive version of Duolingo popping into your idle moments. The developers of the software call the method "wait-learning," which they described in a paper published in last month’s edition of ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction.
The tools can be applied to make better use of your time during five common daily tasks with mini-wait times: Wi-Fi connection, sending and receiving emails, holding an instant message or text conversation, taking an elevator, or loading content to your phone.
The apps push flashcards to whichever screen you’re fixated on, prompting you to fill in the correct answer to minimize the screen or press a button to reveal the English equivalent of the word being displayed.
“WaitSuite is embedded directly into your existing tasks, so that you can easily learn without leaving what you were already doing,” MIT PhD student and project leader Carrie Cai said in an MIT News release.
WaitSuite’s IM-centric app “WaitChatter” showed users learned about four new words per day, which equated to 57 words over the two-week testing period. The apps won’t teach you how to speak the language — at least not yet — but they can hone your vocab skills.
In the future, Cai said the team hopes to experiment with other types of knowledge skills like math, medical terms, or even legal terms and definitions, and expand accessibility to include audio cues.
You can check out wait-learning yourself via the WaitChatter Chrome extension for Gchat.