Local companies team to teach the world English

Triangle Business Journal – Feb 15, 2012
By Lauren Ohnesorge

Brian OliverSmith is targeting developing markets.

Two Durham companies, Measurement Incorporated and Urban Planet Mobile, are teaming up in an effort to globalize the English language.

The joint venture, called Measurement Planet LLC, aims to put what Measurement Incorporated is already doing with artificial intelligence in school systems in Utah, Connecticut and Tennessee on the international market.

Measurement Incorporated develops artificial intelligence that can “grade” student papers in seconds, allowing students to make changes and improve their grammar and writing skills.

Urban Planet Mobile creates mobile phone software designed to teach English. Put them together, and English learners will be able to practice their language skills and get instant feedback.

“The world is hungry to learn how to write English,” Measurement Incorporated President Hank Scherich said. “We have some technology and they have the marketing capability to market internationally. This will be profitable for both of us.”

Partnership conversations began about a year ago when Urban Planet Mobile began to rent office space from Measurement’s real estate group, Measurement Durham LLC.

Measurement Planet LLC was created in August and Scherich hopes to showcase the partnership technology at conferences in late March.

“We have to customize the technology a bit,” Scherich said. “We don’t have an exact date.”

Brian OliverSmith, CEO of Urban Planet Mobile, called the partnership “exciting.”

“The joint venture is going to be really good for us,” he said.

Measurement Incorporated, which employs about 400 people, is based in Durham. It has been refining its AI technology since 2005. Its neighbor, Urban Planet Mobile, employs six full-time workers and was recruited to Durham from Savannah in June of 2010.

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