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  • 11.04.09

Can Smart.fm’s iPhone App Really Teach You Brain Anatomy?

Dozens of to-do apps and voice recorders have allowed the iPhone to serve as a safety net for all the things that slip through our brains, forgotten. But can an iPhone app really help you remember?

Smart.fm

The creators of a new iPhone “adaptive learning” app, Smart.fm, says it can. The learning app figures out how you will best remember various pieces of information. According to the company that makes the app, it almost doesn’t matter what you’re trying to learn, whether it’s foreign language vocab or chess moves; Smart.fm acts as a virtual flash-card system based on any list of items you enter, and quizzes you with multiple-choice answers when you’re ready.

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The app’s secret sauce is a series of algorithms that determines how and when to present the user with information. MIT’s Technology Review explains: “For example, a completely new word and its translation are shown frequently, and a user is asked relatively easy questions about them, designed to jog the memory. But once the user has demonstrated the ability to recall that word and its meaning, this information will appear less often.”

 

Of course, no app is complete without some “social” integration, and Smart.fm doesn’t disappoint. The app lets users share their lists–Russian verbs, plant-types, chemical compounds–and is working on a database of learning-lists with the daringly named databasing site Freebase.

The app, which was first released in Japan, is free and available now.

About the author

I've written about innovation, design, and technology for Fast Company since 2007. I was the co-founding editor of FastCoLabs.

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