5 Essential Travel Trends for 2016 and The New Circa App

Circa World Time and Meeting PlannerAround the globe, more people are taking off in search of exotic cities in 2016, using personalized travel apps to knock down their biggest barriers to travel. That’s the picture emerging from statistical data provided by this year’s ITB World Travel Trends report, the Visa Global Travel Intention study and the WTM Global Trends report. After many years of declines in travel and tourism due to economic woes and safety concerns, the global desire for adventure and exploration is finally heating up again. Take a look at 5 of the most exciting travel trends today and one app that ties them all together.

  1. Cites On Top In The Off Season

Trips centered on specific cities, as opposed to natural wonders, have grown by 82% over the past few years. They now come in second only to sun & beach holidays. In comparison, the number of trips involving regional tours has risen only slightly and countryside destinations have stalled. Among the top reasons that travelers are choosing cities is the timing. The biggest increase in number of trips (60%) is in the January to April timeframe. While summer is still the preferred travel season, off-season is less expensive and offers original city attractions, mostly indoors due to weather conditions.

  1. China Launches New Travelers

Last year, China moved up to second place, after the US, in most money spent on outbound travel. 84 million people in China took trips last year. Travel from Asia Pacific overall leads the world growth, with a 65% increase up to 170 million trips last year. China outpaced Japan this year to be the number one country in the region with the most outbound journeys. Going forward, more than a fourth (27%) of Chinese travelers say they intend to travel more in 2016 over the prior year. All this adds up to the fact that China’s travel spending is on track to reach ¥3.9 trillion ($615 billion) by 2020. They way they use technology to book travel is leading the world also. Two out of three travelers in the Asia made their arrangements entirely online, using advice social media and blogs. One of the biggest difficulties cited by these new travelers is adjusting to different time zones. In China, the entire country is governed under one time zone, which adds a layer of complexity to their international travel. Simply crossing the border from western China to India takes a travel backwards in time by 2 ½ hours.

  1. Into The Unknown

The outré is in. In other words, travelers are seeking more exotic destinations along roads less travelled. Until recently, the majority of travelers seemed content to visit to the old favorites: Hong Kong, Paris, Istanbul, Cairo. In 2016, more travelers are going to places they can’t pronounce, such as Hafnarfjörður, Iceland, and Sossusvlei, Namibia. Similarly, formerly niche travel trends that have gone mainstream this year include ultra-short holidays, extreme adventure travel, health & wellness escapes, culinary tours, multi-generational packages, historical re-creation programs and itineraries based on the journeys of fictional characters.

  1. Travel Apps Take Charge

Nearly 60% of online travel sales are coming through travel apps. Travelers are using them to improve their travel experiences and for practical necessities that were highly inconvenient before now. For example, the Xe currency exchange app helps travelers trying to do more on tight travel budgets as well as to recognize scams on the spot. To help them spend less time with their noses buried in guidebooks, Yelp’s Monacle turns any smartphone into an augmented reality device, overlaying travel info on top of camera images. Travel apps are keeping voyagers safer, as well. Wolfram Sun Exposure app issues warnings about approximately how much time you can lay in the sun before you burn, given inputs like your GPS location, the time of day, your skin type and SPF level. As apps move into the Internet of Things and next gen devices that are more convenient for travelers, like the Apple watch, the demand for practical travel apps has grown exponentially.

  1. The World Gets Personal

The small but rapidly expanding market share of sharing tourism, such as AirBnB and BlaBlaCar, made a big impact this year. Non-hotel arrangements accounted for 40% of international stays in 2015, but that includes traditional bed & breakfast rooms, camp grounds, water-based accommodations and youth hostels. Sharing tourism specifically refers to peer-to-peer travel arrangements brokered directly over the web instead of using traditional vendors for hotels, cars and organized tour operators. Language and time coordination problems continue to plague travelers on these networks, but the always-on messaging channels and electronic currencies like Paypal have greatly simplified logistics. In the past, travel agents would have to set alarms to call at odd hours, pay expensive long distance rates and wire money for special arrangements like these. Those days are long gone.

Five in One

The influence of all five of these trends can be seen in the new Circa travel app by labs108 and Carbon12. It simplifies the complexities of the world’s time zones into a visually stunning and fully personalized travel dial. Travelers can add their own unique set of destination cities and they appear as concentric time arcs that can specify ideal arrivals, departures, open hours and meeting times. In a glance you can see the time in your current or home city compared to cites anywhere in the world. You can just turn the dial with your finger to answer the essential traveler’s question “If it’s X o’clock here, what time is it there?” It’s optimized for Apple Watch in addition to iOS and Android phones.

There are versions for both Android phones and iOS phones, as well as a new version for the Apple Watch. In its latest update, Circa added Chinese language support for both Simplified and Traditional characters. The name of the app even sounds the same in Chinese (Circa becomes 时刻 and 時刻). On the back end, developers are constantly expanding Circa’s functionalities to help global travelers. For example, the intelligent city search now accepts non-Latin characters, such as 西雅图 or תל אביב .

For many globe trotters, the fun of mapping out the journey and figuring out how to get there is the best part of travel. Others just want to hit the beach as soon as possible. No matter where you fall on that continuum, it’s essential to get your timing right if you want to have an epic adventure. Never miss a international connection or a rare meeting due to timing issues on the road. The Circa app is one piece of critical gear that every world traveler needs to pack.



ITB World Travel Trends

WTM Global Trends







SkoolCommute: The Lost Art of Sharing a Ride

When film and TV star Kristen Bell accidentally joined a carpool recently, she seemed to pass through all three stages of ride sharing over the course of a few minutes.

A) Surprise. She meant to order a taxi and didn’t realize she had ordered a ride share until the driver stopped for friendly strangers. Most of us need a pretty big bubble for our personal space so a carpool can feel like a very long sideways elevator ride at first.

B) Awkward silence. Bell tweeted live during the ride, offering insights into the experience from her perspective. An early tweet read, “No one is talking. This silence is the only thing more awkward than if all of us were talking.” Everyone eases into carpooling at their own rate.

C) Delight. The others in the car started singing along with the radio and that broke the ice. Bell ended up having a great time. A simple logistical problem of getting from one place to another became a fun experience that brightened her day.

The Ups and Downs of Carpooling in America

Americans have had a complex relationship with carpooling over the past century. Cars were futuristic tech when Henry Ford rolled out his Model T in 1914. Carpooling was one of the coolest adventures around and everyone wanted to share a ride. Entrepreneurs rode around in “jitneys” charging 5 cents for the thrill of it all. The closest equivalent today is the stretch limo that students rent for prom.

As more and more families could afford a car, it became a more intimate space. World War II turned the dial back the other way. Gas rationing and resource scarcity encouraged ride shares and government posters read, “When you ride alone, you ride with Hitler! Join a Car-Sharing Club today!”

After the war, economic prosperity opened the way for families to buy two or more cars. Ride sharing became more rare, but the 1973 oil crisis ended that era. The rise of cities, toll roads and gas prices made ride sharing reasonable, more economical and more popular again.

Since then, even when gas prices plummeted, some Americans preferred to carpool in concern over pollution, resource consumption and traffic jams. Cities have spent a great deal of time and money creating high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes to encourage carpools. From their standpoint, it’s more efficient, more environmentally responsible and results in fewer accidents.

Carpooling with Kids in the 21st Century

Today, the majority of Americans carpool. At least 51 percent do so with their families, but they call it the “Mom taxi.” In many ways, Europeans are several years ahead of the curve in terms of ride sharing. Child booster seat maker BoostApak surveyed 2000 British moms to reveal that they drive their kids 1,248 miles per year to school events and sports club meetings.

In America, mothers drive both further and more often, taking five or more kid transport trips daily totally 29 miles on average. That adds up to 10,585 miles per year. American moms spend more time behind the wheel than the average parent spends on primary child care, according to Nationwide Parent Transportation Survey and The Americans Use of Time Project.

Just think how much productive family time is lost while all those pounds of carbon dioxide from exhaust fumes damage the world’s air quality. There’s a better way to live, but it took the arrival of mobile tech to make it practical.

The Rideshare Rennaisance

We are entering a new era where the sharing economy and mobile devices are converging to make carpools more desirable and communications more reliable. SkoolCommute, which was specifically designed as a safe ride sharing option for K-12 kids, is part of this larger drive to deploy advanced technology in making ride sharing more practical. Other initiatives include for-profit startups like UberPool, Lyft Line and Sidecar, as well as an increasing variety in ride sharing and matching services across North America Although Kristen Bell was uptight at first, she learned to “Let It Go,” just like the song from her popular Disney film. The long-term benefits of carpooling and ride sharing are just beginning to ripple out across this new world.

How BYOD is Transforming K-12 Education

BYOD K-12 Education


We are now entering a second phase of BYOD (bring your own device) for education. You might have missed it because it happened so quickly. In this new phase, the emphasis has shifted from BYOD adoption to building better BYOD strategies. The average BYOD policy for schools is now far beyond “Put away your cell phones!”

The State of K-12 BYOD

Here is a quick review of how BYOD has already transformed K-12 education:

  1. In 2014, BYOD programs expanded to reach the majority (56 percent) of U.S. school districts, with lower adoption at the prekindergarten through third grade levels and much higher (84 percent) at the high school level (Digital School District Survey, Center for Digital Education and the National School Board Association)
  2. Seventy-eight percent of IT professionals in education said that students and teachers were using their personal devices in school, regardless of the policy. Eighty-four percent of school districts that didn’t allow BYOD had received frequent requests from faculty and students to change that policy (Bradford Networks)
  3. The market for K-12 apps and online education hit $8.4 billion in 2014. Testing, BYOD and personalized learning were the leading drivers of this growth (2014 U.S. Education Technology Industry Market: PreK-12 Report, The Education Technology Industry Network)

Strategic Moves

This new phase is about establishing strategies for better managing what educators do with BYOD. In the old model, teachers would upload an assignment or supporting documents to a central server for students to download. That’s not how things work anymore.

We live in a collaborative, mobile society where peer-to-peer communications and collaborations dominate our daily tasks. Enterprise file synchronization and sharing (EFSS) has migrated from work to schools. EFSS refers to the way individuals can directly share documents, photos, schedules and other files between their devices, which normally depends on cloud-based communications.

Mobile users can now synchronize versions and collaborate more efficiently on team projects. Gartner recently predicted that EFSS will see rapid growth over the next three years and expand the capabilities for related technologies, such as mobile content management (MCM).

MCM governs how files are stored and shared securely within a network. The security aspect is critical for parents who want to arrange ride-sharing, check on their children’s schedules and exchange information with teachers. Schools with progressive BYOD strategies and policies are already beginning to facilitate innovative ideas like geolocation-assisted pickups, location tracking during field trips and messages about students from administrators to parents.

Reshaping Communications

At the university level, BYOD is required by many institutions. As children progress toward that goal through the lower grades, BYOD can mean much more than just a new way of collaborating on homework assignments. New engineering innovations based on BYOD are already reshaping parent-teacher-student-administrator communications. These advances are helping parents and students stay engaged with events at school throughout the year in a more effective, more intuitive way using the devices that they already prefer.

At labs108, we are expanding what BYOD can do with designs like Skool Commute, a K-12 mobile Platform that is personalized for each school. As children learn how to make better use of today’s BYOD, MDM, MAM, MCM and specifically EFSS technology in education, they become much better prepared to handle whatever technological advances are coming next.

It’s Time for Your Own Time Machine! Circa App is the Fun and Easy Way for Kids to Learn World Time

Circa for Kids


“When are you?” That used to be a just a funny thing that kids liked to say. Now, it’s how we live in the global economy. Kids see news from around the world every day. They play games online with other kids on different continents. Often their parents or relatives have to do business on the opposite side of the world.

It’s time kids learnt how to communicate and interact with others across continents and time-zones in an intuitive manner. The Circa app makes it fun for everyone.

Kids can see our lives becoming globally interdependent and connected. As parents, we owe it to our children to make sure they develop the right skills and mindset to handle the emerging challenges of globalization. To truly become global citizens, we will have to internalize a visual representation of global time zones and the world clock. Now there is a fun and practical way to make it real for them.

Circa is an iPhone app that gives kids a playful way to compare times in different places around the world using a dial. It was specifically designed to promote self-learning and experimentation with a delightful tool that they can control.

Kids can enter their favorite cities or travel destinations so they can instantly visualize their favorite question: “What time is it there?” Entering a range of times is where Circa really gets fun. Kids can see meal times, play times and bed times on distant continents sitting side by side on their screens.

The Circa app presents kids with a friendly 24 hour dial, with colorful, concentric arcs representing time periods in other cities around the world. When it’s 6:30 p.m. on a Tuesday evening at home in San Francisco, a child can immediately see that its 10:30 p.m. in Rio de Janeiro and 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday in Kiev. The child enters the cities and the hours when friends and family will be available. Circa takes care of the rest.

Imagine your kids are interested in Japanese cartoons. They can enter a range of times in Tokyo and it will appear on the Circa dial, right next to their own time zone. Maybe they love Egyptian mummies. Now they can check their phones to see when the sun is going down on the pyramids.

What if Mommy has to fly off to London for a business meeting? When will she be done with work? When will she be having tea or riding the London Eye? Kids won’t want to call her after she goes to bed or before she wakes up in the morning.

Even within the US there are six time-zones. When kids are in Hawaii on vacation, they would love to know what their pets or friends at home are doing at that moment. More than just a sophisticated toy, Circa helps them learn how the world clock works in the real world.

Here’s another fun fact that kids will love about time zones in the US: If you drive just 96 miles along State Route 264 near Tuba City, AZ, this summer, you would go through 7 time changes! Arizona doesn’t recognize Daylight Savings Time, but some Native American reservations do. You can see it magically on Circa as it always shows your local time!

Information sticks in young minds when learning is fun. That is one of the fundamentals of education that is often forgotten as we strive to prepare our kids for the world ahead of them. Charts and lists of time zones just aren’t as effective as a cool, interactive app that they want to use.

labs108 is committed to engineering the technology that will improve K-12 education by stretching kids’ imaginations and putting the latest innovations right in their hands. We deploy our expertise in design and development to help children engage with technology and show them a brighter future.

Circa is already prepared for the next wave of technology. The Circa app has been optimized on the Apple Watch and other wearables. Now, when your child asks, “What’s Circa?” you can just download it from the App Store and say, “It’s about time.”

Circa: Meetings Across Time Zones, made easy!

Circa Meeting Planner World Clock Time Converter

Every day, the world becomes more and more globally minded. Individuals, families, and business colleagues increasingly have interactions across time zones. This prospect can be a daunting one, as finding a time that works across two time zones gets complicated. It’s even worse when attempting to coordinate across more than two time zones. Invariably you make mistakes with time conversions, plus it’s next to impossible to create a schedule that’s convenient for everyone. What you need is an intuitive time converter tool like the super-simple Circa App that can help you convert and schedule with a minimum of confusion or hassle. If you still want to do it the old-fashioned way, however, the following are some guidelines that will help you in scheduling meetings across time zones:

Meeting Tips:

  1. When coordinating across multiple time zones, 6am Pacific is widely accepted as the best time for global meetings. Make 6am Pacific your starting point – then work from there with your participants’ various time zones
  2. Respect individual scheduling concerns by surveying your meeting participants to find out what time slots they prefer. Don’t assume that people can meet only during office hours. With this in mind, avoid commute times in any of the zones. Nothing dampens a constructive conversation like, “Oops, hang on, I’m going to lose you in this tunnel…”
  3. Make the meeting time clear, always communicating the time zone in participants’ local standard times
  4. Spell out the time zones involved, allowing for double-checking of time differences as well as making all participants aware of where other people will be during their day – or night
  5. When it comes to meeting during the less convenient time slots, take turns. Rotate the inconvenience, giving everyone the early-morning or late-night shift at some point. Consider alternating among three times, each eight hours later than the previous time, with the idea that during any given meeting, at least two thirds of participants will be attending during business hours
  6. Smooth the way for future meetings by engaging all participants equally, maybe even paying extra attention to those who are teleconferencing. People seated together in the same room are likely to talk to one another, forgetting about the person on screen or the invisible person on the phone. Practice making eye contact with the people on video and soliciting input from the remote participants
  7. The six tips above can help you schedule meetings across time zones, but why not enlist the services of intuitive tools to help you cope with the challenge. The Circa App can assist you in finding the best time to connect across multiple time zones and helps you see current time in any city. With this stunningly designed mobile app, you simply move the time control, visually decide the best time across time zone, and send a Calendar invite to your meeting participants all over the world as the App comes pre-integrated with your Calendar. It couldn’t be easier!

Coordinating live connections across time can be a challenge. Yet it’s a challenge easily met, especially if you can adopt a global perspective, respect individuals’ preferences, and enlist the help of new, intuitive tools designed specifically with this challenge in mind.

Top 10 Coolest Reasons for an A+ Mobile Parent App


Parental involvement matters in education, and recent research confirms it. In a field study by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, researchers found that parent-teacher-student communication increases homework completion by 42 percent and decreased teacher redirects by 25 percent.

Parent-teacher communication is clearly key to a student’s success and labs108 can help. This is one of those rare instances where there is a relatively simple answer to a complex problem. It’s not necessary for Mom and Dad to get overwhelmed with school activities or change their lifestyle dramatically. All they need to do is have a better idea about what’s going on with their kids education, even a few times a month. Improving the lines of communication between parents, their kids and their schools can have an enormous and long-lasting impact on the world.

The National Education Association states that, “State and district leaders should encourage schools to use technology in more creative ways,” in a new NEA’s policy brief. The NEA and parent-teacher groups around the country support the rise of mobile as an integral part of EdTech.

Mobile apps put the power of massive supercomputers into the palm of your hand, quite literally. Data centers running software on massively parallel processing servers can deliver innovation over the cloud and put it right on our phones. Instead of wasting all that computing power on games, why aren’t we devoting it to solving real world problems?

That’s exactly what we are doing at labs108. We are committed to improving K-12 education by stretching the potential of the latest technology. We organize our design and development around the principles of “Communication Increases Engagement,” and “Guided use of mobile devices increases Engagement, Focus, and Learning.”

Not only can our K-12 Mobile App, called Skool Commute, improve communication between parents, students, educators and administrators, it can establish a new environment for higher educational achievements. Here are 10 reasons why, listed in order of coolness.

10 Coolest Reasons for Skool Commute

Here’s our top 10 list of reasons why we think our app is the cutting edge of cool.

1. Parent-to-parent communication – Coordinating your kid’s activities with other parents is super important. The next time something unexpected happens, such as a delay on the bus route or a teacher in-service day or discussing curriculum or parenting topics, a quick chat with other parents could save you hours of anxiety and help build a better supportive atmosphere.

2. Location-assisted school pickups – In the news, kids and parents in Delaware schools are just the latest to suffer from buses that never arrived. If this happened in your neighborhood, you would need a way to communicate with everybody involved so that you or a neighbor could swing by to pick up the kids.

3. A personalized app for each school – With all the different ways to communicate, it’s too easy to miss messages between administrators and parents or kids and teachers. A vertical messaging platform, tailored to each school, keeps all critical communications on one open channel.

4. Field trip location tracking – Every kid’s dream and every parent’s nightmare is a field trip full of surprises. Depending on the destination and the level of supervision, there can be too many unknowns. With location aware App, lost or unaccounted-for children never have to be a problem.

5. Monitoring of student-to-student communications – October is National Bullying Prevention Month. We are doing our part to raise awareness of this serious issue. There are too many stories of bullying in-person or over social media and there is no reason for it.

6. Messaging role and privilege control – Who says class is canceled? Parents could be more involved and teachers could be better prepared if everyone was able communicate clearly and directly. Administrators should be able to talk to parents directly instead of sending a message home with the child. All of this depends, however, on system users being able to rely on the secure identity of every online party.

7. Central calendar for volunteer sign-ups – Many, if not most, school events need volunteers, either from students or parents. Too much time and other resources are wasted in creating a sign-up sheet and printed reminders. A central calendar specifies who is doing what when, with no more excuses.

8. Access to advanced technology – By the time the current generation grows up, there may be no more keyboards. Many students have no idea what ancient terms such as “cursive letters” or “DVD” refer to. Communication by mobile app should be considered part of their critical education for surviving in this new world.

9. Grades, attendance and assignment tracking – Parents have enough to keep track of between work, family responsibilities, sports and school events. They can’t be expected to keep detailed records of trends in grades over the years, current homework assignments and which days their kids missed class. There is no reason they should when it is all inside the app.

10. Connecting with your kids in a new way – Chat is way cool. So cool that chat apps are the fastest growing sector of the mobile web and worth over $48 billion so far. Go where your kids are and be cool with them. Learn to appreciate them on their own terms. Maybe their cool list will include “my parents” some day.

Get the App

Our Skool Commute Pilot App is available right now and there is no reason why schools can’t start using Skool Commute to foster educational achievement today. You and your kids may never completely agree about what is cool, but at least you can disagree over online chat while you stay up to date on all their assignments and schedules.