Innovations That Matter

7 Teaching Tools to Use at Home

Innovation Snapshot

Innovations that aim to make teaching and learning at home easier and more enjoyable for both children and adults.

With schools closed and children in many parts around the world learning at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and carers may be struggling to balance their own jobs and responsibilities with remote schooling efforts. Providing additional learning experiences for children that were once an accessible part of everyday life is also now a major challenge.

The following innovations aim to make teaching and learning at home easier and more enjoyable for both children and adults.

Photo source: Habbi Habbi

1. WAND USES COMPUTER VISION TO TURN BOOKS INTO BILINGUAL TUTOR

Startup Habbi Habbi developed a “reading wand” that helps young children learn new languages. When pointing at a picture in an accompanying book, the wand says words out loud, or plays music. The wand and accompanying language learning books are currently available in Spanish and Mandarin, with more languages planned.

The wand works using computer vision. The tip of the wand identifies the pixels on a page and reads out the specific word or illustration, and there is no technology embedded in the book itself. The books contain “surprises” scattered throughout, like sounds or songs, to keep kids focused and engaged.

Read more about Habbi Habbi.

Photo source: learnwithmochi.com

2. TRADITIONAL-STYLE TOY SYSTEM HELPS CHILDREN LEARN TO CODE

The crowdfunded Mochi system uses traditional toys to teach young children how to code. The system replaces a computer screen with blocks and contains a specially designed board.

Mochi is designed to inspire children to learn the basics of coding, which is becoming a more and more fundamental part of society, through stories and interactive play. The system uses blocks and a coding board, instead of screens, to make it more child-friendly. Children can listen to the Mochi stories and use the blocks and board to complete tasks. When used together, the coding blocks and board send messages to Mochi’s robot transport, so the bear can travel through the story map. 

Read more about Mochi.

Photo source: Sandy Millar on Unsplash

3. 3D PRINTER ALLOWS KIDS TO CREATE THEIR OWN TOYS

Using entertainment to help young people get to grips with technology is a key way to integrate innovative technology into future generations. An American company took this concept to another level with a 3D printer that allows children to create their own objects.

Toybox aims to encourage creativity in kids by allowing them to design and print their own ideas. Its simple one-touch technology design means that users can start without any prior knowledge. With a huge catalogue of various options, kids can choose from a range of products. Opportunities range from small action figures to musical instruments, from building blocks to jewellery. These ready-made designs are also optimised to reduce printing time and ensure detailed prints at a resolution of 200 microns.

Read more about Toybox.

Photo source: Pixabay

4. NEW SPEAKER TO HELP CHINESE LANGUAGE LEARNERS

In an increasingly globalised world, many people find it important to learn another language. Chinese, in particular, is becoming a popular choice. Yet Chinese is a difficult language to learn, especially because spoken Chinese is tonal, so correct pronunciation is vital to making yourself understood. A US startup developed a voice-controlled smart speaker called Lily that can interact with users, and have real conversations.

Lily was created by a San Francisco-based startup, which has worked with professional Chinese tutors and audio companies to develop its product. In addition to having interactive conversations, Lily will provide translations, games for vocabulary training, exam preparation and pronunciation practice. The speaker comes with a mobile app that will show the conversations written in both Pinyin and Chinese characters.

Read more about Lily.

5. SIRI FOR EDUCATION IS A PERSONAL AI TUTOR

Algorithms are not just for harvesting social media profiles. We’ve seen many examples recently of machine learning platforms providing services for diverse industries such as medicine and policingaiLearn put its own AI algorithm to the test with an educational platform.

Generalised education systems don’t always cater to every child. Some need additional support or to be taught at a slower or faster pace. Parents can pay for extra tutoring but that can be an expensive option that not all parents can afford. To address these issues, aiLearn has developed Robot Ani. This platform will use Siri-style functionality to create a dynamic back-and-forth learning experience for users. The platform relies on machine learning that will respond to unique user levels. As a result, the more a user works with Robot Ani, the more tailored the education becomes.

Read more about Robot Ani.

Photo source: Pentagram

6. AN INTERACTIVE, EDUCATIONAL AND SCREENLESS AUDIO DEVICE

London tech startup Yoto developed an interactive audio device that allows children to play music and listen to stories without being exposed to a screen. The company worked with industrial designers, Pentagram, to develop a product that lets children easily control what they listen to.

The Yoto Player uses cards, which contain the content. The cards are simply inserted into a slot to begin playback, and two colourful buttons control both playback and audio. Instead of a screen, the player has a simple, 16-by-16-pixel colour display that can project simple interactive content. 

Read more about Yoto Player.

Photo source: Pixabay

7. TOYMAKER LAUNCHES AI ENABLED CARDBOARD ROBOT

Toymaker The Crafty Robot creates battery-free paper robots that can move. It developed the Smartibot – the world’s first cardboard robot powered by Artificial Intelligence.

Designed for both adults and children, Smartibot is a DIY robot that educates users in robotics. Its accompanying app – Smartibot app – allows users to control the Smartibot via their smartphones. As well as using smartphones as a remote control for the robot, users can attach their mobiles to the robot. This enables smartphones to act as the robot’s brain. The Smartibot app uses YOLO — AI that acts as the robot’s eyes. It can recognise objects such as people, animals and vehicles. Therefore users can program their Smartibots to automatically follow around any object they choose.

Read more about Smartibot.