Innovation That Matters

Habbi Habbi wand works using computer vision. | Photo source Habbi Habbi

Wand uses computer vision to turn books into bilingual tutor


When pointed at a picture in a book, the wand says words out loud or plays music.

Spotted: Startup Habbi Habbi has developed a “reading wand” that helps young children learn new languages. When pointed 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. 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.

Habbi Habbi’s co-founders Anne-Louise Nieto and Hanna Chiou met while working as management consultants, advising companies on new consumer products. They were motivated by a shared desire to teach their children new languages but found a lack of resources frustrating. Once they developed their product, they opened a pop-up shop in Stanford to test how kids interacted with their products.

The books were designed with the aid of language experts, and increase in complexity as kids go through the series. They allow parents to support bilingual learning without being native speakers themselves.



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