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St. James Faith Lab proposes test bed for Kadho’s AI project

FAITH LAB TECH BYTES || ARNOLD SCHUCHTER

MAY 27, 2018

Early in 2015, as part of the “Vicar’s Vision” for leveraging technology to spread the Gospel to the world, Rev. Cindy and myself decided to create an experimental early childhood education program at then-St. James the Great Church (a “Child Discovery Center”) that would incorporate the latest cognitive and neuroscientific research findings.

 

We reached out to Kadho, an innovative technology enterprise located in a tech incubator at UCI. Kadho consisted of a highly experienced team of linguists, neuroscientists and artificial intelligence engineers whose aim was to integrate the fundamentals of language acquisition in early childhood with the latest advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and to commercialize the resulting products through multiple channels in the U.S. and globally.

 

Achieving the goal of enabling children to speak and understand any language required that Kadho’s technology leverage AI in ways that enable children to use their voices to communicate and interact with technology. Three years ago it already was clear that voice-enabled interaction with technology would become one of the world’s most important technology and commercial trends.

 

Still to this day, however, these interactions are almost entirely between adults and technology. Voice-assistant and conversational technologies like Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod are not designed for children, and primarily answer questions and perform tasks for adults.

 

With its North American business still at UCI, Kadho moved its main business operation to China where the Chinese are using Kadho’s technology to teach children English.

 

Earlier this year Kadho contacted us in effect to revive the idea of a “Child Discovery Center.” Kadho proposed a collaboration with the St. James Faith Lab to prepare an application for a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant specifically aimed at small businesses that have “ground-breaking” technology and research capabilities. Kadho’s proposal was for St. James Episcopal Church to house a test-bed for their ai-enabled platform for voice-enabled learning and conversational interaction with technology for children: ReadingPal.

 

Voice-enabled devices using Kadho’s technology will be able read to and with a child like a parent, teacher or friend, and also power other devices that assist in teaching pronunciation and reading skills. Authors and content creators for children will be able to use Kadho’s platform to convert their stories and other content into interactive conversation.

 

Thus Kadho’s technology potentially can become a game-changer for publishers, game and toy makers as well as in education. Children no longer will just listen to stories; they will interact, converse, share and bond with the characters. Children will be able to experience rather than just read books. Publishers will be able to publish “experiential books.” Authors will be able to upload their books to Kadho’s platform and transform written works into interactive content. Schools, teachers and parents will have rich new kinds of teaching and tutoring resources.

 

Kadho envisions multiple channels for sales, subscriptions and licensing of its platform and products. Without a special effort thus far, Kadho’s product endorsements and corporate support already comes from Mattel, VTech, Montessori Schools, Rosetta Stone, Qualcomm, LGU+, Coolpad, and many robotics companies (e.g., Moorebot, zibot, Roobo, YYD Robo), and educational firms such as ALO7 and Vericant in China and several more in Korea.

 

The deadline for the NSF grant application is June 14. Development of the NSF grant proposal is still underway. Whether or not Kadho is awarded an NSF grant, there is a very good chance that the R&D project to build an interactive conversation and learning platform especially for children will move forward at the Saint James Faith Lab.