Rural India has been the target area of several Smartphone companies for quite some time and now Google wants to reap the benefits of this increase in penetration. The company on Wednesday rolled out a new app, called ‘Bolo’ which is a speech-based reading-tutor app aimed at children in villages. The primary aim of this app is to provide facilities to these children, who otherwise, are not financially secured to get access to the good quality education system. This system has been unveiled in India first and is available for download for free via Google Play and can work offline.
“We believe technology has the power to help transform teaching and learning, and have been actively directing our products, programs and philanthropy to ensure that all students are able to benefit from it,” Google said in a statement.
This app has been specifically built for the native Hindi-speakers and Google hopes it enables young kids to improve their Hindi and English reading skills by encouraging them to read aloud. It has many stories which will help children in improving their comprehension skills. It has been designed in such a way that the children need no external support and can read all by themselves. Google has also informed that all reading material on the app will be free but they are in close touch with other companies to bring in more content to Bolo. As of now, the app relies on Google’s speech recognition and text-to-speech technology.
Google has also informed that the app includes an animated digital assistant called Diya, which can read the text out loud for children and give the meaning of the different English words. Also, the assistant will praise the kids when they complete a task.
Google, in a blog post, informed that the Bolo app is still in beta and that they are working closely with its partners like Kaivalya, Room to Read, Saajha, and Pratham to further refine it and take the app to more children.
“With the help of ASER Centre, we have been piloting Bolo across 200 villages in Uttar Pradesh, India, over the past few months,” Google wrote in a blog post. “Early results are very encouraging, and we found that 64 per cent of children showed an improvement in reading proficiency in just 3 months.”