Google has introduced a new app called Bolo, which will assist students with their comprehension and reading skills. In India, the launched beta version works with phones having Android 4.4 (Kit Kat) and for native Hindi speakers.
The app comes after Google ran its pilot project in 200 villages with 900 children in Uttar Pradesh with ASER centre.
The annual ASER 2018 report states that students who are enrolled in grade 5 in rural India, only 50 percent of them are able to read a grade 2 level textbook. The Google Bolo app will remove that gap with its tutor-based approach in helping children read. The app includes an Assistant called Diya as well, which encourages children with their reading, understanding skills.
Diya can speak English and Hindi and will motivate the child when they are attempting to read in Hindi or English. For example when the child reads the text correctly, Diya will say “Shabash” or very good.
At present, the app is limited to two languages only, but Google says it is planning to expand it to more languages later. Bolo will also be a free app and relies on Google’s speech recognition and text-to-speech technology.
“With Bolo, we aim to encourage and engage kids so their love for reading grows and it becomes a daily habit. We believe that technology can be a powerful enabler. We have been piloting Bolo in 200 villages, and the early results are very encouraging. We are now actively working with a number of nonprofit partners to take it to more people across the country who could benefit from it,” Nitin Kashyap, Product Manager, Google India said in a press statement.
“We all have our own personal experience and know that reading aloud with someone giving 1:1 feedback helps improve reading skills. Many children, especially those in rural India don’t have this support. With Bolo we wanted to bring a similar experience to anyone who needs it, via their smartphone,” Zohair Hyder, Engineering lead for Bolo said.