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Brief Published: 17 Aug 2020

Lamp Narrates Kids' Books to Foster Healthy Reading Habits


South Korean tech company Naver – operator of the country’s leading search engine – is launching a children’s lamp that uses computer vision and artificial intelligence (AI) to translate text into speech. Clova incites kids’ interest in books and reading, while freeing up bedtime from smartphones to appeal to screen-cautious parents.

The smart device merges conventional aesthetics with wowing AI. A camera angled downwards inside the lamp’s head recognises text from the pages of a book placed underneath. Using optical character recognition, the camera interprets written characters and imagery, which is then analysed using machine learning, and converted into speech – reading text aloud and describing visual images.

Clova’s educational value is enhanced with an integrated virtual assistant that responds to questions and explains the meaning of words. Moreover, the device records when a book is complete, and can pass this information onto parents so they can keep track of their child’s progress.

The LED light itself is also smart, with sensors that adjust the brightness in keeping with its surroundings to create an optimal reading environment. It also features four colour settings (reading, creativity, repair and sleep) to suit the activity or time of day.

Privacy, however, is a concern – 93% of US families say it’s important to control what information is collected about their child through smart devices (Common Sense & SurveyMonkey, 2018). Clova addresses this by ensuring that the lamp’s camera points downwards, avoiding picking up any other imagery from the room. To appeal to cautious parents, the company will likely have to do more to clearly express what, if any, data is being captured, and how this will be used.

For more on educational reading devices, see Tech-Boosted Books Teach Kids Language & Empathy. And for another example of how to increase the privacy of tech-boosted playthings, see Alexa-Integrated Toy Marries Tech with Screen-Free Play.