Engaging the Community and Telling Stories with Ubooly (2014)
Ubooly is a stuffed animal with a smartphone or a tablet for face. The face is animated and tells “stories.” The Ubooly learns the user’s name, favorite color and interests. The Ubooly engages in an active voice conversation with the user, and responds with over 298,803 words in a choose-your-own-adventure style of storytelling. Ubooly is an extreme polyglot, and can speak 5 different languages. Ubooly can also teach these languages to its users.
Ubooly has thousands of stories to tell to engage its audience with new material that is never repeated. Examples include cave exploring, going to outer space, going to the jungle, with lessons about friendship, kindness, social responsibility, and so forth.
Ubooly has a remarkable model, both on the technology side and the business side. They are a startup company building toys for social good. Other toys lose child interest very quickly as most toys are not very intelligent, making them less far less interactive.This is a two-sided market: one for the initial hardware purchase, and thousands of hours of additional downloadable content onto the smartphone. This is a very good example of efficient hardware development – instead of developing all the complex electronics, Ubooly is only a stuffed animal and the electronics are left to the smart phone, which most users already have, greatly simplifying the manufacturing process. Also, the software can be updated and expanded at any time through the smart phone, creating an efficient economy of scale.
As an educational tool, the smartphone software is used to interact, engage and educate the user while developing a bond with the user as an “intelligent furry friend.” Speech recognition and natural language processing is a very difficult problem in computer science, and combining it with a clean user interface is another problem altogether, yet Ubooly seems to have a good portion of it figured it. As for me, I am also building a highly intelligent educational robotics platform, and many of the lessons learned from this company will be applied to my work as well.
To date, Ubooly has engaged over 50,000 families with entertainment, educational material, and artificial companionship.
Learn more about Ubooly here: