Almost every child today is fairly attuned to technology and tech devices right from a nascent age. Even two and three-year-olds manage to learn how to unlock a smartphone or a tab and find their way through the device.
In fact, research shows that 82% of Indian children in the middle class urban homes are well-versed with smart phone use.
But unlike the good old times when we played with real toys, how good an idea is it for children to be glued to these devices?
What if children could find a way to interact with technology but not be glued to a screen?
Meet Miko, an artificially intelligent companion robot developed by three IIT Bombay graduates, Sneh Vaswani, Prashant Iyengar and Chintan Raikar.
â€śWhat captured our attention was the emotional needs of the Indian consumer. Over time we identified and validated over 30 emotional needs in the everyday life of Indian consumers. This prompted us to start our company, Emotix. An important direction was a genuine unmet social need of todayâ€™s Indian parents and children,â€ť says Sneh.
The team spent two years working with a global team of over 20 engineers, mathematicians, artists and neuropsychologists across India, Russia and Korea. The result was a Companion Robot that was developed for the use of children from the age-group of five years and above.
Emotix claims that Miko is not just artificially intelligent but also emotionally sound.
As Miko interacts more with the child, it understand the childâ€™s likes, dislikes and preferences as they interact on various topics.
Miko comes with a mobile app through which a parent or a child can communicate with it. Say Hello Miko, and it begins to respond.
What can Miko do?
Miko has a wide pool of knowledge. A child can ask Miko what, when, why, who and which questions. For example, ask Miko what is the capital of India and it responds with the right answer.
Apart from that, Miko can move, dance and sing. It can help children with math problems, answer fun facts and give you the spelling of a word. Miko also tells bedtime stories to children and plays games like book cricket and Kaun Banega Crorepati.
Currently, Miko can interact in English. However, Emotix is working on integrating all other Indian languages as well.
Miko can run three hours on full charge. The idea is for children to not get too attached to the robot either, the founders say.
There is also a parental dashboard, where parents can customise and access its activities any time. Mikoâ€™s steering wheel always remains in the hands of the parent, the company says.
Miko was launched commercially earlier this year and is available for order, on the companyâ€™s website or through offline channels. It is priced Rs 19,000.
Going forward, apart from working on integrating a lot more activities and games into Miko, Emotix is developing a platform where children can learn programming.
â€śChildren can program games for Miko. The idea here for them to learn programming and make it do different things. We are developing a platform where there are nearly 250 levels for children to learn programming,â€ť Sneh says.
Additionally, the platform will also be open for third party companies to create games for Miko. The idea is to make Miko a go-to technology companion for children to play with and learn from.
Watch the video here: