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November 7, 2017

With the Pika app, kids teach an A.I. program how to recognize colors

by John_A

Why it matters to you

A.I. is normally used to teach a computer program — but what if teaching a computer program could help kids deepen their understand of something like colors?

Artificial intelligence teaches computers but what happens when a child is the one doing all the teaching? Pika is a startup app company using A.I., computer vision, and augmented reality to create a camera-focused app where the kids do the teaching.

Pika is a camera app that takes kids on a color scavenger hunt of sorts. When kids find the specific color, they photograph it. Find that color three times and the child teaches the program how to recognize that hue. With each color, kids earn a badge. The Pika robot character leads kids on their hunt for specific colors, creating on-screen augmented reality effects when a color is spotted.

The app is based on the idea that when children teach something, they deepen their own learning, as well as building confidence, Pika says. Another computer vision algorithm confirms that what Pika is learning is correct, the company says.

“Pika encourages your child to explore the world visually in new and interesting ways,” said Bim Malcolmson, a parent and educator that tested an early version. “Through having to teach Pika concepts like blue or yellow, children will start seeing how many shades of colors there are, encouraging them to be particularly observant and interested in their own environments.”

As a kids iOS app, the company encourages parents to repurpose an old iPhone an iPod touch, though the device needs iOS 11, which means an iPhone 6 or sixth generation iPod Touch is required.

Pika was founded in London after Aisha Yusaf started looking for a camera to buy her daughter and found only pink and blue cameras with basic hardware and “uninspiring software.” That started a journey leading to the development of the Pika app as a way to mix photography with learning.

Pika is taking to Kickstarter to raise the funds to finish developing the app. If the project is successful, early backers can get the app for pledges starting at about $13. The campaign needs to reach about $23,000 by November 23 and has so far funded over $4,000. The company says more than 100 kids have already tested the app prototype. If the Kickstarter is successful, Pika plans on getting the app to early backers in April.

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