Google India launches ‘Bolo’, a speech-recognition app enabling kids to read in Hindi, English

Sundar Pichai in Mumbai

Google has been at the forefront of a gold rush for India’s internet users, whose now number is more than 580 million. The Silicon Valley giant is rolling out another app just for India, this time in its efforts to help children ‘learn to read’.


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Last week, after months of testing, ‘Bolo, an online reading tutor, was made available to Indian users of Google’s Android operating system.
The app mimics teacher-student interactions, using artificial intelligence to guide children and give them feedback as they read aloud. In its official statement, Google said:

“We believe technology has the power to help transform teaching and learning, and have been actively directing our products, programs and philanthropy to ensure that all students are able to benefit from it.”

The app is currently channeled towards native speakers of the most widely spoken language of Hindi. It’s current library includes 40 Hindi stories as well as 50 English stories that children can choose from. Google has also confirmed that they will be adding more languages to Bolo over a period of time.
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The company has tied up with several non-profit organizations in India to take suggestions and improve the app. Initially, a pilot program was run across 200 villages in India’s largest state of Uttar Pradesh, which resulted in an improvement in reading proficiency in 64% of children.
India has a huge potential for major tech companies since, nearly 60% of the country’s population is still to get online. Bolo is the latest of several India-first features that Google has rolled out to try and attract hundreds of millions of users.

Sundar Pichai, CEO Google, had taken part in an event organised by Piramal Foundation at the DN Nagar school in Andheri, Mumbai on Friday. While engaging with the students, Pichai introduced them to Google’s new reading application. He later even tweeted about his visit:

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“Earlier this week, we launched #Bolo in India: a reading tutor app powered by #GoogleAI text-to-speech & speech recognition. Had the chance to visit some students today who are learning to read using Bolo, excited for all the great books they’ll discover!”



Keeping in mind India’s patchy mobile connectivity, especially in remote areas, the new reading app will also be available offline.


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