Inspiration: How can we make education engaging and explorative through the use of technology? Children in this digital age often grow up on a tech-integrated learning experience. Our app aims to create an engaging reading experience for beginner readers that allow them to interact with the world of words.

How I built It: Our application is implemented in Android Studio using Java. For the speech recognition and image OCR we utilized the default Google Android Studio libraries.

Challenges I ran into: Testing. Is. Key. Technical challenges included implementing the image recognition, covering all edge cases of speech recognition, and optimizing the optical character recognition. Also, merging front and backend and ensuring compatibility was also a very meticulous process. Not having the time and resources to really develop a deep understanding of our user and how our user best learns was challenging. However, now that we have a prototype, we have the capacity to really delve into user testing.

What it does: Young readers can use our application to take a photo of any text or use one of our database default text from movies, books, or child stories. The app will scan the image and convert it to text, which is considered to be the correct solution. The users are then prompted to record themselves reading back the text in the image. Then a scoring algorithm determines how similar their input is to the correct solution, by converting their speech into text as well. Their performance is to the actual text, allowing them to continually improve and practice. They can also listen to the solution to understand how to pronounce the words. All of this in a light-hearted interface that kids can easily engage with their surrounding environments.

What I Learned: We learned the importance of clear team communication and coordination. We got to explore new technologies in speech recognition and OCR by exploring Android packages. We got our taste of front-end design in Android. And last but definitely not least, we really valued our organization with Git.

What’s Next for Bunny Ears: Learning how to read can be more than just flipping through a storybook. For example, our app could potentially enable teachers to design a scavenger hunt challenge that students can use to navigate their school grounds searching for clues, practicing reciting clues, and accumulating points. Our initial prototype is a stepping stone towards creating an interactive educational experience enhanced by modern technology. We want to implement more loadable practice options that potentially could interface with an API to get new reading material. We also want to create account permanence that would allow a user to track his/her progress. We also want to eventually scale this app for broader age ranges catering the readings based on your skill (e.g. implement a speed reading feature and speech memorization feature for advanced readers).

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