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Google’s Bolo

It’s the company’s attempt at helping students in India to read in Hindi and English

  • Published 9.03.19, 10:56 PM
  • Updated 9.03.19, 10:56 PM
  • a min read
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A screenshot of the Bolo application. Google India

From time to time, Google keeps launching meaningful apps, the latest being Bolo. It’s the company’s attempt at helping students in India to read in Hindi and English. Here’s what you should know about the app.

How does it work?

Say a child likes to tell and listen to stories but struggles to read a first-grade textbook without any assistance. Bolo can be of help. Designed for primary grade students, Bolo is powered by Google’s speech recognition and text-to-speech technology. Once the app loads, reading buddy Diya appears on screen, explaining how the app works. Next, choose an activity, which can either be in Hindi or in English.

The early exercises involve pictures with a few words and as the levels go up, the sentences keep getting longer. Divya reads out a line and then the user is asked to read out the same sentence. One can even tap on any word for Divya to read out, which is helpful if one wants to improve his/her pronunciation and understand meanings better.

How does it help?

First, and most importantly, children learn to read all by themselves. The visuals are stunning and so is the formatting, which will keep the kid glued to the app. Besides, there is a largish catalogue available from Storyweaver.org.in; it includes 50 stories in Hindi and 40 in English (more will be added by other partners soon). The app also has a reward system — as children become more proficient, they earn badges.

How was the app planned?

Google has found assistance in the form of ASER Centre and has had a Bolo pilot round across 200 villages in Uttar Pradesh over the past few months. “Early results are very encouraging, and we found that 64 per cent of children showed an improvement in reading proficiency in just three months,” Nitin Kashyap, product manager, and Zohair Hyder, engineering lead for Bolo, Google India, has said in a blog post.

Is it safe?

All personal data associated with the app stays on the device and doesn’t get shared.