“We wanted to build robots that could go to remote communities, could be acceptable in cultural senses and in multiple different languages”.
Opie is a low-cost and transportable robot made out of wood, a couple of tablets, a speaker, a mobile router, a Raspberry Pi computer and a regular USB charger hub. One tablet screen shows stories, games and lessons while the other shows a face that reacts to the child’s actions. The physical and software design for each Opie is developed together with the community that will be using it, with most going to language centres or creches.
One activity on the Opie designed with the Ngukurr Language Centre is based on a memory card game the community liked playing on one of the centre’s old computers. The instructions are spoken in Kriol, but the tablet houses four different heritage languages. When a card is flipped over that shows a grasshopper, for example, the word for grasshopper in the heritage language is played out loud. The software is modular so that new stories or even whole languages can be added.
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