Meet Ms. Siri, Your New Teacher

The next generation of artificial intelligence from the lab that built the iPhone’s Siri is powering an educational game.

A London-based startup, Kuato Studios, is expected to come out later this year with a newgameto teach kids computer programming.

This isn’t a lightly "gamified" platform like Khan Academy's new computer science offerings or Codecademy. Kuato Studios is building an immersive, richly illustrated third-person shooter that will have 11- to 15-year-old players "terraforming a virtual world through coding and science," created by developers from companies like Konami and Rockstar Games.

Image: Kuato Studios

The game boasts a special secret sauce: the next generation of "virtual personal assistant" technology from SRI, the research institute that created the iPhone’s Siri. (Frank Meehan, Kuato Studio’s founder, sat on the board of Siri Inc.) According to reports elsewhere, the updated Siri, called "Lola," is better at remembering the context of specific conversations, understanding natural speech, and reasoning—all qualities that would be nice to have in a virtual teacher who can answer direct questions, drop hints when a learner gets stuck, and dole out encouragement when she succeeds.

As edtech newsletter Edsurge points out, IBM just announced its own mobile version of AI engine Watson, in a push to build a $16-billion business analytics business. Putting AI into educational apps may not be far behind.

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  • swagv

    Given that I switched off Siri a week into owning my new iPhone, I am sure this will be a delight.

  • Skip Stein

    With all this gaming stuff, you would think that one of these companies would create a truly hands free voice command system for Cell Phone operations (call, answer, text, email, directions, etc.) and/or for laptop/desktop systems.  Still there is nothing that fully allows a 'hands free' operation.  You have to swipe, or otherwise activate the phone before the crude systems allow you to call, and most of the time you have to activate an application to do so; in any case you MUST touch the phone/device to DO anything.  With all the issues with texting/talking while driving; forcing people to handle a device there should be a truly voice activated/controlled system!

    The creators of such an application will make BILLION$.  It seems we have and have had the voice recognition technology for some time, not perfect but preferable to texting while driving and forcing you to handle/look at the phone.  Voice print analysis would provide needed security; the face recognition etc. is counter productive as you have to LOOK and pick up the device!

    We need something vocal! (also be a huge boon to the visually impaired users!!!!!!).  The V3C systems (http://www.ijcaonline.org/volu... provide the research and development.  Where are the Android developers for the Cell Technology?!??!?