WonderTree is part of UNICEF’s Innovation Fund Investments in Skills and Connectivity
Arsalan A. Somjee, Director, Strategy & Outreach, WonderTree
WonderTree creates Augmented Reality (AR) games to accelerate learning and development of motor and cognitive skills for children with special needs.
The idea was conceived four years ago by Muhammad Usman, our Chief Technical Officer, whose older brother – diagnosed with Down syndrome – enjoyed learning through games. We aim to make quality education and physiotherapy both accessible and easily affordable.
We are now using artificial intelligence, machine learning and human pose estimation to make our games more interactive and immersive for children between the ages 4-14 years, with mild to moderate disabilities. Our inclusive and unique approach of using motion-based games as an assistive tool makes the learning process fun and exciting for children. Parents and teachers also have access to an online psychometric dashboard to track and measure the progress of the child.
Using gamification in education is not new; research shows that AR based applications, if used in educational settings, can increase a child’s motivation and engagement levels, and improve their academic performance. The technology alters real-life settings, enhancing it through animations, sights and sounds generated by the computer. The use of AR games can overcome the limitations of space and allow total body movement, keeping the child thoroughly engaged and motivated.
The step of going open-source stems from our collective ethos to make our technology accessible for other players to use and create new content. It gives us an opportunity from a technological standpoint to make advancements using AI for human pose estimation through RGB Cameras. From a business standpoint, it helps us reduce the overall capital cost of deploying our games, and optimize our technology to enhance the scope of the application in the future.
WonderTree has a diverse team of game developers, game designers, psychologists, special educators and physiotherapists who are working together to create fun and exciting learning experiences for children with special needs. The diversity in our team helps us in gaining different insights and perspectives from people with different academic backgrounds and expertise. This allows us to optimize and curate the best experience for the users, ensuring that the games are not only fun for the children, but also address the core developmental areas that they are supposed to.
THE WAY AHEAD
With UNICEF’s Innovation Fund, we are hoping to enhance our technological infrastructure and scale our solution to populations with limited access to quality learning. Over the next year, we will focus on creating an optimal experience for the end user, reduce the computing requirements to run our games, and test the technology with the data gathered through this program.
As part of the cohort, we would like to focus on using our technical expertise to address pain points in the educational and healthcare sectors, gather data and share insights as our contribution to make such solutions affordable, accessible and effective. Our ultimate aim is to use this opportunity with UNICEF as a stepping stone to go global and impact millions of children worldwide.
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