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Conversation App Helps Parents Boost Child's Language


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A mother speaking to a baby.

Researchers are developing a smartphone app to provide real-time feedback to parents on their conversations with their children.

Credit: Lawren/Getty

Parents with children who struggle to develop their language skills could soon turn to an app that is designed to provide real-time feedback on parent-child conversations. KAIST computer scientists worked with speech-language pathologists at Ewha Womans University in Seoul to develop the TalkBetter system. The system requires that parents wear a Bluetooth earpiece and microphone, while the child just wears a microphone, and all of them are connected to a smartphone. The software on the phone listens to the verbal exchanges, focusing on when parents speak too fast, do not give their child enough time to respond, or ignore speech from the child. The system alerts parents via the earpiece when any of these things happen.

The KAIST team has developed a preliminary app, and full clinical trials of the smartphone-based system are under way. "We developed a preliminary app which targets and monitors group discussion, trying to give real-time feedback," says lead researcher Inseok Hwang. "If one person dominates the conversation, for instance, then the smartphone might give a gentle reminder to let others speak."

The TalkBetter system will be presented at the ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, which takes place Feb. 15-19 in Baltimore.

From New Scientist
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