Many parents experience times of stress, worry and grief as they adjust to the demands of parenting a child with learning disabilities.
Mysore based Niranjan Swamy his own worries came to the fore when his son was in grade 1. Unable to comprehend the “unusual” behavior – including crying, crankiness and overeating – Niranjan was told of his son’s problems during a parent-teacher meeting.
He had difficulty reading and writing and was unable to cope with his peer group. His impressive oral vocabulary and serious personality were no longer enough to distract from growing academic concerns.
“My son was caught crying and having a bad mood at school all the time. Apparently his classmates and elders kept calling him a crying baby and an idiot. He could not adapt to the usual teaching style and was unable to understand basic concepts. In retrospect, my son was just a little guy going through a predictably disharmonious phase linked to his learning difficulties, ”explains Niranjan.
Like any other parent, it took a while for her to realize that her son needed special academic attention. More than her son who was diagnosed with dyslexia, Niranjan was concerned about the lack of institutional and educational support for her child.
Even as the family struggled, Niranjan also grew increasingly concerned about his son’s addiction to YouTube. He realized that his son enjoyed watching short animated videos, learning concepts like the solar system, time, geometry, space, animals, aquatic species, among others.
After the lockdown began, Niranjan was called in by the principal of his son’s school who said his son had not been promoted to the next level. He had failed to complete his subjects and had to drop out of school.
Niranjan thought: “If only someone could understand my child’s needs and provide them with specialized content to teach them.”
This led to the creation of AttentionKart, a technology platform for children with special needs. Advanced use AI and Machine Learning capabilities, the platform has developed two major offers: special content for children with learning difficulties and analyzes to better understand them.
Launched in May 2021, the Mysore-based platform went live in September with more than 150 short lessons of video content. The primed the start has linked to two schools and embarked around 250 students provide special content for children and analysis for stakeholders including institutions, parents and therapists.
Niranjan was joined by Karthik R and Ranjana G as co-founders, and a team of partners including, Lokesh BR, Manikanta Swamy, Sunil M, and team member Shridhar.
AttentionKart Analysis Portal Snapshot
The AI teacher
AttentionKart has developed an ‘AI teacher’ to provide specialized content for children with learning difficulties (Dysgraphia, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, among others) until the age of 10.
The platform uses the STEAM Concept learning (a pedagogical approach to learning that uses science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics as entry points to guide inquiry, dialogue and critical thinking of students) and offers short videos of 4 to 5 minutes.
From now on it does not create new content, but uses videos from open sources like YouTube, connects to its platform, redesigns and publishes them. The the videos are different from typical animations or audiovisuals available on the Internet and are redesigned with scientific research and development. The content could be as simple as understanding alphabets to learn about coding, geometry, space, light, species, among others.
The second, and one of the main offers, is analytic. The platform uses deep learning concepts and advanced AI capabilities to derive an analysis of a child’s overall academic health and interest based on time spent on videos.
For example, it captures augmented expression reading, eye tracking, head position and gaze tracking to draw analyzes for parents, therapists, psychologists, educators and others to understand the needs of the child.
It combines information about their goal with insights and analysis to help parents better understand and provide personal attention in their areas of interest and challenges.
The platform can also track where the child is looking to determine the reason for the disturbance and can notify parents of children who are not paying attention during lessons.
The platform currently operates on a freemium model and aims to get more students to use it to train the algorithm. “We don’t want to invest in generating new content right now, but focus on developing cloud-based analytics and infrastructure,” says the founder.
“We have a strong team of data scientists, technology experts and professionals. It took almost 11 months to develop the proprietary technology and build the platform. We are very proud of our R&D, ”says Niranjan, who is also the CEO of healthcare logistics solutions provider MedApp.
The founder, who had humble beginnings, was selling coconut water with his early dad and struggled to reach the top.
Ultimately, the startup aims to charge a one-time fee for premium content, which it plans to develop in the future. However, its main indication would come from analysis – divided into Basic, Advance and Premium categories with different fees, from Rs 199 / month.
It could be a three-way proposition between institutions, psychologists and therapists and parents where the end goal is to help children better understand and learn better. In addition, AttentionKart aims to create advocacy groups in India to initiate a discussion on learning difficulties in children.
Embrace the mainstream
There is a huge field for specialized digital content for children with learning difficulties, which would eliminate the need for a physical teacher. This is important in two ways. One, there is one shortage of institutions that offer special / separate classes for these students, leaving them for the most part alone to understand the everyday lessons.
People with learning disabilities may not learn the same way or as quickly as their peers, and may find some aspects of learning, such as developing basic skills, difficult.
Second, it is important that parents and education providers understand the needs of children with learning disabilities, said the founder.
Although a lot of edtech companies offer fun learning content on their platforms, they cannot be painted with the same brush for children with learning disabilities. The interests and demands of these children must be understood to put them in the right direction and for their future growth.
The analysis offer is not limited to children with learning difficulties, however, but also to others who wish to better understand their academic interests, explains Niranjan.
The founder seeks to partner with edtech platforms As BYJU’S, Unacademy, upGrad, and tastes, to connect their AI-based learning content, in addition to providing analytics for each student using the platform.
“We will not become a content generation company or an edtech company. Analytics will remain our pillar. We are actively seeking external funding and are developing our platform to reach as many users as possible, ”he concludes.
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