Huey has developed a chatbot (we call it a bookbot) that helps children find books they love to read. The bookbot has already had recommended over 150,000 books for children and is accessible in a web or touchscreen kiosk version. Over the course of 2020 the bookbot was deployed at the State Library of NSW (Australia’s first library), piloted by the NSW Department of Education, and was a finalist at SXSW Pitch 2020.
There is no doubt that teachers, parents and children themselves prefer to read printed books, however digital devices are now an inescapable and valued part of modern life. Families with children are more likely than any other to adopt new technologies. These seemingly contradictory patterns are echoed around the world in the market growth of the billion dollar edtech industry, and the children’s print publishing market (in contrast to the shrinking adult printed book market).
Rather than working in competition with AI robots, how could humans work in tandem, where the flaws in both are supported by each others strengths? For that to happen both systems - human and artificial - need to have an intrinsic respect and understanding for each other.
While a primary goal for Huey Books is to help a child find a book that will trigger a passion for reading - it can also help children, parents, librarians and educators navigate a world of data, by exposing the data patterns and relationships around books they love. This exposure to data and relationships aids not just in data literacy, but in an understanding of how data works to describe and shape our world, how they can affect that world and ultimately navigate it to find books they love.