APrime first engaged with Oko Labs at the earliest possible stage, when their team was composed of two co-founders working through product ideation and feasibility. Oko’s mission is to make learning more equitable, more rigorous and more fun through AI-powered small group work in K12 classrooms. Our initial challenge involved building a prototype to serve as a proof of concept for an intelligent teacher’s assistant for small group learning. The solution needed to be robust enough to facilitate successful live learning sessions with elementary school students in order to convincingly demonstrate the product’s concepts, sell pilot programs to school systems, and pitch to potential investors.
The intelligent assistant leverages a combination of tools and technologies including WebRTC, computer vision, speech recognition, and natural language processing to implement cognitive tutoring within a cloud-based video conferencing platform. We implemented a modular, event-driven, service-oriented system architecture consisting of containerized microservices that could be scaled up to handle thousands of concurrent student interactions. The highlights of our approach included:
- Architected and implemented a cloud-based web conference application using Twilio to help facilitate small group learning activities conducted by an AI-powered teacher’s assistant capable of bidirectional omni-channel communication, including audio, video, textual inputs.
- Leveraged Google’s MediaPipe framework to implement a novel real-time, browser-based gesture detection capability.
- Integrated Twilio, Amazon Polly, and other NLP platform services (such as Symbl.ai and OpenAI) to implement a real-time conversational interface between the AI assistant and students.
The prototype was built iteratively in collaboration with the founders using agile best-practices and incorporating user feedback along the way—including rigorous play testing and co-design processes that put kids and educators at the center of product development.
Since the release of the prototype, Oko Labs has won multiple competitions resulting in non-dilutive funding and grant awards. Notably, Oko Labs was thrilled to be one of seven winners–of more than 800 applicants in the K-12 cohort–to receive a Catalyst Prize from the Futures Forum Learning Tools Competition sponsored by Schmidt Futures, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation and Citadel.
Along with the remarkable vision and reputation of the founders, the indisputably engaging interactions between students and the working prototype built by APrime have contributed to excitement about the product among educators and strong partnerships with renowned institutions including the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, University of Washington, and GIANT Room in New York City.