Amazon Echo for Pre-reader Age Group
(1) We know that children’s early vocabulary skills portend their subsequent academic success and ultimately their health status, educational, legal, and economic success as adults. By age three, the gap in vocabulary between children from the highest income and lowest income families is, on average, three million words.
Multiple randomized control trials have shown the benefits to infants and pre-school aged children of being read to. In one study, low income Hispanic parents of healthy infants aged 5-11 months were randomized to provision of a bilingual book, a pamplet about the benefits to children being read to, and a literacy promoting guide. At follow up, 66% of intervention families read to their children at least three times per week compared to 24% of control families. Other work shows that reading to children in small groups increases their likelihood of completing high school.
(2) If being read to at a young age is beneficial, why not bring Amazon Echos into (i) homes, (ii) day care facilities, and (iii) pre-schools that have a proponderance of children at risk for low literacy? The narrators could be racially and ethnically diverse and the books read in English would be age-appropriate. Family listening at night before bed could be tried in homes, in small group daycare or pre-school settings where the "classrooms" have multiple activities happening at once could use ear phones in a reading corner . In daycare infant rooms, the Amazon Echo could be turned on at a low level just prior to nap time.
(3) This is important because of socioeconomic parity. We know ninth graders with low literacy level are less likely to complete high school and those with high literacy levels are more likely to go to college. Low literacy is associated incarceration, poor health, and economic compromise. Let’s try hard not to leave behind people living at the margin of society with the tech boom, let’s use devices to bring them inward to be happy, healthy, well-educated contributors to society.
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Brookline, MA, USA
The dimensions of the Challenge our solution addresses:
Our solution's stage of development:
What makes our solution innovative:
This is a new application of an existing technology that I hope will have a positive effect on childhood literacy not unlike the experiments where parents read to their young children. That is, we know that parents reading to infants and young children is helpful to increase their literacy, but we don't know if parents and children listening together to stories is useful. NB
NB Based on some prior research, cell phone use by parents during "reading time" may actually hinder this. So perhaps a young child listening by themselves would be useful. We simply don't know yet.
How technology is integral to our solution:
The technology provides the intervention (a book read aloud) that in prior studies has lead to better school preparedness among low income families. However, that book read aloud in prior studies was read by the childrens' parents. It will be important to compare results to prior randomized trial results if the work progresses to that part of the research agenda.
Our solution goals over the next 12 months:
Our goal is to determine if the introduction of an Amazon Echo into one of the venues noted (i.e., home, daycare, or pre-school) that has a proponderance of low income children leads to use for the purpose intended in this solution (i.e., infants through pre-school aged children listening to books) and how often. It is simply to determine whether the device is used in the manner intended in this study, how often, and users impression of the intervention following completion.
Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our solution to affect the lives of more people:
The solution described here is a phase I/II study where feasiblity, frequency of use, and user experience is studied. If we find that the product is used frequently as intended and the experience is positive for the ecosystem including the end user or their proxy, then a larger scale randomized controlled trial in one venue would be the next step
The key characteristics of the populations who will benefit from our solution in the next 12 months:
The regions where we will be operating in the next 12 months:
How we will reach and retain our customers or beneficiaries:
I will identify neighborhoods that have household census demographics that suggest infants and pre-school aged children are at risk for low literacy. Then I will find the pediatrician offices in these neighborhoods and approach them about collaborating in the project through helping to recruit 50 families.
How many people we are currently serving with our solution:
How many people we will be serving with our solution in the 12 months and the next 3 years:
I think based on effect sizes from the literature I reviewed for this that 50 families for a phase I/II study will be adequate. If the results of the phase I/II are favorable (e.g., people use the device for listening to books with their children three times/week or more and enjoy it), the a phase III study would be appropriate. This would need to enroll 200 families and require substantial followup as noted above.
How our solution team is organized:
How many people work on our solution team:
How many years we have been working on our solution:
Less than 1 year
The skills our solution team has that will enable us to attract the different resources needed to succeed and make an impact:
Knowledge of the literature, excellent interpersonal skills, and a passion to help a group of people who risk getting left behind with respect to health increasing technology.
Our revenue model:
I am sorry we have no MBA on our team, I do not have a revenue model. I am an MD with an extensive research background and I have a team that includes a designer and computer programmer.
Why we are applying to Solve:
I am applying to Solve as I believe that healthcare information technology can improve population health, though that is not so frequently evalauted. It will teach me something but more importantly it may help a huge number of people who simply by virtue of where they were born are at a societal disadvantage.
The key barriers for our solution:
My company does not yet have seed or venture funding. This lack of money will hinder our ability to complete the Solve study. Solve could help by donating money to the study or asking someone else to do that. Thank you for considering this request.
The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Solvers: