The Magic of MIT Storybook: KAIA Helps Develop and Deploy Robots that Teach Children to Read


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The MIT Media Lab’s Personal Robots group developed the Storybook project to address the challenge of children who learn to read later than their peers and struggle to catch up academically. By using robots and machine learning, the project aimed to encourage children to engage in dialogic reading, helping them develop reading skills at an early age and transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.”

Dialogic reading is an interactive approach in which an adult and a child have a dialogue while reading together, resulting in a more engaging and productive learning experience. The Storybook project sought to integrate a robot into this process to offer a novel approach to teaching children how to read.

The Challenge

Develop and deploy the robot and the accompanying learning programming as a seamless learning experience that promoted interaction with the child to foster reading skills development.

digital and physical product development of MIT Storybook


KAIA and MIT worked together to develop a solution that combined both physical and digital product development to create an engaging dialogic reading experience for children.

Physical Product Development

KAIA focused on designing the robot and tablet interface to encourage the dialogic reading process intuitively. They decided to use commercial off-the-shelf components for a 50-unit production run, including a Jibo personal robot, tablet computer, microphone, camera, and accompanying power supplies. They used 3D printing to quickly mock up and test product sections, and the final platform employed low-pressure resin casting to reduce tooling costs.

Digital Product Development

MIT had already developed the pedagogical story text and programming to choose the best story line for each child’s reading level. KAIA’s role was to create a child-friendly illustration style to bring the stories to life. They developed reusable 3D sets and characters that could be viewed from different angles, enabling the rapid production of 250 original illustrations. KAIA then codified the illustrations and standardized the onscreen story text placement to simplify production.

Working with educators, MIT had already developed the pedagogical story text, along with programing to choose the story line that best suited the child’s reading level. KAIA was tasked with developing a child-friendly illustration style to bring the story to life. Developing reusable 3D sets and characters that could be viewed from different angles allowed the rapid production of 250 original illustrations. The illustrations were then codified, and the onscreen story text placement standardized to simplify production.


The Storybook project was tested in Atlanta classrooms, with positive results that demonstrated the effectiveness of robots in engaging children in dialogical learning.

Educator and Student Reception

Both educators and students in the test classrooms responded well to the Storybook project. The teachers observed increased engagement in reading among the children, and the students found the experience enjoyable and beneficial.

Proven Effectiveness

The successful tests in Atlanta classrooms confirmed the effectiveness of robots in engaging children in dialogical learning, highlighting the potential of the Storybook project to revolutionize the way children learn to read.

How KAIA Can Help You

The success of the collaboration between KAIA and MIT demonstrates the value of partnering with an experienced design and innovation consultancy like KAIA. Whether you are an organization, institution, or individual with a groundbreaking concept, KAIA can help bring your vision to life.

Expertise in Design and Product Development

KAIA’s experience in design, product development, and innovation can be invaluable to your project. They have a track record of working with cutting-edge technologies and methodologies, ensuring that your project is at the forefront of innovation.

Customized Solutions

KAIA provides unique solutions tailored to your specific needs and goals. By working closely with you, we ensure that the end product is not only innovative but also aligned with your vision and objectives.

Collaborative Approach

KAIA’s collaborative approach ensures that all stakeholders are involved in the development process. This ensures a more comprehensive understanding of the project’s goals and requirements, leading to more effective solutions.

Interdisciplinary Team

KAIA’s interdisciplinary team of designers, engineers, and strategists can bring diverse perspectives and expertise to your project. This diversity fosters creativity and innovation, resulting in more effective and groundbreaking solutions.

Proven Track Record

KAIA’s successful collaboration with MIT on the Storybook project is just one example of their proven track record in design and product development. Their experience in bringing innovative ideas to life can help you transform your concept into a reality, making a meaningful impact on your target audience.