Financing 30 million Donghai returned to build robots to develop children’s brains

AsiaIndustrial NetNews: Baby stared blankly at the little white man in front of him, not daring to touch it. Guo Changchen grabbed his little hand and touched the little man’s leg. Suddenly, the music sounded, and the villain danced with it, and a cute expression appeared on his “face”.

This time Baby is happy, and Guo Changchen is very excited to dance with it. “Our husband and wife spend a lot of time teaching our children to exercise, but he has not been cooperative. Now he can follow the villain and move by himself.”

This little white man was independently developed by GuoRobot. At this point, 14 months have passed since he started his business.

In August 2014, he started developing Keeko, an educational Robot for children under the age of 10. Children can use touch, voice and other methods to interact with the robot, and can also use card programming to develop logic and language skills.

At present, the team has cooperated with 300 kindergartens and sold more than 1,000 robots, each priced at 6,800 yuan.

Financing 30 million Donghai returned to build robots to develop children’s brains

Note: Guo Changchen promises that the data in the article is correct, and is responsible for its authenticity. Pencil Road has backed up the recording shorthand to endorse the objectivity of the content.

worry about educating children

In May 2013, Guo Changchen’s child was born. Joy surrounds the couple, and their conversation is becoming more and more unavoidable about their children. A few months later, the two began to discuss their children’s education, so they bought some related books to read.

Unexpectedly, the more I looked, the more worried I became. Guo graduated from the University of Tokyo in 2003, majoring in artificial intelligence. He is well aware that the human brain’s neural connections are 60% developed by the age of 3 and 80% completed by the age of 6.

Therefore, early childhood is very important for children’s brain development, but how to nurture children during this period, the two did not get any effective information from the book.

At that time, Guo Changchen had left SUN Microsystems and was researching the e-commerce SaaS platform in Zhongguancun, but his eyes were always on the field of artificial intelligence.

Financing 30 million Donghai returned to build robots to develop children’s brains

◆Guo Changchen and his Keeko educational robot

He found that the Silicon Valley media began to talk a lot about artificial intelligence, some companies in the United States have also developed related robots one after another, and speech recognition, semantic analysis and deep learning technologies have also made great progress. He feels that the time has come to enter the field of artificial intelligence and start a business.

For more than half a year, Guo Changchen has been considering the direction of entrepreneurship.

Thinking that you have been worrying about the education of your children, can you apply artificial intelligence to the field of early childhood education? 0-10 years old is not only a critical period for brain development, but also the parents of children at this stage have high willingness to pay, and the market has broad prospects.

Considering that artificial intelligence is non-standardized, it needs a hardware to carry it. After some thinking, Guo roughly decided to make an intelligent robot product to help children develop creativity.

After having an idea, from the beginning of 2014, Guo Changchen chatted with the parents around him to understand their needs.

Guo found that parents generally have two major needs: one is to have something to accompany their children and interact with them when parents are busy; the other is to help parents communicate effectively with their children.

At the same time, he realized that the product cannot be regarded as a toy that can only sing and play videos, and parents will not pay for such things.

There must be creative content to carry it into a teaching aid, which can teach children literacy, numeracy, and cultivate their logic, so that the product has a longer lifespan.

In terms of appearance design, for safety reasons, Guo Changchen envisaged that the robot must have an arc structure all over the body, no sharp objects, and the shell material must be non-toxic; secondly, the brightness of the screen should not be too high, and it should be protected from blue light; The gap should be very small to prevent children’s fingers from inserting.

During the research, Guo also specially prepared a lot of pictures for the children to choose. He found that children prefer pictures of pets, so he decided to design the robot to be more like a pet. In addition, the product is too high to make the child feel resistant, so he controlled the height of the robot to about 50 cm.

After gaining an in-depth understanding of the market, Guo started developing an educational robot, Keeko, in August 2014, which targets children under the age of 10.

Financing 30 million Donghai returned to build robots to develop children’s brains

◆Keeko educational robot appearance

Card programming idea was born

Relying on his personal connections, Guo Changchen quickly formed a software and hardware development team. Its members are experienced, so product design has been on track since October.

At the same time, Guo is constantly looking for content producers. Since Taiwan’s preschool education level is better than that of the mainland, Guo relies on Taiwanese friends to learn about local education companies.

At the end of 2014, Guo acquired an early childhood education company in Taiwan whose founder has more than 20 years of early childhood education experience. They are responsible for the development of content such as cognition, language, and creativity courses.

In the early days of the project, Guo realized that if the child could only touch the screen of the robot for a long time, it would be easy to get bored and lose interest. At that time, the technical team thought of letting children improve their creativity through programming, but no one knew how to achieve it.

Things turned around in the Spring Festival of 2015. At that time, Guo Changchen had just finished playing poker with his friends. On the way home, he kept thinking why people never get tired of playing poker for hundreds of years? “Because they have countless combinations and the goal is clear – to win.”

This gave Guo an idea. “We can give children a lot of cards, each of which represents a specific content, and let them use the cards to form different scenes and sentences, which are then displayed on the robot’s screen. We call it ‘Little Programming’.”

Financing 30 million Donghai returned to build robots to develop children’s brains

◆Cards used in “Little Program”

Although the idea is there, it needs to design a programming language and a customized artificial intelligence middle layer, so it has experienced some twists and turns. The interaction was optimized repeatedly, and the technical team spent a long time here. It was not until the end of 2015 that the “Little Programming” system was developed.

At first, the team did not know what to let the children make up, and only made cards describing characters, animals, plants, and actions based on their feelings, and asked the children to combine sentences and scenes.

But children are not very interested in this way. The team can only keep testing and finding the right direction.

The course design is still being explored, but the product development is going smoothly. The prototype of Keeko was shipped in April 2015, and the team also received an angel round of financing of 10 million yuan at this time.

But the robots at that time were fluent in their movements,motorThere are still big problems in terms of noise and control systems. Through continuous iteration, product quality has been improved. Half a year later, they started small batch production and provided more than 200 robots for kindergartens and parents to try out.

Financing 30 million Donghai returned to build robots to develop children’s brains

◆The teacher uses the Keeko educational robot to teach the children

During the same period, the team developed an APP and a WeChat service account. Teachers and parents can use these two tools to control the robot and update the course content in real time.

According to user opinions, the team also added courses such as Chinese studies, dance art, and English to the robot. In January 2016, the team received 30 million yuan in Series A financing, led by SAIF Investment Fund, followed by Cross-Strait Youth Venture Fund.

Half a year later, “Little Programming” made a breakthrough. The team found that the independent programming class had a strong sense of learning, and the children would be rejected. So they transplanted the original independent programming class into the common learning content such as cognition, language, and dance art.

According to the curriculum, the child can choose the corresponding card, paste it on the sensor area of ​​the body, and say what he wants to express.

Through a combination of several different cards, children can express a complete and logical sentence, and the content of what different children say is different, so as to cultivate their active creativity.

Financing 30 million Donghai returned to build robots to develop children’s brains

◆The child is interacting with the Keeko educational robot

The product is officially launched

After iterations, the software and hardware of the robot have been tested, and mass production began in July 2016.

This is a 48-centimeter-tall white man with a maximum gap of less than 3 mm at the joints, a maximum volume of 75 decibels, and a fuselage screen that filters 80% of blue light.

Through the camera, 8 touch points and semantic analysis technology, the robot can respond to the child’s language and actions accordingly. Built-in specialized courses can also help children improve language, cognition, logical thinking and other abilities.

Three months later, the team obtained a round of A+ financing of 30 million yuan, led by Lu Zhi Capital and followed by Saifu Investment Fund. At this time, their marketing ideas have also changed.

Before that, the target users of Teams were families. However, in the small-scale trial promotion, they found that the number of home users is too large to efficiently reach a large number of parents, and the product experience cost is high. The kindergarten is the most likely place for parents, and as an educational institution, it is easy to identify with their products.

In addition, since the production line was being adjusted and optimized at that time, the kindergarten was the best place for them to contact children and parents when the output was limited, which was conducive to expanding the influence of the product. Therefore, the team decided to target the user group to kindergartens.

After the product was officially launched, Guo Changchen expanded the market while increasing production capacity. From September last year to February this year, the robot sold a total of 1,000 units, covering 300 kindergartens, with a price of 6,800 yuan per unit.

At present, the output and quality of robots have been stable. This year, their main task is to expand channels and expand brand influence. They will focus on promotion in kindergartens, early childhood education institutions, and mother and child centers, and gradually introduce products into families.

The Links:   3N3403 3HNA015202-001

Published on 08/30/2022