Luka, The Picture Book Reading Robot

Luka is a little owl shaped robot that reads picture books to your kids. Literally, it reads the book—you place a picture book in front of Luka and it reads the title. You turn the page and it starts reading the words on the open pages. Turn to any page in the book and Luka immediately recognizes the page you’re on and starts reading it. You don’t have to purchase special books for this—it works with the books you already have. Kids can read picture books on their own with a little owl robot, even when you’re busy.

The tech behind this is surprisingly clever. Ling Technology Inc, the company behind Luka, scans tens of thousands of picture books and extracts the text—around 60,000 books are already in their database. When you open to a page in a picture book, Luka sees the page with its camera, quickly recognizes the page, and starts reading the words. That makes it fast and ensures it’s accurate as the device doesn’t have to process the text on the fly with local hardware.

Luka comes with a built-in speaker and battery. It even responds to various actions—you can pat the owl robot’s head and rub its tummy for a cute reaction. Parents can even tell Luka to say things through a smartphone app, so you can have the cute owl robot say “Let’s go to bed!” or “Brushing your teeth is important!” It’s adorable.

This smart owl launched last year in China, and now the company is working on a US launch later in 2019—the tech is ready to go, but getting rights to the picture books is taking some time. Expect it to cost around $99, but multiple models will be available at multiple price points.