Sesame Street Using Technology to Boost Literacy


This was inevitable, or long overdue depending on whom you ask: Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit producer of  “Sesame Street,” and the children’s speech recognition company ToyTalk are joining forces to explore how to use conversational technology to teach preschool literacy.

The two sides plan to announce Monday that they have a signed a two-year partnership agreement wedding technology to literacy, according to The New York Times.

Sesame Workshop has been testing prototype mobile apps that use ToyTalk’s proprietary PullString technology, a combination of speech recognition meant to understand children’s speech patterns, artificial intelligence and prewritten scripts responding to what a child has said, the Times said.

The first products resulting from the partnership could be available early next year, Miles Ludwig, managing director of Sesame Workshop’s Content Innovation Lab, told the Times. Products that more formally teach children to read will take longer.

While brands and organizations now use technology as a PR and marketing vehicle, the Sesame Workshop/ToyTalk partnership demonstrates that there’s a huge opportunity for companies to use technology to educate their constituents.

There could be even bigger opportunity for B2B companies, whose raison d'être is to help their customers and prospects to do their jobs better.

However, regardless of your market, using technology to educate and inform your customers—as opposed to simply starting a conversation that may or may not go anywhere—is something that many brands could stand to do.

Helping to educate your customers puts your brand in a more favorable light, compared with your competitors. It extends the number of reasons why customers come to rely on your company and enhances your brand’s reputation as a thought leader.

It’s a win-win. Now just to figure out the most effective way to harness your technological prowess top educate your constituents.

Follow Matthew Schwartz on Twitter: @mpsjourno1