‘Talk With Me Baby’ App Available This Summer

June 29, 2015
It’s a sobering statistic: Only 34% of Georgia third graders read at grade level by the end of the school year. This is important because third grade is when kids begin reading to learn instead of learning to read.

The Talk With Me Baby app developed by Georgia Tech and our partners encourages parents and other caregivers to talk with children at an early age as a way to increase the odds of them becoming proficient readers. According to Get Georgia Reading, language-rich adult-child interactions, beginning at birth, have a direct impact on social-emotional and cognitive development and language and literacy ability.

Talk With Me Baby includes push notifications to remind caregivers to incorporate talking into every day activitieslike bath time or a diaper change. Experts like Emory School of Medicine associate professor Jennifer Stapel-Wax call it “language nutrition.”

“It seems like a simple concept, yet not all parents know this,” said Stapel-Wax, who helped create Talk With Me Baby. “If you think about the psychological aspects of nudging people to do the right thing, sometimes that’s all they need is a nudge in the right direction.”

The app also has instructional videos, and tracks milestones in a child’s development.

“It tries to give them (caregivers) a level of engagement - instead of staying on Facebook and Instagram - to actually talk to the child,” said Darryl Wright, research engineer at the Georgia Tech Research Institute. Wright’s team developed Talk With Me Baby, which is expected to be available this summer on iOS and later this year on Android.

The app is part of the Georgia Tech’s Quick Wins program, a partnership between the Institute and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta that solves pediatric healthcare problems within 18 months. The program has spawned several successful projects, including iEAT. The pediatric feeding disorder app allows a clinician to take data, while guiding them through a protocol to encourage the child to take food by mouth; it also saves families and clinicians time and money.

"We have really enjoyed working with the Marcus Autism Center on these apps. It is really exciting to see them in use and making a difference," said Leanne West, Georgia Tech's Chief Engineer for Pediatric Technologies.

Dr. William Sharp, who helped create iEAT for the Marcus Autism Center’s Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program, says the technology will revolutionize treatment.

“One of the things that’s nice about interdisciplinary collaboration is the sharing of ideas, the pushing of boundaries beyond what one discipline or one area may be thinking about,” said Sharp.

Since its inception in 2012, Georgia Tech and Children’s have developed four Quick Wins projects.