SBIR Phase I: An Augmented Reality Language Learning Game

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Inherent Games LLC
2745 Elm Avenue
Boulder, CO 80305
Principal Investigator, Firm POC


This SBIR Phase I project proposes to develop a language learning game for mobile devices that uses augmented reality technology. The game will teach foreign language concepts (from languages like English and Spanish) in a unique, fun way that radically departs from traditional classroom instruction. Inherent Games' unique pedagogical method, called Embodied Categorical Scaffolding, allows for engaging gameplay that utilizes actual physical motion to best reflect the patterns of neurological activation that occur when one uses language. For example, recent research shows that hearing (or reading) verbs of manual motion like throw and toss activates the motor cortex responsible for actually throwing or tossing a physical object. Because touchscreens on mobile devices allow the user to physically touch and manipulate on-screen objects, they provide an unprecedented avenue to harness the potential of this innate cognitive strategy. Furthermore, the game will utilize augmented reality technology so that the user can learn with the help of cues from their surrounding environment. This application of technology ultimately provides an enriched learning experience for the user (whether at home or in the classroom) and represents a novel means for learning a foreign language. The commercial impact of this venture is potentially enormous. The initial prototype will be fully scalable to accommodate multiple languages, extensive vocabulary domains within a given language (e.g., asking for directions, eating at restaurants, seeing the doctor, etc.), and even more complex language concepts such as tense and aspect. The game will also include a (massively) multiplayer component, where users, classes, schools, or even school districts can compete against one another for achievements and status points. Given skyrocketing demand in the United States and abroad for foreign language instruction, as well as the game's unique utilization of embodiment, this app could be poised to make a huge impact on the language-learning market.