The main challenge of learning a second language is finding opportunities to practice and gain confidence communicating in a meaningful way. Most language learners never quite make it past memorizing vocabulary and grammar rules. In fact, only one in 25 adult language learners will achieve native-like fluency.
Waterloo start-up Milao Language
has created a solution that is built on the latest language acquisition and artificial intelligence research. It allows users to engage in online “chats” with an intelligent virtual avatar, simulating real-life interactions like ordering food at a restaurant. Milao’s software analyzes the learner’s input, detects linguistic mistakes and provides instant feedback. The technology helps learners build confidence to become fluent communicators in real-life settings.
OCE initially supported Milao Language through a Voucher for Commercialization (VC) to help them move from a prototype to a beta trial with over 250 language students at the University of Waterloo. OCE is currently supporting Milao with an Entrepreneurship Fellowship in partnership with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).
With the Spanish version of their product now commercially available, Milao Language is planning to release an English version by year end. In addition to expanding their language offerings to French and Mandarin, the company plans to add voice recognition technology to their chat tool. Milao is currently engaged in talks with potential customers from universities across North America and Brazil.
Return on Innovation
- Currently employs eight people
- Projects hiring up to 25 people by 2017
- OCE Investment: $75,000
OCE©2014 Last updated 10/2014