Early education has a monumental
impact on the cognitive development of children. During this crucial phase,
which ends around age eight, children develop the majority of the skills they
will use during the rest of their lives. But less than two-thirds of Latin
American children receive early education, according to a UNESCO report from
2015. Given the rapid penetration of mobile technologies, there soon may be more
children in Latin America with access to smartphones and tablets than to
This expansive, technological phenomenon is exactly what the young Venezuelan Edison Durán is taking advantage of to reduce the educational divide for young Latin Americans, through the development of PleiQ: en educational game that combines the benefits of traditional and digital games. Thanks to this project, Durán has been named as one of MIT Technology Review, Spanish edition´s Innovators Under 35 Latin America 2017.
PleiQ integrates both tangible and digital components. The physical aspect consists of a set of eight blocks with letters and numbers, among other symbols. The digital component is a mobile application, available for tablets and smartphones. This combination, along with the use of augmented reality (AR), transforms each symbol illustrated on the blocks into an interactive, 3D cartoon. This way, electronic devices are transformed into educational allies and children can learn by interacting and participating in their own education and development. PleiQ not only increases children´s participation but also help parents to ensure that their children are making appropriate use of smart devices.
This technology allows users to explore surrounding objects in real time, and by combining these with virtual elements, creates an experience which goes beyond reality. Based on the benefits of this technological experience and Gardner´s multiple intelligence theory, PleiQ stimulates different cognitive abilities.
The tech entrepreneur explains: "Augmented reality can give people superpowers and transform our lives." But after working for the advertising industry on applying AR to an adult demographic, Durán decided to create PleiQ, since, as he points out, "the effect on children was magical, it got them very excited."
Durán´s team has already initiated mass production of the physical component as well as an online store. To date, PleiQ is available in Chile where it is being used in several schools. He has signed agreements with distributors in Argentina, Ecuador and México to sell the product, he hopes, within this year. His objective is to expand internationally and revolutionize early education.
The director of the Parquesoft National Network (Colombia) and jury member for the Innovators Under 35 Latin America 2017 competition, Alfredo Roldán, highlights the excellence of Durán´s project, which "offers great market opportunities and represents a sector interested in contributing to child development."