Ever wished there was a reading companion that could read books to your child? It would be especially helpful for parents who are not well-versed in Mandarin. We had the chance to review Luka Hero – a trusty little owl that reads Mandarin books, words and flashcards. We love LUKA and its versatility, and of course, it’s a “pet” that requires no clean-up.
Let’s check out the functions of Luka Hero and you might find it a helpful companion too.
Overview of Luka Hero
Luka reading robot is an adorable AI-powered gadget that reads, sings and even plays word games. Luka Hero comes with word cards, a mat and readers for younger preschoolers. It reads books in Chinese particularly those published in Chinese. Simply place a book at the feet of Luka the reading owl, and it would scan the cover and proceed with reading if it is deemed compatible.
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To check on the compatibility of titles, you can use the Luka reading app. It can recognise 20,000 English books and 70, 000 Chinese books and counting!
Luka Hero can also read words – both English and Mandarin when you point to it. We found this function especially helpful when reading or revising Chinese texts. Use the App to turn this function on.
Other functions include reading audiobooks, just select one via the App and it would regale listeners with ancient folktales, bedtime stories or even recite Tang poetry. It can also sing in multiple languages and play games. Luka also has a recording function to record what is read aloud and repeats it in the same voice.
It is a more advanced version compared to the Luka Mini and Luka, and of course slightly higher in price point.
Ease of Use of Luka Hero
Using Luka is quite an intuitive experience. It is also a very likeable design which makes it appealing to children. To switch it on, simply press its tail. This is also the control for volume, just turn the knob to adjust how loud you want Luka to be.
To talk to Luka, simply say “Luka Luka” or touch its tummy. It can hold a good conversation and it even knows the local attractions in Singapore.
The reading robot is also extremely responsive to touch and motion. Stroking its head and hugging makes it feel loved. It responds with “I love you too.” Awww. Touching its head also changes the language it can read in, if the book is one of the titles it can read.
Pressing its wings on the right side activates its reading mode. Just place a book at its feet and it can start reading upon scanning the cover page. Pressing the wings on the left activates its storytelling, poetry recital, singing modes as well as playing tracks and audiobooks stored via the app.
If you want a good laugh, just hold on to Luka’s yellow beak. It will start getting dizzy then fart or explode. Pressing the beak thrice goes into Magic Voice Change. Swing Luka upside down and you get Luka’s eyeballs rolling around.
It also plays games, one game younger ones enjoy is the “Shake and match”. However, it only continues the game if you let it read a book. What an incentive! Other games may seem complex for the younger children. One game we have tried is in a quiz format and tests our Chinese vocabulary skills. We have yet to fully use the game functions but hope to maximise them.
When you hear Luka sneezing, it means Luka is unwell and needs to be charged. This “pet” is irresistibly adorable including how it “sleeps” when you switch it off and “wakes up” when you turn it on.
Check out all of its functions complete with video instructions here.
What We Liked about Luka Hero
The functions we used the most were the reading mode and the point and read function. We used it mainly for Chinese books on our shelves and the library. It can read many books by Chinese publishers, unfortunately not so many local titles. Since Chinese was a “weaker” language in the household, we aimed to try to increase exposure to the language for familiarity.
Aside from reading out words we were unfamiliar with, it also translates and explains the meaning of the word. The character appears in the eyes of Luka, this makes learning easy and effective.
Luka Hero was perfect for independent reading. This removed the barrier of parents having insufficient time to read. Of course, it would be ideal if parents read along with their child, it was still quite a passive affair having a robot reading to him or her.
Both my sons also loved teasing Luka by turning it upside down, hearing it fart and explode to their amusement. I suppose this was a nice way of “roughhousing” and bonding. There are still many functions we have not used much and we would definitely want to explore the idioms function with the add-on idiom cards.
I also liked using the app that is paired with Luka to search for recommended audiobooks. Classics like Journey to the East, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, poetry, popular English reads can also be played either via the app or Luka.
There wasn’t much to gripe about an intelligent reading owl and a companion that “babysits” without the screen. But we found conversing with it a tad challenging at times as it couldn’t really understand what we were saying. Nonetheless, it is a good way of practising our mandarin as the best way to learn the language is through immersion – speaking, reading and listening!
Luka – A Reliable Buddy for Learning Chinese
I love Luka for its many functions and it has been a wonderful buddy to my children as well. It complements the role of the parent in facilitating the learning of languages and also brings an added dimension of fun to learning.
To get yours, head to this site and use our Little Day Out reader exclusive promo code <LITTLEDAYOUT20OFF>. Enjoy a 10% discount off the Luka-compatible books, use this code < LDO10offbooks>!