Dictionary App Literāte Will Change the Way We Read eBooks
If you’ve ever asked Siri for a bus line schedule or a lasagna recipe only to be redirected to the weather forecast and a Yelp review, you understand how frustrating it is when technology fails the nuances of language. While new advancements are always emerging, especially the ones we see here in the edtech industry, it seems computers are still a long way from understanding the context within words. That is, until Contextors releases their latest project—a dictionary app called Literāte.
Literāte is an e-book dictionary application that promises to give a reader one definition for each word they look up—the right one. For example, if a child is reading a Harry Potter book and chooses to look up the word “Potter” in the character’s name, Literāte will tell the child that “Potter” is a proper noun, not a name for someone who makes ceramics.
“Our product is based on deeply analyzed text,” said Contextors CEO Dror Yashpe. “You need to be specific when you want to learn something.”
The app also includes games to help language learners practice their vocabulary while they read. Literate is designed with classroom use in mind and has a special teacher portal for instructors to track their students’ progress.
Josef Blumenfeld of EdTech180 believes Contextors might render competing e-book dictionary apps obsolete. “If Amazon ‘Literāted’ their books,” said Blumenfeld, “you could see a whole new world opened up to them.”
The program is currently in beta testing with Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL) and has reached out to several hundred teachers around the world, from China to Kathmandu.
Yashpe co-founded Contextors six years ago in Israel as a language processing technology to teach computers English through parsing. “You teach the computer English, then suddenly you realize the computer knows more English than you,” he said. That’s when he and his partners created Literāte as a vertical to utilize this technology on a consumer level.
“Once you get infected with this fascination with text you get stuck,” said Yashpe. But he’s okay being “stuck” with this passion for words. “It’s the main thing we do. We love it.”
Contextors is currently based in Tel-Aviv and expanding rapidly. The company is planning to come to Boston soon with hopes of “adding jobs, renting space and growing Boston’s economy” said Blumenfeld.
Jennifer is a Boston-based freelance journalist who has covered emerging fashion and New York Fashion Week for Papercut magazine. When she isn't talking people's ears off, she studies art history and reconstructs thrift clothes into her own designs.