May 23, 2022

Research, Technology & Innovation

The global reach of Florida innovations

Mike Vogel | 8/31/2021

Augmented Reality Language Learning

Entrepreneur SARA SMITH

Company MARVL

With no background to speak of in business, entrepreneurship or technology, Sara Smith has spent the last couple years as a part-time entrepreneur starting up a technology business.

Fortunately, it’s based on what she knows thoroughly: Learning a second language.

Smith is a University of South Florida assistant professor of learning English as a second language and language education. She took a research interest in adapting augmented reality — Pokemon GO is an example — to teach kids a new language. USF gave her a $5,000 research grant. Her results left her impressed by the potential, as it did USF. “The University of South Florida is so supportive of innovation,” she says. “They encouraged me to think of it as not only a research tool but also as a business.”

She has a provisional patent. USF gave her a separate $25,000 grant to commercialize the work. Starting a business has been a challenge for the new inventor and company founder. “A huge learning curve for me — I freely tell everyone,” she says.

With the USF money, Smith was able to make the learning more enjoyable and effective by hiring an artist and a professional programmer with “gamification” knowledge. Her company, MARVL, this year moved from beta testing among friends and family to a beta test in Manatee public schools. MARVL features an interplay of Spanish and English vocab flashcards and animated, bilingual augmented reality “teachers.” Florida, third in the nation in number of students learning English, is a natural match for her idea.

She hopes to expand it beyond the two virtual characters created so far and add languages. MARVL, by the way, stands for Multimedia Augmented Reality Vocabulary Learning. “I really wanted to think of the way it feels when you use augmented reality. It really feels magical to me,” she says.

Tags: Around Florida, Research & Development, Technology/Innovation, Innovation, Feature

 

Florida Business News

Florida Trend Video Pick

Small business confidence remains high in Florida
Small business confidence remains high in Florida

More insurers seek statewide rate increases; Despite recent challenges, Florida's small business owners are optimistic; Boston Celtics owner donates to help Florida's manatees; Elevated travel expected for Memorial Day weekend; National Hurricane Center begins daily tropical outlooks.

Earlier Videos | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

If Ron DeSantis ran for President in the 2024 elections, would you vote for him?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Unsure
  • Other (Please share your comments in the comment section below)

See Results

Florida Trend Media Company
490 1st Ave S
St Petersburg, FL 33701
727.821.5800

© Copyright 2022 Trend Magazines Inc. All rights reserved.