We had a chance to speak to
Esther Giordano, the Creator / Speech Language Pathologist at
about Junganew: A Herd of Sounds "S"
Could you share a challenging factor of the development or marketing process?
We made the decision early on that we wanted an organic feel with the app - to make something that felt as natural as possible in a digital environment. When we saw Alina Chau's watercolor paintings we knew we had found our artist. But, animating watercolor artwork in an interactive environment is a challenge. Actually, we're not sure it's ever been done quite the way we've done it with Junganew - there were no guides. Quite frankly, we just had to figure out how to do it.
Do you plan on releasing your app to other platforms as well?
Yes. We are planning to eventually be on every platform possible. The future is bright.
If you could describe your app in ONE word, what would it be and why?
Junganew: A Herd of Sounds™ focuses on one target sound per app using a traditional articulation therapy approach. The sound is taught within a social context using language immersive activities to teach concepts such as phonological awareness, auditory memory, auditory discrimination, describing, listening for clues, morphological endings such as plurals, and much more. Therefore, rather than introducing a sound as an isolated lesson, we are incorporating it as part of an inclusive language-filled environment for functional communication. This comprehensive approach has also been taken with the production of the app by utilizing the latest technology, hand painting all of the artwork, and creating original musical strategies to facilitate an effective learning experience.
Were there any unexpected surprises post-release of your app?
Winning the Platinum Award for Best Mobile App Awards! We're really proud that we were recognized over other developers such as LeapFrog, and Dr. Seuss by OceanHouse Media. These are some of the most successful developers in the world.
What features do you hope to roll out to your app in the future?
We're going to begin by releasing apps that address all of the other sounds in the English language. Simultaneously, we are going to improve our apps as there are advances in open source technologies such as speech recognition, and motion capture. Ultimately, our goal is to include a multisensory approach by incorporating embodied cognition activities and oral motor & sensory awareness skills to facilitate the whole child.
What is the coolest or most innovative feature of your app?
We're really proud of our original interactive Mirror Models™. We created advanced technology to facilitate the child's ability to interact with our loving cast of characters via turn taking, imitating, and sequencing… skills necessary to promote functional speech production. We do this by capturing the video image of the child, and projecting that next to our animated characters. The child then has the ability to then record themselves vocalizing the target sound, self monitoring their production, thereby increasing self awareness.
What is your favorite mobile app to date and which have inspired you?
It's so difficult to build something new, especially as an independent developer. So, we're really inspired by people taking creative chances such as Nosy Crow & Moonbot Studios for their ability to tell an interactive story, Little Bit Studios for their beautifully designed suite of apps, and Disney for their unbelievable Disney Interactive.
What was your main objective or motivation for creating your mobile app?
The Junganew: A Herd of Sounds™ series of apps was born out of my experience as a Speech Language Pathologist when I realized that many children were feeling insecure about learning their sounds using the common clinical practice. I decided to approach it from a different angle by creating characters to represent all of the sounds of the English language. For this specific app for “S" the characters exhibit similar oral features to the “TH" and “S" sound. For example, our character Theo the tree frog represents the “TH" sound, because frogs stick their tongues out when they catch flies. Miss Snake represents the target sound of “S", because snakes often hiss. I did this because many of my clients with articulation deficits produce a “TH" sound when they should be producing the “S" sound. Rather than just drilling the target sound children are compelled to relate to our characters. This approach provides an opportunity for them to experience their sounds in an interactive, playful, and meaningful manner. When I first did this with my clients the results were astounding. The children immediately felt empowered. Something just clicked. I then thought, “Wouldn't this be a fun way for ALL children to learn their sounds?"
Click here to view Junganew: A Herd of Sounds "S"