Japanese startup in joint effort to develop screening tool for kids

A young child engaged in a game at Toy Eight Playground. — Photos: LOW BOON TAT/THE STAR.

MANY parents need extra help to monitor and enhance their child’s development in the early years and to identify the risk factors delaying growth.

Toy Eight, an AI-backed edutech startup from Japan, has introduced the first-ever digital observation- based screening tool that works on a smartphone.

It is also part of the Greater Kuala Lumpur Live Lab initiative by InvestKL, an investment agency under the International Trade and Industry Ministry.

Toy Eight co-founder and chief executive officer Masaki Ishibashi said at a press conference that the Japanese government mandated development screening for children.

“This keeps parents more observant of their child’s growth at an early age.

“Unfortunately in Malaysia, many parents come to know too late about their child’s problems in progressing as development screening options are limited plus there is a lack of specialists.

“So we are turning to technology to help parents keep track of their children’s growth.”

Toy Eight’s screening tool is based on challenging, entertaining and unique games to help children feel comfortable when being tested.

Each game station is designed to assess children’s development in five areas – gross motor, fine motor, speech and language, cognitive development and social behaviour.

Toy Eight co-founder and chief creative officer Shun Matsuzaka said Universiti Malaya and Sunway University collaborated with the startup to make the screening tool suitable for all Malaysian children.

“Both top universities and Japanese experts spent months to finalise and localise the test items to ensure accurate screening.”

Matsuzaka added that they had also established a screening programme for nurseries and kindergartens that registered with them.

Parents are welcome to bring their children along for screening at Toy Eight Playground in the Gardens Mall, Kuala Lumpur.

For details, visit www.toyeight.com.

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