AutoCognita Advances in $7M Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE

Press Release ( - Hong Kong, China - Jul 18, 2017 - AutoCognita, an EdTech innovator with a mission to change lives by delivering scalable literacy solutions to underserved adults and children around the world, today announced that it has been named as one of eight teams advancing in the $7M Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE presented by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, a global competition challenging teams to develop mobile applications for existing smart devices that result in the greatest increase in literacy skills among participating adult learners. AutoCognita, headquartered in Hong Kong, China, and Bellingham, WA, USA, with four core team members, is one of eight semifinalists selected from a field of 109 registered teams.

AutoCognita is comprised of designers, educators, and developers and was formed in 2015 to solve the global literacy crisis.  The team competed in both the Adult Literacy XPRIZE and the Global Learning XPRIZE, a separate competition targeting children in less developed countries.  AutoCognita is the only team reaching the semifinals in both competitions, marking the first time in XPRIZE history that a single team has reached this milestone in two separate XPRIZE challenges.

Available for free on Google Play, AutoCognita’s learning app offers a complete curriculum across literacy and numeracy topics.  The extensive literacy curriculum covers topics ranging from alphabet, phonics, word, sentence, to comprehension and conversation, while the numeracy curriculum covers counting, addition, subtraction, and multiplication.  In addition, students learn core life skills through images of daily encounters, AR-assisted visual recognition, speech-to-text conversion and sharing of text messages through the social network.

We are excited and honored to be chosen as semifinalists in two XPRIZE competitions, marking a first in XPRIZE history.

Frank Ho, Team Leader, AutoCognita

“Our team was established specifically to compete in XPRIZE.  We are not affiliated with any existing education businesses or institutions.  Our fresh perspective allows us to push the boundary beyond existing EdTech solutions.  We built our solution from scratch based on five core principles: research-based, constructivist theory, innovative pedagogy, multi-sensory engagement, and minimalistic UX design.  Since our solution is effective for a wide range of audiences – adults and children, learners with different language and cultural backgrounds, and students with varying literacy skills – we decided to compete in both the Global Learning XPRIZE and the Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Learning XPRIZE,” said Frank Ho, team leader, AutoCognita. “We are excited and honored to be chosen as semifinalists in both competitions.”

Starting mid-July, the eight semi-finalist teams enter a 15-month long field testing phase across three partner cities – Los Angeles, Dallas and Philadelphia – that includes a total of 12,000 adult-learner participants who read English at a third-grade reading level or below, and at least 750 volunteers to onboard participants and coordinate the download of learning apps. The Adult Literacy XPRIZE will distribute the learning solutions to participating adult learners who will test the semi-finalist teams’ software, with each participant receiving access to one randomly-assigned app. Following 12 months of consistent use, a post-test will be administered to determine the highest gains in literacy achieved by the participants. Participants’ app usage, responses to monthly surveys and self-assessments will also factor in the judges’ final evaluation.

“With the announcement of these semi-finalist teams, we are one step closer to transforming the lives of 36 million adults with low literacy skills in the U.S. by putting today’s cutting-edge learning tools directly in the hands of those who need them most,” said Shlomy Kattan, the senior director of the Adult Literacy XPRIZE.

Upon completion of the field testing, the top mobile applications will be available to the users in the United States for complimentary use for 18 months. The selection of up to five finalists will be announced in May 2018 and winners will be announced early 2019. The $3M Grand Prize will be awarded to the team with the best performance across all adult learners, over the 12-month field test. Two $1M Achievement Prizes will also be awarded to the two teams with the best performance in each of the two key demographic groups: native English speakers and English language learners. An additional $500K will be awarded to up to five finalist teams.

Following the awarding of the Grand Prize and Bonus Prizes, cities across the U.S. will compete to encourage their adult learners to download and use the winning applications, using tailored education, marketing, and outreach campaigns. A $500K purse will be split among all finalist teams that meet the minimum performance benchmark to advance to the Cities Competition. A $1M prize will be awarded to the city that encourages the greatest percentage of its adult learners to download and use any of the finalist solutions over a six-month period.

AutoCognita’s literacy and numeracy app is available on Google Play:

For more information about AutoCognita, please visit

For more information about the Adult Literacy XPRIZE, visit

For more information about the Global Learning XPRIZE, visit


About AutoCognita

AutoCognita is an EdTech innovator with a mission to change lives by delivering scalable literacy solutions to underserved adults and children around the world. The team, in addition to the Adult Literacy XPRIZE and the Global Learning XPRIZE, is also competing in the IBM Watson AI XPRIZE to develop an AI-powered writing assistant.



XPRIZE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the global leader in designing and implementing innovative competition models to solve the world’s grandest challenges. XPRIZE utilizes a unique combination of gamification, crowdsourcing, incentive prize theory, and exponential technologies as a formula to make 10x (vs. 10%) impact in the grand challenge domains facing our world.  XPRIZE’s philosophy is that—under the right circumstances— igniting rapid experimentation from a variety of diverse lenses is the most efficient and effective method to driving exponential impact and solutions to grand challenges.  Active competitions include the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE, the $20M NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, the $15M Global Learning XPRIZE, the $10M Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE, the $7M Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, the $7M Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE, the $5M IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, the $1.75M Water Abundance XPRIZE and the $1M Anu and Naveen Jain Women’s Safety XPRIZE. For more information, visit

Source : AutoCognita
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