Sunway University and the Toy Eight Team Up to Develop an Early Childhood Development Assessment Tool

Researchers from the Department of Psychology at the School of Medical and Life Sciences, collaborated with Japanese artificial intelligence (AI) edutech company Toy Box Creation and Technology (Toy Eight) to develop a digital development assessment tool for parents.

Head of Psychology, Dr Woo Pei Jun and psychology lecturer, Dr Wo Su Woan partnered with Toy Eight to produce a phone app for parents to conduct psychological assessments for early childhood development of adaptive behaviour skills such as language skills, cognitive skills and motor skills.

The app employs an AI system that can recognise development strengths and suggest personalised learning content to facilitate emerging talents in pre-school children.  It is also able to identify any developmental concerns and suggest areas for further professional assessments to decide if any early intervention is needed. The impact of this collaboration addresses the gaps in accessibility and affordability of developmental assessments in Southeast Asia as professionals who typically conduct these assessments are limited and usually too costly for most parents.

This partnership was facilitated by Sunway iLabs (iLabs Foundry) for the Greater Kuala Lumpur (GKL) Live Lab, a platform for foreign companies to test novel solutions for current global problems together with local companies and academic researchers. This initiative was built on InvestKL’s Business Ecosystem Collaboration (BEC) programme. Further information on this collaboration can be found here.

For this effort, Dr Woo and Dr Wo both won the 2021 Outstanding Achievement in University-Industry Collaboration Award on 21 January 2022. They were two of the seven recipients of the award given by Sunway iLabs.

Dr Woo was elated with the win and expressed that she is very thrilled with the collaboration, especially when it could help parents and teachers, as well as the larger community in Malaysia. “I’m all for promoting applied psychology in various fields. In my area of developmental psychology, I am passionate about improving access to psychological assessments for pre-school children to identify critical needs for their socio-cognitive development so that early intervention can be provided where necessary. We are very happy to work with Toy Eight founder, Shun Matsuzaka and his very capable team”.

Karen Lau, Head of Sunway iLabs Foundry echoed Dr Woo, in that this project is a meaningful one as it makes developmental assessment affordable and accessible whilst rapidly improving the understanding of child developmental levels in different communities and areas. She added, “This was one of the most exciting projects for 2021! Working with a team consisting of business expertise, psychologists, educators and tech experts to co-create an AI-driven education technology that aims to address socio-educational issues in Southeast Asia is very momentous to us”.

Dr Wo, who’s also the Programme Leader for the Master of Science in Psychology degree programme at the Department of Psychology, commented, “This project is very eye-opening for me. Getting to work with the Japanese AI designers is very fascinating, especially seeing how they translate our scientific findings into applied technology for the relevant communities to use. Moreover, seeing former Nintendo designers at work was very exciting!” She also shared that the dynamism and efficient work ethics of Toy Eight led to very quick developments of the app and the overall research progress.

The Sunway University – Toy Eight collaborative project is expected to be completed by the end of 2022. 


Professor Alvin Ng Lai Oon
School of Medical and Life Sciences

This article has been adapted from The Edge Markets on 21 January 2022.