Luka Reading Companion and Luka Hero are two extremely clever robots, known for their ability to read over 70,000 Chinese picture books page-by-page, allowing a child to experience quality bilingual Chinese literature recorded by native speakers. But, aside from book reading, this robot can do SO many more things. (There is also a more basic model called Luka Mini, which doesn’t do much more than reading.)
This post will cover our favourite things to use our Original Luka and Luka Hero for (apart from the obvious book reading function which I covered in an early post). These non-book reading features are:
- Listening to Chinese podcasts and streaming Chinese pop songs
- Chatting and conversations with the AI Chat-bot, especially trivia questions
- Night light and lullabies
- Games using Luka Hero “Read and Repeat” function
- Games using Luka Hero “Point and Read” function
- Using Luka as an English-Chinese dictionary
- Luka Singing & Role Play modes
If this is the first time you’ve heard about Luka, I suggest reading my original review, as book reading is indeed the main intention of Luka.
Note – these post is referring to the Original Luka and Luka Hero which are sold in Singapore, through LukaReads. There is a slightly different version of Luka which is sold in the US, and my readers have given feedback that the US-model is slightly different and doesn’t do all these other ‘non reading’ options. So please don’t think your Luka is broken – it might just be a different model, if you’re reading this from outside of Singapore.
What else can Luka Hero do apart from reading books?
Here’s our list of the things we love about Luka Hero (aside from the basic book reading function), for kids from babies to tweens:
1. Chinese podcasts and hip-hop music for kids with Luka Luka
Luka hands-down beats streaming from Ximalaya or iTunes through the phone. It’s the easiest way to get your child listening to Chinese podcasts for kids, the audio for favourite movies (like Frozen or Lion King) in Chinese. In fact, we know families who have bought Luka only for the audio function! Simply talk to it like you would for Google’s Alexa, and request for the themes and topics you’re after. Alternatively, the app itself gives the ability to search by name/topic or select from their predetermined library of audio options, including setting your own playlist. Thankfully the battery goes for hours.
Given that Luka is accessing only Ximalaya FM for this – not the whole world wide web – I feel confident that Luka’s content will be family-appropriate.
Whilst we specifically enjoy podcasts, there is also excellent kid-friendly music using this function available for the whole family – spanning from nursery rhymes and lullabies, through to Mandarin pop and hip-hop for older kiddos. There’s also great classical music and Chinese orchestral selections which as an adult I find appealing too.
If you want to know the Mandarin pop songs we like to stream see my post here on our Favourite C Pop and Mando Pop for Children.
2. AI Chatting and Trivia with Luka
It’s possible to really chat to Luka, and find out funny facts, using our Chinese vocabulary. Questions asked like “Why is the earth round?”, “Why is the sky blue?”, “What is the North Pole?” can all be answered by Luka, if you know how to ask her Chinese (if not…. change your base settings to English, and ask her that way ….. but it kinda defeats the purpose for our family).
Luka also has great sound effects, so a child can say “Luka make a dog sound” and she barks, or “Luka make the sound of waves” and you’re transported to the beach.
It seems there’s no topic too extreme, as Luka even has sensible answers to “How many Emperors were there in the Qing Dynasty”, “What are the customs for Spring Festival?”, “What’s the opposite of lazy?”, “What time is it in Australia?”, “What is the P.M2.5 today?”, and “I don’t want to go to school today!” and “Can we go hiking on the weekend?”. You can tell my kids really test out poor Luka.
3. Night light with lullabies with Luka
For us, it’s the best night light we’ve had (we’ve tried a few, from star projector machines, to nursery eggs, and sleep training devices). There’s wealth of music to choose from, including traditional English and Chinese songs, along with classical music.
It’s just such a simple solution – the level of music is adjustable to being infinitesimally low and it can use an existing playlist; the light is dull and soothing, with small flickers as Luka blinks. Also, it doesn’t connect to any power socket, so I feel it is much safer leaving it in the corner of the bedroom and it’s not restricted by cord length. It’s also portable for sleeping in other places.
Finally, from my phone, I can program to turn off the music and the light….. additionally, I can send a message so that Luka will talk to the child if they’re not sleeping, to remind them to “go to sleep” or “I love you”, etc.
It’s worth noting if you use Luka for this function, remember to activate “night mode” on the app, to ensure the brightness of Luka’s eyes is reduced and that system events are not announced. The app also allowed you to set start automatic start and end times for night-mode activation, so it doesn’t need to be done manually each time.
4. Games using “Read and Repeat” Luka Hero function
Games is our latest discovery! We have some Idiom Smart Flashcards which enable a child to point to different parts of the card, and Luka will interact with the user to tell different stories, explain the characters, etc. Luka invites the user to say out an idiom, and then Luka rates your fluency (with one or two stars, and sometimes a special bonus image). It’s a nice feature to encourage the competitive juices amongst our kids, and get them actively using Mandarin, through reciting idioms. There are others games and books available with this feature.
5. Games using “Point and Read” Luka Hero function
My kids also like to use Hero to challenge each other about what different random Chinese characters are, and take guesses, and let Luka be the judge.
Recently we made our own DIY snakes and ladders board game with different characters on each square, and Luka does a great job of being referee. We also did DIY sentence builder with magnetic tiles. We’re looking forward to integrating Luka into more of our homemade craft adventures.
6. Using Luka as an English-Chinese dictionary for story composition
Luka Hero has become my daughter’s pal for story writing. When she’s unsure of how to write a word in Chinese, she simply writes down the English word, and Luka recognises her handwriting (it’s a good incentive to write neatly!), and then Luka’s eye show up with the corresponding Simplified Chinese character. It’s not always perfect, but it’s a fast and fun alternative to using the dictionary. For a young writer, this is a nice feature. (Although, our Youdao Smart pen, I think will take over this function from Luka Hero as my children progress through Primary School). It also works the other way around, so Luka can help revise Chinese flashcards too.
7. Luka Singing and Role Play modes
It’s just so cute! Many of the Luka compatible books have an alternate translation where the words are either sung out, or acted out, as opposed to following the text. My children are always delighted to find a new one. Dr Seuss is excellent for this, and so are Eric Carle books. When used with Luka Hero (as opposed to original Luka) this really brings the books to life, as a child can tap on the pictures in the book and hear them speaking. Be sure to check your books whether this is an option.
For us, we’ve been getting Luka out at birthdays too. With just a simple request, and she’ll play the birthday song for everyone to join in with. Luka can do K-Pop too! My wordpress blog – being a freebie account – won’t let me upload my own videos. But look at this one below from Little Day Out of Luka singing a song request.
How does Luka Luka or Luka Hero compare with other optical reading devices and pens?
Our family has a lot of Chinese reading pens and devices!!! If you want a head-to-head comparison, please see my earlier review here.
Different reading pens and robots suit different learning stages, ages, family situations, and intended learning outcomes. I’ve put together a diagram showing how we see them all fitting together.
My previous posts on the topic include:
- Comparison of our favourite Chinese reading pens and robots
- Review of Habbi Habbi Reading Wand
- Review of Le Le Chinese
- Review of iHuman Reading pen
- Review of eTutor Star Reading Pen
- Detailed Review of Luka Hero
- Review of Youdao Smart Reading pen
- Comparison of Luka Mini and Comparison of Luka Hero
Where to buy Luka Luka and Luka Hero?
Luka Reads is the official distributor in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. For those countries, ther international shipping fee is absorbed. Through their website, it’s also possible to order into other countries, if shipping is paid. Purchase through their main website and enter my promo code as “Lahlah20off”. Thank you Luka Reads team for blessing my blog readers!
JD.com is an Chinese bookstore which ships globally, including in the US. They stock Luka at great prices, so if you’re brave enough to order through a Chinese website, you could give it a shot. Some mothers from Motherly Notes recommend this method. Otherwise the minefield of Taobao is where we bought our first one from. JoJo Learning also stock a slightly different version of Luka in the US.
What other fun features of Luka do you know?
Luka has a myriad of other hidden gems, like a slot machine game if you shake her around, and “Magic voice” if you press her nose three times. Then there’s ability for a parent to record their own story for a child, or send personal messages from their phone to Luka to amuse the child. There’s plenty of cuteness and cleverness in this little robot. We’re still discovering more, since most of the detailed Luka literature is written only in Chinese.
There’s a great list of ‘how to’ Luka videos in English at this link, which might give you more inspiration on what’s possible. I also whilst randomly googling found a video explaining different features in English here (it’s very old ….. and only looking at English features only, but if you think this was possible in 2018, imagine how much better it is now! Certainly the narrations have become less robotic since then, and Luka’s capabilities are 3 times better in Chinese than in English in any case!):
I hope this post helps you to understand what else you can do with your Luka, beyond reading. I’d love to hear what you’ve discovered too! Please do share – either in comments below, or drop me a note.
DISCLAIMER: I’m grateful that we have Luka Hero to join our family. The Luka Hero was kindly given to us by Luka Reads Singapore – since we were existing avid Luka fans, and I’d already written several blog posts on our original Luka (which we love a lot, we we did overpay for via Taobao. I don’t want the same thing to happen to you!).
The views shared in this review are my own genuine, unbiased opinion – as is everything contained on this blog. There are no affiliations, sponsorship, commissions, behind this post nor anything on this blog. It’s a passion project, not a business.