Ka pai Spark


For many (if not most) New Zealand businesses, the idea of developing artificial intelligence or augmented reality based projects still sounds too much like an adventure into the unknown. Not Spark. 

Its app Kupu, (meaning speak in te reo) shows just how accessible these technologies are, and how ready to use them we all are. 

If you’re not one of the circa 80,000 people who downloaded the app last week, it’s a tool that allows users to snap a picture and generate a Māori translation. The app has been the number one free app on the NZ Apple and Android stores since it launched, with over a million images translated in just five days. There are calls to make it available internationally. 

Kupu represents a beautiful nexus between values, technology and real-life need. From a brand point of view it’s a smart move, aligning Spark with technical innovation, while positioning them as champions of te reo and its important role in our identity. 

And critically, it’s not a box-checking exercise. The app is actually useful. It helps people who want to improve their te Reo vocab to do so - in a fun, self-directed, accessible and sharable way. 

There are opportunities to use these technologies meaningfully, and not just in the context of corporate social responsibility or brand promotion, but also to meet real customer needs or wants. 

If you’re wondering whether this applies to you and your organisation, the answer is probably yes. If I could share three takeaways with you it would be these. 

  • If you know your audience, you can find opportunities to make their experience of you better using thoughtful, well-applied technology.
  • You don’t have to do it alone. Find the right partners to help you define, design and implement your idea. 
  • Price and functionality are no longer the barriers they were. We’re well past the expensive part of the early adoption curve, and there are lots of good, credible, local experts to help. 

Like all artificial intelligence (and even biological intelligence), Kupu needs new information to learn. The more feedback it gets, the smarter it will become. Let’s do the same – learning from New Zealand’s feedback, and doing more to use these technologies successfully and with purpose.