SoapBox Labs Raises $6.3M Investment for Kid-Focused Speech Recognition Tech
Child-specific voice recognition tech startup SoapBox Labs has closed a €5.8 million ($6.3 million) round of funding led by Astia Angels and Elkstone Capital. SoapBox plans to apply the funding to scaling up the company and expanding its client list.
Teaching and Toys
SoapBox Labs, founded by former Bell Labs researcher Patricia Scanlon seven years ago, has raised a total investment of €10.2 million. The company applies deep learning technology to thousands of hours of children’s speech gathered into a dataset. SoapBox has started to apply its tech to an API usable by voice assistants in smart speakers, toys, and educational software. For instance, SoapBox tech is on Microsoft’sAzure Cloud platform. SoapBox also launched an automated fluency test for educational organizations. Designed to evaluate a child’s reading ability in real-time, SoapBox Fluency collates the results in order to help teachers work out the best way to improve their literacy. The startup has almost 30 license agreements at the moment and aims to expand that list using the new funding.
The potential for using accurate voice recognition for children was high even before the current spike in at-home education as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Amazon and Google have both been working on building up voice apps and devices for children, such as the Echo Dot Kids Edition and the My Story Time Google Action and third-party toy manufacturers are designing smart toys that can be controlled by a voice assistant. The at-home education may give SoapBox even more of a boost, although there is some research showing that younger children distrust voice assistants. That may be partly because they have trouble being understood, however, which would make SoapBox’s technology a potential answer to that problem.