Bamboo Learning Debuts iOS Voice-Based Educational App, Joins AWS EdStart Accelerator
Voice-based educational technology startup Bamboo Learning has launched a new app for iOS devices. The app offers lessons for children from kindergarten through fifth grade in reading comprehension, vocabulary, and related skills similar to Bamboo’s existing Alexa skills, but with touch as well as voice interactions.
The new Bamboo Learning app is free and comes with more than 25 books connected to hundreds of activities and lessons divided by difficulty and grade. Parents can subscribe for $4 a month to access more than 100 books and thousands more activities. The app can hold up to six child’s profiles, allowing for personalized tracking of their activity and learning. The accounts are set up by adults, with each child getting their own animal avatar to identify which profile is theirs. The children are guided through the activities by Bamboo’s Panda mascot. The child can touch or say what book they want to read that time and interact with the narrator and the story by touch and voice. Questions about the story are asked every so often, with voice or touch answers accepted by the app, which then makes appropriate sounds and comments to praise the right answers and encourage those who pick wrong.
“As a former educator, I know how critical conversational learning is to boost children’s in-context reading and listening comprehension, vocabulary, and narrative skills,” Bamboo Learning chief content officer Irina Fine said in a statement. “Bamboo Learning for iOS is the first-ever app to offer children a choice to respond using their voice or touch. We’re so excited to make it available today for families to use on iPads and iPhones in over 170 countries.”
Bamboo Learning has also joined the EdStart startup accelerator run by Amazon Web Services for edtech companies and picked up an unknown amount of new funding from Amazon’s Day One Fund and other investors. Bamboo’s co-founders are former Amazon employees themselves. The new funding comes two years after a seed fund of $1.4 million for Bamboo.
Educational voice AI has become increasingly popular as voice assistants and voice tech become more prevalent. The field saw a spike of interest as the COVID-19 pandemic led to more at-home learning too. The last couple of years has seen a flurry of new tools for voice education. Amazon introduced Alexa voice profiles for kids with the Reading Sidekick AI tutor. Google has been very active as well, with a new teaching toolkit for Google Play Books, an Android app called Read Along with its kid-focused Diya voice assistant, and folding reading tutor app Rivet into Google Assistant. Meanwhile, edtech software developer Amplify unveiled a new literacy assessment for kids in a partnership with children’s speech recognition tech startup SoapBox Labs. Text Reading Online measures how well kids can read and understand written information thanks to SoapBox Fluency, which automatically tracks performance and shares the data with the teacher.