SoapBox Labs Will Augment Popular Lexile Reading Test With Voice AI Assessment
Children’s speech recognition tech startup SoapBox Labs will add its technology to the Lexile Framework of oral reading tests through a partnership with Lexile developer MetaMetrics. The upgraded Lexile will use AI to measure and calculate a child’s oral reading ability, allowing teachers to skip the manual calculation of the score and offering insight into where the student needs help.
The Lexile Framework for Oral Reading is heavily used across the United States and in areas outside the country. Millions of students are measured on their ability to read out text correctly, with the score reflecting accuracy after considering the difficulty of the text. The slow calculation of that score can be completed automatically by SoapBox Labs and its technology. The company applies deep learning technology to thousands of hours of children’s speech to develop models capable of understanding what children say far better than the standard models for adults.
“We already do automated oral reading assessments. MetaMetrics needed to evaluate our tech to be sure it was at a high enough level as they have very vigorous standards,” SoapBox Labs’ CMO Niamh Bushnell told Voicebot in an interview. “Going to work with them brings automated voice-enabled reading assessments to a lot more classrooms. For us, it’s a partnership with an iconic brand.”
SoapBox is already partnered with educational institutions like McGraw Hill and Amplify, as well as working on a literacy test for Florida State University’s Florida Center for Reading Research (FCCR). SoapBox also created Voice Activity Detection (VAD) and Custom Wakeword tools for kids as an API that is able to understand the unique patterns and inflections of children’s speech. The VAD tech alerts a device when a child is beginning to speak, activating the language analysis to understand what is said. The custom wakeword feature lays that ability on the specific words used to activate a voice assistant, enabling the developers of toys and devices to pick out whatever phrase they want to activate the voice component. SoapBox is gaining momentum as child-focused voice AI for education and entertainment continues to grow, with more plans to embed SoapBox’s tech in the works, Bushnell explained, though as an aid to educators than a way of replacing them.
“We have a lot of partnerships coming out as voice is used more regularly for assessments,” Bushnell said. “It’s a proven and reliable way of letting children do assessments and helping teachers understand more accurately where a child is at. It’s in the service of teachers, as opposed to being something that takes away their need to do assessments.”