Stories: Voice-control SoapBox Labs is working with Microsoft
The European Innovation Council pilot's funded technology company SoapBox Labs has teamed up with Microsoft to bring its child focused speech recognition software to the tech giant’s Azure platform. The company will see its tech deployed in a school pilot programme to prove it has a global, scalable product.
The partnership is intended to offer a cost-effective tool to help battle the childhood literacy crisis, with the project set to roll out in Ireland and Britain in 20 schools. The goal is to show how the speech recognition technology can be used to support accessibility, literacy and language learning for young children, and at scale. Citing figures from UNESCO, SoapBox Labs said there are 175 million children that lack basic literacy skills.
“The schools are running the trial, they will get the kids to use the app, the kids can interact with and use (it) to progress their phonics and language acquisition,” highlighted SoapBox Labs Chief Operating Officer, Martyn Farrows.
According to SoapBox Labs, speech technology has the potential to be a game changer by voice enabling digital literacy and language learning apps to ‘listen’ (and assess) as the child reads aloud, providing the child individual real-time feedback to rapidly improve reading and language skills and track student progress and difficulties.
The app for schools is being deployed on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform. As part of the deal, Microsoft is providing SoapBox Labs with $250,000 worth of Azure credits, which are needed to access the cloud computing service. Using the Azure platform, SoapBox Labs will be able to generate some evidence to support the rollout of the project globally. If all goes well there are plans to take it global in the coming months.
In the last two years, SoapBox Labs has raised €3.3 million from investors, including Elsktone and a Phase 2 grant from the EIC pilot SME Instrument in 2018 of 1.486.923€. The company was also featured on Silicon Republic's 10 amazing European AI startups to watch list.
View SoapBox Lab's information on the EIC SME Instrument data hub.