Pioneering Developer of Voice Technology for Children Now Enables Fluency Assessment for the Classroom

First-of-a-kind technology allows educators to understand and evaluate the development of critical speech and reading comprehension skills for young readers

DUBLIN, IRELAND (March 3rd, 2020) – SoapBox Labs, developer of safe and secure voice technology for kids, today announced the release of SoapBox Fluency — which offers teachers a voice-enabled alternative to manual assessment of fluency for K-5 children. By enabling the integration of voice technology into existing formative and summative assessments, SoapBox Fluency allows educators and parents to receive both immediate — and longitudinal feedback — about a child’s progress.

SoapBox Labs was founded by Dr. Patricia Scanlon who was also listed among Forbes Top 50 Global Women in Tech.

“Fluency is extremely challenging for educators to evaluate given the diversity and complexity of accents, dialects and reading abilities in the K-5 classroom,” said Dr. Scanlon. “The voice technology used in mobile phones or other devices isn’t nearly sophisticated enough to be used with children. Years of research and development went into delivering voice technology with the level of accuracy required to assess fluency. This is about creating tools for the classroom that enable equitable, objective assessments — that are wholly invisible to the child.”

Because traditional or direct assessment is typically viewed as developmentally appropriate for young children, literacy and language assessments have historically required observational assessment, which can be cumbersome for educators – and subject to inconsistency. 

Expanding voice-enabled assessment beyond words and short sentences to cover the sort of longer reading passages and stories required to assess fluency has, however, proven challenging for Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) technology. By focusing specifically on children’s unique voice and speech behaviors, SoapBox Labs’ proprietary technology is able to handle acoustic and behavioral differences inherent in a child’s speech, when performing reading tasks. 

Named one of Europe’s hottest startups by Wired UK, SoapBox Labs was awarded a multi-year contract with Florida State University’s world-renowned Florida Center for Reading Research in 2019, as a part of the Reach Every Reader initiative, a partnership with Harvard Graduate School of Education and the MIT Integrated Learning Initiative focused on the development of advanced solutions for readers. 

About SoapBox Labs

SoapBox Labs develops award-winning voice technology for kids modeled on kids’ speech and behaviors. Proprietary and built from the ground up, our accurate, safe and age-appropriate voice technology powers immersive play and learning experiences, including literacy and language learning tools, for 3 to 12 year old kids. To view demos, download reports, and white papers, or learn more about how our technology powers third party education and toy companies, go to www.SoapBoxLabs.com. 

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