Soapbox Labs, a Dublin-based startup that builds speech-to-text technology to analyse young children’s literacy in noisy settings like kitchens, cafes and cars, has raised €1.2 million in a financing round backed by Enterprise Ireland, Elkstone Capital and Astia Angels.
Potential Redirection For Classroom Captions
Data algorithms generated by Soapbox use 600,000 audio samples collected from 15,000 children aged four to ten, playing games with cheap mobile phones in real-world settings in 125 countries to underpin the technology’s use by educational publishers and gaming firms.
Soapbox Lab’s cloud-based voice-recognition service with front-end architecture can potentially be redirected for use in classroom captions by children learning through a second language, who are deaf, or who have hearing difficulties in noisy environments.
— Eugene Kulabuhov (@EKulabuhov) November 22, 2016
Speech-to-text interfaces will underpin connected cars, homes and schools, with Google recently advising that the low-cost Raspberry Pi device will offer speech-to-text output once AI and machine-learning capabilities are added to its operating system.
HearingHelper, an app designed by middle schoolers, is an example classroom captioning tool which transcribes audio heard in a user’s environment, to a student’s mobile device.
“HearingHelper could be put to use by [mainstream] schools that have deaf students, allowing them to participate in regular classes with their peers. Using the same decibel level detection, the app would pick up a teacher’s speech and translate to text on a device.”
School-provided classroom captions are used in Australia, the UK and US – but services are thin in Ireland at both post-primary and third-level. With new tools emerging, this will change.