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Are Your Kids Prepared to Excel?

White Paper Demonstrates How Voice Tech Can Help

In 2020, more than 1.2 billion children in 186 countries were impacted by school closures due to the pandemic. For many school-aged children in the U.S., this fall marks the first time in 18 months that they are back in a classroom. Regardless of whether kids are back to in-person instruction or remaining remote, parents are naturally anxious about whether or not their little ones are performing at grade level.

The adoption of voice-enabled technologies has the potential to have a profound impact on young learners, particularly in this new world of hybrid learning. SoapBox Labs, which empowers kids to use their voices to engage with and learn from the world around them, recently released a new white paper to assess just how effective speech recognition technology could be in helping children advance their reading skills.

The potential impact of voice tech in education

The white paper “Can Speech Recognition Help Children Learn to Read?” digs into the applications, risks -and aspirations- of speech recognition technology in the classroom. The paper examines how voice-enabled technologies can keep pace with how quickly kids’ voices, language, and behaviors change as they grow and that it could assess kids’ equitably by understanding all of their voices, regardless of accent and dialect.

Margery Mayer, who served 25 years as President of Education at Scholastic, wrote in the paper’s forward: “As students return to classrooms, speech recognition holds the potential to revolutionize the classroom—not to mention toys and other applications—by transforming the way children interact with technology.”

The paper offers insights from many of the world’s preeminent thinkers in education about how voice-powered math, literacy, and language tools can help kids to learn.It also looks at how voice tech can assist teachers in providing a more personalized approach to each of their students’ individual learning journeys. According to the paper, the concept of leveraging automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology to enable automated reading tutors that could support children’s literacy development was first introduced in 2011. However, ten years later, that approach is just now coming to reality.

As the paper states, “Until recently, most speech recognition applications for kids simply modified technology originally designed for adults. The challenge, as any parent can attest, is that the differences between adults and children come down to more than just size.”

Dr. Martyn Farrows, CEO of Soapbox Labs, believes that we should focus particular attention on the children’s market and create applications designed specifically for them. The pandemic, in particular, prompted educators and the entertainment industry to revamp the way we use voice technology.

“Our job is really to provide kids with the experiences that they deserve. They deserve to have experiences that are tailor-made for them. And that requires speech technology, which has been built with them in mind,” Dr. Farrows said at VOICE Global 2021.


According to Dr. Patricia Scanlon, founder of Soapbox, the approach to developing voice enabled technologies needs to be tailored to young voices. “Their language is different. Children’s language develops so much in those early years…” and so their accuracy and bias in voice technology must take center stage when it comes to voice-powered learning and play solutions for kids.


Watch Dr. Scanlon’s keynote to learn how Soapbox Labs is building accurate and safe speech recognition technology for children.

Download the white paper from Soapbox Labs and learn more.