The Dublin-based speech recognition specialist SoapBox Labs has secured $6.5 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Elkstone Capital and Astia, amongst other investors.
SoapBox is currently working to develop more accurate speech recognition technology for children. The solution acknowledges that children typically have different speech patterns than adults, so speech recognition systems that are designed for adults may struggle when applied to younger audiences. SoapBox is trying to overcome those limitations, and to deliver a speech recognition solution that will pick up on the unique vocal idiosyncrasies of children.
SoapBox plans to use the funds to continue to develop its speech recognition tech. The company anticipates that its platform will have applications in entertainment, where it can be integrated into games and toys, and in education, where it can support literacy initiatives.
It also places a strong emphasis on privacy, which is especially important for any system intended for minors who are not yet old enough to assert their own digital rights. Amazon, for instance, has run into legal trouble for using Alexa to record without proper parental consent, a scandal that undid much of the appeal of its kid-friendly FreeTime offerings.
“SoapBox is at the nexus of some big trends right now,” said SoapBox Founder and CEO Patricia Scanlon. “With this funding we’re poised to capitalize on our strengths and the global market opportunities opening up to us in literacy, language learning and toys.”
Both Astia and Elkstone are prior Soapbox investors. Soapbox is hoping to target English-speaking customers around the world, and has already been selected for the Reach Every Reader initiative in the United States.
“SoapBox Labs are truly at the leading edge of voice technology for kids,” said Elkstone Principal Alan Merriman. “I’ve no doubt SoapBox has the ability to scale as evidenced by the number of top tier collaborations they already have with leading global players in numerous verticals.”
April 21, 2020 – by Eric Weiss