AWS Public Sector Blog

AI-powered speech recognition is creating interactive learning experiences for children and adults

AWS EdStart_Global Founders_Blog Graphic_Roybi and singsound

AWS EdStart Members and founders Long Qin of Singsound and Elnaz Sarraf of ROYBI are using artificial intelligence (AI) to revolutionize early language learning. Long, based out of Beijing, China, is dedicated to providing accessible and quality English education to every family throughout China. Elnaz, based out of San Francisco, CA, United States, is dedicated to changing the one-size-fits-all approach of our global education system.

Singsound leverages AI to provide English speaking and writing assessments to students in China

Long Qin is the co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Singsound and an expert in AI, with more than 15 years of academic and industry experience. Before founding Singsound, Long was a senior research scientist at Duolingo, working on speech assessment and adaptive learning.

After growing up in remote China, Long saw inequitable access across China to quality education and the long-term impact it can have on university acceptance and entry into the job market. With the belief that education is the most important investment one can make, Long dedicated himself to helping families gain equitable access to educational resources. As a result, Long launched Singsound to help students learn English using AI to provide speech and writing assessments, natural language processing, and adaptive learning.

Singsound provides students with an instant feedback tool for written and spoken English. To immerse students in the language learning process, Long wanted students to hear language samples with varied speaking styles. However, it was difficult and expensive to recruit suitable native speakers. After struggling to find a solution, the team was introduced to Amazon Polly, a service that turns text into lifelike speech, allowing users to create applications that talk, and build entirely new categories of speech-enabled products. Amazon Polly’s text-to-speech (TTS) service uses advanced deep learning technologies to synthesize natural sounding human speech. With dozens of lifelike voices across a broad set of languages, users can build speech-enabled applications that work in several countries. With the discovery of Amazon Polly and the ability to automate customized speech patterns, Long’s team was also able to lower costs.

“A strong and reliable infrastructure is essential as we continue to research, develop, and build our AI-based language learning scenarios, which requires uninterrupted speech streaming and instant system feedback. Compared to other cloud offerings, we believe that the industry-leading services of AWS help us strengthen and keep our services more reliable. AWS develops innovative technologies that help provide reliable and affordable AI technologies to our users,” said Long.

With the help of AWS, Singsound has been able to provide a smooth, uninterrupted service to their customers, even as web traffic has tripled. Singsound was also the first AWS EdStart Member in China and has been a part of the AWS EdStart accelerator since September 2018. “The AWS EdStart program has helped us connect with over 75 customers and industry partners. It’s a great way to network within the education sector. This has enabled us to scale our marketing efforts across a broad audience including educational enterprises and schools,” said Long.

ROYBI uses AI and robotics to create interactive learning experiences for children

Elnaz Sarraf is a serial entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience in technology, business, sales, and marketing. Elnaz is the founder and CEO of ROYBI, an investor-backed EdTech focusing on early childhood education, AI, and robotics.

Throughout her research, Elnaz found that children were attuned to technology, but often, they’re the borrowers of tools that have been made for adults. Getting children engaged with educational technology at a young age provides educational, social, and emotional fulfillment that can last until adulthood. Elnaz addressed this opportunity by founding ROYBI, using the latest technology available on the market, while creating an educational robot that could facilitate self-guided learning using AI. With over 500 lessons, including language learning, basic Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), stories, games, and songs, ROYBI uses AI to create a fun and interactive learning experience for children with a focus on teaching children; using machine learning to gradually adjust and tailor content to children.  ROYBI evaluates the learning progress of each child, creating academic and scientific growth reports and assessments, and creates progress reports for parents to track their child’s development.

Starting with ROYBI, which guides a child’s linguistic development beyond traditional pedagogies, facilitating collaboration between home and school contexts, Elnaz hopes to make a real impact in early childhood education. Thousands of children globally have used ROYBI Robot since its launch in November 2019 and since then, Roybi children have demonstrated an 84 percent growth rate in learning progress.

ROYBI uses Amazon Rekognition, which provides highly accurate facial analysis and facial search capabilities to analyze faces and initiate conversations with the user. ROYBI also uses Amazon Lex, a service that builds conversational interfaces into applications using voice and text for facilitating a connection between ROYBI Robot and children in a friendly, conversational way. Working with AWS EdStart, ROYBI was able to seek technical help, gain access to pitch to EdTech investors, and connect with other founders at the AWS EdStart Global Builders’ Conference. With this additional help, ROYBI launched its product five months ahead of schedule.

“Within our team, we call the AWS EdStart team our family, and that is how much we appreciate their support for us. From the early stages of ROYBI, when we barely had a working prototype, the AWS EdStart team gave us all kinds of support from AWS credits to technical support. We had regular meetings with the engineers and attended workshops, founder dinners, and various events. The AWS EdStart team has always been active in supporting our company, especially understanding our mission to transform early childhood education,” said Elnaz.

Long and Elnaz are two AWS EdStart Global Founders, including Jennifer Larson, founder of SchoolBzz, and Reva McPollom, founder and CEO of Lessonbee.

Learn more about AWS EdStart, the AWS educational technology (EdTech) startup accelerator, is designed to help entrepreneurs build the next generation of online learning, analytics, and campus management solutions in the AWS Cloud.