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ROYBI Uses AWS to Create Interactive Learning Experiences for Children

2020

ROYBI Inc. is a startup dedicated to reinventing early-childhood education. “There's so much attention on higher education, but when it comes to early education, you don't see many strong tools or products,” says Elnaz Sarraf, ROYBI founder and chief executive officer. “In a world that regards education so highly, we have yet to make a real impact in early-childhood education. This formative period in a child's life is where they absorb the most information and build a foundation that will carry them through life.”

To address this gap, Sarraf and Ron Cheng, ROYBI cofounder and chief technology officer, wanted to combine robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) to create a fun, interactive-learning experience that could go beyond traditional pedagogies. “We wanted something conversational that would encourage children to talk more. Statistics show that 1 out of 12 kids in the US have some sort of speech disorder,” says Sarraf. “Parents don't always have enough time to spend with their kids. As a result, kids constantly spend time in front of TVs or tablets and don't develop conversational skills.”

Sarraf and Cheng set out to develop an interactive robot that could communicate with children using predeveloped content to help them build conversational, language, and STEM skills. They also wanted the robot to use machine learning (ML) to adjust its content to each child’s needs and interests. “Childhood education shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach,” says Sarraf. “Every child has their own unique set of skills, and our focus needs to be on their individual capabilities. For example, if we know that a child likes cats and we have content in math, we can make the content about counting cats. Even if the child is not interested in math, if we add the cats, they may become more interested in learning.”

Although chatbots and social robots for children already existed, Sarraf and Cheng wanted something more powerful. “Our focus is not just to 'chat,' but rather to teach children, assess their learning progress, create academic and scientific growth reports and assessments, and correct pronunciations,” says Sarraf.

ROYBI leaders made strong progress developing the hardware, but to accomplish their goals they needed technology that would enable natural-language voice interactivity, customized learning, reliability, and security. ROYBI also needed to get to market quickly and keep costs in check, but the company’s existing cloud provider didn’t have the capabilities to meet its needs.

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CustomerReferences_QuoteMark

ROYBI Robot is a very complicated product. But with AWS technology solutions, services, and support, we were able to get to market fast."

Elnaz Sarraf
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, ROYBI

Developing a Customized Solution with AWS

ROYBI was already using Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) to provide highly secure, scalable compute capacity for its website in the cloud. Once the company realized it needed help with AI and ML, ROYBI leaders turned to AWS EdStart for help. AWS EdStart helps EdTech entrepreneurs quickly build the next generation of online learning, analytics, and campus management solutions in the AWS Cloud. AWS EdStart, the AWS account and Alexa in Education teams, and ROYBI leaders joined forces to create a custom solution that would allow ROYBI to leverage AWS AI, ML, and other services to solve its technology challenges and get to market quickly. “AWS could provide us a total, powerful solution, including voice, facial recognition, and storage,” says Cheng. “That's why we chose to standardize our workloads on AWS.”

Working together, AWS and ROYBI built a customized solution that uses Amazon Rekognition to facilitate a connection between ROYBI Robot and children in a friendly way. It also relies on Amazon Lex as the conversational interface that processes and understands what the children say and creates a multimodal experience that is engaging and educational. Additionally, the company takes advantage of Amazon Polly advanced deep-learning technologies to synthesize a natural-sounding human voice for ROYBI Robot. “The AWS EdStart team guided us and went above and beyond to help us navigate the technology side of the robot,” says Sarraf. “We now call the AWS EdStart team our family. That is how much we appreciate their support. From the very early stages of ROYBI Robot, when we barely had a working prototype, the AWS EdStart team gave us all kinds of assistance, from credits to technical support.”

ROYBI also had regular meetings with AWS engineers and attended various workshops and events. “The AWS EdStart team has always been very active in supporting our company, especially understanding our mission to transform early childhood education,” says Cheng.

With the help of the AWS EdStart program, ROYBI was able to structure its technology and deploy its product without spending countless hours on development. As a result, the company launched its product five months ahead of schedule. “A lot of people couldn't believe it, because ROYBI Robot is a very complicated product,” says Sarraf. “But with AWS technology solutions, services, and support, we were able to get to market fast.”

From Startup to Household Name

Since its launch, ROYBI Robot has gained recognition worldwide. In 2019, the company’s robot was featured as one of Time magazine’s 100 best inventions, and ROYBI was named one of CNBC’s 100 most promising startups to watch.

ROYBI is now focused on expanding throughout the US and Europe. And while the circumstances are unfortunate, the global pandemic that unexpectedly caused most US schools to move online in March 2020 made AI-based learning and products like ROYBI Robot more critical.

As ROYBI grows and expands, Sarraf, Cheng, and the rest of the team know AWS will enable them to prioritize customer privacy and provide highly secure, cloud-based technologies without boundaries. “As ROYBI becomes a household name, we envision adding thousands of active users globally,” says Sarraf. “Using AWS, we will be able to reach that global audience under one platform and save a tremendous amount of time and money.” 

To learn more about how AWS EdStart is helping EdTech startups revolutionize education, visit aws.amazon.com/education/edstart.


About ROYBI Inc.

ROYBI Inc. created ROYBI Robot, an interactive language-learning tutor for children age three and older, which uses AI to deliver a personalized learning experience. In 2019, ROYBI Robot was featured as one of Time magazine’s 100 best inventions, and the company was named one of CNBC’s 100 most promising startups to watch.

Benefits of AWS

  • Helps develop a friendly, interactive, educational robot for young students
  • Speeds its language robot to market 5 months earlier than expected
  • Prioritizes customer privacy
  • Provides highly secure cloud-based technology

AWS Services Used

AWS EdStart

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.

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Amazon Polly

Amazon Polly is a service that turns text into lifelike speech, allowing you to create applications that talk, and build entirely new categories of speech-enabled products.

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Amazon Lex

Amazon Lex is a service for building conversational interfaces into any application using voice and text.

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Amazon Rekognition

Amazon Rekognition makes it easy to add image and video analysis to your applications using proven, highly scalable, deep learning technology that requires no machine learning expertise to use.

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