SoapBox Labs CEO Dr Martyn Farrows on helping toy firms and inventors create great voice-enabled toys

Martyn Farrows, SoapBox Labs
SoapBox Labs is a voice-tech company that wants to transform how kids interact with technology using their voices.

The firm’s privacy-first, low-code, proprietary technology delivers 95% accuracy for kids ages 2 to 12 of all accents and dialects.

An R&D driven company with an ever-expanding team of world-class AI and machine learning experts, SoapBox Labs is helmed by CEO Dr. Martyn Farrows. He boasts over 25 years’ experience in industry, with a particular focus on learning technologies and AI for children.

We caught up with Martyn to find out more about how the firm can help toy companies and inventors create great voice-enabled products for kids.

For anyone who may not have come across SoapBox Labs, what do you specialise in?

SoapBox Labs is a voice technology company that specialises in voice solutions, especially for kids. We’re now eight years old and since our founding we’ve been building voice solutions that offer accuracy and privacy – and that understand kids’ voices no matter their age or accent.

So, if you’re a kid-focused company that’s looking to add voice to toys, games, robots, literacy or language learning products for kids two years and older, SoapBox is the solution for you.

Easy to integrate out of the box, our voice engine is a low-code, high accuracy voice-for-anything-kids solution that can be delivered online or offline.

There’s lots of folks across the toy industry that could work with you, but let’s start with toy companies: how can they engage with what you’re doing?
For the smaller “disruptor” companies in the toy and connected toy space, we encourage them to dive right into our portal, access our API and docs, and start experimenting with our accuracy and privacy-driven voice technology.

Larger companies tend to see voice as a strategic opportunity and direction for their business, so for those companies we offer one-to-three-day workshops followed by a POC – proof of concept – that we build collaboratively. The workshop helps key decision makers across the business to understand the power of voice-enabling their products and to identify products in market – or on their roadmap – that are best suited to a voice-enabled experience for kids.

And for any inventors reading, if they have concepts that involve voice tech, how can you help?
Yes, we love working with inventors! Similar to the way we engage with smaller toy companies, the absolute best place for inventors to start is by signing up to our portal for free access to our API and developer docs. Even when an inventor’s end goal is an offline experience – with voice on an embedded chip in a physical toy for example – we encourage them to take the first step by experimenting with our online API.

It’s so easy to integrate and gives them a feel for the power of voice interactions for kids to set their imaginations alight!

Sounds fantastic – we’ll send them there at the end of the article! What do you think is the key to making voice effective in toys? Are there any examples of products out there that you feel nail it?
We’ve completed a couple of very exciting POCs over the last few months that really “nail” the voice experience for kids with toys, but it’ll be a little while longer before these actual products hit the market.

Baseline, for voice to be effective in toys, it needs to be two things: Accurate – this means actually working in real world kid scenarios where there’s background noise or where a kid is talking to their toy but is also pausing, hesitating, whispering or shouting.

And what’s the second thing that voice tech needs to be at its best?
Privacy. Voice technology needs to have been built using a privacy-by-design approach, meaning that by default it does not collect, store or process kids’ voice data for commercial purposes.

We are one of the few privacy-by-design companies whose technology proactively protects kids’ voice data privacy.

That’s great to hear. Now, before I let you go, one last question! How do you and the SoapBox team fuel your creativity?
Great question! There’s a lot of creativity at SoapBox, thanks in part to the diversity of our team when it comes to race, gender, and age. Last time I counted we were 13 different nationalities from four continents. Many of us are also parents and being a parent of young kids is likely one of the most creative pursuits of my day, week or year!

Absolutely. Now, how can someone reach you if they’re interested in connecting? And how can they access your developer portal?
To access our API and developer portal, just sign up here. And for companies interested in a voice workshop or in exploring a strategic partnership with us, please email us on [email protected].

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