The startup from Finland is an edtech company that develops voice-based applications under the technical term Voice User Interface for various educational institutions. With its robot Elias, which is available both as a “real” robot and as a virtual character in various apps, it aims to teach language to all students at their individual learning level. “The only way to learn languages is to speak them,” says young founder and CEO Johanna Hemminki.
Both teachers and schools were involved in the development, which was based on the very good Finnish education system that regularly ranks among the best in Europe in the PISA comparative test. “Having worked as teachers ourselves, we knew that spoken language is always neglected in the classroom, with too little time for practice,” says the young Finn. “And some students are also afraid of making mistakes, and the shyest are easily passed over.” This can now be overcome individually. While there are many language apps on the market, they don’t offer active speaking exercises. Elias, however, can ask and answer questions, and its pitch can even be changed depending on the user. You can talk to the robot without being embarrassed about your mistakes.
“Students should also build a relationship with technology as creators, not just passive consumers,” Hemminki cautions. This is particularly important for promoting an interest in technology among girls, she says.