Friday, May 18, 2012

One Laptop Per Child hardware request

[Note: The One Laptop Per Child organization requires that we blog this request for their hardware which we hope to support --jps]

Dear OLPC Contributors Program:

Here is our Google Summer of Code team's project proposal for a pronunciation evaluation game to teach reading and spoken English on OLPC hardware....

1. Project Title & Shipment Detail

Name of Project: Pronunciation Evaluation for Google Summer of Code 2012

Number of Laptops (or other hardware) You Request to Borrow:  Three; one each XO-1, XO-1.5, and XO-1.75 laptops

Loan Length: 6 months at least; preferably ongoing for support and maintenance purposes

2. Team Participants:

James Salsman, Srikanth Ronanki, Troy Lee

Past Experience/Qualifications: Please see and

3. Objectives

We are building a free open source choose-your-own-adventure style game to teach beginning and intermediate English reading and pronunciation to learners of all ages and backgrounds using an automatic pronunciation evaluation system based on the CMU Sphinx3 speech recognition system, which detects mispronunciations at the phoneme level and provides feedback scores and learner adaptation with phoneme, biphone, word, and phrase scores based on standardized phoneme acoustic scores and durations and edit distance scoring using alternate pronunciation grammars.  We would like to build clients and stand-alone systems for OLPC hardware.

4. Plan of Action

Please see and

5. Needs

Why is this project needed?  There is currently no oral reading tutor or pronunciation tutor available on OLPC systems, and very few such free systems on the popular hardware platforms. The potential benefits of such systems when they are easily available and engaging are phenomenal: Please see which shows that speech recognition-based reading instruction can be more effective per time spent than instruction from a teacher instructing only two students at once.

Locally? The need is world-wide.

In the greater OLPC/Sugar community?  Yes.

Outside the community?  Yes.

Why can't this project be done in emulation using non-XO machines?  It uses audio input from microphone hardware.

Why are you requesting the number of machines you are asking for?  We would like to have one of each kind of laptops so that we can correctly accommodate any differences concerning audio input.  We will ask other OLPC users to help test.

Will you consider (1) salvaged/rebuilt or (2) damaged XO Laptops?  Yes, as long as they perform identically to nominal systems for audio input and display, and are not prohibitively difficult to develop with.

6. Sharing Deliverables

Project URL—where you'll Blog specific ongoing progress:

How will you convey tentative ideas & results back to the OLPC/Sugar community, prior to completion?  James has known Sameer Verma for years, but as Sameer is usually very busy, we request an OLPC mentor.

How will the final fruits of your labor be distributed to children or community members worldwide?  The client and stand-alone applications will be made available for free, with installation instructions kept current on the OLPC wiki, and we will ask that they be evaluated for official support.

Will your work have any possible application or use outside our community?  Certainly. We also intend to support cross-platform web browsers with Flash/speex/rtmplite and wami-recorder, Android phones and tablets, and eventually iOS platforms.

If yes, how will these people be reached?  The availability will be announced on education email lists, free marketplace listings, and we will publish at least one peer-reviewed report on our work.

Have you investigated working with nearby XO Lending Libraries or Project Groups?  Until July I am in rural Colorado.

7. Quality/Mentoring

Would your Project benefit from Support, Documentation and/or Testing people?  Yes.

Teachers' input into Usability?  This is unlikely because language tutors using speech recognition designed with substantial teacher input have not been entirely successful in the marketplace, even with research showing their clear advantages, possibly because they are insufficiently engaging for youth.  Our design is based on an adventure game where selecting alternative phrases by reading them out loud reveals a branching story incrementally, instead of trying to emulate oral reading from pages of a book.

How will you promote your work?  As above:  availability will be announced on education email lists, free marketplace listings, and we will publish at least one peer-reviewed report on our work.

Can we help you with an experienced mentor from the OLPC/Sugar community?  Yes, please put us in contact with a mentor who has audio input development experience.

8. Timeline (Start to Finish)

Client development should be web-based as much as possible, but a very small external microphone application will likely be required, probably comprised of a speex encoder and a set of Record/Stop-Play-Submit buttons and perhaps gain and/or volume controls. Its development will proceed alongside the development of the other clients and will be completed by August. We would like to retain the OLPC hardware for support, debugging, and software maintenance.

Please see and for milestones and detailed development schedules.

We will blog continuing progress and obstacles at

[X] I agree to pass on the laptop(s) to a local OLPC group or other interested contributors in case I do not have need for the laptop(s) anymore or in case my project progress stalls.

1 comment: