Equmenopolis CEO Yoichi Matsuyama was interviewed in the @EDGE corner of Nihon Keizai Shimbun -The Nikkei (August 9, 2023 morning edition).
Our LANGX Speaking business and our project with Chiba Prefecture were featured in multiple media outlets. For more information on the broadcast and article, please visit the following links.
The Nihon Keizai Shimbun (July 25, 2023 evening edition and electronic edition)
Interactive AI for middle and high school English / 中高英語に対話型AI – 文科省、9月から実証まず自宅学習 (title translated by Equmenopolis)
NHK (July 31, 2023 NHK News 7 and News Watch 9)
Junior High School English: Challenge in Speaking and Writing Skills – National academic test results announced / 中学「英語」 話す力や書く力に課題 全国学力テスト 結果公表 (title translated by Equmenopolis)
NTV (Aug. 1, 2023 news every.)
[Commentary] Challenges in English “speaking ability”…More than 60% of the students could not answer even one question correctly. Interactive AI key to Improving Academic Achievement /【解説】英語を「話す力」に課題…6割以上の生徒が1問も正解できず 学力向上のカギに「対話型AI」(title translated by Equmenopolis)
Equmenopolis is now accepting pre-orders for other universities, elementary, junior high and high schools, English conversation schools, other educational institutions and general organizations, and will exhibit at the EDIX Tokyo Education Exhibition (May 10-12, Tokyo Big Sight).
Equmenopolis Inc. (headquartered in Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo; Yoichi Matsuyama, CEO) today announces the launch of LANGX Speaking, an English speaking ability assessment service through natural conversation with a conversation agent equipped with the latest generation AI, for educational and general institutions.
LANGX Speaking has been officially adopted by Waseda University in its regular English conversation course “Tutorial English” (over 10,000 students per year) from the 2023 academic year, and in March 2023, LANGX Speaking was the only East Asian finalist at SXSW EDU, an educational startup pitch competition at SXSW (South by Southwest, Austin, Texas, USA), the world’s leading creative event, and is gaining recognition worldwide.
Equmenopolis is now accepting demo account registrations (please refer to the registration information in this release), and will also be present at our booth at the EDIX Education Exhibition (May 10-12, Tokyo Big Sight, West Exhibition Hall, Booth #17), so please stop by and see us in person.
【Problems with traditional English speaking tests】
Although the cultivation of communicative competence in English has been emphasized in English education in Japan, it has long been pointed out that teaching methods, assessment methods, and teaching materials have been inadequate. According to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), a global language proficiency standard, English proficiency in the four language skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking), especially speaking proficiency, is defined by factors such as expression richness, grammatical correctness, fluency, pronunciation, interactivity, and coherence. Among these factors, the existing automated English language proficiency tests have been pointed out to be insufficient in terms of “interactivity” and “coherence”, which are considered important for conversing with others. In principle, it is difficult to capture such interactive features in conventional reading-based tests, and it has been pointed out that such tests do not adequately reflect actual communicative competence.
【About LANGX Speaking】
In contrast to the problems with conventional English tests, LANGX Speaking uses a conversational AI agent to elicit the learner’s abilities through natural interviews and role-playing dialogues, and then makes a comprehensive assessment of speaking ability. The more you talk, the more you learn. The more you converse with the agent, the more it learns about you and the more relevant feedback it can deliver (patent pending).
- Natural Conversation to Elicit English Conversation Skills: At the beginning of the LANGX Speaking test, the AI agent creates a relaxed atmosphere by talking to the test taker in a way that eases their tension. During the interview that follows, the agent playing the role of the interviewer will be there during the conversation with the test taker, offering some pleasantries and waiting while the test taker thinks of a response. If the candidate is at a loss for an answer and the conversation becomes stilted, the interviewer will lead the conversation to another topic, thus providing an experience similar to a real interview. The system assesses the English level of the respondent’s speech and automatically adjusts the difficulty level of the questions. In the latter half of the interview, a simple discussion dialogue is also developed.
- Assesses true English speaking ability: Using speech data collected through interactive conversations with agents, LANGX Speaking automatically assesses a candidate’s speaking ability based on six aspects (CEFR criteria): expression richness, grammatical correctness, fluency, pronunciation, interactivity, and coherence. By taking LANGX Speaking, test takers are able to check their own level of English speaking ability and understand their own strengths and weaknesses in English speaking, which can then be used to improve their English language learning. The latest assessment model significantly exceeds the accuracy of CEFR assessment experts.
- Low price: Compared to in-person speaking proficiency tests conducted by human experts (which typically cost between 5,000 yen and 20,000 yen), LANGX Speaking is available for less than 2,000 yen per test through the use of AI.
【Pre-order for LANGX Speaking available from May 10】
LANGX Speaking will be available for pre-order from May 10 for educational institutions such as elementary and junior high schools, universities, and English conversation schools, as well as for general businesses, starting with its official adoption at Waseda University. Interested parties are invited to visit us at the EDIX Education Exhibition or request a demo account using the inquiry form below.
▼LANGX Speaking provision image
Once each educational and general institution signs the LANGX Basic contract and order the required number of LANGX Speaking test tickets, test takers affiliated with that institution are able to the speaking test. Each test taker accesses the LANGX Speaking website via a web browser on their laptop, registers for the test tickets distributed by their institution, and then takes the speaking test as easily as if they were in an online meeting (no special equipment or software required). The results are returned to the learner within a few minutes in a normal situation.
The admin user of each institution can check the test status and improvement of the abilities of all the test takers in the institution from the dedicated LANGX Speaking customer console. The testing system, which is constantly evolving, will enable more detailed and accurate diagnostic results and growth processes to be viewed and utilized for curriculum planning and other purposes based on data analysis.
▼LANGX Speaking Adoption by Waseda University
Waseda University has officially adopted LANGX Speaking as their English proficiency assessment test for their English conversation class “Tutorial English” from the 2023 academic year. The test is expected to be used by more than 10,000 students annually. As of March 2023, approximately 4,000 new students took the test and the test results was used for class placement in the English conversation class.
Tutorial English is a small-group class with a maximum of four students per group, focusing on the development of English speaking skills. The course is one of the signature courses at Waseda University. LANGX Speaking was officially adopted in the 2023 academic year for the purpose of measuring learning effectiveness and class placement before and after the course. By adopting a technology that deeply measures interpersonal communication skills in English, it is expected that students will be able to take classes at more appropriate levels and further improve their learning effectiveness.
【EDIX Tokyo – Largest education trade show in Japan】
Equmenopolis will be show casing the LANGX Speaking product at the EDIX Tokyo Education Exhibition to be held at Tokyo Big Sight from May 10 to 12, 2023 (free admission). We look forward to seeing you there.
- EDIX Tokyo: https://www.edix-expo.jp/tokyo/ja-jp.html
- Date: May 10 – 12, 2023, 10:00 – 18:00 *Close at 17:00 on the last day only
- Location: Tokyo Big Sight, West Exhibition Hall, Booth #17
- How to participate: Please pre-register (free of charge) at the event website and come to our booth
【Equmenopolis as a university startup】
Equmenopolis is a startup from Waseda University. LANGX service is supported by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) commissioned research “Technology Development Project for Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Evolving with Human Beings” (commissioned to Waseda University), the NEDO funded “Research and Development Type Startup Support Project / Commercialization Support for R&D Startups in Seed Phase (STS)”, and the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) commissioned research “Beyond 5G Seeds Creation Program”. Equmenopolis will promote social implementation of LANGX, which is also an industry-government-academia collaborative innovation originating in Japan.
Grants and Commissioned research received as Waseda University (pre-foundation of Equmenopolis)
- [Commissioned Research] New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), “Technology Development Project for Next-Generation Artificial Intelligence Evolving with People”, “Development of an Online Language Learning Support AI System that Grows with People”, adopted in FY2020.
- [Grant] Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), “Research Results Deployment Project: New Industry Creation Program from Universities (START),” “Commercialization of Media Service with Social Conversation AI,” adopted in FY2019
Grants and Commissioned research received as Equmenopolis Inc.
- [Commissioned Research] Research and Development of XR Communication Infrastructure for Realization of Highly Realistic Interaction Experience with Conversational AI Agents,” a research commissioned by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), adopted in FY2022. https://www.nict.go.jp/publicity/topics/2022/08/05-1.html
- [Grant] Research and Development of XR Communication Infrastructure for Realization of Highly Realistic Interaction Experience with Conversational AI Agents,” a research commissioned by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), adopted in FY2022. https://www.nedo.go.jp/koubo/CA3_100345.html
Equmenopolis Inc. (HQ: Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo; CEO: Yoichi Matsuyama; “Equmenopolis”) CEO Matsuyama will join WizWe Lab, a research institute of WizWe Inc. (HQ: Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; CEO: Kohei Moritani; “WizWe”) which develops and operates a habit-forming platform, as a visiting researcher.
WizWe is developing and operating a habit creation platform, “Smart Habit,” with the vision of “bringing 10 billion people to the way they want to be with a habit creation platform,” and is working on social implementation of habit creation. The WizWe Lab, a research institute of WizWe, conducts analysis based on academic research methods by specialized researchers based on behavioral data from 30,000 people. The know-how on habit formation derived from the analysis results is optimized and implemented into Smart Habit’s habit formation support service, backed up by academic theory.
The participation and collaboration of our CEO, Matsuyama, as a visiting researcher of WizWe Lab will further improve the Smart Habit habit creation platform and solve social issues through habit creation, as well as strengthen the cooperative relationship between WizWe and Equmenopolis.
Equmenopolis Inc. (Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo; Yoichi Matsuyama, President; “Equmenopolis”) announced today that Waseda University (Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo; Aiji Tanaka, President) has officially adopted LANGX Speaking, an English conversation ability assessment system using artificial intelligence (AI) developed by Equmenopolis, as an English proficiency test for their English language course Tutorial English at Waseda University Global Education Center, starting from 2023 academic year.
Since its inception in 2002, Tutorial English has become one of Waseda University’s signature courses, with approximately 10,000 students enrolled each year. LANGX Speaking will assess “interactivity” and “coherence” which have been difficult to assess with existing English language proficiency tests. LANGX Speaking is expected to provide more accurate and automatic assessment of conversational ability, as well as to help students to take classes at an appropriate level and further improve their learning effectiveness.
Approximately 10,000 Waseda University students will be using LANGX Speaking from the new semester of the 2023 academic year.
Ref. Waseda University press release – https://www.waseda.jp/top/news/88039
The Tokyo-based conversational AI start-up becomes a finalist at SXSW EDU Launch.
Equmenopolis Inc. (Tokyo, Japan; CEO: Yoichi Matsuyama, Ph.D) is the only East Asian company selected as a finalist in SXSW EDU Launch, a well-known EdTech startup pitch competition at SXSW (Austin, Texas, USA).
Equmenopolis will introduce “LANGX,” a language learning service that helps people acquire English speaking skills through socially intelligent and interactive conversational AI technology.
(1) Authentic Conversations: Meet InteLLA (Intelligent Language Learning Assistant), a conversational AI agent and your English conversation partner. InteLLA reads both linguistic information from verbal responses, and non-verbal language, such as tone of voice and facial expressions. This combination creates smooth interactions closely mirroring human-human dialogue. (InteLLA runs on Equmenopolis’s conversational AI agent platform).
(2) Dynamic Topic Adaption: To draw out a user’s full language potential, InteLLA personalizes conversations through adaptive topic selection and difficulty progression. This feature is weighed on the user’s English speaking abilities and comprehension and is achieved in real time (patent pending).
(3) Human-expert Level Assessment: The English proficiency assessment model includes all interactive elements of conversation (voice, acoustics, speech, discourse and facial expressions), with the accuracy of evaluation approaching expert-level quality (latest research results will be published through international academic papers).
LANGX is divided into two parts, the first, “LANGX Speaking”, is an automated diagnostic speaking test that uses conversational agents (public release at SXSW EDU). The second, “LANGX Gym”, entails self-guided, bite-sized learning materials that are automatically generated based on the user’s language diagnosis of LANGX (public release in late 2023 or early 2024).
Equmenopolis helps people to learn, work, and enjoy themselves in the digitized society with socially-intelligent conversational AI technology.
Founded in May 2022 as a spin-out from an academic research group in Tokyo, Equmenopolis creates a highly interactive multi-purpose conversational AI agent platform and corresponding applications to support any aspects of work and education.
Our team members possess expertise in spoken dialogue systems, natural language processing, machine learning, VR/AR, applied linguistics, architecture, and media art. More than half are doctoral degree holders. We come from diverse corners of the world, including Japan, US, UK, Spain, France, Poland, Colombia and more.
Equmenopolis, Inc. accelerates the development of a conversational AI agent platform that provides online representation for labor-intensive interpersonal service industries such as education, retail, medical, and counter services. We aim to realize a realistic conversational experience with AI evolving with humans.
Founded in May 2022 by a research group of the Perceptual Computing Laboratory at Waseda University, Equmenopolis, Inc. has received a third-party allocation of new shares from Beyond Next Ventures, Inc. (hereafter “BNV”). Additionally, the company was awarded technology-based start-up governmental fundings from the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO; a related institution of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan) and National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT; a related institution of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan). The total amount of funding is 450 million yen (approx. $3.5 – 4M), including equity and grants.
We are developing a conversational AI agent platform to improve productivity and quality in education, retail, medical, and other labor-intensive interpersonal service industries. In 2023, the first product to fully utilize the platform will be an English conversation learning support service. The primal use of the funding will be:
- Acceleration of platform development: To expand conversational AI agents’ conversational patterns and skills, and to realize realistic conversational experiences easily on any mobile device, including web browsers and VR/AR glasses.
- Recruitment of researchers and engineers: To accelerate R&D, we will actively recruit researchers and engineers in the fields of dialogue systems, natural language processing, digital humans, parallel and distributed processing, virtualization, and other technologies as well as second language acquisition and applied linguistics. For more information, please visit our recruitment page (https://www.equ.ai/careers/).
- Market expansion: All of our businesses will be sold domestically and overseas, starting with the release of our language learning support service in early 2023, with the aim of expanding into global markets beyond language barriers.
Conversational AI agent platform development company, founded on May 2, 2022 (Head Office: Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo; Representative Director: Yoichi Matsuyama)
Equmenopolis is a university-launched startup founded by a core group of researchers from the Conversational AI Media Research Group of the Green Computing Systems Research Institute at Waseda University.
“Society 5.0” is the term used for the future community in which digitalization progresses. We aim to develop a conversational AI agent platform to support and simplify human-labor intensive, face-to-face tasks which hinder many modern industries. We aim to improve business quality and productivity through the collaboration of humans and AI.
開発している会話AIエージェントプラットフォーム「LANGX」（ラングエックス；Language Experience Platform）は、ビデオ会議やメタバース環境など、様々な使用シーンでのAIエージェントとの会話体験サービスを実現するために以下のような主要機能を提供します。
- 会話能力判定：ユーザの会話能力を判定します。 語学学習支援アプリケーションにとどまらず、広くコミュニケーション能力判定に利用されることが期待されています。
- Human-in-the-Loop 機械学習：会話AIエージェントサービスを実現する上での各種のパターン認識（例：意図推定や能力判定）や、対話シナリオのデータ収集を不特定多数のクラウドワーカーにタスクとして依頼して高品質のデータを生産します。
- 対話制御：上記サービス群をオーケストレーションする対話制御サービス。 ユーザーはそれぞれのビジネスロジックに沿って対話シナリオを自動・半自動に記述し、ビデオ会議やXRのデバイスを通して会話インタラクションを実現することができます。
代表取締役の松山は、早稲田大学 基幹理工学研究科 情報理工学専攻で博士号を取得後、米国カーネギーメロン大学にてダボス会議公式バーチャルアシスタントの研究開発プロジェクトや米Google、Microsoft、Yahoo!などとの各種会話AI産学連携プロジェクトを主導し、帰国後の2019年度に早稲田大学 知覚情報システム研究所に主任研究員（研究院 准教授）として着任しました。その他経営陣には、国際経験豊かな技術経営コンサルティング出身の最高戦略責任者CSO、AI・ロボット分野の研究開発マネージャー出身の最高執行責任者COOの就任が決定しています。
当社は、早稲田大学提携VCのBeyond Next Ventures株式会社およびウエルインベストメント株式会社と共に創業準備を行ってきました。2019～2020年度にウエルインベストメントが事業プロモータをつとめたJST START事業では、社会的会話AI技術を活用したメディアサービスの事業開発を行い、2021年に開催されたBeyond Next Venturesが主催するディープテック特化型アクセラレーションプログラム「BRAVE」では、特に英会話学習支援事業のビジネスモデルのブラッシュアップが行われました。今後、2022年4月に設立された早稲田大学ベンチャーズ株式会社やスタートアップ・エコシステム形成支援事業GTIEプログラム等との連携も含め、早稲田オープンイノベーションバレー構想の一翼を担うことが期待されています。
- 代表取締役：松山 洋一
- 本社：東京都新宿区西早稲田一丁目22番3号 アントレプレナーシップセンター内
- 研究所：東京都新宿区早稲田27 グリーン・コンピューティング・システム研究センター 3階
- 国⽴研究開発法⼈ 新エネルギー・産業技術総合開発機構（NEDO）「⼈と共に進化する次世代⼈⼯知能に関する技術開発事業」（2020年度採択）
- 国立研究開発法人科学技術振興機構（JST）「研究成果展開事業 大学発新産業創出プログラム（START）（2019年度採択）
- Beyond Next Ventures主催アクセラレーションプログラム「BRAVE」（2021年度採択）
- 早稲田大学 グリーン・コンピューティング・システム研究機構
- 早稲田大学 アントレプレナーシップセンター
- Beyond Next Ventures 株式会社
- ウエルインベストメント 株式会社
- 早稲田大学ベンチャーズ 株式会社
- 株式会社 早稲田大学アカデミックソリューション
- 株式会社 e-sia
- 株式会社 知能フレームワーク研究所
- 株式会社 内外切抜通信社
- オルトブリッジ・テクノロジー 株式会社
- Choitek 合同会社