Guest: Ian Freed, CEO of Bamboo Learning
Topic: 5 Reasons Why Bamboo Learning Fascinates Me
Hello and welcome back to Future Ear. The next episode of podcast features Ian Freed, CEO of Bamboo Learning.
Throughout this conversation, Dave highlights five reasons why he believes Bamboo Learning is one of the "must watch" companies within the voice industry. Through a combination of deep domain knowledge (Ian led the Alexa team at Amazon when Alexa debuted) and subject matter expertise (co-founder Irina Fine's background in education), the two have fused their knowledge together to create an educational offering built specifically for Alexa devices.
Ian believes Alexa is a computing platform in its own right, and therefore thinks that there's far more potential with the types of experiences that can built for Alexa speakers and multi-modal devices, which is what he and Irina are aiming to prove with Bamboo.
Guest: Keri Roberts, Brand and Content Strategist and Host of the Inside VOICE podcast
Topic: Takeaways from 100+ Voice Technology Podcast Interviews
Keri joins Dave to discuss some of her biggest takeaways from the first 100 episodes of the podcast she hosts, Inside VOICE. The two go rapid-fire through a number of her guests, highlighting the main theme of the episode and what resonated most with Keri from the discussion. Keri shares her unique perspective from covering so many different facets of the voice technology industry making for a fantastic discussion.
Guest: Paul Michaelenko, CEO & Founder of the Listen App
Topic: The Listen App & Social Podcasting
Paul sits down with Dave to share the vision of the Listen App, a new type of podcast player with an emphasis on social sharing. As the two discuss, podcasting is in need for a social layer that's built natively for the audio medium. Just as we saw Facebook's first attempt at a mobile app fail due to not accommodating for the mobile user interface and size of the device, podcasts exist in an audio-based environment, but are primarily accessed and shared through text-based formats. The Listen App team is effectively taking on the challenge of bringing other elements of the podcasting experience (i.e. listener engagement) to the native environment of the podcast: audio.
Paul shares some of the different ways that the Listen App is reimagining the podcast experience with features such as voice comments and voice recommendations. Look for the Listen App to hit the app stores soon.
Guest: Kevin Liebe, Audiologists and President/CEO of Hearing Health & Technology Matters
Topic: Innovations in Hearing Care and (Hearing Aid) Data is the New Oil
Kevin Liebe joins Dave to discuss the new column he's launched at HHTM around innovations occurring in the hearing healthcare industry. The two discuss the three interviews that Kevin has conducted so far, going one-by-one to talk through some of the key takeaways from each guest. From there, the two discuss the possible benefits that may stem from the mass amount of data that is now being collected due to the widespread proliferation of connected hearing aids.
Guest: Priti Moudgill, CEO & Founder of Peripherii
Topic: Fashionable Hearables
Priti sits down with Dave to share the story behind what led her to start her hearables startup, Peripherii. The two discuss why hearables designed as earrings that are tailored for women is both intriguing and feasible, the rise of "situational" hearables, and the type of universal features that will likely be available for the broad hearable economy over time.
Guest: Liz Fuemmeler, Audiologist and Vestibular Specialist at Hearing and Balance KC
Topic: Life as a Recent Audiology Graduate
Liz joins Dave to share her journey of becoming an Audiologist and landing her first job as an AuD as a Vestibular Specialist at Hearing and Balance KC. During their conversation, Liz shares what life has been like transitioning from grad school into the working world, how she found a job in private practice, what drew her toward becoming a Vestibular specialist, some of her major takeaways from her first year as an AuD, and her perspective of the future of Audiology.
Guest: Andreas Stegmann, Product Manager at Chrono24 and Author of the post, "Spotify at the Crossroads"
Topic: Spotify at the Crossroads
Andy joins Dave to walk through his fantastic Medium post, "Spotify at the Crossroads," where he lays out some of the pitfalls Spotify is facing and how the company might best navigate those challenges. One of the keys, Andy believes, will be for the company to find a way to grow beyond music and into more ambient forms of media. Content Curation, discoverability, social sharing and open-sourcing are just a few of the topics discussed in this wide-spanning episode.
Guest: Mark Truong, Audiology Student and Host of the Hear Me Out Podcast
Topic: Hearing Aid Genius Bars
Mark joins Dave to share some of his key learnings from the first year of starting his podcast. Mark is a first year student of audiology in Melbourne, Australia, and has taken the initiative to start his own podcast, where he interviews all types of hearing care leaders and experts about a wide variety of audiology-specific topics.
Much of the conversation centers around how hearing care providers are well positioned to thrive in the impending OTC era by differentiating the patient experience they provide through exceptional service. Mark says that one of the biggest takeaways he's had from his guests is that the patient/customer is becoming much more savvy and well-informed, and therefore, providers need to go above and beyond during the patient experience as great experiences can lead to positive online & offline feedback (positive reviews, great word of mouth marketing). On the flip side, a poor experience can lead to brand damage.
There's a lot to learn from companies like Apple, who have created an exceptional experience of purchasing Apple products through its stores and the genius bar. Mark and Dave believe that practices could implement something that resembles a hearing aid and hearable genius bar, where the provider is the expert on all of the various technology and plays the role of match-maker, matching the patient to the best piece of technology that suits their needs. Therefore, it's not just being an expert on the science and fitting of the device, but also the technology and the various things that these new devices are capable of.
Guest: Andy Bellavia (Business Development at Knowles Corp) & Bradley Metrock (CEO of Score Publishing and host of Project Voice)
Topic: The Emergence of Voice Panel from Project Voice
This episode of the podcast is a recording of the, "Emergence of Hearables" panel from Project Voice. Dave and Andy comprise the panel, which was moderated by Bradley. The three discuss a wide range of hearables + voice technology topics, including the recently announced Bluetooth protocol, Bluetooth LE Audio, and the types of applications that this protocol can facilitate.
In addition, they discuss the ways in which voice assistants can be designed to work for hearables and some of the types of hearables-specific voice applications we may see. At the end, the conversation shifts to biometric monitoring, the challenges faced with collecting this type of data, and also the potential for voice assistants to serve as an intelligent aggregator and agent of the data, notifying the user of what's being assessed from the data.
Guest: Bob Stolzberg, CEO & Founder of VoiceXP
Topic: Wise Words from a Voice Pioneer
Bob Stolzberg joins Dave to share some of the key things he's learned across the first three years that Bob has been building voice experiences. Bob's company, VoiceXP, provides a do-it-yourself platform that allows anyone to easily create voice experiences for Alexa or Google Assistant on their own - as Bob refers to it, it's the "Wix/Squarespace of Voice."
One of the key learnings that Bob shares is that it's best to keep your experience simple at the onset and not try to, "boil the ocean." Launching a voice experience is only half the battle, as the other half is making people aware of the experience via legacy marketing efforts. If you build it, they won't necessarily come.
The two move onto what the future holds as we enter into this new decade and Bob believes that one of the biggest breakthroughs will be the vast increases in API's that voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant can tap into. This will reduce the friction for users to access voice skills, which means it will be much more compelling for businesses of all types to start creating voice experiences. In addition, Bob sees "in-situation" invocations becoming a compelling hook to get businesses to buy into building voice experiences.
Guest: Carl Thomas, Founder of Audiowings & Longtime Hearables Enthusiast
Carl joins Dave to discuss a wide range of hearables-specific topics. The two begin with some of the key learnings that Carl has had from his time knowing Nick Hunn, the wireless analyst who coined the term, "hearables." Chief among those learnings was the idea of hearables-as-a-platform, and the type of ongoing experience that these products can provide, beyond the hardware. For example, might we one day see hearing aids unbundled, where one buys the widget and subscribes to the audiometric configuration, aka their "prescription" on a monthly or annual basis?
Some of the other topics that the two discuss are why the ear makes so much sense to collect biometric data and what can be done with that type of data. As Carl states, the ear is a, "physiological playground," given the highly unique combination of traits that make it ideal for data collection. Finally, the two discuss a fantastic Twitter thread that Carl posted last year juxtaposing hearables with a famous line from the TV show, Halt & Catch Fire. "Hearables aren't the thing; Hearables are the thing that gives you access to THE thing."
Guest: Brielle Nickoloff, Product Marketing Lead, Witlingo
Topic: Toolsets for Voice Creators
Brielle joins Dave to talk about Witlingo and the toolsets that they're building off to arm voice creators and help them make content production and distribution easier. For example, Witlingo's platform allows for non-technical people, such as Dave, to quickly publish and disseminate his flash briefing to Alexa and Google Assistant in a matter of minutes. The two talk about how each phase of computing tends to proliferate at an increasing rate, as the toolsets mature, allowing for better production, resulting in an abundance of higher quality content.
As Brielle describes to Dave, one interesting area that Witlingo is focusing on is with community messaging - think assisted living facilities or college campuses. Through the various tools Witlingo provides, community managers can broadcast messages and updates on a one-to-many basis or even a one-to-one basis to each of the community members. This type of use case is compelling because it habituates the user to using their voice assistant-enabled devices more regularly, bringing more voice users into the fold.
Guest: Brett Bivens, Venture Capitalist at TechNexus
Topic: Spotify's Pursuit of the Growing "Audio Day" Opportunity
Dave and Brett explore Spotify's pursuit to be more than just a music streaming company, with podcasting being the first step toward all kinds of new, more profitable ambient media services. The conversation largely revolves around Spotify CEO Daniel Ek's question of whether our eyes should really be worth 10X more than our ears. The two discuss why Spotify is unique relative to other consumer SaaS companies, some of the potential opportunities the company has to move into new verticals, and why an acquisition of The Ringer would probably make a lot of sense (depending on the sale figure). Finally, the two talk about ByteDance and TikTok and the intersection of social media and audio.
Guest: Dave Copithorne - Director of Content at Hearing Tracker
Topic: Recapping Starkey's 2020 Expo
Dave C walks Dave K through the four day Starkey Expo held in Las Vegas this past week, highlighting some of the key themes, product developments and general takeaways from the expo held by the American hearing aid manufacturer.
The two begin by discussing Starkey's flagship hearing aid, LivioAI, and how Starkey is doubling down on the efforts to transform the hearing aid into a preventative health tool through new product announcements and the first ever hire of a Chief Health Officer. In addition, Starkey CTO Achin Bhowmik introduced LivioAI Edge, a new iteration of the Livio that incorporates a level of edge-computing, allowing for improvements in things like speech-in-noise by leveraging the on-device processing. According to Dave C, the commonality across all announcements was that Starkey is pushing the boundaries on what high-end wearables can do, particularly with the ways that it can capture data and generate actionable insights from said data, while simultaneously making hardware-specific improvements to accommodate these additional features without sacrificing the integrity of the quality of the device. In essence, Starkey is moving the ball forward with the re-imagining of the traditional hearing aid.
Guest: Anna Pugh - Longtime Audiologist, BSHAA Council Member, and Owner of Hearing Therapy Online
Topic: The Audiology Long Game
Anna and Dave chat about the, "Audiology Long Game," and how the hearing care professional can flourish in these changing times. The conversation spans a whole host of topics, including the state of the hearing care landscape in the UK, why hearing aid adoption rates are similar in the UK as the US (even though hearing aids are free in the UK through the NHS), and how the mass proliferation of consumer hearables (i.e. AirPods) is adding a new dynamic to the stigmatization of hearing aids.
The bulk of the conversation centers around the idea of hearing care providers needing to re-position their business models to become more service-based. The reason being is that as the market of options for folks to treat their hearing loss grows to include more online, automated and big box options, it creates more complexity and therefore, more demand for expertise. Hearing care professionals, with their years of education and expertise, own an asset that's defensible and tough to replicate, which is their knowledge and expertise. As Anna and Dave discuss, the providers that thrive in the, "Audiology Long Game" will be those who leverage their expertise most effectively to differentiate against traditional and new competitors via exceptional expertise and service.
Guest: Nick White, EVP of Patient Care Solutions at Orbita
Topic: OrbitaASSIST & Voice Applications for Healthcare
Dave and Nick talk about some of the ways that Orbita is pioneering and implementing voice technology into the healthcare setting. As a leader in the Voice + healthcare space, Orbita is at the forefront of what's becoming possible as voice is transfused into a wide variety of medical settings.
One area that Orbita is particularly interested in is at the patient's bedside in the hospital. OrbitaASSIST transforms the traditional call-button found in many hospitals, to provide a much more contextually-rich type of patient-to-nurse communication system.
The way that OrbitaASSIST works is that it allows for the patient to issue a request for a nurse to come see the patient, and can input via the assistant what exactly they need. Each request goes into a portal that the nurses attending to the patients tied to the portal, can get a breakdown of who needs want and better triage urgent requests. As Nick mentions to Dave, the current time it takes for a traditional call-button request to be attended to can range from a few minutes to over a half-hour. Teams that have begun to implement OrbitaAssist have reduced their time for urgent requests to 14 seconds. There are massive efficiency improvements being facilitated by this type of technology.
This conversation provides a glimpse into the innovative ways that voice technology is beginning to support medical professionals, patients and caregivers in many new ways.
Guest: Ryan Kraudel, VP Marketing - Valencell
Topic: Biometric Sensors + Hearables
Dave brings Ryan Kraudel on to talk about the type of biometric sensors that Valencell manufacturers and the various devices that these sensors are being embedded into. Valencell makes optical-based, PPG (photoplethysmogram) sensors that are capable of capturing and measuring a wide-range of biometric health data points. If you've ever seen the green blinking light on the underside of an Apple Watch, that's the PPG sensor capturing one's heart rate data.
As the two discuss during the episode, there's been a breakthrough recently with these type of sensors, both in the size of the sensors (allowing for them to be embedded on devices as small as a receiver-in-the-canal hearing aid) and the sophistication of the machine learning algorithms that are used to asses the data. Given the widespread of adoption of consumer wearables and the increasing amount of sensors that are being outfit on these devices, the two talk about how this will give rise to personalized, individual longitudinal health data sets.
The health baselines that can be established with consumer wearables and the ability for machine learning algorithms to detect deviations from the baselines, will usher in a much more proactive phase of healthcare. Rather than reacting to the symptoms of being sick, this new combination of technology will allow for Apple Watch, AirPods and other wearable users to be alerted to potential risks being discovered within their data. This is the era of preventative health and as Ryan mentions, we're only beginning to scratch the surface with the types of metrics that we can glean from the broad swath of health data being captured by Valencell's PPG sensors.
Guest: Tim McElreath, Director of Technology - Mobile & Emerging Technologies at Discovery
Topic: Food Network Kitchen
Dave and Tim discuss the recently launched application from Discovery, Food Network Kitchen. This new, interactive application is available on mobile devices, and specifically designed with Amazon's Fire TV and Echo Show smart displays in mind. The service includes a library of thousands of recipes, step-by-step on demand videos for many of the recipes, and 4-6 live-cooking classes with Food Network chefs. When using the application through a smart display, users can pause/rewind videos with their voice as well as ask questions pertinent to what's being cooked (how many pounds of chicken are needed?).
Throughout the conversation, Tim makes the case for why Food Network Kitchen might ultimately serve as a blueprint for how content-based companies can integrate their content through these new, voice-based modalities. It's easy to see how Discovery may even replicate this service for other segments of content it owns, such as HGTV with educational and entertaining videos of its own.
Guests: Scot & Susan Westwater
Topic: Pragmatic Voice Strategies
Dave chats with Scot and Susan Westwater about their two-person digital consultancy, Pragmatic Digital, and their new book, Voice Strategy: Creating Useful & Usable Voice Experiences.
Pragmatic Digital was created to help meet the growing demand that companies of all sizes need help getting started with a voice strategy. Scot and Susan take a pragmatic approach with voice, based on their long tenures in agencies and digital marketing firms, applying many of their key learnings from past paradigms to how businesses should think about voice. In the book, the two lay out a framework for companies to use to begin developing their voice strategies. This blueprint helps companies to see that rather than trying to hit a homerun, it's better to just find small things that can be implemented around voice, and start with a base hit.
Voice Strategy: Creating Useful & Usable Voice Experiences can be purchased here or on Amazon.
Guest: Hunter McKinley, CMO - YAC Chat
Topic: Apps for an AirPods-Oriented World
Dave and Hunter discuss YAC (Yelling Across Cubicles) and the apps they're building around two major trends: remote work and the emergence of AirPods (and other hearables). One of the apps that the YAC team has built is called BRB, which allows for 30 second voice messages to be relayed back and forth. BRB is designed with remote teams in mind, making it a hybrid of a walkie talkie and Slack.
The two discuss how messaging is evolving, citing emerging international markets and younger cohorts and the ways that these individuals prefer to message. This speaks to a broader trend, which is that many of the applications and use cases that we rely on our smartphones today are being unbundled.
Guest: Geoff Cooling, Hearing Aid Know
Topic: A Tsunami of Change Heading for Hearing Healthcare
Dave and Geoff talk about why we're poised to see more change in the hearing aid industry across the next 5 years compared to the past 50 years. The reason? A confluence of trends. The devices are transforming into hearables - ear-worn computers - which are giving rise to new use cases, allowing for the devices to perform far more tasks. In addition, new legislation like the over-the-counter hearing aid act opens the door for lower-cost options and new suppliers to enter the market.
The two talk about how hearing care professionals can position themselves now to adapt to the impending wave of change and embrace the disruption.
Guest: Bradley Metrock, CEO Score Publishing & VoiceFirst Events
Topic: Project Voice
Dave and Bradley talk about the genesis of Project Voice (formerly named the Alexa conference), how the conference has evolved, the growing voice enthusiast community that Bradley has helped to cultivate and what to expect at this year's Project Voice.
Along with the conference, Bradley also shares his take on whether we're in the midst of a, "trough of disillusionment," with voice technology.
Guest: Andy Bellavia
Topic: VoiceFirst Hearables Use Cases
After discussing the evolving hearables landscape in part one, Andy and Dave now move into some of the new use cases that voice-assistant enabled hearables will begin to offer. One area that seems ripe for some innovation is around audio content consumption and the ways in which we access said content. Perhaps this combination will offer new ways to curate and discover audio content specific to the user's interests.
GPS-based applications also represent a new avenue with lots of possibilities, which the two speak about in depth. The idea of having conversations with your voice assistant about loads of information that's already stored in the app ecosystem.
Guest: Andy Bellavia
Topic: Hearables Ubiquity
Andy and Dave provide a rundown of the recent movement that's occurred in the hearables space with the slew of new products being entering the market or due to enter the market soon. We'll soon have AirPods Pro, Beats Powerbeats Pro, Echo Buds, Galaxy Buds, Pixel Buds 2.0 and Surface Buds (maybe) all available on the market. The era of hearables has officially arrived, and Andy and Dave reflect back on this journey to 2020 and the challenges that were overcome, and new hearables-specific features that are beginning to go mainstream.
This convo sets the stage for part two of the conversation, which will cover various use cases that are beginning to emerge as the hearables user base grows and begins to serve as a home for voice assistants.
Guest: Katherine Prescott - Founder & Editor of Voicebrew
Topic: Multimodal Smart Speaker Growth
Building off their discussion in the previous episode, Katherine and Dave now begin to explore some of the unique use cases that multimodal smart speakers are enabling. They chat about The Food Network Kitchen, an on-demand service that will be deeply integrated into Alexa and really illustrate the evolution of smart speaker devices, as well as other unique use cases specific to multi-modal smart speakers.
Guest: Katherine Prescott - Founder & Editor of Voicebrew
Topic: Multimodal Smart Speaker Growth
Katherine and Dave highlight the recent Canalys report which stated that smart display shipment share crossed 20% of all devices shipped. The two discuss what it means now that the era of multimodal Voice First devices is officially here.
Follow Katherine on Twitter: @kbprescott