Guests: Alan Davis, CPO at Nuheara; Andy Bellavia, Director of Market Development at Knowles Corp
Topic: Building a Successful Hearable at Nuheara
Alan joins Andy and Dave on the podcast this week to talk through the first 5 years at Nuheara as the Chief Product Officer and how his team of engineers was able to successfully build and iterate three separate versions of Nuheara's flagship hearing-enhancement hearable, IQ Buds. During this conversation, the three discuss some of the biggest challenges that plagued the hearable industry just a short while ago, how companies like Nuheara were able to solve those dilemmas, and some of the key lessons learned from these formative first years.
Nuheara is one of the biggest success stories in the hearables ecosystem, as the company not only survived the initial period, but are in as strong of a position as ever coming off the company's best earnings period yet. As the three discuss, there are many exciting innovations on the horizon that Nuheara should be well suited to incorporate into their future product offerings.
Guest: Anna Rosen, Enterprise Solutions Engineer at Voiceflow
Topic: Voiceflow 2.0 & The Democratization of Conversational App Creation
Anna joins Dave this week to break down the big update to Voiceflow's conversational AI platform, V2. Voiceflow is a prototyping and design tool that allows teams of designers and developers to bring ideas to life and test their conversational AI creations in robust ways before deploying to various channels & modalities. These channels now include everything from Alexa/Google Assistant/Siri, to SMS, Slack, Twilio, Facebook Messenger, and more, while the modalities have expanded beyond smart-speakers, to in-car experiences and mobile applications.
Anna and Dave talk through some of the major developments that were revealed and how Voiceflow's all-in-one tool is helping to enable conversational AI teams collaborate and work together remotely, whether that be in real-time or asynchronously. As the two discuss, some of the major challenges that conversational AI teams face are rooted in communication breakdowns between designers and developers, which is why V2 had such a major emphasis on building feature sets that enable a more unified language between the two. In essence, V2 enhances speed, efficiency and communication.
Ultimately, what makes Voiceflow so special is that it caters to any level of builder, from experienced developers/designers to first-timers. It's truly helping to democratize conversational app creation and grow the ecosystem.
Guests: Luke Pearce, Market Analyst (Consumer Audio) at Futuresource Consulting; Andy Bellavia, Director of Market Development at Knowles Corp
Topic: Breaking Down Hearables' Massive Growth in 2020 & What's on the Hearables' Horizon
Luke and Andy sit down with Dave this week to talk through Futuresource's 2020 Hearables Market Report, citing the key findings and then talking through some of the major trends indicated in the data.
Major trends discussed are:
- People buying a second or third hearable device for different use cases and situations
- The current status of voice tech integration into hearables
- The growing demand for "conversational enhancement" and amplification hearable features within the consumer market
- The trajectory of biometric monitoring features, biometric data visualization, and the preventative health use cases built off bio data
The three each share their perspectives on these topics and provide their opinions on what comes next now that the era of hearables is truly upon us.
Guest: De Wet Swanepoel, Founder of HearX Group, Professor of Audiology at University of Pretoria, Editor in Chief at International Journal of Audiology
Topic: HearX, Having a Remote-Oriented Mindset, and Health Hearing for Everyone, Everywhere
De Wet joins Dave on the podcast this week to share the vision of his company, HearX Group, which is to provide healthy hearing to everyone, everywhere. HearX provides a suite of digital solutions, such as online hearing tests and self-fit hearing aids, that can be deployed by hearing professionals all around the world. In essence, HearX strives to utilize the power of the internet and today's digital tools to overcome and circumvent traditional barriers, so that as many people as possible can access the means to achieve healthier hearing.
As the pandemic continues to accelerate trends such as video chat and telemedicine adoption, HearX Group embodies a true, remote-first mentality and is enabling hearing professionals with the type of digital solutions that will help professionals' businesses transition into having more remote options for patients available. As Dave and De Wet discuss, there are many low-cost tools available to professionals today that can be actioned on almost immediately, to help gradually increase the amount of digital avenues of access to hearing hearing care that any type of hearing practice can implement and offer their patients.
Guests: Dr. Ed Farrar, Co-Founder of Oto; Ben Thompson, AuD, Audiologist, Tinnitus Specialist, and Founder of Pure Tinnitus.
Topic: Tinnitus Therapy Solutions in 2021
In honor of Tinnitus Awareness Week, Dave is joined this week by two leading tinnitus experts to talk through all things tinnitus. The three discuss Ed's company, Oto, which is an app-based solution that provides smartphone users with various methods of Cognitive Behavioral Therapies (CBT) through the app. The app and its course modules were designed by leading tinnitus experts, including Future Ear guest, Anna Pugh, and built in an approachable, easy-to-access way, allowing for broad accessibility and usage for the millions of people suffering from tinnitus.
In addition, Ben shares his perspective as an Audiologist and tinnitus expert, and describes why solutions like Oto are so important to those suffering with tinnitus, as well as the profession of Audiology. Ben's YouTube channel, Pure Tinnitus, sheds a light on the various types of tinnitus treatment available, which includes group therapy or 1-to-1 therapy, as well as more general solutions for anyone broadly seeking treatment.
Guests: Dr. Natalie Phillips, Audiologist at Advanced Otolaryngology and Audiology. Founder/CEO of Connect4Excellence; Dr. Angela Alexander, Audiologist & Owner of Auditory Processing Network and APDSupport.com.
Topic: Breaking down the hot new social audio app, Clubhouse, and how hearing professionals might be able to leverage it.
Dave sits down this week with Dr. Natalie Phillips & Dr. Angela Alexander to discuss Clubhouse and how each of them have been utilizing the app the past few months. The three discuss the ins-and-outs of the app, describing how it works, as well as how Natalie & Angela each believe fellow audiologists and hearing professionals can use the app for personal and professional growth.
Full transcript here.
Guest: Ron Jaworski - CEO & Founder of Trinity Audio
Topic: Making the Internet Audible
Dave kicks off Season 2 of the podcast with Ron Jaworski to discuss the innovation transpiring around text-to-speech, which Ron's company, Trinity Audio, is spearheading. The two chat about how the attention economy and the broad internet is gradually migrating toward our ears, and while audiobooks and podcasts have now been around for a little while, we're beginning to see spoken-word audio expand much more broadly, starting with many of the major publications' content libraries (i.e. WSJ, NYT, BBC, NPR, etc).
Ron and Dave talk through why today's synthetic voices have started to get increasingly realistic and the implications of shifting content consumption to our ears. This leads into a robust discussion around AirPods, hearables and hearing aids increasingly serving the role as, "content machine" as more types of content can be consumed in its entirety, or content that can be handed off from text to audio in a seamless fashion.
Full Episode Transcript: Here
Guests: D'Anne Rudden, AuD; Kat Penno, AuD; Nick Reed, AuD; Geoff Cooling; Kim Cavitt, AuD; Cliff Olson, AuD
Topic: What are you looking forward to in 2021 as it relates to hearing health, audiology, and/or hearing technology?
For the last episode of 2020, Dave chats with six hearing professionals to understand what's on their mind heading into the new year.
This is part two of two. Part one (episode 54) featured seven individuals with backgrounds in consumer hearables, voice technology and hearing health advocacy.
Episode Transcript: here
Guests: Andy Bellavia, Shari Eberts, Carl Thomas, Ryan Kraudel, Brielle Nickoloff, Scot & Susan Westwater
Topic: "What are you most looking forward to in 2021 as it relates to your industry, expertise and passion?"
Dave sits down with seven of his guests from the show this year to highlight what each person is most looking forward to in 2021 as it relates to their industry and expertise.
This is part one of two, focusing on folks with a background in hearables and voice technology. Part two will feature a group working in and around hearing healthcare.
Episode transcript: here
Guest: Andrew Song, Co-Founder and President of Whisper.ai
Topic: Whisper.ai and a Novel Approach to Hearing Aids
This week, Dave is joined by Andrew Song, to discuss Whisper.ai and the new approach that the San Francisco-based company is taking with its hearing aid design. Andrew shares the three-pronged approach to their design - receiver-in-the-canal hearing aid devices, the "brain" processor (which is roughly the size of an AirPods case), and a mobile app - and explains how this system relies heavily on artificial intelligence to constantly improve the patient experience.
In addition to reimagining what a hearing aid system might look like, the company is distributing the Whisper exclusively through hearing professionals and actively looking for professionals to join their network.
For more information, visit Whisper.ai.
Episode Transcript: https://futurear.co/2020/12/10/053-andrew-song-whisper-ai-a-novel-approach-to-hearing-aids/
Guests: Shawna Jackson, Clinical Audiologist at the Callier Center (Dallas); Jackie Phillips, Audiologist & Product Manager for the Otoscan at Natus Medical
Topic: The Value of 3D Ear Scanners
Jackie and Shawna join Dave this week to highlight an intriguing piece of technology that has recently been introduced to the audiology market: 3D ear scanners. Throughout this conversation, Shawna walks through her experience of using this type of technology at the Callier Center on a daily basis, and speaks to all the various benefits derived from the 3D scanner. In addition, Jackie, as the product manager for one of these devices, helps to further illustrate some unique ways that 3D scanners can be utilized by the professional.
Ultimately, 3D ear scanners provide a highly effective way for professionals to differentiate their service offering, generate genuine excitement, facilitate patient education, and reinforce their professional value in the eyes of the patient.
Episode Transcript: https://futurear.co/2020/12/03/052-shawna-jackson-aud-jackie-phillips-aud-the-value-of-3d-ear-scanners/
Guest: Richard Einhorn, Owner - Einhorn Consulting
Topic: Breaking Down the Significance of the Jacoti + Qualcomm Partnership and the Consumerization of Hearing Health Functionality
Richard joins Dave on this podcast this week to share his perspective of the Jacoti and Qualcomm partnership, as he has been a longtime consultant for Jacoti. With Qualcomm partnering to integrate Jacoti's hearing augmentation technology inside Qualcomm's chips, we're due to see a number of hearable manufacturers introduce products that utilize this integration to provide hearing augmentation functionality.
The two discuss why this partnership is such a big deal for combatting hearing loss at scale, what it means to bake Jacoti's technology into Qualcomm's hearable chips, and how this impacts the entire spectrum of hearing augmentation devices.
Episode Transcript: https://futurear.co/2020/11/19/051-richard-einhorn-jacoti-qualcomm-the-consumerization-of-hearing-health/
Guest: Bret Kinsella, Founder and CEO of Voicebot.ai
Topic: The State of Voice Technology and What Comes Next
Bret joins Dave for the 50th episode of the podcast to break down the current state of voice technology, with a look toward what's on the horizon with conversational voice assistants.
The two talk through the following topics:
- The current phase of voice assistants: habituation & specialization - all the various ways that people are gradually building the habit of using voice assistants, along with the specialized voice assistants that are being built for specific domains (i.e. banking, healthcare, agriculture)
- How different modalities (speakers, smart displays, smart TV's, hearables) are adding breadth in use cases and perpetuating the habituation of voice assistants
- How the Alexa, Google and Siri ecosystems are taking shape and what to expect in the near future for each of these, as well as some of the more niche players
- The importance of media to voice assistants and why Bret & Dave agree that it will likely be one of the most impactful use cases for conversational AI
- Marsbot and the emergence of hearables-specific applications for voice assistants
Episode Transcription: https://futurear.co/2020/11/12/050-bret-kinsella-the-state-of-voice-tech-what-comes-next/
Guests: Nick Hunn, CTO of WiFore Consulting and Chairman of The Bluetooth SIG Hearing Aid Working Group; Carl Thomas, Founder of Audiowings
Topic: The Past, Present and Future of Hearables
In a very special episode of the podcast, Nick Hunn, wireless technology analyst and Bluetooth expert, joins Dave and Carl to share his insight around what's transpired in the hearable market since it emerged roughly five years ago, how it has taken shape up to now, and where Nick believes the market is headed across the next five years.
As the analyst who coined the term, "hearable," Nick offers one of the most knowledgeable and deeply researched perspectives around each facet of this product category.
- Why AirPods were so successful and the secondary effects of its success
- Potential applications of Bluetooth LE Audio
- The role of biometrics in hearables' trajectory
- How voice assistants will be used in tandem with hearables and the potential ramifications
- The importance of startups to this space
- The innovation transpiring inside the devices
Guests: Kat Penno - Audiologist & Founder of the Hearing Collective; Andy Bellavia, Director of Market Development at Knowles Corp
Topic: Lifestyle Enhancement Devices
Kat and Andy join Dave this week to walk through some of the most interesting hearables on the market, highlighting various features and aspects of each device that stand out.
In addition, the three talk through some of the recent news pertaining to the world of hearables and the use cases that they support, including Spotify's recent update that allows podcasts to now include full music tracks into podcasts, creating entirely new formats of audio content.
In addition, Foursquare has rolled out its new Marsbot Audio AR platform that has a number of very intriguing use cases and might be shedding a light on how the usage of hearables will evolve across the next few years.
The more you can do with hearing aids & hearables, the more incentive to wear them.
Guests: Dr. Kim Cavitt, Owner of Audiology Resources; Karl Strom, Editor in Chief at the Hearing Review
Topic: Exploring Where the Big Opportunities Lie for Hearing Professionals
Kim and Karl join Dave to discuss a wide variety of hearing healthcare-related topics and explore how the industry is broadly changing and what types of opportunities all of this change is generating.
Topics during this episode include:
- Accessibility and meeting patients where they want to be met by using new types of tools and services
- How hearing professionals might think about servicing the mild end of the market and why this side of the market is becoming increasingly ripe with opportunity
- Emphasizing services rooted in evaluation and charging for those services properly
- What new elements to audiology and hearing health excite these two industry veterans most
- Where these two would focus their efforts if they were just starting out in the industry
Guests: Irina Fine & Ian Freed - cofounders of Bamboo Learning
Topic: Building an EdTech Business for Alexa and Google Assistant
Irina and Ian join Dave on the podcast this week to share what it's been like building a business built specifically for Alexa & Google Assistant-enabled devices. Their company, Bamboo Learning, is designed to offer children an immersive learning experience, with a suite of skills and actions that provide educational problems to solve for Math, Literature, English, History and Music.
The two fill Dave in on recent updates to the company's offering, including a new SaaS "freemium" offering, as well as sharing the lessons they've learned from building on these new platforms. This conversation is a barometer for the health of the voice tech ecosystem, and lends itself to the idea that there are viable businesses that can be built within these emerging ecosystems.
Guest: Ryan Kraudel, VP Marketing at Valencell
Topic: Breaking Down the New Apple Watch Series 6 Blood Oxygenation Sensor
Ryan and Dave sit down to discuss the new flagship feature of the Apple Watch Series 6: the blood oxygenation sensor.
As an expert in biometric sensors stemming from his background at Valencell, Ryan shares how exactly this type of sensor works, why it uses red and infared light, what types of use cases can be built off this metric, and how this new variable factors into Apple's quest to build a true "intelligent guardian of health."
In addition, the two talk about Apple Fitness +, why it's not a threat to Peloton (but rather a boon), and how the Apple Watch's data is being overlaid in real-time to video as a precursor to AR.
Guest: Brian Roemmele, Payments Expert, Student of History, Polymath who coined the term "VoiceFirst"
Topic: The Path to Contextual Voice Assistants
Brian joins Dave for a marathon of an episode to discuss the trajectory of voice assistants and how we move into an era of contextually-aware voice assistants. The two cover a lot of ground with this far-reaching discussion, as Brian shares his insight into where he believes computing is headed across the next decade, as it becomes more ambient and conversational.
In addition, the two talk through Amazon's Project Kuiper and Amazon Sidewalk mesh network, and what Amazon is quietly working toward with its Echo Network.
Guests: Dr. Cliff Olson, Audiologist and Owner of Applied Hearing Solutions; Andy Bellavia, Director of Market Development at Knowles Corp
Topic: Breaking Down this Seminal Moment in Hearing Aid Innovation
Cliff and Andy join Dave this week to discuss the flurry of new hearing aids that have hit the market, and speak to the broad level of tech innovation that these devices represent. The three chat about how the primary use case (amplification) has been massively improved in the recent years, as well as how Bluetooth connectivity is reshaping the way today's hearing aids can be used.
Finally, the three walk through some of the emerging use cases that hearing aids are enabling, and why these secondary use cases not only have the potential to improve the value proposition of the devices, but also further enable the professionals to enhance their own value proposition.
Guest: Dr. Nick Reed, Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins School of Health.
Topic: The Significance of Johns Hopkins' ACHIEVE Trial
Nick joins Dave on the podcast to talk through one of the recent findings from the Lancet Commission on Dementia, which states that one of the strongest preventative actions to stunt the onset and rate of dementia is to encourage use of hearing aids for hearing loss.
As the two discuss, while this call to action seems very straightforward, the challenge is that the general medical community needs clinical validation in order to buy into the idea of mass screening for hearing loss (i.e. at one's physician checkup). That's what the ACHIEVE trial is set out to answer - whether or not there's a definitive link between hearing aids providing a some sort of positive effect to the rate of cognitive decline and dementia.
Nick outlines why this randomized control trial has the potential to serve as one of the most significant driving forces to impacting the broad perception surrounding the comorbidities linked to hearing loss and the preventative measures that can be taken to mitigate said comorbidities.
Guests: Brett Bivens, Venture Investor at Tech Nexus; Ryan Kraudel, VP Marketing at Valencell
Topic: The Apple Health Blueprint
Brett and Ryan join Dave to break down Apple's healthcare ambitions, honing in on what the company is building toward with its Apple Health app.
Throughout the discussion, the three chat about:
- Apple Health as a broad data repository housing its own data & third party device data
- The types of data that can be captured today and will be captured in the next few years
- New entrants into the health tech space (i.e. Peloton & Lululemon via its Mirror acquisition)
- Why Apple's messaging around privacy might ultimately be tied to its healthcare plans.
Guests: Jason Mayer, VP Commercial Sales at Phonak; Meagan Lewis, Director of Audiology at Wake Forest Baptist Health
Topic: Leveraging Remote Audiology Services to Adapt & Thrive
Meagan and Jason join Dave this week to chat about the implementation and usage of remote telehealth services in the audiology setting.
Meagan shares her own experience of incorporating remote services into her clinic, and provides her perspective around how she believes remote services can be effectively utilized today, and post-pandemic as well.
As a longtime veteran at Phonak, Jason offers a peak behind the curtain at how the hearing aid manufacturers are viewing this time, and what companies like Phonak are doing to help enable practitioners to operate remotely.
The conversation covers a wide array of topics, including the types of services that can be used by professionals today, how to think about billing for these services, and the evolution of the practicing professionals' business model as new services become more available and in-demand.
Guest: Mark Tucker - Alexa Champion & Senior Architect, Voice Technology at Soar.com
Topic: Top 5 Takeaways from Alexa Live 2020
Mark joins Dave this week to share the five most exciting developments coming from this year's Alexa Live, which is a virtual event sharing updates about Alexa held for developers, device makers and business leaders within the Alexa ecosystem. Amazon announced a total of 31 upcoming new features for its voice assistant, which Mark tracked meticulously on Twitter as he live-tweeted the event.
Mark is an Alexa Champion, meaning he was hand-picked by Amazon as one of the top-tier developers building skills and experiences for Alexa. During the course of this conversation, Mark and Dave walk through each of the five most important takeaways from this year's event.
Guest: Bruce Rasa - CEO & CoFounder of AgVoice
Topic: AgVoice & Voice Technology for Agriculture and Farming
Bruce joins Dave this week to share the story of AgVoice, a voice tech start up based in Atlanta that's aiming to arm our farmers with custom-built voice technology to assist in a range of different agriculture-based jobs. AgVoice works closely with a wide variety of farmers, agriculture workers, and plant scientists to better understand their lexicons and terminology, which they use to build custom natural language processing (NLP) systems around. The idea is that AgVoice's voice-enabled system can then allow workers to do things such as data entry in real-time, completely hands-free (by using a hearable), which is a massive time saver.
Throughout the conversation, the two discuss how innovations in cellular connectivity (ushered in by SpaceX's Starlink) are allowing for 5G speeds virtually anywhere on the planet, as well as breakthroughs in NLP are finally enabling this type of technology for a vast set of workers.
Guests: Andy Bellavia, Director of Market Development at Knowles Corp; Carl Thomas, Founder of Audiowings & Hearables Expert
Topic: "Hearables Aren't the Thing... They're What Give You Access to THE Thing"
This episode stems from a 2019 twitter thread from Carl, in which he posited that hearables are a portal to something much larger (riffing off an iconic scene from the AMC TV show, Halt & Catch Fire.)
Carl, Andy & Dave go around the horn to share what they think hearables will ultimately give rise to - similar to how computers eventually gave way to the internet.
Guests: Giles Tongue, CEO of ChatableApps; Geoff Cooling, hearing professional and co-founder of Hearing Aid Know
Giles joins Dave and Geoff for this episode to walk them through everything ChatableApps - from how it works and can empower folks with hearing loss, to the science that goes into the app and ultimately how it fits into the audiologists' suite of services.
Guests: Kat Penno - Audiologist & Founder of the Hearing Collective; Andy Bellavia, Director of Market Development at Knowles Corp
Topic: AirPods' Role in Tackling Hearing Loss
Dave is joined by Kat and Andy to discuss the new accessibility features coming to AirPods Pro with the new iOS14 update. Included in the features, is the ability to amplify and adjust sounds and frequencies for digital audio (music, podcasts, phone calls, etc), and also amplify ambient sounds while in transparency mode (people's voices). The three discuss the importance and relevance of these updates to the hearing loss population and the hearing health professional.
They share their views on how this will ultimately impact and help shape the broader hearables market, specifically the devices and features tailored for those with hearing loss.
Guests: Gyl Kasewurm (Professional Hearing Centers - MI), Meagan Lewis (Wake Forest Baptist Health -NC), Ronnie Boling (Brentwood Hearing Center - TN), Sheryl Figliano (Centers for Hearing Care - OH), Judy Huch (Oro Valley Audiology - AZ), and Jason Aird (Iowa Audiology & Hearing Centers - IA)
Topic: Life for Private Practice Owners and Audiologists from March-June 2020
Dave interviews six audiologists and business owners across the hearing care industry to discuss what life has been like in each of their business settings during the pandemic.
The goal of this conversation is to understand how their businesses have been impacted, what the shutdown has been like in different parts of the country, how they have adapted to these challenges, and ultimately what their practices look like as businesses begin to reopen from lockdown.
Guests: Shari Eberts - Hearing Health Advocate, HLAA Board Member, & Founder of LivingWithHearingLoss.com; Matt Hay - Hearing Health Advocate & Director of Audiology Sales at Redux
Topic: Life with Hearing Loss during a Pandemic
Shari and Matt join Dave to walk through their individual journeys from when they first discovered they had hearing loss to becoming advocates and champions for hearing health.
Each share their perspectives on the challenges folks with hearing loss face as masks and zoom calls become normalized, and ways that we as a society can better accommodate for our large population of people with hearing loss.
In addition, the three chat about technology and ways that it has proved beneficial for the hearing loss community.
Matt's NPR/KQED Story: https://www.kqed.org/news/11383461/soundtrack-of-silence
Shari's Petition to Provide Free Captions for People with Hearing Loss on Video Conferencing Platforms: https://www.change.org/p/zoom-provide-free-captions-for-people-with-hearing-loss-on-video-conferencing-platforms?recruiter=359597240&recruited_by_id=be034850-4047-11e5-a8c6-c9230ac6254b&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=petition_dashboard
Guests: Andy Bellavia (Knowles Corp), Chris Economos (PhysIQ), Ryan Kraudel (Valencell)
Topic: Building Early Detection Systems with our Wearable Devices to Combat Public Health Crises
Dave hosts a panel comprising of Andy, Chris and Ryan to explore the idea of how wearable & biosensor technology can be used to help combat public health crises by serving as early detection systems for irregularities found in individual health data sets. The four talk through today's sensor capabilities, clinical trials that have been conducted to highlight the validity, and how machine learning & deep learning are allowing for more sophisticated measurements & assessments of a wide variety of metrics.
Our wearables are quickly progressing to the point where they can serve as true guardians of health.
Guest: Kyle Acker, SVP at RiseENT
Topic: The Appreciating Value of Today's Hearings Aids
Kyle joins Dave to share his professional journey that led him to RiseENT after spending ten years at Starkey Hearing Technologies. From there, the two discuss how the industry can adapt to the various disruptive forces that it's facing. Finally, the two dive into today's hearing aid technology, and speak to the ways in which the hearing aid value proposition is evolving and how providers can best leverage all this new found value.
Guests: Jeff Adams, CEO & Founder of Cobalt Speech and Language
Topic: Building Alexa and What Comes Next for Conversational AI
Jeff Adams joins Dave for this episode of the podcast, walking Dave through the major hurdles that Jeff's team at Amazon had to solve when they were tasked with bringing Alexa to life. Jeff founded the Alexa Speech Group and led a team of speech & language scientists from 2011 - 2014 at Amazon building the automatic speech recognition (ASR) system and natural-language understanding (NLU) engine that Alexa runs on.
Jeff provides insight into how his team solved wake word detection, ASR, NLU, and text-to-speech synthesis, and then shares what's on the horizon for conversational AI more broadly.
Guests: Imrich Valach, Co-founder & CEO of Sentien
Topic: Sentien Audio: All Day Bone-Conduction Hearable
Dave sits down with Imrich Valach to discuss the novel and creative approach his team is taking to the whole premise of a hearable, with its all-day, bone-conduction audio device. During this interview, Imrich and Dave chat about the inspiration behind starting the company, why he ultimately settled on bone conduction for the form factor, and how the device can serve as a conduit to the audio web and voice user interface.
Guests: Nikolaj Hviid, CEO of Bragi, and Andy Bellavia, Director of Market Development at Knowles Corp
Topic: BragiOS: The Intelligent Hub Connecting a World Full of Sensors
Andy and Dave sit down with Nikolaj Hviid, the CEO of Bragi, to learn the full story of Bragi - how it started, the "proof of concept" hardware phase, and the current phase with BragiOS. Last year, Bragi sold off its hardware business to get back to its roots as a software-based company and shifted the whole company's focus on BragiOS.
Throughout the conversation, Nikolaj shares the vision of BragiOS and compares it to a sort of "hive-mind" of sensors that are operating as a collective group to gather insights. As Nikolaj mentions, sensors are increasingly becoming smaller and cheaper, allowing for broader proliferation. What BragiOS intends to do is connect and unify those sensors together within BragiOS so that all the various sensors can communicate amongst each other, to identify specific insights based on the aggregate of what's being sensed.
This was one of the most insightful and futuristic episodes yet. Enjoy!
Guests: D'Anne Rudden, Owner of Longmont Hearing & Tinnitus, and Brian Urban, President and Co-Founder of CounselEAR
Topic: TeleHealth in the Audiology Setting
Audiologists D'Anne Rudden and Brian Urban join Dave to talk about how TeleHealth is being implemented and adopted within the audiology setting. As a private practice owner, D'Anne shares her own experience of adopting TeleHealth in her practice, while Brian shares how CounselEAR's TeleHealth feature has been adopted by various hearing care professionals and practices around the country. The conversation delves into the perceptions and attitudes toward TeleHealth before the pandemic, how it's viewed today, and then how they each see TeleHealth's role in the audiology setting as we move beyond the pandemic and into the future.
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