Bragi to Shut Down its Hardware Business
Hugh Langley from Wearable reported yesterday that Bragi would be shutting down its hardware division after receiving confirmation from Bragi CEO, Nikolaj Hviid. Bragi will continue to exist, as it will license its IP and AI, but the hardware division has been sold to a mysterious third party buyer (Starkey? probably not).
It wasn’t that long ago, when the idea of an “ear-computer” (the true definition of a hearable) started to come to life in the market with offerings from Doppler Labs, Bragi, and Nuheara (who is still very much alive in the market). In October of 2015, one year before Apple unveiled AirPods, Doppler’s founder, Noah Kraft, laid out the company’s hearable vision to CNBC. “We want to put a computer, speaker, and mic in everyone’s ear,” Kraft said during the interview. “We have very lofty visions of the future, everything from real-time translation to personal assistants.”
The hard reality is that starting a hardware company from scratch is really, really hard. This rings especially true as smart assistants continue to rise in adoption and popularity, and the companies that reside behind the assistants, Apple, Google, Amazon, and Samsung, are all looking toward our ears as a home for their assistants. In 2017, Doppler went bankrupt, and now, a year and a half later, fellow hearable manufacturer Bragi shuts down its hardware line too. Andy Bellavia from Knowles Corp summed it up very well with the tweet below:
Andy is exactly right – knowing where the future is headed is tough, but usually through enough research you can kind of understand which technologies are probable and which are not. Timing, however, is extremely tough, and although both Bragi and Doppler might be proven accurate in their vision of a hearables-filled future, some of the “killer use cases” (primarily smart assistant integration) were not mature yet back in 2015. You might be bullish on crypto, or AR/VR, or having computers in our ears, and it’s probable that all of those will be widespread technologies in the future, but to actually know when when the market and all the supporting use cases will be ready for said technology is incredibly hard to predict.
Cheers to these companies for trying to bring their vision of the future to life and helping to pave the way for other companies to learn from them and pick up the pieces where they left off. We’ll likely see new entrants into the market and old entrants thrive and die, but the march toward true in-the-ear computers continues on.
-Thanks for Reading-