Daily Updates, Future Ear Radio

Future Ear Daily Update: 3-18-19

To listen to the broadcast with your Alexa device, enable the skill here: https://www.amazon.com/Witlingo-Future-Ear-Radio/dp/B07PL9X5WK/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=future+ear+radio&qid=1552337687&s=digital-skills&sr=1-1-catcorr

and then say, “Alexa, launch Future Ear Radio.”

Voicebot Podcast Episode 86: Vijay Balasubramaniyan CEO of Pindrop

I usually try to carve out some time each weekend to catch up on some podcasts that I missed. This weekend, I wanted to circle back to this specific Voicebot episode because I had heard this was such a great conversation between Bret and Vijay. Suffice to say, I was not disappointed as this was a fascinating discussion that helped me understand the challenges and opportunities of security in a voice-centric world.

Link to Podcast episode: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/bret-kinsella/the-voicebot-podcast/e/59179098

Pindrop is a security company built for the voice era. The company started out by providing a fraud-detection solution used by banks and enterprise companies to identify fraud through voice biometrics. Pindrop uses 1,380 different “voice parameters” that allows for them to very accurately identify the user. The company raised $90 million back in December, which should help finance the company as it begins to set its sights on the consumer market by providing its technology to smart speaker and smart assistant providers that want to use voice biometrics for authentication and security purposes.

Here’s a quote from around the 54 minute mark as Vijay describes what Pindrop will help to facilitate, “What I would love for Pindrop to be able to do is accompany a consumer through an entire journey as voice starts taking over different parts of his life. I’d love to be able to lock my door just with my voice. I’d like to be able to drive my car and open it with my voice and then access my Salesforce data, or whatever else I need to access, with a single sign on with my voice. I’d like to go up to an airport kiosk and pull up my reservation with my voice and when I get to my hotel room, I open my room with my voice. And when I get into my room, I pull up my Netflix on the voice-activated TV, just with my voice.”

As we move into a #VoiceFirst future, a layer of security, provided by companies like Pindrop is going to be extremely important. Allowing people to securely authenticate themselves for voice purchases, controlling IoT devices remotely, approving changes to one’s account, and so forth, will make unloading a number of tasks currently handled through our mobile phones to a voice user interface that much more compelling. Imagine having a smart assistant residing in your hearable, verifying and authenticating you at all times through your voice (or physical!) biometrics. No more having to remember and type in passwords.

-Thanks for Reading-

Dave

Daily Updates, Future Ear Radio

Future Ear Daily Update: 3-15-19

To listen to the broadcast with your Alexa device, enable the skill here: https://www.amazon.com/Witlingo-Future-Ear-Radio/dp/B07PL9X5WK/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=future+ear+radio&qid=1552337687&s=digital-skills&sr=1-1-catcorr

and then say, “Alexa, launch Future Ear Radio.”

Bose Hearing Aids

The Hearing Tracker team was able to get a first look from the FDA on the new, not yet released, Bose hearing aids. Guess what? They look identical to Bose hearphones.

Bose Hearing Aid Hearphones
Image sourced from Hearing Tracker: Left: Bose Hearing Aid (Source – FDA Filing), Right: Bose Hearphones (Source – Hearphones User Manual)

 

I mean seriously, these appear to be identical. So, considering that the hearphones are a personal sound amplification device (PSAP), my guess is that the hearing aid is more-or-less an enhanced version of the hearphones, with more amplification and a self-assessment test taken by the user through the Bose Hear app.

Here’s the thing though, will people with hearing loss flock to a form factor like this for an all-day ambient solution? I think the neckband form makes sense for situational amplification, i.e. keeping the device around your neck at all times, but only putting the earbuds in during challenging listening situations. This is effectively what the hearphones were intended to do – allow the user to use them as a music listening device and a situational amplification device. I think the form factor makes sense in that capacity, but I struggle with the idea that people are going to wear this type of form factor for extended periods of time like they would with a receiver-in-the canal hearing aid.

The hearing healthcare space is likely to see a number of new suppliers coming from all directions as the OTC legislation is set to take effect in 2020 allowing for over-the-counter sales of hearing aids. We’re likely to see a lot of new takes on what a hearing aid could potentially look like, but the consumer and the market as a whole will be the real judge of what’s practical and what’s not.

Bose is certainly on the move and introducing a flutter of new products. Along with the line of new amplification ear-worn devices, they’ve also introduced Bose Frames, which are sunglasses with a speaker built into the frame. What’s interesting with Frames, is that Bose has created its own platform for developers to build augmented audio applications for (audio AR). Priti Moudgill, one of the founders of the wearable company Peripherii, wrote a great piece on Frames for Fash Nerd this week that’s worth checking out to learn more.

Bose AR Glasses
Image sourced from Fash Nerd: Bose Frames – Alto & Rondo

-Thanks for Reading-

Dave

Daily Updates, Future Ear Radio, Uncategorized

Future Ear Daily Update 3-14-19

To listen to the broadcast with your Alexa device, enable the skill here: https://www.amazon.com/Witlingo-Future-Ear-Radio/dp/B07PL9X5WK/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=future+ear+radio&qid=1552337687&s=digital-skills&sr=1-1-catcorr

and then say, “Alexa, launch Future Ear Radio.”

“Alexa IS the killer app” – Dave Isbitski

I’m a huge fan of Twitter, which I’m sure is obvious to the people who know me and follow @Oaktree_Dave on there. The reason I’m such a fan is because it’s like you get this front row seat to this marketplace of idea exchange, and if you know where to look, there’s some fascinating ideas and threads of discussion taking place. Dave Isbitski, the chief evangelist of Alexa at Amazon, had a real thought-provoking thread the other day that I wanted to highlight here.

It started here, with Techmeme claiming that across the 80,000 Alexa skills that have been developed, there’s no “killer app.”

Screenshots

Dave’s response:

Killer App

To which Marie Lescaille triggered this thread from Dave:

Thread

This has been a re-occurring theme among some of the brightest thinkers in the Voice First space – this idea that we’re moving away from a world that revolves around apps. Instead, Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri are aspiring to be the interface to everything. One example would be the interface to pertinent information we’re seeking.

I’ve written about this through the framework of jobs-to-be-done and how voice represents this opportunity to break down all our apps into bits and pieces, so that our smart assistants can go and piece together any combination of the “jobs” that our apps represent.

“Alexa, help me book a vacation,” which sends Alexa off to start researching every consideration that goes into that query. This includes the best times to take off work based on my work calendar, airfare, AirBnB options, where my favorite bands are touring, temperatures in each possible destination, places my friends went and enjoyed, top restaurants, etc. All of that information is currently isolated in various apps, so by breaking everything down and allowing Alexa to parse through it all and quickly weave it together into something actionable is really compelling.

That’s just the informational aspect to the potential of voice. Consider what Dave said around communication between businesses and their customers. “A real conversation, with their customers, every day, in the moment.” Smart speakers and voice assistants aren’t just marketing tools. This is all something entirely different and way more profound and while it might be fair to say that there’s not really a “killer application” with smart assistants yet, it misses the point that the assistant itself will ultimately be the killer application. An application that’s actually an interface for us to interact with the internet, businesses, and each other.

-Thanks for Reading-

Dave

ps. Google Action still being built out. Should be available on Google early next week.

Daily Updates, Future Ear Radio

Future Ear Daily Update 3-13-19

To listen to the broadcast with your Alexa device, enable the skill here: https://www.amazon.com/Witlingo-Future-Ear-Radio/dp/B07PL9X5WK/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=future+ear+radio&qid=1552337687&s=digital-skills&sr=1-1-catcorr

and then say, “Alexa, launch Future Ear Radio.”

“If I Were to Start a Business Today, I’d build it Around Alexa or Google Home” – Mark Cuban

In a recent podcast that Mark Cuban did with Recode, he was asked the following question, “I was curious with all the investing that you do, what are three areas that you’re really excited about investing in, besides gambling … currently?”

To which Mark answered, “So, if I we’re going to start a business today, I’d build it around Alexa and Google Home. If I was 15 or 20 or 25, and you know, back in the day when I was working as a bartender and started a company, I would learn … because Alexa skills and scripting Alexa skills is really, really easy. But everybody thinks it’s really, really hard. And so that disconnect is a great opportunity. And so I told my kids, other kids, learn how to script, and just go get your neighbors and set up all of these Alexa tools and you’ll make $25, $30, $40 an hour.”

I’m not sure everyone building in the voice ecosystem would agree with the details of what Mark is saying, particularly around scripting. However, I think he’s right from a high-level about there being a rather low barrier of entry to get started in the voice space, and there is seemingly a large abundance of opportunity to find a niche within the voice economy to build a business around.

The podcast was recorded in front of a live audience at SXSW, and throughout the podcast, there are a number of questions for Mark from the audience around Alexa, Google Assistant and AI more broadly. It’s definitely an interesting conversation, with a very tech-literate audience that ask pretty challenging questions. So, if you’re curious to know what Mark Cuban thinks about the future of smart assistants and the like, give it a listen.

-Thanks for Reading-

Dave

 

Daily Updates, Future Ear Radio

Future Ear Daily Update: 3-12-19

To listen to the broadcast with your Alexa device, enable the skill here: https://www.amazon.com/Witlingo-Future-Ear-Radio/dp/B07PL9X5WK/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=future+ear+radio&qid=1552337687&s=digital-skills&sr=1-1-catcorr

and then say, “Alexa, launch Future Ear Radio.”

One in Four U.S. Consumers Own a Smart Speaker Today

According to Voicebot’s recent Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption report, the number of US adults who own a smart speaker rose from 47.3 million at the beginning of 2018 to 66.4 million by the end of the year. This represents 26.2% of all US adults.

There were a number of interesting stats from the downloadable report, including the fact that Google and other smart speakers OEMS are gaining significant ground on Amazon in smart speaker share.

I continue to be blown away at how quickly smart speakers and smart assistants are being adopted by consumers. The technology is in its infancy relative to the potential of where things can go. So, to see such a large swath of the US adopting them (it’s growing like crazy internationally too), really says something about its current usability and the value it provides people (even if people are largely using their smart speakers for the same three things: music, random questions and weather).

So, as more and more people adopt smart speakers and become comfortable with communicating with their smart assistants via their smart speakers, it should be rather seamless to transition that access point to a hearable that houses a smart assistant. Sometimes the consumer will want a far-field hardware access point, but for the most part, what matters is that the consumer can quickly access and communicate with their smart assistant. So, what better of access point than an in-the-ear device that puts the assistant right in your ear?

-Thanks for Reading-

Dave

p.s. –  I’m in the process of creating a Google Action so that you can listen to this via Google Assistant as well. 

Daily Updates, Future Ear Radio

Future Ear Daily Update: 3-11-19

Advanced Bionics’ Cochlear Implant to Use Sonova’s SWORD chip

Advanced Bionics new Nadia CI Connect cochlear implant will have universal Bluetooth streaming capabilities thanks to the Sonova Wireless One Radio Digital (SWORD) chip. Sonova is in the process of implementing SWORD into all the new devices under its umbrella, including all the new Phonak hearing aids, such as the Phonak Marvel.

Bluetooth hearing aids have been around since 2014 when Resound introduced the Linx, but it’s only recently since we began seeing more universally compatible hearing aids that work with non-Apple handsets. That same trend now applies to cochlear implants too. The Nadia CI Connect represents the first universally compatible cochlear implant processor with direct streaming to any type of smartphone. While Cochlear’s Nucleus 7 Sound Processor is made-for-iPhone compatible, it requires an additional accessory, the True Wireless Phone Clip, for Android streaming.

Slowly but surely, universal, direct Bluetooth streaming from one’s hearing aids or cochlear implants to any type of smartphone is becoming a key, standard capability.

To listen to the broadcast with your Alexa device, enable the skill here: https://www.amazon.com/Witlingo-Future-Ear-Radio/dp/B07PL9X5WK/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=future+ear+radio&qid=1552337687&s=digital-skills&sr=1-1-catcorr

and then say, “Alexa, launch Future Ear Radio.”

-Thanks for Reading-

Dave

Daily Updates, Future Ear Radio

Introducing Future Ear Radio

FuturEar-Radio-logo-2

When I first started this blog back in 2017, my whole goal was to establish some of the macro-trends that were converging around the ear. Smart assistant integration, biometric monitoring, live-language translation, the breakthroughs transpiring inside the devices, and all the other topics that I touched on across the first 20 posts on this blog.

During this initial phase of FuturEar, all of these trends were sort of incubating, so in my mind, it made sense to write from a macro-level to paint the big picture of where things were headed. I wrote posts around concepts like network effects and jobs-to-be-done to help frame how these trends would evolve. The purpose for the first stage of FuturEar was to create a foundation of concepts that I could later begin layering on updates of the progress around each area, once the trends began to mature.

Over the past 18 months, the transition from “dumb” to “smart” ear-worn devices has gradually accelerated and, alongside it, we’ve seen the emergence and maturation of all kinds of exciting new use cases that our hearables will support. Now that things are rapidly advancing with both the hardware and the software (use cases), it seems that it’s time to transition from a macro-style blog with long-form posts, to a more micro-style blog, with shorter, daily posts. Which brings me to FuturEar Radio.

FuturEar Goes Micro

In a two-part post I wrote for Voicebot.ai, I detailed out why I believe we’re on the cusp of a, “Cambrian explosion of audio content.” One of the biggest takeaways from the mobile computing era was that it democratized content creation. The vast majority of us have a super computer in our pockets capable of capturing, uploading and sharing content via Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. We’re starting to see the same type of building blocks and easy-to-use, free tools for audio content creation emerge. So, I’m going to join in on the fun and start creating audio content on my own.

Each day, Monday-Friday, I’ll be using Castlingo to upload a 77-second Flash Briefing called “Future Ear Radio.” This will be me surfacing and highlighting the most interesting thing I found on the internet for the day that pertains to all the different trends that have been established on FuturEar. To access my casts, simply go into your Alexa or Google Assistant app and enabled “Future Ear Radio”…add it to your Flash Briefing too so that it blends into your day seamlessly! To add it to your Flash Briefing, search for Future Ear Flash Briefing or ask your assistant to add it your Flash Briefing for you.

Also, to go along with the flash briefing, I’ll be publishing a short blog post in tandem with each broadcast, so that there will be a textual and audio element to each day’s news.

This is my first foray into audio content creation and I wanted to use a broad title like “Future Ear Radio” because I think down the line I’ll want to create other types of audio content that fit under the Future Ear Radio umbrella. Stay tuned on that front and for now, go check out my debut broadcast!

I look forward to having you follow along with me into this next stage of FututEar. Now that all the trends converging around the ear are starting to really ramp up, so too will the blog. This should be fun.

-Thanks for Reading-

Dave