In a new profile appearing in Bloomberg Businessweek, Starkey Hearing Technologies President Brandon Sawalich and company Founder Bill Austin discuss the company’s rise from its humble beginnings in Austin’s basement to become what is now the only US-based “Big-5 manufacturer,” as well as Starkey’s new focus on incorporating the latest technology into its hearing devices, such as the Livio AI.
Austin’s vision for the Livio began when he recruited Achin Bhowmik as Starkey’s Chief Technology Officer. Bhowmik had previously run Intel Corp’s Perceptual Computing Group and was studying the connection between human systems and autonomous intelligent systems that could potentially work without human intervention, ie, self-driving cars or drones. Austin believed artificial intelligence (AI) systems could be utilized to “help people understand the world better” and he visualized the Livio as a platform to help people communicate despite language barriers (it currently translates 27 languages) and live better beyond simply helping them hear better: tiny sensors in the Livio can track health metrics such as steps walked and stairs climbed, as well as detect if someone has fallen (and will summon help unless notified that the user is fine). Soon, it will be able to measure heart rate as well.
Predicting a technological revolution of sorts, Sawalich estimates that, in the next 5-7 years, hearing aids will evolve to the point of being able to detect glucose levels and blood pressure, a comparison he likens to “Jarvis from Iron Man.”
For the full profile, please click here for the Bloomberg Businessweek website.
Source: Bloomberg Businessweek