Bragi uses Watson IoT to deliver computing power to the ears

By | 2 minute read | January 16, 2018

My company, Bragi, is the inventor and producer of the world’s first “hearable” microcomputers. You’ve probably heard about wearable tech or “wearables,” but what if you had always-on access to the tech you need right in your ears? That would be a hearable.

By tapping into the cognitive power of IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) technology, hearables connect their users to information that can transform the way people interact, communicate and collaborate in the workplace.

Hearables have obvious consumer applications as music players linked to a smartphone by Bluetooth, or as fitness trackers. Our Dash smart earphones do these things, of course, and the onboard memory means users can play music without their phones. Integration with the IoT, however, lends credibility to the idea that we’re making more than headphones. The ability to leverage the cloud for hands-free and eyes-free communication opens up possibilities in enterprise computing for doing things more effectively than before.

IoT integration helps explain expert predictions that hearables could represent a USD 20 billion market by 2020. Enterprise use cases and applications in industrial and medical settings will help to drive this growth.

 Powering a hearable computer

The Dash Pro, our newest device, features more than 150 micro-components, including a 32-bit processor, 27 sensors that can measure a user’s vital signs, Bluetooth connectivity, 4 Gb of mass storage, a microphone, and up to five hours of continuous battery life and 30 hours on-the-go—all in a package the size of a fingernail.

On the software side, the Dash operating system includes support for the iTranslate translation app, a kinetic interface for interacting with the device using hand and head gestures, and the ability to understand whether a user is running, cycling or swimming powered by artificial intelligence.

Working with IBM, we have set our sights on six initial focus areas for enterprise applications: worker safety, guided instructions, smart employee notifications, team communications, workforce analysis and optimization, and biometric ID.

Applying hearables to the enterprise

Imagine all the work processes that would benefit from hands-free and eyes-free computing, such as complex maintenance tasks where instructions could be transferred audibly instead of visually, or a firefighter communicating with supervisors. Med-tech also offers much promise, especially if the sensors could determine a patient’s temperature or blood cell counts. The data could be critical for physicians making a diagnosis. And hearables linked to Watson could let physicians look up at their patients instead of down at a computer screen.

Watson’s translation capabilities integrated into hearables could improve team communications by making language barriers a thing of the past. People could speak in one language while their colleagues hear in another. The hearable would convert the speech to text and cloud-based Watson would translate.

Exploring a green field

Industrial workers wearing heavy gloves could be audibly linked to Watson in the background, enabling them to compute on the job. In environments too noisy for voice, a kinetic interface could let workers trigger an app by tapping their cheek or with a head gesture. If someone working in a dangerous environment were to fall, hearable sensors could detect it and automatically place a call for help.

Like the smartphone, audible computers represent a green field for innovation. The more you think about them, the more ideas you get. We are excited about exploring new applications one after another.

Hear more from Darko Dragicevic about Bragi’s hearable devices in the video below:

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