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HEATHER ANDRUS

HEATHER ANDRUS

Heather has worked in strategic, multi-industry innovation and product development for over 20 years and leads the Radius and Digital Prototype Lab teams in the innovation hub of Silicon Valley, CA.

PUMPING UP THE VOLUME ON HEARABLES

Just take a moment and do something for us. Put your finger in your ear. Yes, in your ear. What did you find? We found a space that is the next frontier for personalized wearable technology. Taking Human Centered design to the next level, innovators and forward-thinkers are moving from your wrist to your ear.

While your ear might be empty right now (please take your finger out), in a year or two, it’s very likely that you will no longer be able to stick your finger in your ear. Sure, we joke a bit here, but the next level of wearable technology really is in our ears.

Technology and out-of-the-box creatives have gifted us with new ways to communicate, learn, thrive, and adapt to our surroundings. And this next wave of change will be coming through our ears. The hearable space is still in a relatively new phase of development but all indicators are pointing to huge growth in sales and product development.

Hearables are the Cutting Edge of Wearables
In 2014, Nick Hunn, a leading wireless technology expert wrote:

“Forget wristbands – The Ear is the new Wrist”.

These were heavy words in 2014, a time when wearable devices such as fitness trackers were struggling to thrive and people were still slightly skeptical of smartwatches. In fact, Hunn went even further in 2014 by coining the term that we all use so ubiquitously now: hearables.

Now in 2017, we’re busy reading reports, reviews, beta testing, and prototyping the latest innovations in hearables. What was just an idea in 2014 based on the hypothesis that consumers wanted more from their wearables: a simpler interface, less maintenance, the end of cables, real-life practicality, and useful data analysis – has morphed into an exciting space for product development.

In his 2016 report The Market for Hearable Devices 2016 – 2020, Hunn wrote that market indicators show that the predicted revenue for hearables is in excess of $40 billion in 2020.

This is why we want you to get excited about hearables. The opportunities for consumer, medical, and industrial innovation in hearable applications is unprecedented. Do us a favor and stick your finger in your ear again – now imagine what you can do with this space…

Hearables for the Everyday
Hearing aids. Earbuds. Personal Sound Amplifiers (PSAPs). Health monitors. Translators.

This is what the hearable space looks like today. Now think of where we can take this technology with a focus on human-centered design and harnessing the latest in technology advancements.

How are you going to be part of the $40 billion hearable market?

  • Artificial Intelligence. Will you be the leader in applying useful AI to hearables? Do consumers want hearables that can literally talk to them? An in-ear device that reminds patients to take medication or alerts healthcare providers when a patient’s heart rate and body temperature have exceeded acceptable levels. Or a hearable that encourages you to run faster or motivates you with personal messages during a marathon. How do you know if this is what consumers want?
  • Language translation. Gone are the days of language dictionaries – now we rely on our smartphones and smartwatches. But what if you could get instant language translation directly in your ear? You’re in a Belgian bakery but don’t speak Flemish, with a hearable translator you can easily purchase exactly what you want. For language learning, imagine the improvements with an in-ear language instructor that adjusts to the language needs specific to your environment.
  • Biometric monitoring. Gone are the days of restrictive heart rate monitor chest straps and inconsistent wrist monitors. With smart hearable technology, medical biometric monitoring reaches a new level. Wearers can get instant feedback on their heart rate, body temperature, and respiration. For healthcare experts monitoring patients remotely, they can deliver instant in-ear medical advice based on the data being transmitted by the medical hearable.
  • Communication for all. For people living with hearing loss, this can be a very isolating experience. Smaller and smarter hearing aids and PSAPs can make it easier to remove the barriers of not being able to hear and easily communicate. From design, materials, customized fit, personalized capabilities – the advancements in hearing aids and PSAPs truly will make a difference in day-to-day living for so many people.
  • Safety and confidence. An elderly person living alone can easily communicate with their family members with a nod of the head that signals the integrated hearable phone to place a phone call. Security personnel are no longer limited by distance and space when receiving instant updates regarding threats. Long-haul truckers and other heavy machinery operators can be discreetly monitored for signs of fatigue and receive updates of traffic slow-downs or other barriers. How can you be part of making a difference in workplace or home safety?
  • Entertainment. Music, movies, podcasts, VR – imagine how you can create a hearable that is customized sound signal quality and the shape of the consumer’s ear. Trying to listen to a critical call on a crowded subway platform gets easier with a hearable that can monitor sound frequency levels, dimming background sound for easier hearing. Music aficionados can take the advanced speaker technology and literally put in their ears. Add in the capabilities of new materials that can remember the unique shape of the ear along with the ability to provide customized sound – and you’ve got a revolution in listening and hearing.

The big question that remains is – what will you do? What do you think is the next big break-through in hearables? Will you sit back and wait to see what happens or will you be a leader in hearables? How will you realize the digital future?

Hearables Equals Innovation Realized Outcomes Achieved
We at Radius are keen to work with the leaders and innovators. This is what we’re all about.

We’ve got the best minds in discovery, design, development, and delivery. Take advantage of our expertise in consumer, medical, and industrial ideation to ensure you’re part of leading the next wave of hearable technology.

The choice is yours and we’re here to support you in discovering the true potential of your ideas.