The other day, Brian talked about Sony’s new LinkBuds headphones, including their partnership with Endel’s What If Brian Eno was part of a computer program. The company uses really cool AI technology to create audio clips and music tracks to help your brain do its best work — to help you focus more deeply, fall asleep more easily or relax. I spoke with one of the founders of Endel to learn more about the technology and its deal with Sony.
“Endel is first and foremost a technology designed to help you focus, relax and sleep. And the way this technology works, it procedurally creates a real-time audio scene instantly and on your device. It’s just for you,” explains Oleg Stavitsky, CEO and Co-Founder at Endel.” This technology listens to all of this data, and it is fed into the algorithm, which creates a real-time audio landscape, allowing us to react in real time to your changes. And with this technology, we’re building an ecosystem of products, so our audio clips can follow you everywhere during the day across all these channels and platforms. We are all over the place at this point; iOS, Android, Apple Watch, Mac or Apple TV, Alexa… you name it. “
Reviewing the product, I found a number of glaring omissions where it’s available: There was no way to stream it to Sonos speakers (the workaround is to install Alexa on Sonos), and the Endel app doesn’t support casting, so You can’t stream to Google Home either.
However, running the app with earphones creates an intimate and beautiful experience. The vocal tracks are Eno-esque in their breadth; It’s like an ambient soundtrack that slowly evolves into your day. I sat at my desk, feeling myself focused; A mixture of music, blocking and drowning out distractions.
Tracks are based on Trunks – a professional language in the music industry for snippets of sounds, think of them as samples. The application has a huge library of samples and stems, and the algorithm chooses the correct stems to sequence the sound together. On top of the basic sequence, the software makes additional adjustments at the top.
“we’ve got Few AI systems on top of this sequencer; Artificial intelligence systems that primarily generate melodies. “There are millions and millions and millions of variations,” Stavitsky says. Some of the audio clips on the app are done in collaboration with some of the biggest artists on the planet. We have Grimes, Miguel, James Blake, Plastic Man and others that we’ve worked with, so they’re good. The way they work with us is to set up a stem pack, a sound pack. They never perform a piece of music. It’s just the building blocks that the algorithm then uses to quickly assemble the paths.”
The company says companies deal with it all the time, and they have to consider whether partnerships are a cost or benefit at any point. She decided to say “yes” to headphone giant Sony, which led to this collaboration.
“Sony’s Headphone Innovation department called us. They said we’re working on this new model that will somehow understand the context of your place, and we want these headphones to proactively activate a specific audio scene,” Stavitsky”I’m honestly very, very skeptical about all of these integrations, for a number of reasons. There is always an opportunity cost. Being a small business, you wonder if we should do this. What got me excited about it was that Endel’s core idea is that it’s an ever-playing audio spectacle that follows you everywhere during the day. Sometimes you can barely hear it, sometimes it’s like front and center and it’s protecting you from the rest of the world. I think the idea of this headphone that proactively triggering a certain type of audio scene depending on the context of what’s going on with you is exactly how we envision how to use our product. This would just be a huge play button – you press that button, and it listens to your calendar, listens to your heart rate, and proactively switches between all the audio clips. That’s what we’re working towards, and these headphones make that a reality.”