Endel's generative soundscapes appear in Sony's new headphones

Endel’s generative soundscapes appear in Sony’s new headphones

The other day, Brian reported on Sony’s new LinkBuds headphones, including his partnership with Endel’s “What If Brian Eno Were Computer Software” app. The company uses some truly fascinating artificial intelligence technology to generate soundscapes and music tracks to help your brain do its best – to help you focus more deeply, sleep easier, or relax. I spoke with one of Endel’s founders to learn more about the technology and his deal with Sony.

“Endel is first and foremost a technology that was designed to help you focus, relax and sleep. And the way this technology works, it procedurally generates a real-time soundscape on the spot, on the device. It’s personalized for you based on a number of pieces of information we collect about you; things like the time of day, your heart rate, the weather, your movements, and your circadian rhythms, like how much how much sleep you slept last night,” says Oleg Stavitsky, CEO and co-founder at Endel. “This technology listens to all that data, plugs into the algorithm, which creates the soundscape in real time, which gives us allows you to react in real time to changes in you. Through this technology, we are building an ecosystem of products, so that our soundscapes can follow you everywhere during the day on all these channels and platforms. We’re pretty much everywhere at this point; iOS, Android, Apple Watch, Mac or Apple TV, Alexa… you name it. »

While reviewing the product, I came across a few glaring omissions where available: there was no way to stream it to my Sonos speakers (the solution is to install Alexa on Sonos), and the Endel app does not support streaming. , so you also can’t stream to Google Home.

Running the app using headphones, however, creates an intimate and beautiful experience. The audio tracks are Eno-esque in their breadth; it’s like an ambient soundtrack that slowly evolves through your day. Sitting at my desk, I felt focused; a combination of music and blocking and drowning out distractions.

Soundscapes are based on radical – professional music industry jargon for sound clips, consider them samples. The app has a huge library of samples and stems, and the algorithm picks the right stems to sequence the audio together. In addition to basic sequencing, the software performs additional adjustments on top.

“We have a some AI systems in addition to this sequencer; AI systems that basically generate melodies. There are millions and millions and millions of variations,” says Stavitsky. “Some of the soundscapes in the app are made in collaboration with some of the biggest artists on the planet. We have Grimes and Miguel and James Blake and Plastic Man and others that we’ve worked with, so they’re good. The way they work with us is that they prepare a stem pack, a sound pack. They never submit a musical composition. These are just the building blocks that the algorithm then uses to assemble the tracks on the fly.”

The company says it gets approached by companies all the time and has to consider whether partnerships are a cost or a benefit at some point. He decided to say “yes” to the headphone giant Sony, resulting in this collaboration.

“Sony’s headphone innovation department contacted us. They said we’re working on this new model that will somehow understand the context of where you are, and we want these headphones proactively activate a certain soundscape,” says Stavitsky, “I’m frankly very, very skeptical of 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 this is that the core idea of ​​Endel is that it’s an always-on soundscape that follows you everywhere during the day. Sometimes you can barely hear it, and sometimes it’s like front and center and it shields you from the rest of the world. I think this idea of ​​headphones that proactively trigger some type of soundscape based on the context of what’s going on with you is exactly how we envision our product being used. It’s just going to be a huge play button — you press that button, and it listens to your calendar, listens to your heart rate, and it proactively switches between all the soundscapes. That’s what we’re working towards, and these headphones make that real.”

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