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AI and Audio (1): How do audio interfaces make us more aware of the body, Andreas Gall?

Nothing comes so close to you and touches you like the sound of 150 beats per minute: Athletes immediately understand what they do through an audio interface. This is perfect for the training, says former Redbull Chief Innovation Officer Andreas Gall: "Because with it it's easier to bring data together with reality."

Andy,what does audio mean for you?
For sure, audio is very close to my heart and a big part of my life for many years. I was always fascinated by music, sound and audio. At my time at Red Bull, I had the chance to combine it with my daily work: In one project we identified that in normal training we touch a lot of the athlete's senses, we make video sessions or analyze statistics, but we never bring audio-files into the daily training work.

Series “Earware": How does audio tech help in fitness and health?
This text is part one of our series on the question: How can technology help us live healthier lives via our sense of hearing or voice?

Part 1 - Audio bio-feedback: how audio interfaces make us more aware of the body
Part 2 - Audio tech as therapy: AI-composed music helps you sleep, relax or focus
Part 3 - Audio diagnostics: As I speak, health AI makes a diagnosis (coming soon)

Please give us an example for it, how could audio-files have an impact on it?
Well, just take a look at your life-sound, the heartbeat. For example, I can tell you: „Dude, you have a heartbeat of 150 beats per minute“ and I can also show you the ECG with the graphic. But nothing comes so close to you and touches you like the sound of 150 beats per minute on an audio-file. The sense of hearing releases completely different memories and emotions - and if you listen to your heartbeat you associate something with it. This is more realistic and accessible through audio experiences. And in our work, we like to combine this with audio-interfaces together to an audio 3d-experience. And, to be honest, the future of such audio interfaces could be mind blowing.

3D-audio experience, that sounds very interesting. What do you think that means for our training-routine?
Mentally training means: We want to learn, but we also want a reflection of what we are doing. Audio feedback could now be a piece of the puzzle that supports the athlete in the best way. Cause you immediately understand what you did. If you listen to your breath, your heartbeat or also the sound of the bike or other devices: With all of this, you immediately remember what you have done. To rebalance the senses means to delegate the main information to your ears and your "internal reality". So, it is perfect for the training, because without it it's harder to bring data together with reality.

Andreas Gall @ FitTech Summit:Digital Edition

On May 25-28 2021, the FitTech Summit is going live with a fully digital edition, with three days full on insights devoted to the future of fitness and health in the post-pandemic world. We are pleased that Andreas Gall will be part of this event.

How is your view on the market?
We can see a kind of an explosion at the headphone-market: 30% of all headphones in 2020 were earplugs. Furthermore a lot of firmes will combine artificial intelligence exactly with audio interfaces — cause AI could be the right puzzle piece to support you in this area and to translate meta data back to audio instead of giving you something in your display. And I know a lot of manufacturers who are just concentrating on this, because of the fact that people more and more have good headphones.

Which are big players on headphone markets?
Well the big players are normally the well-known, like Jabra, which make nice headphones with integrated AI, and also Apple. The last-mentioned is experimenting with a 3D-sound system and is in front now. But with Sony and Sennheiser there are other players as well and everybody and everybody is working on it at the moment. I also know manufactures who are working on bone conduction technology.

Well, wait a second: what is bone conduction technology?
Bone conduction technology? You have a special, little device (close to the skin) which is translating audio directly from the skin to the bone, therefore you don’t need a headphone anymore. It’s a direct bone conduction and you can listen to the sound in perfect quality without closing your eyes or using earphones. That sounds revolutionary and could be a big thing on a headphone market, which I am still waiting for!

That sounds crazy! What do you think, how can this technology be trickled down to the everyday consumer?
I would say in sports/areas like skiing, motorbike, mountainbike, where you wear helmets - all there, where you can use AI as a support system. There are as well motorbike manufactures which work on it. And in combination with helmet sport & also with extreme sport as a learning/training effect.

About Andreas Gall
Andreas Gall is a media expert with 30 years of experience. He is a trained radio, television and sound engineer and held various leading positions at radio stations. He joined Red Bull Media House in 2007. Worked there as Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Technology Officer. What all his stations have in common: He always experimented with his fascination for audio. This year he founded his own company: Human-Centric-Innovators to enhance human uniqueness – with the help of symbiotic technology tools and solutions.

"I discover, I develop, and I innovate technical solutions that enable people to use man-machine systems proficiently and with confidence", he says.

What do you mean with learning effect?
Imagine, If you are a skier and this audio-system is also a kind of an augmented reality warning system giving you signal-sound, where other persons cross the pist and sensitises you for this situation. This could be a good impact for all the helmet sports. And this helmet-area is in the focus at the moment.

If you look to the application to our industry: How is the fitness industry touched by ai and such technologies? And what's your vision?
Fitness and health - of course - is also a big part of this technology. We should reactivate us and concentrate on the whole body. We also should reactivate the senses, use the digital tools in a perfect balance: always in a human centric way. That means to activate the whole body with the maximum benefit. I see how young creators or people in the industry are interested in the human being in a perfect balance with high tech.

For me it means, we have to bring the data from the computer back to humans - we still have better microphones than ears, we still have better cameras than eyes. For the interfaces it means to scale down and slow down. We need to understand that humans need a different way to bring information back. Just one way, just in a kind of a visual information, that would be wrong. But if you use all senses you have a perfect package and you can bring it back better and faster.

How does this technology has an impact to training sessions during the covid 19-situation?
We see that in this pandemic the people go out and look for alternative ways to do their fitness sport. And they need to reactivate the whole body - and the technology has the chance to give the people a personal contact with their voice. My dream is to create someone like the perfect „audio-digital-body“ on our side. It’s like your whisperer, but much more intimate. Someone who has a personal tonality, mentality and a real voice. The whole day you don’t need a view on a display anymore, you just have the personal voice for your body who whispers to you, what to do. Like a „Come down“ during a meeting or a „You are in a good mood, you can speed up“ during your run round the lake. Look at my example with the heartbeat: 90 beats per minute is a more inspiring sound than just the simple text. So let’s use it, cause a good audio message is a perfect "emotionaliser".

Disclaimer: This text is a summarized transcript of an episode of the Future of Fitness podcast, created in cooperation with us, the FitTech Company.