Xander’s Smart Glasses Bring Real-Time Captioning to Daily Life for People with Hearing Loss

xander captioning smart glasses
February 7, 2023

MIT spinout, Xander, recently unveiled its first product at CES 2023 in Las Vegas. XanderGlasses are powered by Vuzix smart glasses that display real-time captions of in-person conversations to help people with hearing loss. In this augmented reality experience, captions are displayed seamlessly right in the field of view of the wearer.

In this episode, host Amyn Amlani talks with Xander’s Co-Founder and CEO, Alex Westner, and the Founder & CEO of Vuzix, Paul Travers. They discuss the motivation behind the creation of XanderGlasses, how the technology was developed, why they chose to partner with Vuzix and the new and emerging use cases for XanderGlasses.

Following a successful pre-seed fundraise in January, the company hopes to have two models of XanderGlasses available for purchase in mid-year 2023.

Full Episode Transcript

Amyn Amlani 0:10
Our ability to connect with one another through laughing in conversation, learning and dreaming, discussing about what is and what isn’t, is the essence of our existence as humans. In some environments, people, those with hearing loss and even those with normal hearing, struggle to connect with our communication partners. Our guest today offer a solution to overcome this issue. With me today are Paul Travers, Chief Executive Officer at Vuzix. And Alex Westner Chief Executive Officer at Xander. Welcome, gentlemen, thanks for being here.

Alex Westner 0:48
Thanks again.

Paul Travers 0:49
Yeah, agreed Amyn. Thanks very much for having us.

Amyn Amlani 0:53
So, Paul, why don’t you start out by talking a little bit about yourself and your company, please.

Paul Travers 0:59
Yeah, Vuzix makes these products called smart glasses. And we’ve been at this for 26 years, we long years ago started by making glasses for the US Defense markets. And we had this monocular device that would plug into Toughbooks. And you can take a iRobot robot throw it in a building, and this Special Forces guys could drive it around inside the building. And, you know, we would supply these kinds of things all over an enterprise today. And the one thing we learned early on in the game with was big and bulky kind of stuff people wouldn’t wear it. And so the Special Forces guys asked us, you know, as cool as this tech, I think is Paul, can you make Oakley style sunglasses that have computers in them. And if you could do that half the US military would buy these things, and they called it the Oakley gate. So Vuzix has been working on trying to make these fashion forward all in computer systems that people would actually wear walking down the street, quite frankly. And our tech is getting sexier and trimmer and slimmer and really designed for the broader markets, which is where it’s such a great fit with Xander I don’t want to take Alex’s thunder here, but nobody wants to walk around like they look like a cyborg and the glasses that Vuzix makes today are really starting to make that go away that Oakley gate thing is happening now out of Vuzix. And it’s guys like Xander that are making the applications that bring it home for the customers in the end and in a broader sense.

Amyn Amlani 2:24
So Alex, why don’t you go ahead and tap into what what Paul is saying here?

Alex Westner 2:30
Boy, where to start? So when we were looking at this area of hearing loss, my background is actually in audio technology. Trying to help computers understand sound I’ve been I was doing that for about 20 years. And in having a kind of a mid career question was thinking well, how do I make a bigger impact with this background that I have? And through a personal journey learned more about hearing loss? And how can I help people understand sound? I mean, we know in the US there’s almost 50 million people that suffer from the effects of hearing loss and the same concepts of auditory analysis, auditory scene analysis, understanding the acoustic environment, you can use those concepts to actually create information that when you can’t hear what’s going on. I mean, what our little slogan is when when you can’t hear what someone is saying Xanderglasses will help you see what someone is saying. So we’re providing that extra information that you know, you can have the best, perfectly fitted pair of hearing aids piping in the most clear audio into someone’s ears. And for some reason, some people can’t, still can’t hear or struggle with different accents or voice tones or pitches or noisy environments. And so we believe that to Paul’s point, now that AR glasses are wearable, the this this old idea that’s been around for decades is finally realizable. And Xander wants to be the company that brings it to market and makes that happen for people.

Paul Travers 4:02
Can I add just a little bit to that Alex- the glasses that we make what’s cool about them as you put them on and you know, I got my buddy over here in the white sweater and a pair. And he you look in those glasses and you see in front of you a computer screen. And in the case of what Xander does is they make the computer screen black and they put text on top of the words that are being spoken around you and I’m again I’m not trying to overwhelm myself, everybody understands, literally These glasses are information content glasses and they listen to what’s happening around you. There’s computers inside it and Xander works its magic, and puts out in front of you this information that you can read. And by the way, nobody else knows that you’re doing that. It’s just this information floats out in front of you like it’s your own special sort of communication link that you’ve never had before because heretofore you don’t get to see what is being said. Yeah, yes,

Alex Westner 5:01
absolutely, yeah. So if I put on these glasses here, these are the, these are the, one of Vuzix’s models here. So I can put these on. And everything that you guys will be saying to me would sort of appear, maybe like three feet in front of me kind of where your your head is at. And I would just see that text in real time being captured.

Amyn Amlani 5:21
What’s really cool in and Alex, I think you hit on this. So people don’t always understand what’s being said. So I always have captioning on when I’m watching TV, I have a mild hearing loss in the high frequencies. And you know, we’ve got, we’ve got a family room, that’s an open, it’s an open space. So the kitchen and the family room are right there. And when the kids and the wife get in there, and I’m trying to watch the news, or whatever sporting event, I can’t make out what’s going on. So the subtitles are always on, much to the chagrin of the other folks in the family. But it’s helpful for me. And then if you had an accent, you know, a British movie or whatever, then it really becomes even harder for me to understand what’s going on. And so you know, you think about this in the real world. Because now we’re talking about things that are more of a, of a perfect environment or more of a, you get into the real world where you’re having to have meetings, and you’re having to have a conversation with somebody, or maybe it’s a job interview at a coffee shop, having that ability to see what’s going on. And that extra information, not only auditorily, but we know from a visual standpoint not only increases your reduces your cognitive load, but it allows you then to become more engaged in what’s going on. So I think what you guys are doing is really, really cool. And I love the slogan that you guys have come up with because every one should come up with subtitles. I love that. I think that’s on your website they’re at. It’s in the glasses. Right? So as we’re as we’re having this discussion, what’s the I mean, what’s the true motivation for creating this product? And then how can people use this in the hearing care space, because most of our our viewers come from a service provision of tools and solutions and treatments for individuals with hearing loss.

Alex Westner 7:15
You know, that it’s interesting. The genesis of the company actually came from, I, many years ago, was diagnosed with macular degeneration. So I’ve got some distortion in my central vision. And it’s progressing super slow, I do find I have larger fonts on screens. But as an audio person, I was thinking, well, I might have to rely on on voice UI and sound, if my vision continues to degrade. Thankfully, it hasn’t been. But then it was my product hat on thinking, Well, are there products I could make, like, what can I actually do about this problem. And I did research and I learned that there are a lot of experts trying to actually solve that problem. And products exist and technology exists. And I thought that’s cool. But that’s not a business for me. So what about the opposite. And that’s when I also started to think, well, providing visual information for hearing loss. That is a huge market that is not actually being addressed at all. So that was, that was really the the foot of my personal journey that got me from, you know, applying my audio expertise to this problem was was experiencing kind of the opposite and the reverse. But this idea of sensory substitution is kind of what makes augmented reality technology super compelling. As as a use case, you know, like Paul was saying, We’ve got computers on our faces. Now what do we do with them, and we were really excited about this is, this is a great way to actually use a technology to make a deep impact on individuals lives.

Paul Travers 8:51
That’s great, actually. And in the enterprise space, it works very similarly. Not for language, but teaching somebody how to pack a pallet or helping a doctor learn how to do open heart surgeries, or I’d like to be altruistic and say that you know, musics mission has been to solve the hearing impaired problems of the world. Because even ntid, right down the street here at RIT. There’s so many folks that would love to be able to have a visual speech system that would work for them. You know, we made the glasses for a lot of reasons. And it’s folks like Alex here that are bringing them to life because it’s the applications that really bring it home in the end.

Alex Westner 9:28
You know, I want one more thing I want to touch on. Amyn, as you mentioned cognitive load. And that’s really interesting, because the very first customer interview we did, we started the company in February 2020. And a month later, we’re in lockdown. And you cannot test an AR product through zoom call. You just can’t. So it took us about 18 months before we’re able to actually get out in the world and put a pair of glasses on somebody. And we had a half hour. Now this is a woman who’s she’s got cochlear implants. She’s great, she actually does really well in a conversation, she’s gone through rehab. She does, she does well, she’s wearing the glasses, she seemed like that this is fine. She didn’t seem blown away, she just thought, Okay, this is cool. But two hours later, I get an email from her saying, Alex, this, this changed my life. Normally in a sitting down in a conversation like that with you, I would be tired, I would have a headache brewing. Because I have to use my ears lip reading, I have to use so much effort to understand a conversation like that. But when I was wearing your glasses, it was easy. It was effortless, I feel great. So she’s like, I am convinced. And we took that anecdote and we applied for a grant from the National Academy of Medicine, to actually put some to do a more of a quantitative study, can we actually measure this effect of people wearing the glasses and seeing that they have reduced cognitive load, they have reduced strain on their brain during a conversation. So that’s something that we’re actually going to start working more actively on in the next few months. But that’s, but that’d be interesting for your comment on cognitive load is that we think we have a another solution to help that problem.

Paul Travers 11:11
I’ve seen some people experiencing this and have tears in their eyes, frankly, because it was so game changing for them. They’re, they’re, you know, they’re, they’ve been left out of so many conversations, and all of a sudden, you know, opens their eyes to things they’ve not, you know, been hearing. So it’s pretty cool.

Amyn Amlani 11:29
Yeah, no, I can see all kinds of applications. And I’m going to save some of these for a little bit later on. An example that I’ll share with you now, but we’ll touch on maybe a little bit later on is, I can even see this being used in the educational model. You know, right now, you’ve got students who are overwhelmed with sound, and we’ve got more ADD and ADHD, whatever the right term is that’s happening in this would help alleviate I think some of those issues that they’re having. But we’ll talk about that in just a minute. I think one of the things that I find really, really fascinating about this whole thing, and again, I use captioning in in my world, is the way that you guys have implemented this. And I remember I got access to Google Glasses a number of years ago. And you know, there were some shortcomings with it, given this processors that were available eight or 10 years ago when those came out. But your abilities today, to do this in real time, my understanding is, is that there’s very little delay, from the time that the person has spoken to the time that the information is actually shared with them on the visual screen. And then the fact that it’s clean, and right in front of them, where the Google Glasses, if you’ve ever tried those, they’re not you have to position these things in the right way. It is, I think, tremendous. And you’re not having to pull out a phone and be inconspicuous. And you know, stigma is a real big thing, regardless of your age, and we’re still finding that true today. So, you know, as a provider, how can I get a consumer who is kind of on the fence about their treatment? To think about using these? How do I acquire them? And then what steps do I need to take in order for them to be successful?

Alex Westner 13:15
Yeah, that’s a great question. That the nature of so that when we first started testing the glasses, we were using a cloud service. So we were sending audio to the cloud and back and the latency is still quite good. But what we learned was that it’s very often where you don’t get a reliable signal to the cloud. And we thought, Well, geez, if you’re wearing a pair of glasses to have conversations that you need to have anywhere, anytime that’s not acceptable. So we pivoted to put the speech to text technology on the glasses. And that’s, you know, a big strength from Vuzix is that they make these glasses very powerful and capable to do that kind of thing. If we were on other kinds of platforms, we wouldn’t be able to do that. So Vuzix exactly enables us to put more tech on the glasses, so that the use case is I opened the box, I look at these glasses, I turn on the power button I put them on and that’s it. I don’t have to teach people how to pair to a smartphone or how to create an account or download an app or go to the Wi Fi. Like there’s nothing there’s nothing to do so the terms of like, successful patient outcome. There’s no training, there’s no learning curve. You just there’s no tuning even even some audiologists are kind of confused when I talk to them. What do you mean, there’s no, I don’t have to do anything. I just give them the glasses. And yeah, that’s really it. There’s one workflow that some audiologists have recommended, which is what when they come in for an appointment, I’m going to have them take their hearing aids out, I’m going to examine them clean them, maybe they wear the glasses while they have their hearing aids out so we can keep that conversation going. We can keep the flow going of the appointment. They don’t feel isolated as soon as they’re as soon as their ears are out. And they’re basically getting a free demo. This experience and if they like what they experienced, and then the audiologist can resell them a pair right there on the spot. Without any effort really,

Amyn Amlani 15:10
it’s incredible. and Paul, as you’ve developed this technology, are you finding, you know, in some environments are in some conditions, for example, high reverberation, that the speech that’s being captured by the devices is actually compromised.

Paul Travers 15:29
I mean, our, our glasses have multiple microphones on them. And they’re all tuned very well. And they have the ability, you can switch even to beam form towards the user’s voice who’s wearing the glasses, or you can switch the beam form. So it’s out directionally to the person that you’re looking at kinds of stuff. So we spend an awful lot of time in the acoustics side. And we didn’t do it per se for this specific function. I mean, these glasses are designed to work in warehouses, and like I said, operating theatres and like, but this whole acoustic thing has to be right, or why do you have microphones on the things to begin with, and there’s, there’s also speakers on the glasses, etc. So they got a lot of flexibility in this regard, we’re in we’re trying to improve that all the time. So that the experience is the best it possibly can be at understanding the acoustic information that’s going on around you, if you think about it, in some cases, you might be in front of a machine, that’s a bottling line, let’s say, at, you know, coke, and your maintenance guy, and the bottles are rattling by, and it’s like 98, dB and noise. And you know, your, the microphones are listening, and you’re trying to do a remote support call in that environment. So the mics gotta work well, and it’s not perfect, but it does a darn good job compared to even a smartphone today. So

Alex Westner 16:49
they do very well. And the fact that I’m always surprised at how, how many people with hearing loss don’t really understand acoustics of sound, and they don’t know how to place microphones, they don’t really understand even how sound works directionally. And so the fact that in the case of the music classes, all they have to do is wear them and the glasses take care of the microphones for them, they don’t have to think about that part. You know, some, you don’t have to buy a remote microphone or hold up your phone in a certain way. It’s just That’s all taken care of. Which is, which is a beautiful thing.

Amyn Amlani 17:24
So just to clarify, it sounds like there’s a little man in the in the devices that’s actually steering these microphones so that you’re getting the optimal sound, so to speak.

Paul Travers 17:35
There’s an acoustic processor chip that’s designed specifically for this, a portion of the silicon and the SOC that does all the management of the of the audio inside the system, including the fine tuning for the hardware itself, got resonant cavities, and all these things that require special signal processing and stuff to process the sound as it comes in so that it ultimately gets to Alex and he can just boom, this person said, so yeah, the little man in there does a good job. And he’s tunable.

Amyn Amlani 18:07
So let’s talk about updates. How does does the device need updates from time to time? And how does that does it do it on its own as you as you’re charging them? Or is all that?

Alex Westner 18:17
Yeah, there’s there’s two. So for our for our glasses were our our model is we’re taking Vuzix glasses, and we’re kind of rewriting the software to repurpose them for our specific application. So the music classes are a great platform that can do all kinds of things, we’re kind of really customizing it for just our thing. And the base case scenario has to be that everything local out of the box has nothing to do you just buy an appliance. So in that scenario, I expect half our customers would never even know how to do any kind of software update or do anything like that, beyond just, they’re on and off, and they will be perfectly happy and the glasses will work forever. Because that’s really the one thing that they do. For customers that are tech savvy enough to take that next step, we are also going to look at well, when we can connect them to the cloud, we can actually offer them more services. So that is something that we will sort of like the day to step is once we get them working out of the box, then how can we enhance that experience for the for the we’re estimating half the customers will be able to do more than just the baseline and then yes, we can provide updates we can provide other kinds of features and benefits. So that’s

Paul Travers 19:32
you’re talking closed captioning, right? Well, if you were Korean, and you were sitting at home and everything was in English, and your family was happy because they speak English, you could have language translation services put on the glasses, so the glasses listen, and you’ve got Korean kanji Katakana or whatever that information is they use to convey you know, Korean language and, you know, that’s just one other example and then you know, those can be paid services and those kinds of things. So from computer integration for translation. But to Alex’s point, Xander setting this up so it’s you pick it up and it works. You know, you don’t need updates and the likes that said the glasses, the if you get an internet connection are smart enough. If Xander allows it to happen, they don’t have to, they can just a look, I don’t want, because what happens when you do updates and things can go wrong, and then all of a sudden you got a frustrated customer. So but our glasses are designed for full updates, they work with all the based on the medical kinds of applications, HIPAA compliance, safety security protocols. If you are on a Wi Fi connection, it’s all you know, the the latest and greatest security data runs on Android devices. And you know, we have programs in place, especially on the enterprise side that does the updates appropriately. And because there’s a mobile device management software that’s available for the IT departments can pick and choose when they want those updates to happen.

Amyn Amlani 20:56
Very cool. So where do I get a pair of these? Do I go down to Best Buy? Or do I need to get on Amazon? How do I do this.

Alex Westner 21:02
So there’ll be available we’re targeting late spring, not available yet. But we have working prototypes. We showed them off at the CES show a few weeks ago in Vegas to great accolades and awards. And that was crazy fun. But we are and we’re starting a pilot program with the VA in February. So we’re working with the VA, there’s four clinics to start with around the country, that’s Pittsburgh, Palo Alto, Augusta, Georgia, and Orlando, Florida will be holding these pilots with each of these clinics where veterans can come in and actually try out these glasses and give feedback to the VA give feedback to us. If those programs go well, and veterans are like, yes, we need these, then the next step would be the VA becomes becomes a customer. And then we’re able to provide these glasses to veterans who are disproportionately affected by hearing loss as we know. So we’re excited about that. So this is this is where we are we’ve got some work to do to finish some of the bits have the experience to make the glasses really right. And yeah, so we’re we’re launching direct to consumer. Initially, we just want to crawl, walk and run, we don’t want to do a huge national international global launch, just want to make sure everything is right and rolling out carefully. So we’ll launch direct to consumer. Now because it’s being developed like a health appliance. I mean, it really is a single feature us device that does put us into those conversations of we can get reimbursement from flex spending accounts or health savings accounts, we’re going to start talking to vendors who supply hearing aids through supplemental health hearing health plans, because we should be able to get on those lineups that could take a long time, but we can start those conversations. So that’s that’s the that’s the plan. For now. The VA is a single payer model, which helps for rolling out to sell through audiologists. I want to make sure that we have our own experience right first before we take that step. But we are absolutely interested in working with audiologists. The markets feedback has been interesting, I think it’s it’s the the audiologists that are interested in different kinds of ideas are definitely drawn to it. And some of them are just very specific of now we got our hearing aids and I know that business and I’m not interested. So it’s not for everybody. And that’s that’s fine. We don’t need to, to hit 100% of the market on day one we’ll, we’ll reach the right people at the right time.

Paul Travers 23:44
I mean, Alex, there’s some places where hearing aids just don’t work. And the places where when you do have the hearing aids, it still takes a lot of effort to to be successful at understanding the conversation happening around you. So I think in the end, if most clinicians aren’t willing to look at it, I don’t think they’re doing a service to their customers and to the people that need it. So but that’s my opinion.

Alex Westner 24:11
I’m glad you said that me. I think our target is, you know, people with more severe hearing loss, they’re on their third pair of hearing aids and, you know, there is no other step for them to go there’s no they’re not going to get that much more benefit from another $8,000 pair of hearing aids. And so that’s where we feel like this is our that’s probably our initial target market is people who’ve already spent 10s of thousands. And they need more help than what they’re getting. And this is a great, great additional piece. It also doesn’t depend on the manufacturer. So it’s not like we’re tied to any specific device manufacturer like most accessories are, it’s worked you know, it’s independent of your hearing aids.

Amyn Amlani 25:00
Let me ask you this because you know there’s there’s there’s listening, sunglasses that are available that you can get to mate into prescriptions are your glasses Alex available to be made into a prescription, and yet maintain the subtitle the captioning concept that you’ve created?

Alex Westner 25:21
Yeah but Paul can answer that even better than I can.

Paul Travers 25:24
Yeah, they’re designed for your scripts, you can go to our website, it’s a website, right? So we can enable anybody to allow scripts post. And there they clip on. So you, you go to our website, you fill in your scripts, your PD, et cetera, et cetera, go through the standard, clinicians in optometry space, they review the scripts, they confirm they’re correct, they fill the script and they get sent to the customer, they just clip them in and they’re good to go.

Amyn Amlani 25:53
That’s amazing. I see so many different targets that you could segment to right education was one that I talked about just a minute ago, you’ve Of course, got the folks that are have hearing impairment, you know, like myself, I’ve got I consider myself to be normal hearing, although it’s an I’m in denial, and I do have a little bit of a loss. But, you know, people like myself would benefit I have, I have a son who’s in high school, who has has a learning disability. And I think he would benefit from these. So I think there’s lots of opportunities. And, you know, I’m looking forward to when these come out onto the market, having the opportunity to play with them and, and use them because again, if I can reduce my listening effort throughout the day, then, you know, I’m not as irritable when I have to have a conversation at night with my wife. And you know, it’s- As my as I just mentioned, my youngest son’s in high school getting ready to leave, it’s just going to be the two of us. And last thing I need is to be sitting in the backyard on my own when you know that my wife is frustrated. But your glasses will that will enable for those conversations to take place just because I’m not tired.

Alex Westner 27:06
Thanks. I mean, I you know, I’m also glad you brought up the the area of of auditory processing disorders, for example, I have heard from so many people in the last five days about that, that I think it’s there’s something happening in the air right now. But yeah, of course, you know, for people who have a harder time processing, you know, oral information, you’re giving them the text to read. So if you’re at a school and you’re at a lecture and you just the professor’s droning on and you’re you can’t follow, but maybe you could sort of read what they’re saying, Yeah, there’s definitely a chance that this is a device that can help and it’s sort of expanding our thinking from, from just hearing loss to a broader topic of accessibility. So So auditory processing disorder, Paul brought up translation. So um, you can consider, you know, a language barrier to also be an accessibility problem. So I think it’s definitely I can imagine Xander sort of expanding our conversation from from being just as microfocus hearing loss bit to more of an accessibility more of an inclusion. Conversation with us.

Amyn Amlani 28:15
Yeah, I was just in Europe. So you know, as Paul was talking, Hey, can I convert this into, you know, from English to Korean or vice versa? I was just in Germany, and how that would have been great to have those there. If you would have had that translation or service. Someone’s talking to me in German, I’m not sure what the heck’s going on, this certainly would have helped. So I really, really think that the market is wide open for this type of technology. It’s better than having to open up your phone, we use Google Translate when we were there. It helped us don’t get me wrong. But it’s an inconvenience, because we don’t always have Wi Fi service. We don’t always have the right environment. So the sounds are being picked up. There was one instance, where we got the the Google Translator took us to another place, as opposed to the place that we were trying to get at. And the reason it did that is because of the signal to noise ratio was just bad. And it was picking up with picking up. So you know,

Alex Westner 29:13
generally, there’s, there’s another thing that people don’t think about as much, which is privacy. You know, what are we? So you use Google Translate in that context- Does that mean is Google getting all of those conversations? What are they doing with that information? Who I don’t know as consumers, right? And quite controversial. Now. I just asked the question. I wasn’t making assumptions. We know Big Brother is watching. Well, because Paul mentioned HIPAA compliance, and that’s, you know, we’re also interested in pursuing sock to HIPAA compliance. Our glasses are completely private out of the box because there is no cloud. There’s no privacy implications. And, and you can’t really say that with a lot of other speech to text experiences because that audio goes somewhere and no one writes for signing away when we do that.

Paul Travers 30:06
And there’s no doubt that the performance if it’s local is just what you need. Because that whole up and down from the cloud based upon the connectivity can take seconds at times, right? And that just slows everything down. It doesn’t work nearly as well, when you just hear it and see it.

Alex Westner 30:22
And then there’s data plans, people don’t think about streaming raw audio to the cloud for a two hour conversation went, you know, how much data does that actually use for a single session? Not that much. But if it’s something you’re using every day, every other day, you’re gonna start seeing that on your

Paul Travers 30:40
translation services aren’t free from Google right now. You can have to pay, you know, by the by the text flip or whatever. I can’t remember exactly what the numbers are, but they will add up over time agree.

Amyn Amlani 30:53
Yeah, we just paid a flat fee of I think it was $5 a day or something like that.

Paul Travers 30:59
Yeah, I mean, honestly, speaking, it can be worth it, compared it to, like, you know, hearing aids that are four to eight grand apiece, and they don’t really solve the problem. And glasses honestly aren’t that expensive. I mean, I don’t know what Xanders business model is yet in the software side of it, which is, it’s a wonderful piece of work what they’ve done, so they should make money with that. And again, I, Alex, I don’t know what your business model is. But in the end, people don’t mind paying for something that solves a big problem in their life. And in this case, I like I said, I’ve seen people with tears in their eyes were in the glasses. So there’s no doubt that it’s very, very compelling for people. And, you

Amyn Amlani 31:37
know, again, I think what you guys are doing is just going to help the end person at the end of the day, and that’s what we’re here for. You know, as healthcare providers, our goal is to improve the quality of life and your product or solution does that. So thank you both for enlightening the viewership on what it is that’s coming to the market space, I’m sure that it’ll get folks his attention. And eventually, when it does become commercially available, you know, I think as a as a provider, it would be in my best interest to offer this as part of my treatment package to the to my consumers, because it gives me a better well rounded approach to treating the hearing loss. It’s not just an auditory issue, there’s a cognitive load issue, there are other ways in which people process information that we really have to consider that we don’t always consider. So I’m looking forward to, to having your product out. And we’ll have to get you guys back on. And, you know, a year or so after you’ve had some research data, and after you’ve been in the marketplace, to kind of see what we were here. And now this is where we’re at. And this is kind of what we’re doing. Because I think it’ll be really, really interesting to see how much you’ve grown in how well your product is being appreciated and utilized in the market space.

Alex Westner 32:54
Yeah, we’ll both schedule that meeting right now. And there’ll be a urine review that sounds that sounds fun. We actually had heard from patients who, you know, they say I would rather have a cool pair of glasses to show off to my golf buddies, then, you know, these little hearing aids and I’m not going to talk about and hide. And so it’s interesting, if you’re thinking about your audiology businesses, there’s a high potential for referrals. In that instance, because people are going to show these off, you know, they’ve spent the money they’re going to, they’re going to want to talk about what they have. It’s kind of cool to be on the cutting edge. You know, it’s not like anyone can get a pair of useful smart glasses today. This is really unique, and people are talking about it. So think that can really also help your help help the referral business as well.

Amyn Amlani 33:46
salutely Absolutely. Paul, any last thoughts before we sign off?

Paul Travers 33:49
No, we’re just super happy to have Alex and Xander part of our crew we we look at him as if they’re like part of us. It’s quite frankly, we have a bunch of ISVs and he’s one of the ones that we find pretty special. So I think it’s a amazing stuff. It’s game changing and you know, any audiologists that doesn’t present this as an option to some of their folks, when they come in, I think are making the mistake and a disservice to their customers. It’s an alternative to hearing aids and for some people, there is just no alternative.

Amyn Amlani 34:20
I 100% agree. Thank you both gentlemen for your time and like we’ll get off and schedule our next one and best of luck as you guys continue to reinvent and get this out to market. So, best of luck and we’ll talk soon. Thank you

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About the Panel

Alex Westner is the cofounder and CEO of Xander. He has 20+ years experience leading product strategy at iZotope, Gibson, and Fidelity. He earned an MS from MIT Media Lab for acoustics and audio processing, and is a former electropunk keytarist.


Paul Travers is the founder of Vuzix and has served as the company’s President and CEO since 1997. Prior to the formation of Vuzix, Mr. Travers founded both e-Tek Labs, Inc. and Forte Technologies Inc. With more than 30 years’ experience in the consumer electronics field, and 26 years’ experience in the virtual reality and virtual display fields, he is a nationally recognized industry expert. He holds an Associate degree in engineering science from Canton, ATC and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical and computer engineering from Clarkson University.

Amyn M. Amlani, PhD, is President of Otolithic, LLC, a consulting firm that provides competitive market analysis and support strategy, economic and financial assessments, segment targeting strategies and tactics, professional development, and consumer insights. Dr. Amlani has been in hearing care for 25+ years, with extensive professional experience in the independent and medical audiology practice channels, as an academic and scholar, and in industry. Dr. Amlani also serves as section editor of Hearing Economics for Hearing Health Technology Matters (HHTM).

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