If you know Bragi, it's because you know Dash headphones. The company launched Kickstarter three years ago with one of the most exciting wireless headsets to date. It has been repeated for the past two years, and now it is one of the best couples in the market. But Bragi CEO Nikolaj Hviid says the company is only interested in headphones to a certain extent: its real purpose is to sell IA.
To that end, Bragi announces this week an automatic learning platform called NanoAI. Other companies may license NanoAI, train the system in relevant data and use it to add intelligent functions to their products. An example that Hviid gave is an electric drill: its creator could train NanoAI in a set of pressure or vibration data that allows the software to learn how to drill different materials. Then, when you are using the drill, I could warn you if you are approaching wood, concrete or any other substance.
"It's always been about AI and software, the headphones are a vehicle to show how it works."
Bragi's ambitions for his software are enormous. Hviid lists almost anything and everything as possible use cases for NanoAI: medical, industrial, automotive, wearable, agricultural, aerospace and even defense. "Very efficient AI is independent of a single use case," he says.
The definition of AI differs widely between companies and researchers, and it is difficult to deduce from Bragi's description whether this is really a powerful artificial intelligence tool or simply an easy way to create some intelligent functions, despite the big goals. Hviid states that Bragi's AI is "50 to 100 times more efficient than any other person", but he did not explain what software it was, nor what exactly was being measured.
The advance of Bragi, supposedly, is to find a way to ignore strange data and then prepare the remaining information before it reaches the software, so less processing is needed once it arrives. Hviid says he is inspired by the way the brain of a fly connects.
One of the main reasons why Bragi has focused on efficiency is to allow these functions to run on devices as simple as a pair of wireless headphones, such as Bragi's own Dash. It says that companies should be able to run the NanoAI functions completely on the device, without sending anything to the cloud. For consumer applications, he believes that it could be a great point of sale due to the advantages of privacy and lower costs of computing in the cloud. Hviid says that Bragi already has partners and that he will announce some in a few months.
This does not mean that Bragi is no longer selling hearing aids, there are still new models in the pipeline. But part of Bragi's sales pitch has always been that it not only offers headphones, but also an intelligent assistant in the ear. "It's always been about AI and software," says Hviid. "The headphones are a vehicle to show how it works." He adds later, while holding the Dash Pro, "Google has pixels, we do this."
To a large extent, all this feels like Bragi is playing a lot of exaggerations. Yes, the company has always had smart features and seems to have a product ready to sell. But it also seems to be a recognition from Bragi that wireless headphones are difficult; that goes against some of the largest companies in the world (one of which already has a significant advantage); and that it is likely that more money will be generated in the provision of artificial intelligence solutions to companies, should they find any success there.
But Hviid says that this was always the plan. "70 percent of all our development is purely on AI and software, and it has always been that way." If that's true, after three years we're finally seeing the real Bragi.