Why Amazon is Interested in Bone Conduction

Why Amazon is Interested in Bone Conduction

Amazon's Lab126 is rumored to be working on bone conduction. It could be packaged in an "eyeglasses-attachment" or "headband" that speaks to you by vibrating the bones in your skull. It's called bone conduction.

Why?

It could lay the foundation of a personal shopping assistant -- one that travels with shoppers into traditional B&M stores. It's an ingredient to creating an in-store Chatbot, powered by Amazon's Alexa, like a Chatbot that's embedded in Echo Show.

This Technology Works Today

An AquaTalk headset is sold on Alibaba. It includes bone conduction, a throat microphone, and here, the headphone waterproof.

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A coach (or a bot like Alexa) can talk with the swimmer. The sound is perceived by the athlete's headset via bone conduction technology. This spreads the temporal bone vibrations to the cochlea. The ear canal remains free allowing simultaneous perception of other sounds. Listening is easy ... even in a noisy, crowded pool!

It could be used to help deaf people hear:

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You can "watch" a bone conduction demo here:

If Amazon puts bone conduction into an eyeglasses attachment or a headset, no one but you (the shopper) will hear Alexa's voice because it is talking to your bones (via vibrations) not your eardrums.

Amazon Notices Adjacent Use Cases...then Extends The Thinking

To invent, Amazon watches adjacent categories. They do it in logistics (drones), IT (cloud) and, in shopping. Amazon knows that disruption is often inspired by industry outsiders, so they scan the world constantly.


Imagine Alexa + a Computer Vision Camera becoming your shopping coach. Alexa (the voice + brain) is built. Done. It may take a year or two, but now Amazon just needs to find or build a small-format camera -- with powerful image scanning capabilities. To get the capability, Amazon will surely acquire a startup that is building its own camera in Lab126.

It's just a matter of time:

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Researchers globally are working tirelessly to produce powerful image capture devices. Medicine, as you see in the 1-minute video above, is a driver. Amazon will watch advancements made elsewhere and commercialize use cases for shopping.


PC Magazine published the text above a few years ago.

Amazon will build a Google Glass but with two big differences: (1) a laser focus on a shopping use case, and (2) the inclusion of bone conductivity which connects to a voice chatbot. It will be a camera-activated Alexa -- or camera-activated Bone Conductivity. Rather than carrying coupons to the store, Amazon will encourage Amazon Prime Members to carry their bone conductors to Safeway.

Camera activated Alexa: "Send that coffee to my house"

Alexa will go to the store with you. A micro-camera will trigger computer vision technology (AI) to recognize objects and then Alexa wil ask you (via bone conductivity), "Would you like Amazon to deliver that coffee for 65c less to your house." Just like Echo Show works today (watch this 20-second video).

Like a friendly, chatty neighbor, Alexa could also offer advice and answer questions. The "conversation" could drive off Amazon's comparison chart data -- data that build comparisons like the one below which shows 60% savings (literally) for a slightly "better-rated" product:

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If a shopper talks into her phone or microphone, Alexa could answer questions about products like batteries. Alexa's AI-brain will simply dip into a that product's database of 172 answered questions ...

Ultimately, Amazon's Private Label Could be Coming to Every Store Near You

This technical shopping interface opens doors for Amazon. This Bone Conduction + Computer Vision could be a conduit for Amazon to put its private label onto Kroger's shelves. Into Macy's houseware's area. Into Target's sporting goods section. It could be an excellent tool for cross-selling products -- including Amazon's 34 private label brands.

Amazon is building a Tech-Enabled Private Label business

Amazon's private label, alone, will be $20 billion business by 2022. Read more about this menacing new formula here. And bone conductivity might be the way they will increase distribution into competing B&M stores.

Next Steps:

  1. Continuously scan developments in emerging technology developments. As a tech-enabled service, my company (Iterate.ai) does evaluate technology startups for large organizations in media, retail, energy, and financial services.
  2. Use startups to extend your innovation lab capabilities (or to create a lab). It's the least expensive way to advance your technology capabilities. Despite their $45 billion R&D budgets, even Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google track startups, invest in them and acquire them at a high rate.
  3. Make sure your board members and executives are aware of technology trends. Read about developments in AI-plus.

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  • Adam Chester

    It is technically played through the bones, could this help deaf people? I might be completely misunderstanding the product, but if anyone has an answer I would really appreciate it.

  • Mustapha Shafik

    Bone conduction is a technology that has been available for people with conduction hearing impairment for almost a century. In fact Beethoven used this method, placing one end of a wooden stick between the piano strings and the other end between his teeth.

  • Maurice Williams

    This was dope !!!!

  • John Chandler

    Welcome to the future

  • Hector Caraballo

    The vibrations can be intense if set too high, but under normal volume, it isn't noticeable.

  • Tracey Kelly

    Do they weaken the bone though?

  • Wendy Dawson

    In reply to: Tracey Kelly

    I don't think the vibrations are strong or high frequent enough to cause any kind of harm.

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Jon Nordmark

Retail Expert

Jon has been the Co-Founder & CEO at Iterate.ai since 2013.He served as Chief Executive Officer, Chairman and President at eBags, Inc. since  Prior to ebags Inc., he spent eleven years at Samsonite and worked on several projects. During most of his time at Samsonite, Jon directed the research, design, development, marketing and lifecycles of products introduced into over 20 different distribution channels - from warehouse clubs to department stores to mass merchants and even military accounts. In 1999, with a law firm and the Denver Mayor's Office, he Co-founded Startup Basecamp. As a believer in the startup ecosystem, Jon serves as an Advisor/Investor at young companies, such as, Nuzzel.com, Runa.com, Turnto.com, Clearhead.me, RedTricycle.com, EgoBoom.com, PressPay.com, Houserie.com and RentalRoost.com, BazaarVoice, BlogMutt.com, uGift.com.ua, advicewallet.com, YourSize.co and uMix.tv. He continues to help organize this day-long educational summit which draws about 500 attendees each year. He was selected as Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the Rocky Mountain Region in 2003. He received the Colorado Technology Association's Lifetime Achievement Award, after receiving the award he established the Colorado chapter of Founder Institute. Jon holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business from the University of Colorado Boulder - Leeds School of Business. 

   

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