Voice First Health


Voice First Hearables with Dave Kemp

Ep. 15

In this episode, Teri welcomes Dave Kemp, a leader in the intersection between voice first technology and hearables. He is part of a company called Oak Tree Products and they provide medical supplies and devices to the hearing technology industry. He also has a blog called FuturEar.co where he documents the rapid technological breakthroughs that are occurring in the hearables niche, including biometric sensors and voice assistants that are being incorporated into the hearable devices.

Key Points from Dave Kemp

  • In a voice first world, in order for there to be an efficient exchange of information, a person involved in that communication exchange has to be able to hear
  • Where hearables are going in a world where we are rapidly adopting voice technology.


  • The blog is about telling stories around innovative use cases for new in-the-ear devices.
  • A lot of new things can be done with Bluetooth connected audio devices.
  • In the ear devices will continue to become more computerized and become more like stand-alone computers.

The Voice First/Hearing First world

  • Data shows that one of the fastest growing demographics for smart assistant usage is the older population.
  • Hearing loss is a prevalent problem and presents a challenge because people with hearing loss can’t hear Alexa. There can be an amplification solution in a hearing aid and then Alexa can be ported into it. That will not only improve accessibility but also empower people with hearing loss by enabling them to have complete control over their environment. 
  • The older population is poised to be the early adopters of the in-the-ear voice first technology.
  • The functions of smartphones will be migrated gradually to smart assistants.

Developments in the hearing assistant devices niche

  • Amazon released the “Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit” in 2017.
  • The kit offers a new way to bring Alexa to portable, on-the-go devices such as hearables and more. The kit enables OEMs to add Alexa to their devices with minimum investment in hardware or integration efforts.
  • Qualcomm just announced more ways their chips can be used to embed Alexa into devices.
  • Smart assistants will facilitate the creation of smart homes where the older population can live independently without the need to move into a retirement home.
  • Numerous new biometric sensors are constantly being embedded into in-the-ear devices. The sensors can track fitness and detect different things.
  • PPG sensors (embedded in hearing aids and other hearables) that can identify blood pressure, heart rate, and other things are expected to come up. A PPG sensor is the optical sensor that, for example, an Apple watch uses to record a person’s heart rate.
  • The first biometric sensors were being embedded in hearing aids since early 2018.
  • A biometric sensor manufacturer and sensor supplier to the hearing aid OEMs has announced that they will have a commercially available PPG sensor by 2019 so the OEMs can implement them into their devices.
  • The largest challenge to overcome with all the developments going on is privacy and security.

The Meaning of Voice First Health to Dave

  • There are so many efficiencies to be had here. The area for improvement is all the clerical work in the actual medical setting from how doctors record notes to the healthcare administration processes.
  • Capitalizing on the new efficiencies to make the whole medical system more efficient.
  • He thinks the smart assistant will eventually be a person’s personal nurse. Through voice analyzation they will be able to understand a person’s state of health. Amazon has a patent based on Alexa being able to tell if a person is sick based on the inflection of their voice and it would prompt them to seek medical help.

Links and Resources in this Episode

More Episodes


Siri for Hand Washing with Eric Sauve of Speebly

Ep. 68
In this episode, Teri welcomes Eric Sauvé, the Chief of Product and User Experience at Speebly.Eric has been a serial entrepreneur for years and has started and built numerous startups, some of which were acquired by larger companies. He developed an interest in voice technology somewhere along the journey and ended up co-founding Speebly, a voice assistant program that can be used across multiple platforms. Key Points From Eric!How they are using voice technology (Siri) and the Apple Watch to help with handwashing during the current Covid-19 pandemic.Focusing on SiriTheir initial inspiration was using Siri. The fact that Siri gives users a bunch of web results when she can’t answer a question gave him the idea of creating a seamless hand-off from Siri to the different web properties.That would mean that a user could continue searching using their voice.They have also worked with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, but their focus on Siri was informed by the fact that Siri has way more users.Inspiration Behind SpeeblyTheir inspiration is based on the fact that when people are doing anything, they will either want to type or use their voice, and voice is, of course, the best option especially where there is a lot of text input.Siri is a closed ecosystem compared to Alexa and Google on the speaker side of things, but it has a ton of users and an app environment of third-party developers. This is why they focus more on Siri.Their main aim is to make it so that anyone who has an app can take advantage of voice search to drive traffic to their app or so that there can be a seamless handoff where a user asks Siri a question and they can keep talking to the app on their phone.They released a software development toolkit (SDK) that app developers can put in their iPhone or Android projects to serve as the talking interface of their app.The toolkit is also available for Apple watch OS and people can use it without their phones.Helping With the PandemicThey have been aiming at helping people understand that they could use voice in the context of smartphones and the Apple watch.They’ve been working on an in-house app called Handwash Circles to encourage people to not only wash their hands but wash them long enough.It’s a touch-less voice first hand wash timer. A user can say, “Hey Siri, start handwash” and the app will start a countdown timer for the appropriate amount of seconds that one is supposed to wash their hands.They plan on implementing accelerometer and gyroscope features where the app can determine if someone has done a good job washing their hands.The community feature of the app enables circles of people, for example, a person’s workplace to access data on their handwashing activities.Studies have shown that there is an improvement in the quality of hand washing where people have devices on them to monitor their hand washing. They ensure people’s data privacy in different ways.They are currently in the process of onboarding their first 10 organizations that are interested in implementing the use of the app at their workplaces.People can also sign up to be beta testers.Links and Resources in this Episodewww.Speebly.com/circleThe Comprehensive Flash Briefing Formula CourseVoice Technology in Healthcare Bookwww.TheVoiceDen.com

Voice in the Operating Room with Heather Utzig of Pragmatic Voice

Ep. 67
In this episode, Teri welcomes Heather Utzig, the Co-Founder and CEO at Pragmatic Voice, a tech innovation company that combines big data, analytics, tech & creativity to drive businesses.Heather has an extensive background in healthcare having worked for companies like Johnson & Johnson and Eli Lilly & Co with her efforts focused on the rapid growth of their sales and sales teams. She was responsible for managing over 130 field sales and sales managers in the area of Brain Health and Sleep efficacy. Her team won the most awards for sales success. She was awarded the Summit Award for outstanding leadership. She has also been a successful entrepreneur and has helped a lot of people launch businesses in catering, construction, healthcare, etc. She has owned and sold successful businesses, and worked with several technological platforms and implementation projects with companies over the past 10 years. Key Points From Heather!The voice applications they have been developing at Pragmatic Voice, specifically the ones geared towards helping surgeons keep track of instruments in the operating room and so much more.Her Introduction Into VoiceShe was developing a technology with one of her companies and she had requested voice to be developed for it because it was around medical instrumentation in general (they worked with medical instrument service providers and were looking at how to prevent infections through the touching of the instruments so voice would ensure that a lot of the processes were hands-free and mobile).In the process of having that voice application developed, she met her co-founder and learned a lot about voice from him.What They’re Doing In The Healthcare SpaceFrom her healthcare background, she has always considered how voice can be applied to solve the problems in healthcare.The fact that there is a lot of human connection in healthcare, especially when it comes to doctor-patient interactions, makes voice very crucial in ensuring that there’s more effectiveness in the delivery of healthcare.Pragmatic works with healthcare companies, facilities, and even physicians to help them place their applications into voice, and advice them on how that is related to HIPAA (privacy) and other areas. They have developed several voice applications in relation to that.One of those applications is Instrument Voice which works inside a hospital, surgery center, or doctor’s office where there is instrumentation that needs to either be repaired, maintained, sterilized, or logged.Anyone working with the instruments within a healthcare setting can look at an instrument’s history, ask questions, pull out manuals, see videos, and even request repairs through the voice app. Pragmatic is streamlining that whole process to make it easier for the healthcare providers.They also have Instrument Wiki, an application that enables doctors, hospitals, and manufacturers to collaborate on information to help each other out in working with their instruments and assets in the hospital.The applications are built on Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, with their own proprietary open-source database technology.Most hospitals have had a problem in unifying their biomed and sterilization departments, and Pragmatic’s applications, because of their ease of use, can help in bringing a couple of departments in the hospitals together to work in an easier way. Their PresenceThey have been working with some hospitals in New York and they are working on refining several things with plans to go to full scale market in the next month.Links and Resources in this EpisodePragmatic Voice WebsiteInstrument VoiceThe Comprehensive Flash Briefing Formula CourseVoice Technology in Healthcare Bookwww.TheVoiceDen.com

Voice User Interface Design for Healthcare with Ilana Meir

Ep. 66
In this episode, Teri welcomes Ilana Meir, a voice designer and mentor in the voice technology space. Ilana is a conversational interface designer and is one of the leading experts in Voice User Interface (VUI) design specifically at the intersection of voice technology and health. Using her immense knowledge and experience, she thinks critically about the future of voice design in ways only few industry experts do, and she encourages her students to do the same. Ilana was a chapter contributor to the recently released book, Voice Technology in Healthcare. Key Points From Ilana!Her expertise in Voice User Interface (VUI) design and some of the tips she can share.How to design a great voice experience.Getting Into Voice DesignShe came into the field of voice design from a prior background in the fields of anthropology, psychology and marketing.During her period in marketing she wanted so badly to make the transition into product design but she found herself falling into voice design which blended perfectly with her background in strategic communications, her creative thinking and her vocal ability in singing.Ilana thinks the landscape of voice design is gradually shifting in relation to how it used to be historically.Voice design is now attracting a variety of people from different fields such as interaction design.Importance of Voice User Interface DesignShe considers design as the last mile logistics, and in regards to that, she feels that it helps in organization and ensuring everything is in perfect condition for patients.The Voice Design FrameworkHer thoughts on the first step into getting into voice design is doing the correct research and having the perfect understanding of the stakeholder’s side and patients side.In terms of the stakeholder’s side, thinking about their customer base, knowing how they are trying to forge relationships with their patients, the legal considerations, understanding the kind of technology available and understanding the downstream effects that might come along the way are key.On the patients side you need to understand how they are receiving this interaction so you can package it perfectly, think about the patient’s day to day interaction so you can know who’s affected.When it comes to voice design in healthcare, one has to think about it as a strategic communication. With every strategic initiative, a lot of efforts and meetings are put into them, and so the same should be applied when designing a voice experience.Best Practices in Designing for the PatientShe advocates for the creation of a culture of participatory medicine which is achieved by creating a dynamic set up where patients and doctors are equal partners in healthcare delivery.How a computer system will communicate with patients is the second consideration, and the focus should be on questions and other things.When it comes to building rapport with patients, one of the main goals should be to mitigate the presumptions a patient might have regarding the healthcare system.A conversational system should be designed to keep interactions with patients brief, precise, and informative.Links and Resources in this EpisodeIlana on LinkedinThe Comprehensive Flash Briefing Formula CourseVoice Technology in Healthcare Bookwww.TheVoiceDen.com