Endel Deeper Focus
Endel, creator of personalized soundscapes that have attracted more than 2 million users, has partnered with pioneering electronic producer and DJ Plastikman (Richie Hawtin) to release their AI-powered soundscape "Deeper Focus". The new soundscape is now available to Alexa customers.
Credit: Endel

How Endel’s AI-powered Focus soundscapes earned the backing of neuroscience

A new study has found that when compared to curated playlists and silence, personalized AI soundscapes generated by Alexa Fund company Endel are more effective in helping people focus. 

(Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of articles Amazon Science is publishing related to the science behind products and services from companies in which Amazon has invested. The Amazon Alexa Fund first invested in Endel in 2018, and in 2020 the Alexa Fund participated in Endel’s $5 million Series A financing round.)

Founded in 2018, Endel creates personalized soundscapes to help people focus, relax, and sleep. Built on the back of its patented technology, Endel Pacific, the artificial intelligence (AI)-powered service takes into account the individual conditions of each listener, such as their heartbeat or the amount of light present, to generate customized sounds that help improve their well being, the company says.  

Endel provides three primary soundscapes: Focus, Relax, and Sleep. Using Alexa for instance, each soundscape is able to extract key local data about individuals, such as time of day, weather, and the amount of natural light, to help generate sound environments that improve these key states.

With the aim of helping people sleep better, Endel started collaborating with SleepScore Labs in 2020, to improve the effectiveness and user experience of their sleep soundscapes. The company also made headlines when it collaborated with musician Grimes to create “AI Lullaby”, a custom-made sleep soundscape which was made available through the Endel skill, for Alexa. 

Now, with the recent publication of a new white paper, "Differences In The Effects On Human Focus Of Music Playlists And Personalized Soundscapes, As Measured By Brain Signals", Focus mode is in the scientific spotlight. The white paper examines what properties of sound affect human focus, validating the company’s existing approach, while providing a roadmap for future improvements to its custom soundscapes. 

Focus results

Published by Arctop, a data and AI technology company that has developed a pioneering brain decoding SaaS solution, the white paper used Endel’s personalized Focus soundscapes, alongside focus-themed playlists from popular streaming platforms, to see how they affected a cross-section of users as they performed everyday tasks.

The white paper, which was authored by Arctop's research and development team led by principal investigator Dan Furman, PhD, and first author Aia Haruvi, MSc, was supported by Warner Music, Sony, Endel, and Universal Music, who provided the company with sounds, data, and financial support to help advance the research. The report looked at users at home in their natural environment, recording and interpreting their brain signals to show how they reacted to the music. The aim: examine what, if any, impact the use of Endel soundscapes, popular curated playlists that have been optimized for focus purposes, or just pure silence, had on the ability of listeners to perform tasks.  

“From the very beginning it has been important to us to be rooted in science,” says Endel co-founder and CEO Oleg Stavitsky. Upon launching Endel with renowned composer and sound designer Dmitry Evgrafov, Stavitsky began looking for research papers to inform their work within functional music, especially as it relates to helping people focus. 

“The majority of white papers out there would only reference popular music like Queen, Bach… making straightforward comments like, sad music makes you feel sad,” said Stavitsky.” There was nothing out there for what we were trying to apply here, anything that would help us go deeper and ask, ‘How does your brain react to certain types of sounds?’” 

When Stavitsky and Evgrafov received preliminary results from Arctop, it helped validate how their soundscapes impact brain activity on a second-by-second basis. 

Endel Image 1
The goal of the Arctop study was to determine what properties of sound affect human focus the most. This diagram from the research paper demonstrates the framework for reverse correlation of time-series focus values with audio features. A is an example of a recorded brain signal, B is an audio segment from one of the songs, and C shows the audio features dynamics during 30 minutes of recordings.
Credit: Arctop

“This was gold for us,” Stavitsky says about the results. “It wasn’t just about validating what we had, it was about how it worked specifically. Arctop has this proprietary system that allows you to zoom into a song, and on a second-by-second basis say ‘here’s the progression and here’s the brain activity.’”

Arctop examined participants doing various tasks in their home or work environments. Listening to either Endel soundscapes, curated playlists, or just silence, each volunteer completed four, one-hour sessions, that included a set tasks, and followed by an activity of their own preference. As the participants performed their tasks, they were monitored using state-of-the-art technology to pick up on the brain’s impulses, tracking its responses to the audio in relation to their task. Through this analysis, the team devised a ‘focus coefficient’, based on input from a brain decoded data electroencephalograph headband, and additional survey data from the participants. 

The results demonstrated that participants listening to personalized soundscapes increased their focus significantly when compared to listening to music playlists, or silence.

Endel releases new Deeper Focus soundscape on Alexa

On April 30, Endel made its latest soundscape, Deeper Focus, available on Alexa. Endel partnered with with pioneering electronic producer and DJ Plastikman (Richie Hawtin) to release their collaborative AI-powered soundscape. Read more about the new soundscape here.

“When we set up this experiment we didn’t know what would happen,” Furman explained. “One of our main takeaways is that the personalization of soundscapes is really effective.” 

The approach to the research is also relatively new, Furman explains. 

“One thing we want to highlight is that the method we used is naturalistic neuroscience – outside of the lab, with no technicians present, no wires... It was a uniquely natural capture of data. Here people were able to work at home, and use their own tablet or phone, they wore regular headphones and a light headband only for the brain decoding, which was really novel they were able to experience the content exactly as they would in everyday life. Ultimately, we believe that context, gives more credence to our findings.

How focus works

Endel’s founders believe the study provides new information that the company can use to enhance its soundscapes. Unlike its other modes, Sleep and Relax, Focus is the only Endel soundscape to employ percussion. But it’s more complex than just adding a few beats.

“The tempo is closely tied to your heart rate, and can adjust based on your resting and active heart rate,” explains Evgrafov, who works closely with fellow Endel sound designer, Alexander Vasilenko, to bring its soundscapes to life. “The sounds are more active, have less reverb and are more nuanced. There is a very gentle balance that must be maintained with the rhythm, as the brain starts to block out rhythmic sounds after a time.” 

Endel Image 2
This diagram from the Arctop white paper shows the study's processing pipeline. Data acquisition included at home EEG recordings of four sessions, each with a different background audio stream. EEG processing included filtering the signal, feature extraction, and training machine learning models to map between brain features and reported focus. Obtaining the brain decoded focus dynamics enables comparison of focus levels during different types of audio streams.
Credit: Arctop

Thanks to the way that in which the data was collected, Endel can now assess how sound impacts customers’ responses on a second-by-second basis.

“We got a lot of information about structure, where we realized we had to build it up, and relax things. In those transitions, the curve [for the focus coefficient] goes up drastically,” Evgrafov explains. “It’s not about the amount of instruments, it’s the nature of change that provides the most impact. This isn’t something we could have worked out ourselves.”

Further areas of focus 

From its inception, Endel has taken a scientific approach to programming its technology, applying information and knowledge on psychoacoustics that was readily available online, while at the same time relying on Evgrafov’s musicianship and heuristic knowledge.

“We started getting more neuroscience data, and that was more important for us, but we couldn’t answer simple questions like, ‘What is focus?’, and ‘What makes something relaxing?’ Now, thanks to the report, we see how the entire structure of a song impacts brain functionality,” Evgrafov said. “There are other layers of knowledge as well, such as the acoustical and other sound treatments that are present in the very spectrum of the sound. These parameters can help us program our core technology.”

This is more thorough and goes deeper than anything that has been done before, specifically about how sounds affect your cognitive state when it comes to concentration.
Oleg Stavitsky, Endel CEO

Now, Endel is focused on taking its AI technology to the next level. 

“To me, what is important is how groundbreaking this is,” says Stavitsky. “This is more thorough and goes deeper than anything that has been done before, specifically about how sounds affect your cognitive state when it comes to concentration.”

Both Arctop and Endel see potential in further exploring additional factors that weren’t examined in the report, such as how personalized soundscapes can affect productivity, creativity, and wellbeing — states that can be directly associated with focusing. Using current Arctop technology for headphones, earbuds, AR/VR devices and the ‘focus coefficient,’ for example, Endel soundscapes can adapt in real-time to fit an individual user’s precise needs for focusing in the moment.   

“We believe personalized soundscapes are the new way to experience functional music,” Stavitsky says. “We see it as a new category of music — functional music — and within this field, Endel is a leader.”

 

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We’re looking for a Machine Learning Scientist in the Personalization team for our Edinburgh office. You will be responsible for developing and disseminating customer-facing personalized recommendation algorithms. This is a hands-on role with global impact working with a team of world-class engineers and scientists across the Edinburgh offices and wider organization.You will design deep learning algorithms that scale to very large quantities of data, and serve high-scale low-latency recommendations to all customers worldwide. You will embody scientific rigor, designing and executing experiments to demonstrate the technical efficacy and business value of your methods. You will work alongside more senior team members to delight customers by aiding in recommendations relevancy, and raise the profile of Amazon as a global leader in machine learning and personalization.Successful candidates will have strong technical ability, focus on customers by applying a customer-first approach, excellent teamwork and communication skills, and a motivation to achieve results in a fast-paced environment. Our position offers exceptional opportunities for every candidate to grow their technical and non-technical skills. If you are selected, you have the opportunity to make a difference to our business by designing and building state of the art machine learning systems on big data, leveraging Amazon’s vast computing resources (AWS), working on exciting and challenging projects, and delivering meaningful results to customers world-wide.Key responsibilities· Develop deep learning algorithms for high-scale recommendations problem· Rapidly design, prototype and test many possible hypotheses in a high-ambiguity environment, making use of both quantitative analysis and business judgement.· Collaborate with software engineering teams to integrate successful experimental results into large-scale, highly complex Amazon production systems capable of handling 100,000s of transactions per second at low latency.· Report results in a manner which is both statistically rigorous and compellingly relevant, exemplifying good scientific practice in a business environment.
US, NY, New York
Amazon Advertising is one of Amazon's fastest growing and most profitable businesses. As a core product offering within our advertising portfolio, Sponsored Products (SP) helps merchants, retail vendors, and brand owners succeed via native advertising, which grows incremental sales of their products sold through Amazon. The SP team's primary goals are to help shoppers discover new products they love, be the most efficient way for advertisers to meet their business objectives, and build a sustainable business that continuously innovates on behalf of customers. Our products and solutions are strategically important to enable our Retail and Marketplace businesses to drive long-term growth. We deliver billions of ad impressions and millions of clicks and break fresh ground in product and technical innovations every day!The Ad Response Prediction team builds innovating click-through rate & conversation rate machine learning models, pipelines, and real-time serving infra to match shoppers’ intent to relevant ads on all devices, for all contexts and in all marketplaces. Through precise estimation of shoppers’ interaction with ads and their long-term value, we aim to drive optimal ads allocation and pricing, and help to deliver a relevant, engaging and delightful ads experience to Amazon shoppers. As the business and the complexity of various new initiatives we take continues to grow, we are looking for talented Applied Scientists to join the team.This team is directly impacting customers in meaningful ways and contributing to billions of dollars in revenue!As an Applied Scientist on this team you will:· Build machine learning models and perform data analysis to deliver scalable solutions to business problems.· Perform hands-on analysis and modeling with enormous data sets to develop insights that increase traffic monetization and merchandise sales without compromising shopper experience.· Work closely with software engineers on detailed requirements, technical designs and implementation of end-to-end solutions in production.· Design and run A/B experiments that affect hundreds of millions of customers, evaluate the impact of your optimizations and communicate your results to various business stakeholders.· Work with scientists and economists to model the interaction between organic sales and sponsored content and to further evolve Amazon's marketplace.· Establish scalable, efficient, automated processes for large-scale data analysis, machine-learning model development, model validation and serving.· Research new predictive learning approaches for the sponsored products business.· Write production code to bring models into production.Why you will love this opportunity: Amazon is investing heavily in building a world-class advertising business. This team defines and delivers a collection of advertising products that drive discovery and sales. Our solutions generate billions in revenue and drive long-term growth for Amazon’s Retail and Marketplace businesses. We deliver billions of ad impressions, millions of clicks daily, and break fresh ground to create world-class products. We are a highly motivated, collaborative, and fun-loving team with an entrepreneurial spirit - with a broad mandate to experiment and innovate.Impact and Career Growth: You will invent new experiences and influence customer-facing shopping experiences to help suppliers grow their retail business and the auction dynamics that leverage native advertising; this is your opportunity to work within the fastest-growing businesses across all of Amazon! Define a long-term science vision for our advertising business, driven from our customers' needs, translating that direction into specific plans for research and applied scientists, as well as engineering and product teams. This role combines science leadership, organizational ability, technical strength, product focus, and business understanding.Team video https://youtu.be/zD_6Lzw8raE
RO, Iasi
As an Research Scientist, you will participate in the design, development, and evaluation of models and machine learning (ML) technology to delight our customers. More specifically, as a member of the team, you will be involved in researching state ofthe art Computer Vision (CV) & ML solutions for Amazon devices and cloud services.About the hiring groupYou will join a team building the technology supporting our computer vision/machine learning research and development, that powers our key security alerting and rich notification services that help our customers protect their home. Our goal is to deliver the fastest, most reliable and flexible infrastructure that speeds up creation of smart features for security devices and that makes our customers feel “Always Home”
US, WA, Seattle
We’ve been hard at work developing a new, fully-electric delivery system – Amazon Scout – designed to get packages to customers using autonomous delivery devices. These devices were created by Amazon, are the size of a small cooler, and roll along sidewalks at a walking pace. We developed Amazon Scout at our research and development lab in Seattle, ensuring the devices can safely and efficiently navigate around pets, pedestrians and anything else in their path.The Amazon Scout team shares a passion for innovation using advanced technologies, a love of solving complex challenges, and a desire to impact customers in a meaningful way. We're looking for Scientists who like dealing with ambiguity, solving hard, large scale problems, and working in a startup like environment. To learn more about Amazon Scout, check out our Amazon Day One Blog post here: http://amazon.com/scoutAre you excited by using physics and electronics to help an autonomous robot sense its environment and operate safely? At Amazon Scout we are building a sidewalk-driving delivery robot. The Scout sensors team is tasked with providing the bot with advanced sensing ability ‘eyes and ears’ to generate the right type, quantity, quality and frequency of data to accomplish its mission.As an Applied Scientist specializing in sensors you will:· Lead early stage technical evaluation of different sensor concepts· Design, prototype and characterize novel sensor and systems.· Provide expertise on sensing and sensors capabilities and fundamentals.· Setup protocols and develop resources for evaluating and testing sensors.· Engage with and coordinate external vendors to customize and develop new sensing systems.· Assist in sensor functional integration with Scout hardware team.· Assist the simulation and application software teams in sensor data collection.Inclusive Team CultureHere at Amazon, we embrace our differences. We are committed to furthering our culture of inclusion. We have 12 affinity groups (employee resource groups) with more than 87,000 employees across hundreds of chapters around the world. We have innovative benefit offerings, and host annual and ongoing learning experiences, including our Conversations on Race and Ethnicity (CORE) and AmazeCon (gender diversity) conferences. Amazon’s culture of inclusion is reinforced within our 14 Leadership Principles, which reminds team members to seek diverse perspectives, learn and be curious, and earn trust.FlexibilityIt isn’t about which hours you spend at home or at work; it’s about the flow you establish that brings energy to both parts of your life. We offer flexibility and encourage you to find your own balance between your work and personal lives.Mentorship & Career GrowthWe care about your career growth too. Whether your goals are to explore new technologies, take on bigger opportunities, or get to the next level, we'll help you get there. Our business is growing fast and our people will grow with it.
US, WA, Redmond
Project Kuiper is an initiative to launch a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites that will provide low-latency, high-speed broadband connectivity to underserved communities around the world. This position is part of the Satellite Attitude Determination and Control team. You will design and analyze the control system and algorithms, support development of our flight hardware and software, help integrate the satellite in our labs, participate in flight operations, and see a constellation of satellites flow through the production line in the building next door.A day in the lifeThis is an opportunity to play a significant role early in the design of an entirely new satellite system with challenging performance requirements. The large, integrated constellation brings opportunities for advanced capabilities that need investigation and development. The constellation size also puts emphasis on engineering excellence so our tools and methods, from conceptualization through manufacturing and all phases of test, will be state of the art as will the satellite and supporting infrastructure on the ground.About the hiring groupOur team has lots of experience with various satellite systems and many other flight vehicles. We have bench strength in both our mission and core GNC disciplines. We design, prototype, test, iterate and learn together. Because GNC is central to safe flight, we tend to drive Concepts of Operation and many system level analyses.You will find that Kuiper's mission is compelling, so our program is staffed with some of the top engineers in the industry. Our daily collaboration with other teams on the program brings constant opportunity for discovery, learning, and growth.Job responsibilitiesYou will design and analyze algorithms for estimation, flight control, and precise pointing using linear methods and simulation. Along with that will be plenty of work developing and applying models and simulations, with various levels of fidelity, of the satellite and our constellation. The labs in our building provide for component level environmental testing, functional and performance checkout, subsystem integration, and satellite integration up to Day in the Life testing and mission rehearsal. We are excited to get into space, so you can look forward to seeing your designs launch and fly soon!Export Control Requirement:Due to applicable export control laws and regulations, candidates must be a U.S. citizen or national, U.S. permanent resident (i.e., current Green Card holder), or lawfully admitted into the U.S. as a refugee or granted asylum.Amazon is committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace. Amazon is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, protected veteran status, disability, age, or other legally protected status. For individuals with disabilities who would like to request an accommodation, please visit https://www.amazon.jobs/en/disability/us.
US, WA, Seattle
Are you excited at the prospect of conducting research to improve the employee and manager experience at Amazon? Would you like to see your findings have a real impact on key HR programs and processes? Join the People Analytics, Insights, and Research team that supports three of Amazon’s most exciting businesses: Devices & Services (the innovator behind Alexa, Kindle, and Echo), Global Media and Entertainment (the business that produces TV shows, new gaming technologies, and runs Amazon music), and Advertising (one of the fastest growing businesses at Amazon).We are seeking a Senior Research Scientist with expertise in mixed-methods research, preferably in social science and behavioral research, but are also open to experience in public health, economics, or similar fields. In this role, you will lead and support research efforts within the Recruiting, Talent Management, and Leadership & Development space.You will help set the direction for science and research in the organization. You will be a thought leader on the team, partnering with a diverse set of stakeholders to identify and develop impactful areas for novel research about talent and recruiting outcomes, mechanisms, and programs. You will mentor and provide scientific expertise/peer review to other scientists and analysts on the team.The ideal candidate should have strong problem solving skills, excellent business acumen, as well as an expertise in both qualitative and quantitative methods. This role will need to navigate complex and ambiguous business challenges by asking the right questions, understanding what methodologies to employ, and communicating results to multiple audiences (e.g., technical peers, functional teams, business leaders). Translating business and stakeholder needs into realistic and actionable scientific research will be a regular challenge in this role.Responsibilities include:· Leading scientific direction, providing consult, mentorship, and peer review.· Partnering closely and driving effective collaborations across multi-disciplinary science, analytics, HR, and business teams. Reviewing and scoping research requests, and recommending appropriate scientific methodologies.· Designing, developing, and executing qualitative and quantitative data collection, research, and experimentation. Strong experience with statistical analysis required. Experience with survey development and experimental design (including quasi-experimental) preferred.· Communicating findings and business impact effectively (written and verbally) with both technical and non-technical stakeholders.
US, CA, Sunnyvale
Interested in Amazon Alexa? We’re building the speech and language solutions behind Amazon products and services. Come join us!As a Senior Applied Scientist in Alexa AI, you will perform the duties of a research scientist and are also expected to be strong at implementing the algorithm. You are expected be an expert in machine learning approaches for conversational language and speech processing. Our mission is to innovate the state-of-the-art core technologies in these areas.Job responsibilities· Research, design, implement, analyze and evaluate novel algorithms for multimodal conversational AI using deep learning· Develop state-of-the-art algorithms, contribute to Amazon's Intellectual Property and publish at top-tier conferences· Collaborate closely with team members on developing algorithms and demonstrating them in systems including prototypes and productsAmazon is committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace. Amazon is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, protected veteran status, disability, age, or other legally protected status. For individuals with disabilities who would like to request an accommodation, please visit https://www.amazon.jobs/en/disability/us.
US, WA, Seattle
We are a team of doers working passionately to apply cutting-edge advances in diagnostics technology to solve real-world problems. As a Senior Immunoassay Scientist, you will work with a unique and gifted team developing exciting medical diagnostic products and collaborate with cross-functional teams. Our team rewards intellectual curiosity while maintaining a laser-focus in bringing products to market. Competitive candidates are responsive, flexible, and able to succeed within an open, collaborative, entrepreneurial, startup-like environment. At the cutting edge of both academic and applied research in this product area, you have the opportunity to work together with some of the most talented scientists, engineers, and product managers.Inclusive Team Culture:Here at Amazon, we embrace our differences. We are committed to furthering our culture of inclusion. We have ten employee-led affinity groups, reaching 40,000 employees in over 190 chapters globally. We have innovative benefit offerings, and host annual and ongoing learning experiences, including our Conversations on Race and Ethnicity (CORE) and AmazeCon (gender diversity) conferences. Amazon’s culture of inclusion is reinforced within our 14 Leadership Principles, which remind team members to seek diverse perspectives, learn and be curious, and earn trust.Work/Life BalanceOur team puts a high value on work-life balance. It isn’t about how many hours you spend at home or at work; it’s about the you establish that brings energy to both parts of your life. We believe striking the right balance between your personal and professional life is critical to life-long happiness and fulfillment. We offer flexibility in working hours and encourage you to find your own balance between your work and personal lives.Mentorship & Career GrowthOur team is dedicated to supporting new members. We have a broad mix of experience levels and tenures, and we’re building an environment that celebrates knowledge sharing and mentorship. Our senior members enjoy one-on-one mentoring and thorough, but kind, code reviews. We care about your career growth and strive to assign projects based on what will help each team member develop into a better-rounded engineer and enable them to take on more complex tasks in the future.The Senior Immunoassay Scientist should be an expert in using immunoassays to develop assays leading to commercially viable products. They should have a deep understanding of underlying biochemical processes and components within conventional immunoassay platforms, be someone capable of diving deep into the data (requires in-depth understanding of the lab processes, for example to do root cause analysis of experimental outcome based on the data), and be someone who can work independently.Job responsibilities· Research and develop both existing and new cutting edge immunoassay technologies· Carefully execute laboratory experiments and provide guidance to teams of scientists and engineers through the writing of clear standard operating protocols.· Assist with assay process transfer to production environments and design and execute verification/validation plans· Work with a team of scientists and engineers to communicate experiments and conclusion for review· Work closely with clinical, regulatory and quality stakeholders· Follow literature in the field