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.”

 

Research areas

Related content

ES, M, Madrid
Amazon's International Technology org in EU (EU INTech) is creating new ways for Amazon customers discovering Amazon catalog through new and innovative Customer experiences. Our vision is to provide the most relevant content and CX for their shopping mission. We are responsible for building the software and machine learning models to surface high quality and relevant content to the Amazon customers worldwide across the site. The team, mainly located in Madrid Technical Hub, London and Luxembourg, comprises Software Developer and ML Engineers, Applied Scientists, Product Managers, Technical Product Managers and UX Designers who are experts on several areas of ranking, computer vision, recommendations systems, Search as well as CX. Are you interested on how the experiences that fuel Catalog and Search are built to scale to customers WW? Are interesting on how we use state of the art AI to generate and provide the most relevant content? Key job responsibilities We are looking for Applied Scientists who are passionate to solve highly ambiguous and challenging problems at global scale. You will be responsible for major science challenges for our team, including working with text to image and image to text state of the art models to scale to enable new Customer Experiences WW. You will design, develop, deliver and support a variety of models in collaboration with a variety of roles and partner teams around the world. You will influence scientific direction and best practices and maintain quality on team deliverables. We are open to hiring candidates to work out of one of the following locations: Madrid, M, ESP
US, NY, New York
Amazon Advertising exists at the intersection of marketing and e-commerce and offers advertisers a rich array of innovative advertising solutions across Amazon-owned and third party properties. We believe that advertising, when done well, can greatly enhance the value of the customer experience and generate a positive return on investment for our advertising partners. We are currently looking for a highly skilled and motivated Data Scientist to help scale our growing advertising business. The Data Scientist is a key member of the Global Marketing Insights team at Amazon Ads, working with marketing, product, retail and other Amazon business partners to analyze and improve advertisers’ performance on Amazon, in support of their marketing objectives. You will work with Amazon's unique data and translate it into high-quality and actionable insights and recommendations to improve the effectiveness of advertiser campaigns and unlock business opportunities. Day to day activities include analyzing advertiser behaviors to develop data-driven insights on what tactics and strategies lead to success. You will also build automated solutions to generate science driven insights at scale, that are distributed to our advertisers across channels. Basic qualifications - Bachelor's or Master's degree in Engineering, Statistics, Economics, or a related technical field - Proven experience in data analytics or data science roles - Proficiency with SQL and Python - Strong understanding of basic statistical techniques and methodologies such as distributions, hypothesis testing, regressions, experimentation, A/B Testing etc. - Excellent organizational, interpersonal, and communication skills (both written and verbal) - Ability to work cross-functionally and with technical and non-technical stakeholders Preferred qualifications - Understanding of advanced statistical techniques and methodologies such as causal inference, propensity score matching, machine learning etc. - Experience with developing and deploying production machine learning models, especially on cloud platforms - Experience building and managing data pipelines - Experience with digital advertising products, performance analytics , marketing and advertising campaigns - MBA, Master’s, or Doctoral degree in Economics, Engineering, Marketing, Statistics, Advertising, or related fields - Publication track record/writing experience (ex. published a paper in a technical journal or trade publication) About the team The Marketing Insights team is responsible for delivering science backed insights to millions of advertisers via our marketing messages. Our team is distributed across the globe and is building cutting edge data science to identify and communicate the impact of various advertising strategies for our products. We are open to hiring candidates to work out of one of the following locations: New York, NY, USA
US, WA, Bellevue
We are designing the future. If you are in quest of an iterative fast-paced environment, where you can drive innovation through scientific inquiry, and provide tangible benefit to hundreds of thousands of our associates worldwide, this is your opportunity. Come work on the Amazon Worldwide Fulfillment Design & Engineering Team! We are looking for an experienced and Research Scientist with background in Ergonomics and Industrial Human Factors, someone that is excited to work on complex real-world challenges for which a comprehensive scientific approach is necessary to drive solutions. Your investigations will define human factor / ergonomic thresholds resulting in design and implementation of safe and efficient workspaces and processes for our associates. Your role will entail assessment and design of manual material handling tasks throughout the entire Amazon network. You will identify fundamental questions pertaining to the human capabilities and tolerances in a myriad of work environments, and will initiate and lead studies that will drive decision making on an extreme scale. .You will provide definitive human factors/ ergonomics input and participate in design with every single design group in our network, including Amazon Robotics, Engineering R&D, and Operations Engineering. You will work closely with our Worldwide Health and Safety organization to gain feedback on designs and work tenaciously to continuously improve our associate’s experience. Key job responsibilities - Collaborating and designing work processes and workspaces that adhere to human factors / ergonomics standards worldwide. - Producing comprehensive and assessments of workstations and processes covering biomechanical, physiological, and psychophysical demands. - Effectively communicate your design rationale to multiple engineering and operations entities. - Identifying gaps in current human factors standards and guidelines, and lead comprehensive studies to redefine “industry best practices” based on solid scientific foundations. - Continuously strive to gain in-depth knowledge of your profession, as well as branch out to learn about intersecting fields, such as robotics and mechatronics. - Travelling to our various sites to perform thorough assessments and gain in-depth operational feedback, approximately 25%-50% of the time. We are open to hiring candidates to work out of one of the following locations: Bellevue, WA, USA
US, WA, Bellevue
Imagine being part of an agile team where your ideas have the potential to reach millions of customers. Picture working on cutting-edge, customer-facing solutions, where every team member is a critical voice in the decision making process. Envision being able to leverage the resources of a Fortune 500 company within the atmosphere of a start-up. Welcome to Amazon’s NCRC team. We solve complex problems in an ambiguous space, focusing on reducing return costs and improving the customer experience. We build solutions that are distributed on a large scale, positively impacting experiences for our customers and sellers. Come innovate with the NCRC team! The Net Cost of Refunds and Concessions (NCRC) team is looking for a Senior Manager Data Science to lead a team of economists, business intelligence engineers and business analysts who investigate business problems, develop insights and build models & algorithms that predict and quantify new opportunity. The team instigates and productionalizes nascent solutions around four pillars: outbound defects, inbound defects, yield optimization and returns reduction. These four pillars interact, resulting in impacts to our overall return rate, associated costs, and customer satisfaction. You may have seen some downstream impacts of our work including Amazon.com customer satisfaction badges on the website and app, new returns drop off optionality, and faster refunds for low cost items. In this role, you will set the science vision and direction for the team, collaborating with internal stakeholders across our returns and re-commerce teams to scale and advance science solutions. This role is based in Bellevue, WA Key job responsibilities * Single threaded leader responsible for setting and driving science strategy for the organization. * Lead and provide coaching to a team of Scientists, Economists, Business Intelligence Engineers and Business Analysts. * Partner with Engineering, Product and Machine Learning leaders to deliver insights and recommendations across NCRC initiatives. * Lead research and development of models and science products powering return cost reduction. * Educate and evangelize across internal teams on analytics, insights and measurement by writing whitepapers, knowledge documentation and delivering learning sessions. We are open to hiring candidates to work out of one of the following locations: Bellevue, WA, USA
US, WA, Seattle
We are looking for detail-oriented, organized, and responsible individuals who are eager to learn how to work with large and complicated data sets. Some knowledge of econometrics, as well as basic familiarity with Python is necessary, and experience with SQL and Scala would be a plus. These are full-time positions at 40 hours per week, with compensation being awarded on an hourly basis. You will learn how to build data sets and perform applied econometric analysis collaborating with economists, scientists, and product managers. These skills will translate well into writing applied chapters in your dissertation and provide you with work experience that may help you with placement. Roughly 85% of previous cohorts have converted to full time economics employment at Amazon. If you are interested, please send your CV to our mailing list at econ-internship@amazon.com. We are open to hiring candidates to work out of one of the following locations: Chicago, IL, USA | Seattle, WA, USA | Washington, DC, USA
US, WA, Seattle
We are looking for detail-oriented, organized, and responsible individuals who are eager to learn how to work with large and complicated data sets. Some knowledge of econometrics, as well as basic familiarity with Python is necessary, and experience with SQL and Scala would be a plus. These are full-time positions at 40 hours per week, with compensation being awarded on an hourly basis. You will learn how to build data sets and perform applied econometric analysis collaborating with economists, scientists, and product managers. These skills will translate well into writing applied chapters in your dissertation and provide you with work experience that may help you with placement. Roughly 85% of previous cohorts have converted to full time economics employment at Amazon. If you are interested, please send your CV to our mailing list at econ-internship@amazon.com. We are open to hiring candidates to work out of one of the following locations: Chicago, IL, USA | Seattle, WA, USA | Washington, DC, USA
US, WA, Seattle
We are looking for detail-oriented, organized, and responsible individuals who are eager to learn how to work with large and complicated data sets. Some knowledge of econometrics, as well as basic familiarity with Python is necessary, and experience with SQL and Scala would be a plus. These are full-time positions at 40 hours per week, with compensation being awarded on an hourly basis. You will learn how to build data sets and perform applied econometric analysis collaborating with economists, scientists, and product managers. These skills will translate well into writing applied chapters in your dissertation and provide you with work experience that may help you with placement. Roughly 85% of previous cohorts have converted to full time economics employment at Amazon. If you are interested, please send your CV to our mailing list at econ-internship@amazon.com. We are open to hiring candidates to work out of one of the following locations: Chicago, IL, USA | Seattle, WA, USA | Washington, DC, USA
US, CA, Santa Clara
Amazon AI is looking for world class scientists and engineers to join its AWS AI. This group is entrusted with developing core natural language processing, generative AI, deep learning and machine learning algorithms for AWS. You will invent, implement, and deploy state of the art machine learning algorithms and systems. You will build prototypes and explore conceptually new solutions. You will interact closely with our customers and with the academic community. You will be at the heart of a growing and exciting focus area for AWS and work with other acclaimed engineers and world famous scientists. A day in the life Inclusive Team Culture Here at AWS, 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 Balance Our 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 flow 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 Growth Our 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. About the team The Amazon Web Services (AWS) Next Gen DevX (NGDE) team uses generative AI and foundation models to reimagine the experience of all builders on AWS. From the IDE to web-based tools and services, AI will help engineers work on large and small applications. We explore new technologies and find creative solutions. Curiosity and an explorative mindset can find a place here to impact the life of engineers around the world. If you are excited about this space and want to enlighten your peers with new capabilities, this is the team for you. We are open to hiring candidates to work out of one of the following locations: Santa Clara, CA, USA
US, CA, Santa Clara
Amazon AI is looking for world class scientists and engineers to join its AWS AI. This group is entrusted with developing core natural language processing, generative AI, deep learning and machine learning algorithms for AWS. You will invent, implement, and deploy state of the art machine learning algorithms and systems. You will build prototypes and explore conceptually new solutions. You will interact closely with our customers and with the academic community. You will be at the heart of a growing and exciting focus area for AWS and work with other acclaimed engineers and world famous scientists. A day in the life Inclusive Team Culture Here at AWS, 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 Balance Our 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 flow 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 Growth Our 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. About the team The Amazon Web Services (AWS) Next Gen DevX (NGDE) team uses generative AI and foundation models to reimagine the experience of all builders on AWS. From the IDE to web-based tools and services, AI will help engineers work on large and small applications. We explore new technologies and find creative solutions. Curiosity and an explorative mindset can find a place here to impact the life of engineers around the world. If you are excited about this space and want to enlighten your peers with new capabilities, this is the team for you. We are open to hiring candidates to work out of one of the following locations: Santa Clara, CA, USA
US, CA, Santa Clara
We are looking for an Applied Scientist who is passionate about building services and tools for developers that leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning. You will be part of a team building Large Language Model (LLM)-based services with the focus on enhancing the developer experience in the Cloud. The team works in close collaboration with other AWS services such as AWS Cloud9, the AWS IDE Toolkit and AWS Bedrock. If you are excited about working in cloud computing and building new AWS services, then we'd love to talk to you. As an Applied Scientist, you are recognized for your expertise, advise team members on a range of machine learning topics, and work closely with software engineers to drive the delivery of end-to-end modeling solutions. Your work focuses on ambiguous problem areas where the business problem or opportunity may not yet be defined. The problems that you take on require scientific breakthroughs. You take a long-term view of the business objectives, product roadmaps, technologies, and how they should evolve. You drive mindful discussions with customers, engineers, and scientist peers. You bring perspective and provide context for current technology choices, and make recommendations on the right modeling and component design approach to achieve the desired customer experience and business outcome. Key job responsibilities - Understand the challenges that developers face when building software today, and develop generalizable solutions. - Collaborate with developers and pave the way towards bringing your solution into production systems. Lead cross team projects and ensure technical blockers are resolved - Communicate and document your research via publishing papers in external scientific venues. A day in the life Inclusive Team Culture Here at AWS, 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 Balance Our 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 flow 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 Growth Our 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. About the team The Amazon Web Services (AWS) Next Gen DevX (NGDE) team uses generative AI and foundation models to reimagine the experience of all builders on AWS. From the IDE to web-based tools and services, AI will help engineers work on large and small applications. We explore new technologies and find creative solutions. Curiosity and an explorative mindset can find a place here to impact the life of engineers around the world. If you are excited about this space and want to enlighten your peers with new capabilities, this is the team for you. We are open to hiring candidates to work out of one of the following locations: Santa Clara, CA, USA