Endel is a cross-platform audio ecosystem that was developed to help you focus, relax and sleep and it is needed today more than ever. Endel is a collective of engineers, musicians, artists and tech people who gathered together to help people to face modern working and living environments through sound. Sand magazine sat down to speak with Oleg Stavitsky, Endel's CEO & Co-Founder but before reading - make sure you put the sound on:
Sand magazine is dedicated to self-care and slowing down - how does Endel help reaching this vision in our hectic world?
Endel is very delicate, it is designed to be an invisible mate. Like a face moisturizer, not a pomade, if I'd borrow the metaphor from your assortment. We want people to be as happy as they could be, by any means.
In the world, where scientific medicine and many other bulletproof solutions proved to fail people in many ways, what left is trying to peer over the horizon. Mix science and art, knowledge and intuition. For us, these connections appear to be very interesting and rich with opportunities — for letting people still be themselves and act normal wherever they want to feel better. We are all too tired of these attempts to become a better version of ourselves. Maybe it’s time to just be?
What do you see as society's biggest challenges today and how is Endel solving it?
Most of us on the planet live in cities, and cities always change. Unfortunately, this happens faster than we, humans, evolve. The consequences are many: emotional disorders, health problems, general dissatisfaction, to name a few. It's a global challenge. Sound ecology in cities is as important for their inhabitants, as ecology in nature. They are different sides of the same coin, and we have to do something to protect our habitats both there and here.
Many people work on this already. On a governmental level, in the US, for example, where soundmarks or natural soundscapes become protected by the likes of UNESCO, not without the help of a group of neuroscientists and musicians. Or on a community level, as in Tokyo where you won't hear a loud voice or a harsh sound even in the rush-hour at Shibuya. In intercity trains there, special notes ask not to disturb fellow-passengers by too loud keyboard clicks!
We're solving the same problem in our own way, trying to help people rest and focus by soulful technology. It's kind of biohacking for dummies or invisible meditation practice for people who are not into yoga and new age-y. Though, of course, we have people of the whole spectrum of interests and background among Endel users.
There are signs that we're moving in the right direction, as Apple, for instance, recently added noise meters to the Watch, so that people can control, avoid and, perhaps, fight noise pollution in the surrounding environment.
The more solutions to choose from the better, as far as any of them makes people happier (happiness might become a new oil in our hectic times).
Would love to know a little more about how did Endel start and what brought you to launch this company?
Most of us at Endel are long-time partners and friends. We've been working together on a number of mind-expanding start-ups. Before now it was a mobile game for the youngest kids, called Bubl. Quite like Endel, it was as much an artistic vision as a tech start-up. With sound design by Dmitry Evgrafov, a neo-classical musician, who created all the sounds you hear in Endel, and black-and-white art by Protey Temen, Endel's visual composer, we've made an immersive experience for small people that have let them develop their inner talents. This game had no rules apart from those kids figured out themselves. Kind of a Minecraft for toddlers. Bubl was engineered by the very same developers' team that is working on Endel and is able to deliver an app for a new platform, like Apple Watch, for instance, in a matter of months.
After a few good years, Bubl had been acquired by a German digital kids studio, which was then bought itself by a toy giant HABA. As it all happened, we felt that we're losing the world we've created with this app and decided to bring the same concept to a new level, expand Bubl ideas to kidults, or grown-ups (as there are no more adults in the world since the successive generations of 'teenagers' — introduced as a marketing category in the 1940s — have grown older but never grown up).
And there came the vision of Endel — an autogenous ambient sounds that put a person into a bubble (or is it 'bubl'? haha) and thus help to access the inner resources, with no distractions. The prototype was made in a few weeks, and when we showed it to the people we trusted, it came apparent that it's going to be a — silent — bomb.
How can you curate or personalize an audio experience?
There is a natural circadian rhythm that all living creatures act by — sleep, wake, and do many things in between. This rhythm also orchestrates our performance ups and downs. While animals, plants, fungi, bacteria even, all live by it, we, the people, tend to lose the beat. That leads to many disorders and disappointments in our modern life. Circadian rhythm studies brought a Nobel prize to its researchers a few years ago, the fact that illustrates the universal importance of this phenomenon.
Our sound-generating algorithm brings people back to the natural, zero state, align them with the circadian rhythm, soundly. By matching users' current conditions with the circadian phase where every one of them is, we help them to feel better. And these current conditions we may find out by getting data from users' mobiles: weather, motion type, heart rate. In this sense, Endel is a technology of personalized soundscapes.
One of our business consultants in Silicon Valley said that we are one of the few tech companies that collected data not for sale or any profit, but the people's needs. Endel even doesn't store the information it gets, it's all stays on the users' mobiles and may be deleted by a single tap.
How do you foresee the future of this industry?
We don't consider Endel to be a sound-only technology. In the future, we're going to work with light and maybe other impacts. But of course won't ditch our audio ecosystem that already involves mobile apps, web version, Apple Watch standalone app, and Alexa skill. In our vision, Endel-aid will be as natural and omnipresent as the internet connection. And may as well be available whatever the circumstances, under which people need a moment of self-time: their home, car, office, any public space, etc. You may expect some big news on that point early next year.
Endel offers Sand readers free soundscapes. Use the code MAAPILIMCHILL at code.endel.io and share it with family, friends, strangers.