How long have you been working in technology for and what is your technical background?
I’ve been in the technology field for about 17 years now, with a deep focus on advanced research and product development. I am passionate about building technologies that enhance and augment the human sensation and perception processes, enable smart and intelligent devices and natural human-machine interactions.
Prior to joining Starkey Hearing Technologies, I led the Perceptual Computing Group at Intel Corporation where my focus areas included 3D sensing and interactive computing systems, computer vision and artificial intelligence, autonomous robots and drones, and immersive virtual and merged reality devices.
What are you focused on right now?
Starkey Hearing Technologies is on the edge of a rapidly changing industry where virtual reality, neuroscience research and artificial intelligence technologies are converging to influence the wearable healthcare devices of tomorrow. As Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President of Engineering, my primary focus is to help our team formulate innovative ideas and implement them in advanced products to push the boundaries on what these technologies can do for patients. That means looking at how our technologies and products can not only improve the auditory and neurological communication pathways, but augment them for an enhanced sensory experience that provides improved hearing and overall health and wellness for our consumers.
What is the size of your department and how is it organized/managed?
The company currently employs more than 5,000 people, operates 22 facilities and conducts business in more than 100 countries worldwide. My departments include our research, development and engineering groups.
How does your company approach recruiting and retention for technical positions in an increasingly competitive market?
Exceptional researchers and engineers want to be in an environment where they can make a significant positive impact via their work and gain new skills continually to evolve their career. For recruiting and retention, Starkey Hearing Technologies offers competitive pay and bonuses, exceptional employee benefits, the opportunity to be on the forefront of a cutting-edge technology revolution that helps improve human lives, and the ability to grow and learn throughout a candidate’s career.
How do you personally keep up with the ever-changing technology landscape?
I have one major philosophy to keeping up with our evolving landscape – never stop learning. I make it a point to continually seek learning opportunities wherever they arise. Ongoing education is imperative to the field of technology and research, and in my position, I make sure those efforts include reading up on the latest research efforts and trends, finding opportunities to experience new technologies and, when given the opportunity, taking on new challenges or ideas. Secondly, I remain active in academia and continue to contribute as an adjunct and guest professor at multiple prestigious universities around the world, where I advise graduate research and teach courses on contemporary technologies such as virtual reality, perceptual computing and artificial intelligence. At Starkey Hearing Technologies, we also have strong collaborative partnerships with leading researchers in academia that benefit both sides.
What excites you about where technology is heading?
I believe the next few years alone will absolutely redefine healthcare technology and the way companies such as Starkey Hearing Technologies can use it to best benefit patients. I am excited to see the rapidly evolving confluence of virtual reality, artificial intelligence technologies and neuroscience and sensorics research. In addition to improving a consumer’s hearing experience, this confluence can positively impact related health concerns such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, depression, stress and the overall sensory-perceptual experience that the auditory-neurological pathways heavily influence.
What concerns you about where technology is heading?
We’ve gone from developing technologies over the course of years to revolutionizing products in several months. Consumer demands for better technology, faster, continue to grow and as companies in the technical fields work to keep up with consumer needs and desires, the biggest concern will be ensuring product performance and safety. Especially as we look to the world of hearing technologies, a key part of helping people to hear better, live better is to ensure that we are innovating with both purpose and precision. We also know that for hearing technology to truly succeed in the future, its relationship with the consumers who use it and the hearing professionals who work with it will be vital to avoiding consumer dangers and technology blunders. In short, as the technology industry continues to increase its pace, those of us in charge of developing the technologies must work to ensure quality is not lost in the race for time.
What are you into outside of technology?
Every moment that I have outside work, when I am not pursuing technologies and business, belongs to my family. My wife, an accomplished scientist and researcher herself, and I have a twelve-year old son and a nine-year old daughter. We continually strive to feed their avid interests in math and computer programming, participate in their extracurricular activities and travel places together whenever we get a chance.
What is your opinion of Minnesota’s tech industry?
Part of the appeal in joining the Starkey Hearing Technologies family was the rapidly growing and innovating healthcare tech industry located here in the Twin Cities. Minnesota has long been a hub for healthcare, and in the last 10 years alone, it has made significant strides and become a leader in innovation and research.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’m truly excited at the opportunities ahead of us. Starkey Hearing Technologies provides an excellent playing ground for innovative minds to explore what’s possible, and push the frontiers of technologies to help enhance the human experience. I will look forward to telling you all more about our work in the near future!