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Follow Up Five: Q&A With Starkey CTO Dr. Achin Bhowmik


Starkey CTO Achin Bhowmik, Ph.D.

Being named a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers is an honor reserved for a select few. Dr. Achin Bhowmik, CTO of Starkey, is now one of those few. After the news of his newly bestowed Fellowship, we reached out to Dr. Bhowmik for a quick Q&A about the honor, what’s coming for Starkey, and the importance of pushing the envelope. What does it mean to you to be appointed a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers?

Dr. Achin Bhowmik: I am truly humbled by this honor. It’s a privilege to be listed along with the technologists and engineers who have inspired me throughout my entire career. When I joined Intel after completing graduate school, I had the privilege of interacting with and following Dr. Andy Grove, the legendary technology leader who was among the pioneers of the computing industry. Among the many accolades he earned, I recall him mentioning his election to IEEE Fellow. However, it also reminds me of how much work I have left to do. I am proud of the contributions I have made to technology so far, but I am most excited about what lies ahead. Looking back, what are some of your achievements that might have helped the IEEE award you the title?

Dr. Achin Bhowmik: Life is a journey that consists of small steps. Every step is an opportunity to learn, to contribute and to make a difference in the world. Those steps add up, and they make us into who we are. During my work at Intel, I worked on advanced sensors, processors, and artificial intelligence to make computers and machines perceive and understand the world. At Starkey, we have focused on using these advanced technologies to help enhance and augment human perception, enabling people to better connect and communicate with each other. I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to work with teams of talented researchers, scientists and engineers throughout my career. So, I share any of my accomplishments and credits with all my colleagues along the journey. Collectively, we have just started to tap into what technology is capable of, how it can enhance people’s lives and even help us go beyond our biological limits. What can consumers expect from Starkey this year? Anything on the horizon you can share?

Dr. Achin Bhowmik: We have an exciting technology roadmap ahead of us. The needs of the patients are changing. The Starkey team has done amazing things over the past few years to reinvent the hearing aid in order to meet the expectations of the increasingly connected user. With unprecedented hearing experiences enabled by machine learning and artificial intelligence, we have transformed the hearing aid from a device people need to wear into something they want to wear, with features like health tracking, fall detection, language translation, and the ability to be your personal assistant. We help people hear better and live better, but we are just at the beginning of fulfilling that mission. The hearing aid of the future will not only be able to track my health, but alert me to health issues before they happen. The hearing aid of the future will not only be able to adjust to my environment, but know me well enough to adjust automatically and seamlessly, knowing what I need before I tell it. It will help us understand conversations better in noisy environments beyond what is deemed to be possible today. We are not done reinventing the hearing aid. Stay tuned! The Livio Edge AI just won a BIG Innovation Award. Why is it important for companies like Starkey to keep pushing the envelope with new tech like this?

Dr. Achin Bhowmik: Starkey is committed to helping people hear better and live better lives. That requires us to be at the cutting edge of technology, which is moving at lightning speed. We have the opportunity to tap into these rapid advancements in ways never thought possible before. Technology that was once thought inconceivable is now at our fingertips. For a long time, there had been a stigma around wearing hearing aids. People thought hearing aids made them look weak or old. This is no longer the case. With this cutting-edge technology, the hearing aid is no longer a device with a stigma. Even without hearing loss, it enables me to hear in a noisy restaurant, to stream calls or meetings all day without having to charge my batteries, to track my steps and monitor my health. This is technology that is enhancing everyday life. After a rough 2020, what are some of your goals you’re focusing on in 2021 (personally or professionally)?

Dr. Achin Bhowmik: 2020 was difficult for our world, but it also reinforced the importance of clear communication and interactions with family and friends. During quarantine and important world events, communication has never been more vital or more difficult. What we do at Starkey has never been more important. We took this time to look at how world events were changing people’s needs and wants, and we asked ourselves how we can make their lives better. When I look to the future, I see that we have so many more people to help. We have an aging population and people are living longer, and the connected consumer wants to be in control of their health. We will be giving them the tools to do that. Fulfilling Starkey’s purpose of helping people around the world hear and live better lives is what drives our work and what continues to inspire our team to question how far we can push the limits of technology.

Alex Skjong
Alex oversees the content produced for BETA, Twin Cities Startup Week, and When he’s not writing or editing, there’s a good chance he’s enjoying a refreshing brew and explaining the merits of heavy metal (of which there are many).