Exclusive insights into Jabra’s headset development

Visiting the audio specialist

June 12, 2024, 2:30 PM | Author: Thomas Birkner / Editor: Diana Künstler

Jabra’s testing laboratory in Ballerup

Last week, Claus Fonnesbech, head of Global Media, gave the European trade press exclusive insights into Jabra and its parent company GN in Ballerup near Copenhagen. Thomas Birkner was on site and was allowed to take a look behind the scenes in the audio specialist’s test laboratory.

When the Great Northern Telegraph Company was founded 155 years ago by entrepreneur Carl Frederik Tietgen, the company’s focus was on connecting the continents with copper cables to transmit text. This resulted in a group called GN, which now has more than 7,000 employees and operates in 100 countries, as Calum MacDougall, President of the Enterprise Division at Jabra, explains in his vivid description of the company’s decades of development.

Testing for countless scenarios

Thomas Birkner Jabra Press Tour 2024
Thomas Birkner in the foyer of the Jabra headquarters: The future path for GN is clearly defined and reflected in every corner and in every employee, he is convinced after the visit to Ballerup. Jabra’s mission is to develop the highest level of professional audio and video technology for work and play for users around the world.

The audio divisions form the core of the company

  • Company,
  • Gaming (Steel Series)
  • and hearing aid technology.

The development takes place in the so-called R&D power station. Medical, business and consumer audio products are made here, linked to research and development on three continents. The research laboratory in Denmark is equipped with the latest technology to test and further improve the products in any environment.

All scenarios can be simulated, from rooms with strong reverberation or echoes to rooms with dead noise and EMC, rooms with wind generators and environments that can be adjusted at the touch of a button. The laboratory also has a vehicle to simulate the acoustic background in traffic.

Even a test room that can mimic the high standards of Microsoft certification is available for technicians and engineers. Conference and office products are tested here before being sent to Microsoft for approval. All this serves to optimize the products so that the user can experience the best audio experience in every environment and situation.

Ask about AI and design

Jabra from dummy to product
From the model (left) to the final product (right)

The requirements for technology have changed significantly over time. Back then, only text could be sent via telegraph, but today we speak to computers as naturally as we do to a person. For ‘artificial intelligence’ (AI), the best possible input is needed: background noise reduces the result for man and machine.

Jabra uses AI at three levels:

  1. First, it is deployed by adding it to existing products and processes. This improves the performance of existing systems.
  2. At the second level, products/processes are adapted so that they can fully utilize the “artificial intelligence”.
  3. At the highest level, products and solutions are developed that would not be possible without AI. GN/Jabra products are intended to enable the highest possible recognition rate for inputs to the systems, regardless of location.

As Head of Design, Iain Pottie attaches particular importance to the design of the products, as they are usually worn in a prominent place directly on the body. Both the wearing style and the recognisable design characterise the brand and its appearance above all. Not only must the expectations of both professional and private users be fully met, but enthusiasm and desire for the products must also be built up if possible. The path from the first model to the finished product is interesting because it is important to combine all requirements as well as possible.

Ballerup Jabra Press Tour 2024
Jacob Spang Lyndegaard, Senior Manager Video Solutions at Jabra, in the Microsoft Teams Signature room

The results of the extensive research work could be experienced “live” in the Microsoft Teams Signature rooms available on site. On both 16:9 and 21:9 panels, online meetings with the Panacast 50 (Microsoft Teams Room Windows; MTRoW) become a different kind of experience. The participants are brought to the forefront by the camera hardware and software that is presented as if they were in the camera room. The voice transmission and noise filter do the rest to take the acceptance of this type of collaboration to a new level. Jabra offers regular updates that not only maintain compatibility but also enable the addition of new features, for example Microsoft Intelliframe support.

Cloud IntelliFrame
…is integrated into Microsoft Teams Rooms and uses state-of-the-art AI models to improve the focus and framing of meeting participants. This means that each participant – both in the room and remote – has their own individual frame in the video gallery. This is intended to improve the visibility of faces and make it easier for users to understand who is speaking.

Also in the picture: sustainability and hearing problems

Jabra Carbon Footprint
The ecological balance of a Jabra product in detail

In this context, GN/Jabra attaches great importance to sustainability. In current products in business, the share of sustainable materials is already almost 50 percent. In addition, the packaging is usually produced without plastics and with the smallest possible dimensions. According to Jabra, this protects the environment and saves transport costs.

GN has followed an interesting path in developing products for people with hearing problems. Hearing aids are often used very late or even too late, sometimes years after the hearing loss has already started.

Jabra in-ear headset
The Jabra Enhance Plus is a miniaturized 3-in-1 earbud designed to enhance hearing, calls and music.

To lower the threshold for the first purchase, in-ear systems have been created in the design of true wireless headphones (TWS), which have the similar technology of hearing aids. The user can purchase this himself and adapt it to his wishes with the help of intelligent software. This is intended to lower the threshold for purchasing one, because strictly speaking it is not a hearing aid, but headphones with hearing support.

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