Augury’s Gadget Lets Machines Hear When They’re About to Die

Augury’s Gadget Lets Machines Hear When They’re About to Die

About four years ago software developer Gal Shaul boarded a flight from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Delhi, India. Shaul worked for a medical device startup, and he’d been dispatched to troubleshoot an overheating product for one of the company’s clients. But as soon as he arrived on the scene, he knew it wasn’t a software problem at all: he could hear that the machine’s fan was clogged from across the room.

The sounds machines make reveal quite a bit about whether they’re working properly and what’s wrong with them if not. That’s why the first thing a mechanic does when you bring your car into the shop is pop the hood and listen to the engine. Shaul’s 11-hour flight to India could have been avoided if someone had thought to put a phone up to the device and let a support technician listen to it. But to Shaul, the experience revealed a more fundamental problem: the software running on the device didn’t have any idea what was going on with the hardware. The machine had no way of listening to its own sound, and therefore no way to alert its owner or its developers that something was wrong.

So he called a college friend Saar Yoskovitz, an expert in analog signal processing, the complex mathematics involved in processing non-digital signals such as sound. Together the pair founded Augury, a company dedicated to giving machines a sense of hearing. They like to refer to it as “Shazam for machines,” referring to the popular app that can listen to and recognize songs.

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