Holoplot – “Hearing is believing” – a new audio-technology to control sound

53 Degrees North interviewed Roman Sick, CEO of Holoplot, in his office in a warehouse building in Berlin, and got a demo of this brilliant new sound technology in their own showroom.

It’s not the first time Roman has been participating in innovative projects as an entrepreneur, but this one is definitely one of his most interesting ones. As a former Rocket Internet employee, he took over a company that was born by ground-breaking R&D in audio-technology by Helmut Oellers, a bright sound engineer from Germany. Helmut and the early team developed a technology that allows you to precisely direct sound in a room or open space and over large distances (up to 200m) with hardly any volume losses– the technology enables to plot multiple sound pockets at the same time, determining what sound (or nothing) you hear at a specific place.

Audio-technology that blows your mind!

Close your eyes for 1 min and think about the endless amount of opportunities you have with such a technology… try it! There are so many use cases thinkable that you would easily get lost in it as an entrepreneur. Currently, Holoplot has mainly developed their soft-/hardware packages in three application areas: i) ability to provide constant volume of sound over distance, ii) announcements in different languages to be heard mainly (almost solely) at specific spots in the room, and iii) steer sound waves in such a way that they arrive to you from different angles, even when the actual speaker is located at one place. All the sound comes from the same speaker system and is managed by sound engineers through their advanced 3D software.


How it works…

“We can change the shape of an audio-wave-front,” Roman explains to us. If you throw a stone into the water a spherical wave-front will circle away from the source and slowly damps out (the energy is spread over a larger surface). By throwing multiple stones into the water, the wave fronts will interact with each other and create different shapes than the circular pattern. Now, if you throw 100 stones at the same time, all these small waves will form together to a new wave front, which can be linear and therefore be directed. This is similar to directing audio-waves. “The hardest challenge is to explain to the customer how it works and what it does. This is a very new technology to the market and we are the first ones.” If you do not have the technological background it takes a while to understand this product.

So many different use cases – where to start?

As mentioned above, this is probably the hardest of all questions since there are so many use cases. At this point, Holoplot is focusing mainly on B2B value propositions. In that perspective, their main partner and investor, the Madison Square Garden (MSG), makes sense. Together with MSG they are planning two big projects in Las Vegas and London that will include the sound-technology of Holoplot as the main audio provider. Moreover, Holoplot has a partnership with Deutsche Bahn in Germany, in which Accelerator program they also participated. Deutsche Bahn is interested in implementing their technology at train stations for announcements in different languages at different spots. “The most common use cases to think of are conferences, speeches, trade shows, but we also did an installation in a Retail Store, which feeds more into the consumer experience side of things.” A lot of education for both sides, consumer and producer, has to come in order to learn about more use cases. There are many! “In the end, what matters is, that it’s supposed to solve a problem”.

Entrepreneurial journey

“The entrepreneurial path was extremely challenging. It is a very technical product. Joining this company as a CEO and building the trust within the existing team was not always easy.” Roman, who is a hobby music producer himself, and plays instruments has a clear passion for this fascinating project. “Hearing is believing”, as he says, “and convincing the customer without a demo, can be challenging”.

And finally, our two wacky questions…

…If Holoplot was an animal, what would it be? “a Bat, since it uses audio waves to fly around…”
…And if you can hire anyone in the world for Holoplot who would it be? “Aaron Ross, to build a sales organisation like no other”

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