TechHui

Hawaiʻi's Technology Community

Featured Techie: Labels That Talk President Ken Berkun

I first met Ken on TechHui. He was an early member and a frequent participant in our groups and forums. I was intrigued by his company's product, Soundpaper, which encodes audio in high density barcodes. In Japan I frequently see bar codes used to encode URLs that can be read by mobile phone cameras. You find them everywhere from vending machines to magazines. The user points their mobile camera at the barcode to access media (sound, image or video) over the network. Soundpaper is unique in that the data itself is encoded, which removes the need for a network connection. This technology has many useful applications. Wouldn't it be nice if grandma could place her prescriptions in a cup holder-like reader and have the usage instructions read to her? How about audio product labels for the visually impaired? Wouldn't it be nice if you could provide audio annotations for photographs embedded in the image? The possibilities are endless.
Bio Ken Berkun has over 30 of experience in high tech companies, both as an individual contributor and in management. Prior to founding LTT he was a founder of Singingfish, the world’s first audio/video search engine (now owned by AOL). Ken’s vision shaped Singingfish as he was responsible for Singingfish’s business plan, strategy and content. Prior to Singingfish Ken was at Equator Technologies, developers of a media processor, and before that he was with Digital Equipment in various technical and marketing roles over more than a dozen years based in Seattle and Hong Kong. Ken has always made a point of keeping involved in a technical capacity even in his management and founder roles. He has written all the UI code for LTT’s current prototype as well as learning aspects of machine vision and image processing while developing the previous prototype. Ken moved to Hawaii from Seattle five years ago with his wife Gay Armsden, Ph.D, and daughter Eva, age 12 and fabulous artist. He enjoys hiking, cooking and meetings of the Windward Aging Developers Guild. Ken has a B.S. in “Human Machine Interaction” from the University of California at Davis.
Company Profile: Labels That Talk™ Labels That Talk has developed easy to use low-cost technology for labeling anything with audio. This provides an easy way for:
  • Pharmacies to increase sales by solving the serious problem of customers being unable to understand written prescription labels and other instructions.
  • Audio labeling in the multi-billion dollar industrial labeling market.
  • Adding sound to photographs, increasing revenues for craft stores through our partners in this booming industry ($3 Billion U.S. alone).
Other applications include aids for the visually impaired and special needs individuals, teaching materials and much more. LTT is focused on the image processing algorithms required to read this very high density 2-Dimensional barcode with a low-cost scanner. LTT expects to ship a scanning application on a smart phone in about 6 months (as well as a supporting ecosystem of PC/Mac applications and Web services). Soundpaper is unique because the sound is stored in the barcode itself – the application stands alone, no need for a network or delays while a browser loads. The sample shown here carries 10 seconds of audio (we’re singing Happy Birthday!), but may not be shown actual size, depending on your display. Printed it is less than .5 inches by 2.5 inches. This allows up to 40 seconds of text under a 4x6 photo, or wrapped around a prescription bottle. Labels That Talk is a young start-up with a fantastic team - here in Hawaii, in Seattle, Portland and the Bay Area. We are currently looking for people with expertise in using math libraries on various platforms (such as the Intel Performance Primitives). Contact Information:
Ken Berkun 230 Ilihau St. Kailua, HI, 96734
berkun@LTTaloha.com

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Comment by Sherwin Gao on July 5, 2009 at 5:13pm
Wow this sounds amazing, I would love to check it out in action!
Comment by Alyssa K on July 2, 2009 at 6:50am
amazing! I ditto what Bruce said ;)
Comment by Bruce M. Bird on July 1, 2009 at 7:16pm
"The future ain't what it used to be." (Yogi Berra).
Comment by Scott Murphy on July 1, 2009 at 6:38pm
I had the good fortune of seeing Labels that Talk in action and was blown away. The sound quality was absolutely amazing and the applications to this technology are endless. It's awesome that a company like this has a presence in Hawaii.

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