Stephen D. Ambrose has been helping people hear better for a long time, but now he’s taking that mission further than ever. Decades ago, Ambrose — a recording artist himself — invented the wireless in-ear monitor so that musicians on stage can better hear what they’re playing. That device, a predecessor of today’s earbuds, did its job well, but unfortunately it could also contribute to hearing loss. Today, Ambrose and his team at Asius Technologies are pioneering a new kind of earphone that transmits what they call “the softest loud you’ve ever heard.” Their design seals off the ear with a tiny inflatable “second eardrum” that absorbs harmful pressure, giving listeners a richer, louder sound while also protecting their hearing.
Ambrose and company are not only coming up with a revolutionary product, but also designing it in a revolutionary way using Fusion 360. Ambrose, who has decades of patents to his name, says that “It used to take so long to build these things,” but with Fusion 360 the team is able to dream up a fresh idea, design it collaboratively in the software, and then 3D print it so they can play with it. This approach means they can try out many different ideas quickly, without a huge investment. “You could have a harebrained idea,” Ambrose says. “So what? Go try it.”
Asius was named one of the top 10 startups of the year for 2013 by the Wall Street Journal, and it completed a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than three times its goal amount of $200,000 at the end of 2014. Still, Ambrose continues to experiment, study, and design — and to enjoy the serendipitous discoveries that arise along the way. “There’s an awful lot of things that don’t work as expected,” he says, “and they’re wonderful.”