Sten Ouborg from Kien – Interview Snippet

Kien The First Flexible Sound System

Sten Ouborg discusses kien

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Kien is a sound system that can be used to create any audio experience anywhere in and outside the house. The team are currently running an Indiegogo campaign for their new product. Kien’s CTO Sten Ouborg discusses their journey to this point.

Where did the idea for kien come from?

Two of the founders, Jorn and Florent, met at the audio products manufacturer Bang & Olufsen in Denmark. The boys worked as graduation interns: Jorn worked as a product designer and Florent worked as an acoustics engineer. After leaving Denmark, Jorn and Florent started brainstorming about a smart and connected sound system. Soon after, I was invited on the team to bring some more hardware and software knowledge. After that, Thibaut was added to the team as a software engineer.

The idea of kien came from a mutual annoyance from the team with wires and cabling in audio systems. They have noticed that entertainment is getting more and more mobile. Watching TV or movies has largely left the living room because of smartphones, tablets and services like Netflix. However, audio is still quite rigid: an audio system is tethered to one spot in the house. And if one wants to be able to listen to audio on the go, the purchase of a portable speaker is necessary. Annoying.

Also, audio systems are often marketed as smart, even though they don’t hold true ‘smart’ technology. Sure, being able to stream audio from a phone to a speaker is neat, but to the kien team true ‘smartness’ means automating a tedious job for the user. The kien speaker system is designed for the current trend of entertainment on the move. The kien speakers can be used to create any audio experience anywhere in and outside the house.

How did you begin designing the device?

We started off by exploring the right trade-off between portability and the quality of the acoustics at our own apartments. We’ve built and tested many different shapes and sizes made out of cardboard and MDF. As soon as we got our own office and a 3D printer, we started doing more defined acoustics and shape tests, based on our initial findings, and our final circular shape came to be.

It’s currently in a prototype phase and consists of off-the-shelf components: Raspberry Pi’s, Adafruit D-class amplifiers, USB Bluetooth dongles, etcetera.

Why have you decided to run an Indiegogo Campaign?

We are doing a crowdfunding campaign because we have a proof of concept of our product, and of course, we’re big fans of it! But now we want to show the world our idea and prove that there are people out there that have the same annoyances as us in audio products and want to use kien.

How did you prepare for running the campaign?

Lots and lots of reading and discussing. We are four engineers and have little experience in marketing, setting up a brand, convincing people of your product and stuff like that. There is a lot of very interesting information out there on crowdfunding. We have taken a lot of time to research crowdfunding campaigns; why they’re successful and why not. When we felt confident, we started building our own campaign, shooting the video and writing the text.

What are your plans for the future?

We have a lot of big plans for kien in the future. We want to keep increasing the system’s compatibility with all kinds of streaming protocols and codecs. We also want to release more kien products that make kien more awesome. We have ideas such as a kien turntable, a kien media tank, and loads more. And with future technology, kien is going to be even easier to use. For example, think of inductive charging or kien playing a role in the upcoming virtual reality gaming trend.

The readers can get involved by backing our crowdfunding campaign, and by sharing it with all their friends!  With this, they will become a part of our active community that helps us mature our lovely product.


For more info, sign up on the kien website and like their Facebook page.

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