From racing to remote working: the story of IRIS Clarity Voice Isolation

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Published byTom Darnell

Designing, developing and launching a new product is hard… like, really hard. Throw starting a company into the mix, with a vision to revolutionise the way we listen and a mission to enable the world to ‘Listen Well’ — and you’ve got yourself a proper (and hopefully rewarding) challenge.

But this is exactly what we took on at IRIS in 2020, launching our company into the world with our first product, the IRIS Flow Headphones. Little did we know that two major factors were about to shape the direction of our company.

Just as we were preparing to commence our headphones campaign, we were plunged into lockdown — uncharted territory for everyone on the planet and a big wrench in our plans. Two years later, we’ve not only navigated the pandemic, but also used the uncertainty of our environment to develop our latest product to help you Listen Well: IRIS Clarity.

What is IRIS Clarity?

IRIS Clarity is a voice isolation desktop app that uses our patented AI software to remove distracting background noises from your online calls and meetings. Whether you’re on a Zoom meeting with your co-workers, a Google Meet pitch with prospects, or a VoIP call with a customer, all you need to do is toggle IRIS Clarity on and any noise from traffic, roadworks, washing machines, loud housemates, louder colleagues, and everything in between will be removed. This helps bring the focus back to the conversation, improving communication and productivity. 

Some of IRIS Clarity’s game changing features include zero latency, incredibly low CPU requirements, and bi-directionality. This means only one participant needs the software for both participants of a call to enjoy its benefits, which is particularly important for contact centres aiming to improve customer experience. The result: a conversation that flows.

Why did we create IRIS Clarity?

Earlier, I mentioned two major factors that inspired our efforts to create the clearest voice isolation app on the market. The first was our work with a partner in Formula One. The second was our frustration with noise in our online meetings.

Helping race car drivers actually hear what’s being said from the pit lane

A key component in our launch strategy was our partnership with a team in the most extreme and innovative of sports: Formula One. In this hotbed of innovation, we couldn’t understand why audio was a component left behind, with teams continuing to use a pit board to communicate vital information to the driver rather than relying on shaky audio comms. This was a problem we could solve for and the ultimate use case to test the robustness of our technology. Today, our tech has moved to new, even noisier categories of motor racing such as NASCAR.

Bringing the focus back to the conversation in pandemic-fuelled online calls

A little more relatable perhaps is the pandemic’s impact on remote and hybrid working trends. Online meetings are far from our favourite way of getting things done, but the trend was already shifting in that direction — the pandemic simply accelerated adoption. Like most, our team did hundreds of Slack/Zoom/Google Meet calls these last two years, and we deeply felt the massive drawbacks that came with them. 

Firstly, they completely lack the full participation you get when you’re discussing important details face-to-face — that feeling of connection and focus is just not there. Second is what we like to call the mute/unmute dance. Whether it’s a washing machine, barking dog, or impatient child, the stress of needing to mute and unmute, as well as telling others to mute or unmute, left more than one of us wanting to bang our head against the desk.

So we created IRIS Clarity. For anger management issues, maybe, but mostly because we knew that if we felt this pain so strongly, many others must too. Clearly, we were onto something: in an online poll, IRIS found that ‘background noise’ was the biggest frustration for participants in calls and online meetings. We saw that our existing technology could solve problems of broken communication, reduced productivity, and declining wellbeing. And though Formula One and working from home are two very different situations, ultimately, they both represent uncontrollable, noisy environments which IRIS Clarity can help tame. 

Why should you try IRIS Clarity?

Well it really depends on who you are! Whether you’re working from home full time or part-time, whether your team is fully remote or hybrid, whether you share a crowded office space or like to work from a café — IRIS Clarity helps you achieve stress-free, productive calls no matter where you are. 

Sound professional at home, even through bawling, barking, and beeping

If you’re an individual or organisation that’s adopted the world of remote working — perfect. Whilst there has been somewhat of a shift in the perception of what ‘being professional’ means, you’ll probably still want to put your best foot forward for your most important — and deal-clinching — conversations. 

Most of us have seen more and more people apply virtual backgrounds in their online meetings to hide their non-office-based locations — IRIS Clarity is the audio equivalent of this. By applying voice isolation to your meetings, you no longer need to worry about unexpected noises in your home and shattering the image of your high-performance persona. You can work where you are most productive and still exude the confidence and professionalism you’d get from taking those meetings in a conference room.

Concentrate better in an open office, even when meeting space is scarce

IRIS Clarity is also perfect if you’re hybrid working or even back in the office full time. Picture a virtual meeting with your team, some of which are in the office, some others at home. You’re trying to focus at a crucial moment and suddenly, a phone rings in the background and the speaker has to repeat herself. Or a colleague saw a looming huddle and muted himself, then forgot to unmute when addressed on the call. 

Whether you haven’t managed to bag yourself a meeting room (we know what that’s like!), or the building next door is under construction, having a voice isolation app means you don’t need to lose your flow or focus — and you don’t have to worry about making others lose theirs. IRIS Clarity ensures those important and productive conversations flow seamlessly, so you can reach the best outcomes, faster. 

Improve customer experience in call centres, despite chronic ambient noise

And then we have our heroic customer experience reps. Ambient noise is considered a major problem for those in the customer service industry (64% of contact centres cite it as a point of concern), and when you consider how easily a misunderstanding can derail into a terrible customer experience, it’s no surprise). 

Hundreds of thousands of pounds are spent by these call centres every year on noise cancelling headphones, sound absorbing partitions, as well as more space between agents. While those certainly help, they only fix part of the problem. Pair IRIS Clarity with these noise cancelling headsets and not only do you muffle background noise happening on your end for yourself (thank you, headphones), but you also eliminate it for the caller on the other end (cue IRIS Clarity) and you eliminate their background noise for you (IRIS Clarity strikes again!). 

We were so confident our product could help call centres solve this pain, we attended the Call and Contact Centre Expo last November to give visitors there an early taster of IRIS Clarity. We even shot our IRIS Pod in the middle of the bustling ExCeL Centre and background noise was no match for IRIS Clarity’s voice isolation prowess. We received excellent feedback, including Stephen Yap (Research Director at the CCMA) declaring it one of his top three technologies to modernise the industry. 

Contact centres are about communication and relationship building [and] IRIS Clarity fundamentally improves the ability for people to communicate.

Stephen Yap, Director of Research, Call Centre Management Association

Ultimately, we’re solving a problem we’ve deeply felt on our end — both throughout the pandemic and as we’ve returned to the office. We’ve tested our app on thousands of hours of common background noises, we’ve put our technology through the harshest environments, we’ve clapped and typed and made our children go wild to ensure IRIS Clarity solves your problems, too. 

How can I try IRIS Clarity for myself?

We’re so glad you asked! You can find out more about IRIS Clarity on our website and get a 7-day free trial if you sign up today. IRIS Clarity is available as a desktop application for Windows and Mac, and the setup only takes two minutes. If you get stuck at all along the way, we’ve got handy resources for you in our Support Hub, and a brilliant team ready to answer trickier questions. 

If you’re looking for a more tailored voice isolation solution for your business, please get in touch with us here and one of our voice isolation experts will get back to you to discuss your needs and how IRIS Clarity can be seamlessly rolled out. 

We hope you’ll give IRIS Clarity a try! We firmly believe that the best products are developed from a position of need, and through its simple, secure, and non-intrusive technology, IRIS Clarity addresses a pain point we all experience — especially in these times. As ever, we rely on our growing community to provide feedback and ideas so we can continue to improve our solutions and help you Listen Well, wherever you are. We look forward to hearing from you.