This Device Diagnoses a Broken Machine by Sound. Really.

This Device Diagnoses a Broken Machine by Sound. Really.
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When a machine is in prime working order, its parts hum in literal harmony. And when that hum turns to whirring or clicking? That’s what Augury is for. The Israel- and New York–based startup’s device can listen to any machine -- from a jet engine to a household appliance -- and identify what’s wrong, or even predict what’ll break next.

Here’s how it works: Augury’s ultrasonic sensor plugs into a smartphone. (The company provides it for free; it charges only for usage.) A technician -- someone at your company, say, or the repair person you called -- places the device on a machine; audio data is relayed to Augury’s servers, and a diagnosis is made. Then the fixing can begin.

Hartford Steam Boiler definitely likes the sound of that. The $1.2 billion company, which provides equipment-breakdown insurance and other specialty coverage, is now a partner. “What’s most exciting to us is the deep knowledge they will ultimately have about patterns in equipment failure,” says Jacqueline Lesage Krause, managing director of HSB’s strategic corporate ventures. “Their tagline is ‘Machines talk, we listen.’ We’ve been waiting for this day for a while.”