Oculaudio literally changes the view of better hearing. This disruptive technology combines hearing and vision, also dealing with the stigma of hearing loss. In DigitalWell Ventures accelerator, the company hopes to get the last pieces of the puzzle in place before launching their product.
A dinner in 2017 was the moment when Norwegian tech-entrepreneur Tom Austad first came up with the idea of Oculaudio. Two of the dinner guests took out their hearing aids, as the background noise became too prominent.
– Today’s hearing aids brings a rather sharp sound experience, as they amplify mostly high frequencies you cant pick up when getting older. Our system amplifies voices, it analyses what is going on around you (!). Then our algorithms break down that analysis and determine what is noise and select voice, and minimize the noise, says Tom Austad.
Camera beam identifies sound source
Oculaudio glasses are a game changer for picking up the right voice when several people are in a discussion. The technology is partly based on the same principles as autofocus in a camera. This means that the sound from the person you are watching is identified from a camera beam, and when turning your head, a built-in gyro helps to widen the sound range. The latency when shifting to another angle in a conversation is 8 milliseconds and not noticeable to the user.
Oculaudio is a hearing aid where sight and hearing are intertwined. A camera beam identify the person speaking to you, amplifies the voice and minimizes the noise. Intelligent ear buds adapts to the situation.
The glasses are equipped with a HD face detection camera, Bluetooth, two DSPs and a total of 16 microphones.
– It’s a challenge making space for all that technology, so the glasses are crucial. Sight and hearing are intertwined. We have asked many audiologists why hearing aids have the microphones at the back, when everything you want to hear is in front of you. The answer is that there is nowhere else to place them, says Tom Austad.
Intelligent ear buds
Oculaudio’s ear buds adds another technical dimension. In a normal conversation the eartips are open to stop occlusion. (Hearing your own voice in your head). This is the default mode, but when listening to music, the eartips automatically expand when tapping on the temples of the glasses – and starts working like regular ear buds.
Getting rid of hearing aid cables is also about liberating the users from showing their hearing loss, Tom Austad states:
– Hearing aids brings a stigma for many users, wearing designer glasses with earbuds gives a whole new impression.
Tom Austad, Ceo and founder of Oculaudio.
Tom Austad says that today a lot of hearing aids end up in a drawer because the users are disappointed both with the sound experience and the look. But the need of hearing aids will grow rapidly in the future, according to WHO one billion young adults is in risk of hearing loss due to unsafe listening practice.
– This is also a problem in addition to getting older. Even a 60-year-old with normal hearing loses ability, says Tom Austad, who believes this new target group will have completely different requirements:
– We presented Oculaudio for HLF (Norway’s community for hearings disabilities) and they said, if you get this right it’s going to revolutionize the hearing aid industry.
Plans to launch in 2023
The final fine-tuning, design and testing are underway and the planned launch of Oculaudio is in early 2023. The decision to join the DigitalWell Ventures accelerator is an important step to get in touch with the right investors.
– We must show that we are investor ready and undergoing a program focused on Health Tech. When you really can prove to the investors that everything is in place, it is much easier for them to make an informed decision, says Tom Austad.