Hearing is fundamental. Yet the world is getting noisier.
In this age of ringtones, music, video and even the antiquated voice call, we are nearly constantly bombarded by sound. Hundreds of millions of people are experiencing problems with hearing, particularly with the increase in ambient noise. For most of these people, there is no viable solution.
Why is hearing, a sense that is incredibly important to how we experience our world, not being addressed?
The answer is simple: current solutions are targeted toward people who have a persistent, medical impairment, rather than those who struggle in specific situations as a result of environmental noise.
Enter Soundhawk, an extraordinary new company that is combining an elegantly designed wearable device with the power of the smartphone to instantly personalize the hearing-related intricacies of one’s unique hearing profile and environment. Soundhawk Founder and serial entrepreneur Dr. Rodney Perkins saw an opportunity to create an entirely new market around sense augmentation, tunable by the end user with the flick of a finger and obtainable at an order-of-magnitude-lower price point.
It’s a problem Dr. Perkins has been waiting to solve for almost 15 years. And finally, the technology required for him to bring his dream to fruition exists. Dr. Perkins, a renowned entrepreneur of over a dozen successful startups, inventor, and founder of the California Ear Institute at Stanford, has dedicated his career to the study of hearing. Our first meeting with Dr. Perkins and Soundhawk CEO Mike Kisch was one of those “you know it when you see it” experiences. We knew we had to be a part of this innovative company and Dr. Perkins’ extraordinary vision.
From a team perspective, Soundhawk is the triple threat of hardware startups: Dr. Perkins has huge credibility and is one of the foremost domain experts in the world; Mike brings a wealth of experience in opening up new consumer markets; and VP of Engineering Steve Manser’s history at Apple, Palm, and HP brings deep domain expertise around supply chain and the engineering of complex hardware products at scale.
From a market perspective, the existing hearing aid market is already a $14 billion market—and the potential with Soundhawk is to create a market an order of magnitude larger than that. It’s a pattern we have seen with a number of other successful hardware startups we have partnered with: borrow some constructs from the past (Fitbit: pedometer, Makerbot: printer, littleBits: legos) but create and lead an entirely new market.
We are incredibly excited to be a part of Soundhawk’s mission to enable everyone to hear the world the way they want.
Rodney, Mike, Ted, Steve and the rest of the Soundhawk team: Welcome to True!
Read more about Soundhawk in today’s story from Brad Stone in Businessweek.