360 million people worldwide are affected by hearing loss. Despite this high prevalence, hearing aid usage is still low, with one of the most critical problems being the performance in noisy situations: 92% of hearing aid owners who don’t use their device report insufficient performance in noisy environments as the reason.
AUDATIC uses the latest artificial intelligence methods (specifically deep learning) to filter out background noise and significantly enhance the listening experience. Whether in a restaurant, on the road or at a business meeting – thanks to AUDATIC’s technology, hearing aid users can once again participate in conversations with more joy and self-confidence.
The technology can be used in a phone app and in hearing aid accessories, e.g. remote microphones (subscription model). Bluetooth and Telecoil Loop allow pairing between the app and cochlear implants / hearing aids (licensing model).
In the future, this technology could also be used in non-medical settings, e.g. as an app to optimize the quality of phone calls, or embedded in headphones.
The two heads behind the Zurich based startup are Peter Udo Diehl (CEO) and Elias Sprengel (CTO). They plan the app release for cochlear implants in March of 2019 and the app release for hearing aids in June of 2019.
What inspired you to start your company?
To create things that should exist but don’t. I think founding a startup is the best opportunity to enable one to bring products to life that the world needs in such a fast and focused manner. Since my personal passion lies between artificial intelligence and medicine, I wanted to found a company that reflects what I stand for and that I am convinced will positively impact people’s lives.
What entrepreneur(s) do you admire and why?
Jeff Bezos –> for finding the right balance between rapid decision making and ensuring that his products and services focus on customer satisfaction, all while being willing to experiment & branch out into new areas.
Ray Kurzweil –> for his incredible vision of the future, his strong focus on the right timing of inventions and his breakthrough technologies in human-machine interaction (like the first text-to-speech device for the blind).
Bill Gates –> for deciding to be a full-time philanthropy “entrepreneur” and using his clear vision, bright intellect and acquired wealth to solve some of the biggest problems on the planet.
Can you tell us a short story about a customer using your product?
She is a hearing aid user who, like many hearing aid owners, regularly did not wear her hearing aid. Especially in public places like supermarkets or train stations, with traditional technologies, many of the noises are painfully loud for her to hear.
We recorded parts of a conversation in one of her favorite restaurants, and when listening to the original noisy sound, she felt the urge to take off her hearing aid because of the painful listening experience. After our processing, most of the noise and all of the pain was gone and she could even understand the words. (Note that since we are in testing-phase, she was a test-user rather than an actual customer)
What do you love about your own leadership role in your company?
Constantly switching tasks and contexts. I also enjoy always having to find a trade-off between planning and improvising as we go. Additionally, despite the considerable responsibilities, I love the freedom to create something that I believe will make the world a better place.
Why did you apply for the W.A. de Vigier Award?
I want to make our company successful and thought that de Vigier would be of great help in that. Some of my friends who also founded startups recommended applying for competitions to learn about our own startup. Nevertheless, I was surprised about how incredibly useful the application process itself was. We got many useful questions that are now helping to focus our energy. Additionally, the contact with other fantastic start-ups is the best way to discuss problems that every start-up faces and to learn from each other’s successes and failures.
What are your impressions so far about the W.A. de Vigier Award?
The team and organization are fantastic! You realize very quickly that the selection process has been fine tuned over many years to reach such a high standard and that they focus on what’s important.