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Start-Ups Invent Mobile Audio Apps and Gadgets to Enhance Sound for Deaf People


Enhanced sound for deaf people? Sounds like an oxymoron.

For most people without hearing problems, yes. But not for those who’ve lived with the disability and understand the limitations too well. For them, it’s an opportunity; a blessing.

Amp, a new mobile app and smartphone case, was designed to make sound better for people with hearing loss. According to a report from the San Francisco Business Journal, both tech gadgets adjust to one’s hearing health, preferences and even the surrounding environment.  

Invented by Andy Selig—a person suffering from hearing loss himself since he was a kid—together with his company SoundFocus, the app and smartphone case’s hardware was developed based on data collected from 150,000 users of the application. The application was launched in July 2013 along with 1.5 million songs available for streaming. The users were asked to take a simple audio test which SoundFocus used as a basis for creating an audio profile that makes up for the spectrum of frequency that the user’s sense of hearing does not catch.

Aside from personalizing audio, the app also provides music recommendations, and tweaks the sound output based on the music the user listens to the most. It also reduces background noise to ensure smooth and seamless listening through speakers or headphones.

“Audio has been a second class citizen,” Selig said. And to that end, Selig is taking it to first class.

Varun Srinivasan, SoundFocus’s co-founder, added to Selig’s statement: “A lot of people take audio problems for granted. We have technology to make it better.”

Srinivasan and Selig’s prototype has helped them garner around $1.7 million to pursue their work from investors such as Kapor Capital, Greg Badros, Vegas TechFund, OVO Fund, RTA Capital, Garry Tan, Alexis Ohanian and Harj Taggar, and Y Combinator, the report said.

A new looping technology was also introduced recently to concert goers with hearing problems at the Mary W. Sommervold Hall at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Keloland TV reported. The technology, which was installed beneath the hall’s orchestra level, works by bringing clarity to the looped in audio for an outstanding and enjoyable concert experience for deaf people.

Washington Pavilion President Larry Toll said of the technology: “Any event where particularly if sounds get mushy for them, they can't hear them well, this will give a lot more clarity. I know a number of people who were considering dropping their subscriptions with us because of hearing issues. Now they have renewed and they're thrilled with what we've done.”

Sound is indeed taking centerstage as developers get savvier in understanding their target audience’s needs. Thanks to innovative listening technologies and online audio streaming apps, audiences get to have the privilege to enjoy music and their favorite radio programs better.

In the United Kingdom, for example, a new disruptive digital audio app called Audioboom was developed by digital media firm Audioboom Group PLC (BOOM.L) to provide broadcasters a portal for their content and consolidates the content based on their user’s profile.

While the company does not have technologies yet specifically catering to people with hearing disabilities, its platform has been optimized to provide crystal clear spoken word audio for its audience. But people with hearing disabilities may also be delighted to know that the platform hosts online digital audio communities where people share experiences and provide each other support. Deaf people can use such communities to connect with others dealing with similar disabilities.

Broadcasting companies such as the BBC also share broadcasts pertaining to how to better the condition of deaf people on Audioboom. For example, the BBC has uploaded information on training paradigms to help deaf adults regain their sense of hearing on Audioboom’s platform.

Learn more about Audioboom’s services as well as investment opportunities in the company by visiting the company’s investor relations website and calling its London headquarters at +44 207 403 6688. 

The preceding article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.


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