Somewhere in the midst of too many rock concerts, loud dance clubs and blasting Spotify right into our eardrums, some of us have lost a bit of our hearing – and we’re never gonna get it back. But we’re not deaf, we just can’t pick out certain sounds as articulately as we once could.
Soundhawk, a new company backed by True Ventures, has created a wearable device for those of us who’ve enjoyed our lives with the volume at full blast and can’t hear quite like we used to.
But don’t call the new device a hearing aid. “It’s a smart listening system,” Soundhawk CEO Michael Kisch corrects me. It’s not made for the nearly deaf. Kisch’s team hired a bunch of Taskrabbits to go to various restaurants in San Francisco and test the noise levels. The average restuarant, according to the test,is about 95 decibels. A lawnmower, says Kisch, is 91 db. Obviously, that makes it hard to hear everything as we get older.
The company’s first device, Scoop was designed by Mike Nutall, cofounder of Ideo. It looks kind of like a bluetooth device (and can actually be used as a hands free device for your phone). It syncs up with an app compatible with both Android and iPhone and comes with 4 diff ear tips (each with diff acoustic properties) to give you ultimate distinction in the sounds around you.
The app lets you select a series of different environments you might find yourself in from indoor, outdoor, restaurant or driving. You move your finger to the right volume and ambiance.
The device also comes with a mic so you can listen in close with the volume down. Someone might be able to use this device to spy on conversations from far away, but Kisch assures that is not the intention.
You put it wherever you want to hear better and it picks up the sound at that exact spot so you don’t have to strain to listen in. It’s perfect for noisy places like restaurants and coffee shops.
There’s also a portable charging case for the Scoop. It protects, organizes and recharges both Scoop and the mic for up to 24 hours of use without needed to plug them in.
Many of the company’s current staff came from Apple and Amazon so it was only natural Soundhawk would also form a partnership with Foxconn to build the device in China. Despite some of the recent controversy over the Chinese manufacturing company, Foxconn is the world’s largest developer and manufacturer of consumer technology products.
Soundhawk has just raised another $5.5 million in funding from True Ventures, Foxconn and many leading Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, bringing the company’s total funding now to $11.2 million.
Kisch believes this partnership helps to source components at a lower cost. The Scoop goes on sale on Soundhawk’s website starting this morning for the pre-order price of $279. It comes in both graphite and nude colors.