On August 17, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NineSigma announced that Samplified Audio and Clementine Wear were the winners of their Hearables Challenge. The Hearables Challenge was announced in April 2017 with the primary goal to showcase audio solutions that improve speech understanding in noise that can be applied to consumer audio products. The submissions were judged by a panel of specialists from the NSF, NASA and NineSigma with support of the Linguistic Data Consortium of the University of Pennsylvania. Entries were judged on their speech-in-noise improvement capabilities, latency (audio delay) and the application potential to consumer grade devices.
The winning entry was Clementine Wear, developed by Samplified Audio, a company founded in Toronto by hearing industry veterans Mario Augustyniak and Mark Kaal, and expanded to Belgium. Recently, Samplified Audio opened a U.S. office in Boulder, CO, and they are planning to open of an office in Hong Kong soon.
Clementine Wear, a software platform, is designed to be used with many different types of products, especially non-customized amplification products, sometimes referred to as hearables.
The Clementine Wear platform is designed to be compatible with wireless consumer audio products, hearing protection for occupational health and sports/leisure activities and even conventional hearing aids. The first product developed by Samplified Audio, called the Snow Owl, uses the Clementine Wear software platform. The Snow Owl is expected to be launched at the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo on September 6, 2017.
According to Mark Kaal, CEO of Samplified Audio, Clementine Wear products are supported via Android or iOS-based apps that provide full Bluetooth Low Energy functionality, including audio streaming, over-the-air firmware upgrades and updates, (remote) screening, programming and fitting. All Clementine Wear devices will have high end stereo blue tooth audio DSP’s inside and most will have an array of up to 4 digital low noise microphones. The use of consumer-based audio products such as hearables for individuals with mild-to-moderate hearing losses is expected to grow with the passage of the OTC Hearing Aid Act, signed by President Trump on August 18, 2017.
Kaal went on to say that Samplied Audio “expects two to three manufacturers of hearing aids and wireless consumer audio products to announce products with Clementine Wear within the next 60 days. We initially have a strong focus on Asian manufacturers, but interest levels in the US and EU markets are strong as well, especially now the OTC Hearing Aid Law is official. To effectively deal with the growing supply and demand, we have started to plan for the scale up of the company in the next 6-9 months.”
In addition to the Clementine Wear software platform, Samplified Audio has developed a cloud-based service platform, designed to support the sales and service of any type of personalized audio product. This service-oriented platform launched in Europe last year and will be available in the US audiology market later this year, says Kaal.
Christopher Schweitzer, Ph.D. with over 35 years of clinical experience and dozens of publications to his credit is part of the Samplied Audio team. According to Schweitzer, “There is huge upside potential in the changing product landscape if offices develop the appropriate service models, upgrade/expand their device plans and effectively communicate with existing, new and prospective patients. Cloud-based and mobile services will likely play a very important part. This means that offices will need a platform that supports a consistent service model across the various devices and vendors. This is exactly what Clementine offers. Given that the physical location of the office will become less important, early adaptors will likely have a strong competitive advantage as new service models take time to gain traction.”