MENLO PARK, CA—Brent Edwards, PhD, who during a decade as vice-president for research at Starkey Hearing Technologies and as founder and director of the Starkey Hearing Research Center in Berkeley helped transform the company into an industry technology leader, has joined EarLens Corporation as chief technology officer (CTO).
EarLens, a privately held medical device company incorporated in 2005, makes the EarLens Contact Hearing Device™, which it describes as “the world’s first hearing device to use light to transmit sound.”
The company says that the EarLens system “is designed to transform the user’s own eardrum into a speaker, which enables delivery of an ultra-wide frequency range (from 125 to 10,000 Hz) and a higher maximum gain margin.” The technology is currently restricted in the U.S. to investigational use and is not marketed for sale. For more on the technology, go to Hearing Economics.
In moving to EarLens, Edwards rejoins Rodney Perkins, MD, the company’s founder and chief medical officer. Previously, Edwards was head of research at two companies–ReSound (now GN ReSound) and Sound ID–where Perkins was a founder. Perkins is also the man behind Soundhawk, reported on by this blog last December and again last month.
SEES GREAT POTENTIAL
Edwards told HearingHealthMatters.org this week that it was “difficult” to leave Starkey, where he had worked since 2004. However, he said that he was leaving the company’s research division “in great shape as the strongest research group in the hearing industry.” He predicted, “The Hearing Research Center in Berkeley will continue to do great science on the nature of hearing loss.”
Edwards said that one reason he is “excited” about his new position is that “EarLens technology has the potential to make a real advance in hearing benefit for people with hearing loss, providing all of the speech and cognitive improvements associated with their improved hearing.”
He added, “Another reason I’m excited about the technology is because it supports the field of audiology by providing a hearing solution that requires professional audiological skills in order for the patient to receive that benefit, counter to recent trends that have concerned audiologists.”
According to a February 2014 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, EarLens has raised more than $36 million from investors.
During 18 years in the hearing industry, Edwards has developed a distinguished reputation in research and development. He has led groups that have developed many different technologies that have benefited hearing aid wearers and practitioners, including new signal processing algorithms, fitting procedures, diagnostic and outcome measures, and wireless technologies.
He has made presentations at over 100 conferences and published extensively in professional and trade publications. In 2011, he was elected a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America.
A graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Edwards holds an MS and a PhD in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of Michigan, and did postdoctoral work in psychology at the University of Minnesota.