New company SonicCloud has announced its launch with more than $4 million from seed investors including Ian Hogarth, the cofounder of SongKick, Bob Bozeman of 530 Angels, and Sean Hayes, who plays Jack on Will & Grace. The company aims to make hearing technology more accessible, and has said it will begin with improving phone call accessibility for millions of people with hearing loss.
The SonicCloud iOS App is designed to be easy-to-use and allow people with moderate to severe hearing loss to more clearly hear phone calls using the power of the cloud. SonicCloud was featured in Apple’s 2017 Worldwide Developer’s conference.
SonicCloud’s co-founder, Larry Guterman, director of several films, has dealt with hearing loss for most of his adult life. He has experienced terrible feedback when using his hearing aids on the phone, and the quality and speech discrimination was never good enough. While on the phone with his college friend, Silicon Valley engineer and co-founder of SonicCloud, Jon Lederman, the realization hit: they could build the functionality of the hearing aid right on the phone.
Now, with the launch of the SonicCloud app, mobile phone calls can be calibrated for an individual’s hearing needs. It works in several steps.
The assessment: Users take a quick hearing assessment, which allows them to set custom levels for right and left ears.
The personalization: Each user gets a personal Hearing Fingerprint, driven by an algorithm in the cloud that intelligently adjusts to an individual’s hearing needs. To zero in on the most accurate hearing profile, there are three tiers of tuning:
- Data capture: SonicCloud’s methods are developed in conjunction with an audiologist to be accurate and precise.
- Interactive refinement: Everyone’s brain processes sound differently. SonicCloud is designed to optimize for neural differences between customers.
- Situational tuning: It will customize sound for individual voices or environments while on the call.
The calls: Incoming/outgoing calls are processed through a “mixing board in the cloud,” which optimizes voices and noisy environments.
“The human voice is one of the most powerful ways we connect, and creating crystal clear phone calls for people with moderate to profound hearing loss is an extremely difficult problem to solve,” said Guterman. “With SonicCloud, we’ve harnessed the power of the cloud to process speech in real time. This is going to make a big difference for the millions of people with hearing loss.”
The SonicCloud app is free to download and users pay $9.99 per month to use the cloud calling service with unlimited calls. It operates with standard earbuds and because the cloud-based algorithms process speech in real time it can allow users to optimize for their unique hearing needs.
“SonicCloud is a game changer for people with hearing loss. It provides unparalleled user controls. The hearing fingerprint assessment is user friendly and engaging, providing customizable quality to fit the listener’s unique needs,” said Jody Winzelberg, AuD, former Chief of Audiology at Stanford Children’s Health, who worked closely with the team to develop the app. “This solution has the potential to make a big impact on the lives of people with hearing loss.”
Ken Briodagh is a writer and editor with more than a decade of experience under his belt. He is in love with technology and if he had his druthers would beta test everything from shoe phones to flying cars.
Edited by Ken Briodagh