Sunday, July 13, 2008

Digital Hearing Devices Improving

Audigence a computer engineering firm has software to assess digital hearing devices, such as cochlear implants or digital hearing aids without needing to modify the existing hardware. Audigence began when the founder of Audigence Lee Krause received a cochlear implant and decided that there had to be a better way to tune the device. So he and several co-inventors formed a strategic alliance with the University of Florida to develop a software product to solve the problem and from there Krause developed his new company Audigence.

Using cochlear implants or digital hearing aids can require multiple trips to an audiologist where patients are tested in a sound chamber using antiquated technology. The testing process is time consuming and somewhat inexact and can put severe limits on an audiologist’s throughput and as a result, the patient will endure suboptimal performance.

Audigence’s software product fully automates the assessment process and has the capability to deliver service remotely over the web. Patients can be tested in any environment that is equipped with internet access, a personal computer, and a microphone. The technology can also be applied to cellular telephone handsets so that these devices can be self-tuned to an individual’s unique hearing capabilities.

Audigence estimates that 40,000 implants are installed per year with a 20% annual growth rate and there are estimates that 140,000 existing users could benefit from device optimization. $600 million is spent annually on implant devices and an additional $150 million is spent at audiologists to tune these devices. In addition the target market for digital hearing aids represents a $7 billion device market.

Right now, the technology is being clinically tested at the University of Florida and is nearing approval from the FDA. According to Krause, the technology could be in reach of the general public within the next year or two.

Audigence’s strategy is to work with device manufacturers on the cochlear implant market since these suppliers control 95% of the market. Audigence plans to sell or license its software directly to one or more device manufacturers in each targeted market who will then embed the software in their product to be marketed through audiologists and ENTs.

For more information on Audigence, contact Paul Suchoski at (321) 243-9360 or go to