A few years ago, Whisper president and co-founder Andrew Song was talking to his grandfather about his hearing aids. Even though he spent thousands of dollars on a medical device designed to improve his hearing, and in the process his quality of life, he wasn’t wearing them. Song’s co-founders had had similar experiences with grandparents, […]
A few years ago, Whisper president and co-founder Andrew Song was talking to his grandfather about his hearing aids. Even though he spent thousands of dollars on a medical device designed to improve his hearing, and in the process his quality of life, he wasn’t wearing them. Song’s co-founders had had similar experiences with grandparents, and as engineers and entrepreneurs, they decided to do something about it, to try and build a better, more modern hearing aid.
Today, the company emerged from stealth with a new hearing aid built from the ground up. It uses artificial intelligence to learn and adjust in an automated way to different hearing situations like a noisy restaurant or watching TV. And you don’t pay thousands of dollars up front, you pay a monthly fee on a three year subscription, and you get free software updates along the way.
While it was at it, the company also announced a $35 million Series B investment led by Quiet Ventures with participation from previous investors Sequoia Capital and First Round Capital. The startup has raised a total of $53 million to build the hearing aid system that it is announcing today.
Those discussions with his grandfather prior to starting the company led Song to wonder why he wasn’t wearing those hearing aids, what were the challenges he was having and why that wasn’t working for him — and that led to eventually forming launching a startup.
“That really inspired us to build, I think, a new kind of product, one that could get better over time and better support the needs of people who use hearing aids, and be a hearing aid that gets better, but also one that could use artificial intelligence to actually improve the sound that somebody gets,” Song explained.
While the founding team had a background in technology and engineering, they did not have expertise in hearing science, so they brought on Dr. Robert Sweetow from the UCSF audiology department to help them.
The technology they’ve built consists of three main components. For starters you have the hearing aids themselves that fit on the ear along with a pocket-sized external box that they call the Whisper Brain, which the company says, “works wirelessly…
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