Alex Selig grew up with hearing loss, using hearing aids for most of his life. After studying engineering at Stanford University, he teamed up with Varun Srinivasan, a CMU computer science to build SoundFocus. Right now, SoundFocus is simply an app that tests your hearing capacity and tunes your music accordingly. But there are bigger dreams in the pipeline.
“This really started because, in doing some research, I found out that 600 million people in the world have hearing loss, yet only one in five people who need a hearing aid actually own one,” said Selig. “But getting a hearing aid isn’t like when you have bad vision and can stop into a drug store and pick up a pair of reader glasses. It’s much more difficult.”
That said, SoundFocus’ main goal is to one day sell a piece of hardware (they’re keeping mum on what exactly that will look like) that can be sold at general retail stores that automatically works to help correct your hearing.
For now, however, SoundFocus is working on building awareness of hearing loss through use of the app. After a one-minute test to determine the volume you can hear, and at which frequencies, SoundFocus then tunes your music accordingly to give you the clearest, most enjoyable audio experience you can enjoy.
The SoundFocus app lets you pull in music from your iTunes library on your phone, as well as your Spotify collection, as long as you have the premium mobile account on Spotify.
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Though Selig and Srinivasan aren’t opening up about the hardware they’re working on, which should make an appearance sometime “in the next few months,” they did give a vague description.
“We’re working on something that will tune the audio coming out of your PC, tablet, or smartphone,” said Selig. “Eventually, we want to be able to tune anything you’re listening to today, but we’re starting out with things that come out of audio jacks.”
According to the founders, the business model revolves around the forthcoming hardware, as the app and usage of the app are free.
From the description, it sounds a lot like the SoundFocus guys are building a special set of headphones, but that could eventually morph into a cordless, wearable device like traditional hearing aids.
For now, however, the team is highly focused on the launch of the app. If you’re interested to find out whether or not you’re one of the 600 million people globally suffering from hearing loss, head on over and check out the SoundFocus app in the Apple App Store.