Berlin startup Mimi has launched its first app, dubbed the ‘Google Glass for ears’, at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York. Mimi.io is designed to combine speech and audio enhancement with cloud and smartphone technology to make the diagnosis and treatment of hearing difficulties cheaper, easier and more accessible.
Uses can test their hearing – and get a taste of what life is like with and without hearing problems – by using the iOS app.
Having diagnosed your hearing, the app can then provide enhanced speech on your phone adjusted in real time. The company is planning to sell its hearing enhancement technology, with users only needing headphones and the app, which automatically adjusts sound levels to suit the user’s hearing needs.
There are also plans for a custom hearing aid with wireless smartphone connection that can be programmed purely by software updates. Mimi hopes to reduce the five-year lifespan to which most conventional hearing aids are limited – it claims each new update will essentially be like having a new hearing aid. Users will also be able to fine tune their own devices.
In addition, integrating into the cloud means a constant improvement in the device’s fitting algorithm, and Mimi will also support inter-app audio and provide an SDK to include its technology in third-party apps, websites and wearables.
The startup was founded by Dr. Nick Clark, Pascal Werner and Philipp Skribanowitz, who told Silicon Allee: “We give people back control through making hearing technology accessible and affordable. With Mimi everyone can check their hearing within minutes and gain back a level of normality through using our technology.”
Dr. Clark said: “As software, the technology can evolve much faster than hearing hardware alone, and be present wherever there is digital audio. Our technology can also be used in regions where conventional hearing diagnosis and treatments are too costly, and we’re already working with an NGO to bring Mimi’s technology to some of these regions.”
In addition, he added, Mimi represented the “natural progression in leveraging the power of modern Internet-connected devices for assistive listening.”
Berlin-based business angel Christophe Maire has invested in Mimi, and he said: “It’s great to see a team of scientists tackling a problem that affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide. It’s clear that mobile computing will transform the hearing aid industry. Mimi will power a new category of hearing enhancement devices, which will fundamentally change how people feel about this category – and expand a multi-billion market.”