Although hearing “Silicon Valley” and “hearing aids” in the same sentence might not seem all that normal, it is now. This week, the startup Whisper launched its new flagship product, the Whisper Hearing System, and also announced a whopping $US35 ($49) million Series B investment.
The Whisper Hearing System uses artificial intelligence to process sound in real-time and optimise it for the user’s surroundings. The system consists of three main components: the earpieces, the “Whisper Brain,” or a small pocket-sized device that enables the company’s AI Sound Separation Engine and the Whisper app.
In a statement announcing the product, the company said that the Whisper Brain is the centre of the device’s learning capabilities. Whisper maintains that it is constantly working on refining the Brain’s ability to identity and process different sounds, such as conversation and background noise, to improve its users’ experience. Users will benefit from new features or sound processing improvements, the company said.
Andrew Song, Whisper president and co-founder, told TechCrunch in an interview about a conversation he had with his grandfather about his hearing aids a few years ago. Even though Song’s grandfather had spent thousands of dollars on the device, he wasn’t wearing them.
Song told TechCrunch that he started to wonder why his grandfather wasn’t wearing his hearing aids and what challenges he was having. Song said that his co-founders had experienced similar situations with their grandparents, and the problem led to the creation of the 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 told the outlet this week.
The company’s $US35 ($49) million Series B investment was led by Quiet Capital. It has also received backing from Sequoia Capital and First Round Capital. Overall, the recent investing round brings the company’s total funding to $US53 ($75) million.
Whisper will be selling its Whisper Hearing System via local practices across the country. The system costs $US179 ($253) per month for three years, which includes ongoing care from a local hearing care professional, a lease of the Whisper Hearing System, regular software upgrades and a three-year warranty that covers the system, loss and damage.