Mark Kaal, CEO of Samplified Audio, announced that his company won the 2017 National Science Foundation’s Hearables Challenge with their solution called Clementine Wear. The developer of Clementine Wear is Samplified Audio—an Ontario, Canada-based company—that was founded by hearing industry veterans Mario Augustyniak and Mark Kaal.

The Hearables Challenge was announced in April 2017 with the goal of finding innovative solutions to understanding speech in noisy situations that can be implemented in consumer audio products, such as hearables and wearables. The submissions were judged by a panel of experts from the National Science Foundation (NSF)NineSigma, and NASA with support from the Linguistic Data Consortium of the University of Pennsylvania. Entries were judged on their speech-in-noise handling, latency (audio delay), and the technology’s application potential to consumer grade devices. The cloud/mobile-based Clementine Wear Audio platform will be officially presented to the world at the UbiComp 2017 conference in Maui, Hawaii on Sept. 14, 2017.

The first product developed by Samplified Audio is called the SnowOwl, running on Clementine Wear inside. According to the company, SnowOwl is suitable for anybody interested in listening to personalized audio that matches an individual’s hearing profile; this can be as unique as a fingerprint. The SnowOwl is not just for listening to personalized audio from a music player; it also can serve as a listening device that is sound-amplified where it needs to be, and noise-canceled or noise-filtered from the directions you don’t want sound from. The SnowOwl is supported by the Clementine Wear app for iOS and Android smartphones.

“We expect two to three manufacturers of hearing aids and wireless consumer audio products to announce products with Clementine Wear Inside within the next 60 days,” said Kaal. “We initially have a strong focus on Asian manufacturers, but interest levels in the US and EU markets are strong as well, especially now that the OTC Hearing Aid Law is official. To effectively deal with the growing supply and demand, we have started to plan for the scale-up of the company in the next 6-9 months.”

“After we completed all the formal requirements for the Challenge with normal hearing subjects, the team wanted to push further,” said Christopher Schweitzer, PhD, Hearables Challenge Project leader. “So we added a small number of additional subjects with mild-to-moderate hearing loss for additional testing. We were pleased to see that all scored improvement with Clementine Wear processing. We were delighted.”