Hearables are next wave of electronic devices aimed at smart hearing. An emerging market leader on the global stage from this industry is Perth’s own Nuheara. Nuheara specializes in the delivery of “augmented hearing” through their smart wireless earbuds named, IQbuds™.
Devices for hearing have traditionally been associated as something needed by the middle-aged and elderly to distinguish normal conversation at the dinner table. However, wearable tech has transformed this market in just the past year, making these devices applicable to anyone seeking to control the soundtrack of their blended digital and physical worlds.
What is a "Hearable"?
Hearables are wearables for your ears. All sorts of wearable technology exists, and probably the most notable are the fitness trackers that have become so popular. Hearables are a bit different, located on the ear as opposed to the wrist or arm, and enabling an augmented audio reality. There are several hearable options on the market, but few have garnered as much attention as Nuheara's IQbuds™.
IQbuds™ are a newer entry into the hearables market, though their startup-based product is earning early praise on a global scale. As expected, these completely wireless earbuds connect to user’s smartphone allowing them to take calls and play music. However, IQbuds™ do so much more than this upon further examination.
Nuheara has developed an intelligent hearing device, Bluetooth earpiece, and noise canceling headset, all in two wireless earbuds. The device features "Advanced Speech Amplification," which allows the user to enhance sounds coming from specific sources without amplifying background noise. Additionally, Nuheara's SINC (Super Intelligent Noise Cancellation) technology makes it easier for the user to hear in noisy environments by drowning out ambient noise and elevating speech for clearer conversations.
IQbuds™ enable users to blend their listening experience between the physical world and any digital audio streaming. Users control their buds with a simple tap touch control, so there is no need to log into an app or dig for a phone to answer a call, adjust volumes, or change other settings. This technology has significant potential for improving safety for bicyclists or runners wanting to listen to music or take phone calls while still having the ability to hear surrounding traffic and street noise.
When listening to audio through hearables, some users have complained of subpar sound quality through these devices. Not so with this one. IQbuds produce high-end fidelity sound with clarity, excellent base, and available powerful volume.
Battery life with IQbuds is the best available on the hearable market today. Charge the earbuds and remote charging case once and you'll have 16 hours of Bluetooth streaming and up to 32 hours of hearing augmentation service. When your IQbuds™ need a charge, it only takes about 90 minutes for a complete recharge from the stylish portable carrying case.
Nuheara's Startup and Launch
Nuheara's co-founders have a strong background in audio. Both worked for an Australian firm called Sensear, which is a maker of industrial headsets that allows workers to communicate in loud environments. When Justin Miller and David Cannington formed Nuheara, they formed a technology team in Australia that includes seven Ph.D.s who specialize in speech processing, RF frequency, audio technology, software, hardware, and industrial design.
Nuheara also partners with Curtin University in Western Australia for R&D purposes, where two other co-founders hold faculty positions. This partnership with a world-renowned academic institution that has proven background in research and testing in deep audio engineering contributed to the early success of Nuheara's groundbreaking hearables product.
Once the design of the IQbud was established, the company set up an Indiegogo campaign to raise business capital. That campaign raised over $800,000 in capital, bypassing its mark by over 1300%. The company also raised another $3.5 million in capital with an IPO on the Australian Securities Exchange in March 2016.
Nuheara chose global electronics leader Flextronics ("Flex") to manufacture its IQbuds. Flex has worked with some of the top companies and tech products including Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Fitbit, and Microsoft. The IQbuds final prototype was available in the summer 2016 once all tooling and design processes were complete.
CES 2017 Debut
Nuheara launched IQbuds to the world during CES 2017 (January) in Las Vegas. CES 2017 is the largest consumer electronics show worldwide, and Nuheara delivered more than 3,000 presentations of IQbuds over the course of the 4-day show.
Not only were IQbuds a hit with consumers, but the attention led to extensive third party reviews and media coverage of the product.
Digital Trends complimented the product by stating, "Under-promise and over-deliver, that is what's happening with Nuheara's IQbuds."
Cult of Mac observed that, "These wireless earbuds make Apple AirPods look dumb."
Fast Company speaks to their unique capability saying that "Even if you've got normal ears, the IQbuds' audio-enhancing technology can help take the stress out of noisy environments."
Nuheara's IQbuds also won three major awards at CES 2017: Best of CES Wearable Technology, Best Innovation EFTM Award, and Tech for a Better World Innovation Award.
Early investors who backed Nuheara through Indiegogo are just starting to receive their IQbuds in the mail if they live in Australia, New Zealand, or the United States. Other backers will receive their orders in the next two months, and IQbuds are scheduled to go on sale in retail locations shortly after.
As consumer reviews come in and Nuheara expands their offer through retail channels worldwide, this will be one Australia startup story worth keeping a close eye on.