Beephonix develops a biomimetic microphone which improves hearing in noisy conditions.

Plenty of people struggle to make sense of a multitude of converging voices in a crowded room. The inability to filter out background noise and tune into what someone is saying in a busy environment is known as the Cocktail Party Problem (CPP). Hearing aids do not solve this issue as they merely amplify all signals. Despite recent improvements in hearing aids, such as the use of directional microphones and assisted listening devices, no adequate solution is currently available. We have developed a biomimetic microphone which can be connected to or integrated in several hearing systems as well as hearing aids, middle ear implants, bone-conduction implants, and cochlear implants, and will finally improve hearing in noisy conditions. Our approach mimics the way bees move their antennae to generate reliable signals that can be used to detect the direction of sound produced for example by predators. The dynamic microphone is patent pending, and its operation has already been demonstrated in a prototype. We achieve a 4 dB improvement in directivity index compared to conventional hearing aids. This corresponds to a compensation for an additional hearing loss of up to 40 dB. In other words, we provide superior speech understanding in acoustically challenging settings, allowing us to disrupt the market. We will miniaturize the prototype for integration in hearing implant processors and eventually into hearing aid devices. A multicentre clinical trial with impaired hearing patients and an improved miniaturised prototype is scheduled for Q1 2023. This study will demonstrate an improved speech understanding in noise for patients equipped with hearing implants. Besides human applications, we do see several opportunities in other markets such as the manufacturing industry, military, teleconferencing, and the gaming and music industry. Until the proof-of-concept (PoC) we do not require any funding and are covered by a grant. Depending on the outcome of the PoC we are seeking funding in the range of 1mln euro.

Klaas-Jan Kakebeeke
Martijn Agterberg
Patrick Wijnings
Marc van Dorth
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Venture Challenge Fall 2022

Klaas-Jan Kakebeeke