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A UK company has discovered and patented a way to give early warning signals against approaching tinnitus and hearing loss so that it is integrated into headphones. Especially younger audiences do not bother to go to a clinic for a check. Manufacturers of earphones, keen to explore this new market, are sought for technical cooperation and licensing.
Tinnitus is characterised as the experience of sound when no external sound is present, and often manifests itself as ringing in the ears. Around the world, circa 1/100 of the population suffers from a severe form that affects their quality of life.
The World Health Organisation is now warning that tinnitus (and hearing loss) is on the rise amongst young people. The reason is very simple. Although high-end earphones give colour coded warnings of the music being too loud, many youngsters take no notice and unwittingly harm their hearing.
A technology and systems development house in the East of England has discovered and patented technology to give an early warning against tinnitus before the user actually becomes aware of the problem. (It also picks up hidden hearing loss). The technology can be miniaturised and integrated into high end headphones. The company wishes to consult manufacturers of headphones, earphones or ear buds about its commercial promise. The idea is that prevention of the problem in a completely non-intrusive way is preferable to check-ups in a clinic. This may appeal to businesses in work protective gear as well, supplying into noisy environments such as construction.
The prototype works by accurately monitoring subtle changes to Auditory Evoked Potentials (AEP), signals sent from the brain by an acoustical stimulus that measures an individual’s auditory ability level. Over time, a fingerprint emerges and the system picks up subtle changes and gives warnings accordingly.
Once a suitable partner is found, the partners would co-operate technically. The UK company has the capabilities for further technical development and miniaturisation, in close collaboration with the partner. Developing an app is envisaged by either partner for ease of use. The technology would be transferred under license and the product manufactured by the partner. The UK company has experience of transfer to manufacturing, including selection of manufacturer and would work closely with the partner to integrate the technology into the manufacturing process.
The innovation lies in the combination of knowledge about the signals in the brain, and signal processing to give early risk indications with a high confidence..
The advantage lies in tapping into a new market with a protected product.
Patent applied for in the UK with a view to extend throughout the developed world.
Type of partner sought: industry
Specific activity of partner: manufacture of earphones, headphones, ear buds.
Role of partner sought: the partner needs to work closely with the UK company to produce a specification, and develop the prototype further. An app should be developed by either party. The technology will then be transferred into manufacturing under license.