Hearing health company Olive Union landed $7 million in its Series B funding round. Beyond Next Ventures, Bonds Investment Groups and Japan Policy Finance Corporation led the round.
This news comes just months after the company released its latest smart wearable, the Olive Pro, which doubles as hearing aids and wireless earbuds. According to the company, this new round brings the total raise to $20 million.
WHAT IT DOES
Olive Union's earbuds are direct-to-consumer products that use artificial intelligence to isolate unwanted noises and enhance music, conversations, TV and other sounds. Users can tap the earbuds in order to control volume and answer calls.
The earbuds come with a free app that lets the user customize the sound and set amplification and environmental preferences. Users are able to take a hearing test on the company's website to assess their base level.
WHAT IT'S FOR
The company plans to use the new funds to expand its product line and create new technologies for hearing health.
“We started Olive to be the antithesis of an aging hearing aid industry that lacks innovation, but quickly learned that our biggest challenge was a lack of hearing-health education,” continued Song.
“We’re dedicated to educating the general public in an easy-to-understand way on why they need to take their hearing health as seriously as their vision, heart and gut health.”
Today we are seeing an increasing number of hearing-focused tech companies coming onto the market. One of Olive's competitors in the space is Eargo, a connected hearing device that sells directly to consumers. Eargo went public in October, with an IPO worth roughly $141 million.
Another rival in the space is Whisper, which makes artificial intelligence-powered hearing aids. The company landed 435 million in Series B funding in October.
Hearing loss is common in the U.S. According to the NIH, 15% of adults in the country report some trouble hearing. The agency said that age is the strongest predictor of hearing loss among those 20 to 69.
According to AARP Chief Medical Officer Dr. Charlotte Yeh, there are still many barriers for seniors to access tools to improve hearing health.
“Technology for hearing devices has improved a lot, but it still remains inaccessible to the vast majority of [older] adults for two reasons," she said in a conversation with MobiHealthNews back in 2019.
"One is the cost. The current model for hearing aids is thousands of dollars, per hearing aid, per year. It is not covered by Medicare, because Medicare calls hearing loss a normal part of aging, so why should we fix it?”