Over 70% of app users start to notice results within two to three weeks.
Earlier this month, several AgeTech start-ups pitched their stories at the Washington Longevity Summit. After the event, we caught up with Chris Ellis, CEO and co-founder of AudioCardio – a mobile app designed to protect, maintain and improve hearing.
Approximately one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing. Having trouble hearing can make it hard to understand and follow a doctor’s advice and respond to warnings while driving issues of isolation; good hearing assists Longevity.
AudioCardio’s patented technology generates personalised audio therapies to help stimulate and strengthen hearing cells. The app assesses hearing and delivers a once-a-day, one-hour hearing therapy.
Longevity.Technology: How did AudioCardio get started?
Chris Ellis: My grandfather was starting to show signs of cognitive decline, but was still physically healthy. I wanted to go on a trip with him before he wasn’t able to anymore, so I took him to Whitefish Lake and Glacier National Park in Montana. During that trip, I realized how much his cognitive function had declined along with his hearing loss. You can’t hide or laugh off your hearing and memory loss when you are with someone for four days straight.
After the trip, I went home and let my family know just how bad things were getting. I looked online to educate myself on cognitive decline and some of the factors associated with it. I was surprised to see that untreated hearing loss was associated with up to five times increased risk of dementia, according to a study at Johns Hopkins.
My grandfather was a hydraulics specialist in the Air Force, a major airline and worked around heavy machinery his entire life. He never purchased hearing aids or took care of his hearing health. He eventually declined through isolation, depression and eventually passed in November of 2018. I witnessed the effects of his service and profession and knew I wanted to make a difference. I was fortuitously introduced to my co-founder and inventor of our technology just around that time. He was already working to find a solution for hearing loss and AudioCardio was formed and created shortly after.
Longevity.Technology: What are the unique aspects of AudioCardio?
Chris Ellis: AudioCardio is a non-invasive and inaudible sound therapy that can be accessed and used anywhere, anytime at a low monthly or annual price. AudioCardio is a mobile app that utilizes our proprietary Threshold Sound Conditioning technology that allows you to personalize your sound therapy in under two minutes. Our application is designed to strengthen and condition your hearing by using our once a day, one hour sound therapy. And because our sound therapy is inaudible, you can use it while you listen to music, go for a walk or even while you check email. We like to think of it as exercise or physical therapy for your hearing. It takes a little effort and time to get “into shape,” but over 70% of the people who use our application as directed start to notice results within two to three weeks.
Threshold Sound Conditioning has been clinically trialled with Stanford University, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Samsung Medical Center and others, with over 70% of the participants having a change in their hearing by a minimum of 10db within two weeks. Our data also shows additional progress and protection by continuing with our daily sound therapy.
Longevity.Technology: Where does the business stand today and what are your growth plans over the next year and beyond?
Chris Ellis: We are just about to relaunch our iOS app after almost a year of deep consumer testing, and will be releasing an Android version in Q1 of 2020. We are in negotiations with several key strategic partners in the consumer electronics, hearables and streaming industries to help distribute our technology through their products and distribution channels. We will also be releasing versions two and three of the AudioCardio platforms that will be able to target more ranges of frequencies and improve the algorithm to work more efficiently in hopes of producing better results, faster.
Longevity.Technology: What are the main business challenges you face?
Chris Ellis: We face all of the same challenges any start-up faces: driving awareness, downloads, engagement, compliance and more. However, driving education and awareness on hearing health and the secondary physical, mental and even economic issues are foundational to our mission. Most people are unaware of the ancillary effects of untreated hearing loss. Our job is to help drive that awareness and offer an affordable alternative.
We also get some scepticism because most people in the world have been told that hearing loss is irreversible, especially when due to aging, noisy environments, disease and other forms of what is called, sensorineural hearing loss. However, given that our application is free for the first 14 days, easy to access and very affordable, most people are willing to give it a shot because other solutions on the market are far more invasive, expensive and often have a negative social stigma tied to them.
Longevity.Technology: If you had the power to change one thing about the world to help improve global Longevity, what would it be?
Chris Ellis: I believe improved longevity needs to start with lifestyle choices. We need to be more conscious of what we put into our bodies, how much exercise we get, how much time we spend outside, moving around, being active, staying stimulated both physically and mentally. That being said, I think if I could change one thing, it would be the policies we have on what we consume and what is deemed healthy or “safe” to eat and drink. I’m not saying we need to go all the way to one end of the spectrum, but I do think we need to look carefully at what we are allowing into our food systems and the effects they are having on our health, economy and overall longevity.
Our Meet the Start-up articles profile emerging companies in the Longevity sector, with a focus on their funding plans, commercialisation strategies, partnerships and routes-to-market. If you know of a startup that we should be talking to, let us know!