Earlens Raises $87 Million in Stocks
Earlens has completed an $87 million preferred stock financing round, which will be allocated to the development of its hearing technology products and the 2019 commercial rollout. This was led by KCK Medical Technologies Group, a family investment fund. Greg Garfield, the senior managing director of KCK, said they believe Earlens has created the most significant advance in hearing aid technology in decades. “The dynamic listening range of this unique product is twice as broad as anything in the market,” he said, referring to the Earlens system that uses a small lens on the eardrum to deliver sounds and eliminates a major source of feedback associated with conventional hearing aids. Other investors include Exor Seeds, Lightstone Ventures, CRG Partners, Windham Life Sciences Partners, Arch Healthcare, Relativity Health Fund, and more.
Winners of the 20th Oticon Focus on People Awards
Oticon has chosen the winners of the 20th Annual Oticon Focus on People Awards, which drew a record of 10,000 votes this year, to honor individuals with hearing loss and hearing care professionals who have opened new possibilities for the hearing impaired community. Johnnie Sexton, AuD, from Raleigh, NC, who founded and runs a nonprofit called the CARE Project that offers multimedia counseling and instructional materials to help families understand and accept their child's hearing loss, took first place in the practitioner category, followed by Lena Kyman, AuD, also from Raleigh, and Carol Clifford, AuD, from Albuquerque, NM, in second and third place, respectively. Other first-place winners include Jamie McClintic from Alpena, MI, in the advocacy category, Claire Wolf from Rubicon, WI, in the adult category, and Celine Yang in the student category. Oticon has also recognized Jonathan Hutcherson, a musician and former contestant on “The Voice,” with an Outstanding Achievement Award for being a role model for and inspiring people with hearing loss to pursue their dreams. The winners were recognized at the Oticon Next Conference, where they received a cash prize, trophy, and donation to a charity of their choice.
ZVOX Introduces Direct-to-Consumer Device
ZVOX Audio is offering its first direct-to-consumer personal hearing device, the VoiceBud VB20, featuring advanced technologies that currently can't be found in devices selling for less than $600, at an MSRP of $299. The FDA-registered behind-the-ear VB20 is equipped with the NoiseBlocker technology that helps the listener hear the people she or he is talking to and reduce the volume of other people in crowded rooms or restaurants. The user can also control the VB20 via the VoiceBud app on iOS or Android to wirelessly control volume, listening modes, bass, and treble and check battery status. The VB20 amplifies sounds from 200 Hz to 5.7 kHz, minimizes feedback, and has ambient and loud noise control. The device comes with four user-changeable sound tubes and 12 ear domes in three different sizes, as well as a tool that allows the user to clean and maintain the tubes and domes.
ASHA Honors NASA Astronaut
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) recognized Andrew Feustel, a NASA astronaut, and his wife, Indira Bhatnagar Feustel, who is a speech-language pathologist, as Stars of Communication for their work in raising awareness of the importance of communication at the 2018 ASHA Convention last Nov. 15-17 in Boston. Not only did Andrew Feustel emphasize how vital communication is to his work as an astronaut in his interview with The ASHA Leader, he also wore an “Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists Rock” t-shirt onboard the space station during his most recent mission to celebrate this year's Better Hearing and Speech Month. His photo set a popularity record on ASHA's Instagram account. The Hearing Journal was also given a Print Media Award at the convention.