Olive Union Raise $7M To Expand Sales of Smart Hearing Aid Earbuds
Hearables startup Olive Union has closed a $7 million funding round led by Beyond Next Ventures, Bonds Investment Groups, and Japan Policy Finance Corporation. The new funding will go toward extending the company’s work on wireless earbuds that function as hearing aids into new digital hearing tools and therapeutics.
Olive has just begun shipping the new Olive Pro wireless earbuds, which have been registered with the FDA as Class II medical devices able to work as hearing aids. The crowdfunding campaigns for the hearables raised more than $1.8 million altogether. Olive’s first SmartEar wireless earbuds came out in 2017 as hearing earbuds with the unusual ability to enhance sound and help people with hearing loss. The new Olive Pro very closely mimics standard smart hearables, but with the extra hearing aid functions like an app-based hearing test and personalization of the hearing amplification. The new funding round puts Olive’s total venture capital funding at $20 million.
“Collective exposure to prolonged and nearby loud noises has put us in the middle of an unprecedented decline in global hearing health,” Olive Union CEO Owen Song said in a statement. “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. 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.”
Smart hearing aids becoming more popular as brands experiment with incorporating the technology into earbuds. Nuheara recently earned FDA registration for its own entry to the market, the IQbuds² Pro. Google is supposedly designing its own hearables code-named Wolverine with similar functions, capable of distinguishing individual voices in a crowd as well as improving people’s hearing. Voicebot’s research has found a major jump in hearables ownership, 23% over the last two years among U.S. adults. Hearing aids that double as standard earbuds could make up a notable element of the space. The World Health Organization estimates hearing loss affects $1.5 billion people today, but a relative few do anything to address the problem. Olive things the stigma associated withhearing aid may go away if it’s built into the kinds of earbuds everyone uses these days.