The Boston-based startup Xander has raised USD $1.4 million in pre-seed funding to support people with hearing loss and auditory processing issues using augmented reality. Co-founder of Analog Devices and board member Ray Stata headed the round, including Mark Ethier, co-founder of iZotope, the 77, and other angel investors.
According to Xander, the funding will allow the business to hasten the release of its first product, the XanderGlasses, which are augmented reality (AR) captioning glasses designed for people with hearing loss looking for alternatives to conventional hearing aids.
Despite improvements in other assistive hearing devices, Xander claims numerous instances still exist where devices that amplify or adjust sound don’t work. A lightweight smart glasses solution that uses the sense of sight to augment sound for users, Xander’s AR captioning XanderGlasses are powered by Vuzix’s Blade smart glasses.
The glasses effectively convert speech to text in real time, showing captions of in-person conversations and enabling users who cannot hear to see what others are saying. Additionally, XanderGlasses are independent of smartphone or cloud connectivity.
This real-time captioning of everyday events can significantly improve users’ cognition and understanding, particularly in noisy environments and challenging listening situations. Most unconsciously watch other cues, like facial expressions, to aid understanding when actively listening in a conversation, requiring concentration and involving more than just hearing.
Using Xander’s captioning glasses helps users understand speech during conversations significantly better for those who are hard of hearing, deaf, or have difficulties with auditory information processing. Because of this, Xander’s use of augmented reality fosters deeper interpersonal relationships and improves face-to-face interactions.
With its augmented reality technology and customer-driven business model, Xander, founded in 2020, aims to help the more than 1.5 billion people affected by hearing loss worldwide. Currently, the Xander team is getting ready for a pilot with the Veterans Health Administration that will start in February 2023.
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