New independence, mobility and agency for blind or visually impaired people.

Photo of people trying out the Soundsense technology.

13 NOVEMBER 2019

SoundSense is a new high precision spatial awareness technology that allows blind or visually impaired people to “see” with sound, navigating spaces where they would have relied on canes or guide dogs.

SoundSense CEO, Jonathan Hribar is driven to reduce their risks and burdens, and Australia’s estimated $30 billion costs from vision loss each year.

The technology is a discreet, wearable device that fits a depth sensor and earphones into the frame of a pair of glasses, while pairing with an app on mobile for processing.

It converts a live 3D video of what’s in front of the user into a soundscape of spatial audio to playback to the user through earphones. This allows the user to intuitively visualise their surroundings.

Photo of an still image from the Soundsense live 3D video“So, by simply turning your head in a specific direction, the user can aim the sensor and receive knowledge about objects or obstacles that are within that particular directional field of view, as well as knowing how far those objects are in relation to their body,” explains Jonathan.

Jonathan co-developed the innovation with communities of people who are blind or visually impaired and discovered niche problems and a different understanding of everyday tasks and challenges.

“It’s a complete change in lifestyle, as things we take for granted are simply unavailable to them, and this needs to be considered at every step of the way,” says Jonathan.

“Everything from product design, packaging, instructions, control, marketing, customer service and much more needs to be tailormade with the needs of our specific audience in mind.”

Jonathan Hribar, SoundSense CEO

Jonathan’s technology impressed judges at the recent MedTech’s Got Talent Challenge Rapid Fire Rounds, where he was selected as a finalist to compete in the Gala Finals on 5 December.

Delivered by the MedTech Actuator, this black-tie HealthTech night of nights is a chance to see the brightest entrepreneurs from across Australia – and for the first time, India – battle it out for a share in $50,000.

Jonathan will be working closely with his new mentor, Paul Moutzouris, Founder of the award-winning Ingenuity to help get ready to shine at the finals.

For Jonathan, the most beneficial aspect of the Challenge is easily the mentors.

“Ingenuity have given us strong direction and guidance, helping us with everything from target market analysis to drawing up a business plan and providing insights to marketing strategies and financial projections,” says Jonathan.

“They were exactly what we needed at that stage of our journey and have pushed us to become what we are today.”

Since becoming a finalist and working with Ingenuity, Jonathan has developed a proof of concept, business plan, clinical trials plan, patenting plan, marketing plan and funding plan, as well as making various connections and partnering with relevant NGOs.

“None of these would have been possible without the support of the MedTech Actuator and Ingenuity,” says Jonathan.

Jonathan encourages anyone with a medical startup idea to sign up for the MedTech Actuator immediately.

“It’s an amazing opportunity, available for people at all stages of their startup. For example, we joined at the very beginnings of our startup, with just an idea and a dream. The amount that they have to offer is staggering, and at no cost!”

Want to see Jonathan pitch at the Gala Finals? Book your tickets today!

Thank you to our major Challenge partners and sponsors – we couldn’t do this without you: The Federal Government, The Department of Industry, Innovation & Science; The Victorian Government, The Department of Jobs, Precincts & Regions; Global Victoria;  LaunchVic; Government of Karnataka; Bangalore Bioinnovation Centre; Johnson & Johnson; Cook Medical; Medtronic; K&L Gates; Vestech; IDE Group; Design + Industry; Tricycle Developments; Ingenuity Electronics Design; Outerspace Design; MiniFAB; LEAP Australia and Wave Digital.

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