“make communication possible in a noisy environment”
In 2022, the 240 million professionals working in factories & construction fields, in Europe, still wear classic foam hearing protection. Those professionals take off their hearing protections to move around the factory or to communicate with their colleagues. Classic protection devices isolate them so well from their environment that they hamper their communication and movement abilities. They often forget to put their protections back on, which expose them to high-risk acoustic shocks, and to long-term occupational injuries, as the ear cannot heal itself. Noise exposure is known to lead to occupational illness and has been acknowledged since 2003. If they do put them back on, they cannot communicate anymore, which can also provoke serious or deadly accidents. As required by the french law, beyond 85 decibels, hearing protection should be necessarily wore. Today, no currently existing device enables both performant protection and selective filtering for communication and free movement.
LOUIS, the in-ear earphones Safehear has designed will help to protect hearing ability thanks to an autonomous and innovative device: a smart embedded system with a selective filtering solution (Edge IA program iLab 2022) combined with a dynamical multipoint network (Digifed, Horizon 2020 program). The solution developed will have strong impacts both on productivity and security improvements. Safehear estimated the use of this device across Europe/World could reduce workers social cost in hearing-related workplace accidents and occupational illnesses.
In USA : 153 million professionnals working in industry
In China : 390 million professionnals working in industry
Safehear embedded real time filtering system is actually working for two users. We already succeed in capturing the sound (with a microphone), filtering it to extract only the voice . The signal is then compress and transmit to the radio protocol . After having tested this POC in industrial environments, they noticed that it was imperative to increase the number of users. On a production line, workers may have to work in groups of 5. They need to be able to communicate with each other and with their manager if the latter comes closer to them to exchange information.
Thanks to Digifed project, Safehear with the support of ST Microelectronics’ has been able to review their radio technology in order to allow communication with at least 6 people (5 workers + 1 manager). Users can now communicate in their communication range, and can also move to other teams to communicate with them without having to press a button. Everything is automated.
We have achieved our goals: our radio protocol allows communication for everyone in range. We can manage the speech of three people at the same time before cutting off a user to let the hand to a main interlocutor. Finally, we obtain an autonomy of 10h for a range of 40m.
Our market target is the manufacturing industry in Europe which represents 10 million people who need protection and communication. For this market segment, workers already wear molded custom hearing protection (which cost about 100€/employee) and are waiting for a better and adapted solution. 1 out 5 European employees must speak louder to be heard at least half of the time he is at work. Our goal is to take 1% market shares of this market which represents 50 000 sales for €26 500 000 revenues for these next years. Our market is emergent and we will be one of the first companies which propose a communication and protection device. The long term goal of 1% market shares that we projected is ambitious but realistic.
Noise diseases and serious accident due to this lack of communication in factories cost a lot for the companies. The social welfare and workers cost is huge. Noise is the fourth occupational disease in France:
- Direct cost linked to an occupational disease caused by noise: €96,000
- The cost of a serious or fatal accident €30, 000 to €400,000 for the employer
In order to reduce these expenses for companies, we will reduce hearing pathologies and maximize comfort, security and productivity at work thanks to our new device: that is the real impact of Safehear.
Our product potentially addresses other markets such as the music sector (audience, professionals), professionals from the aeronautic sector, individuals who suffered from specific illnesses (autism, deafness, hearing impairment), ski resorts, etc.
Our strategy is to be in constant contact with our partners for co-developments that will perfectly fit their needs : We build our prototype based on feedbacks from the market.
Finally, this project in collaboration with ST Microelectronics has been a success and is now leading to the industrialization of the product to deliver the first customers by the end of 2023. Safehear has advanced negociation with several major companies.
The funding from Digifed allowed us to invest in prototype iterations to achieve a reliable functional solution, which will be tested by first customers middle 2023 and is in certification. https://www.safehear.fr/pdf/Louis-protection-auditive-communicante.pdf
2023 Safehear and 17 other French DEEPTECH startups have been selected to participate in the French BPI (Banque Publique d’Investissement) program : NETVA (New Technology Venture Accelerator) aims to meet the internationalization needs of French startups developing innovative products with high added value
Antoine KUHNAST CTO & Founder – firstname.lastname@example.org