Two established health technology companies announced a new partnership to develop biometric sensing ear modules for diverse markets. Denmark-based Sonion and Raleigh, North Carolina-based Valencell will combine their experience and assets in hearing and earphone technologies and wearable biometric technologies, respectively, to address the needs of the growing markets in hearing health and consumer applications. We’ve written previously about Valencell collaborating with FirstBeat on sensors and analytics and licensing hearable sensor patents to Samsung.
Valencell’s expertise in clinical-grade wearable biometric sensors and Sonion’s experience in miniaturizing components for ear-based devices could combine in powerful ways. For example, the joint endeavor expects to make significant advances with photoplethysmography (PPC) devices that use light sensors to detect heartbeats and other important biometrics. Reductions in size, cost, and power consumption in PPC devices will allow their integration into hearing aids, hearables, and other devices worn in the ear, enabling continuous heart rate, blood pressure, and other medical monitoring.
As part of the agreement, Sonion invested in Valencell and is now what the press release refers to as “a significant shareholder in Valencell, Inc.” Citing projections through 2022 from IDC and Orbis Research, Valencell and Sonion see the market for hearing health products growing by 22% and consumer hearables by 48%. The two companies are pooling resources at a strategic moment in hearing technology development.