Central Innovation assists personalised sound pioneer in making self-learning audio headphones a reality
Central Innovation • 7 August 2018
Headphones capable of learning the subtleties of each individual’s hearing capacity and automatically adjusting accordingly is a concept which sounds almost too good to be true.
But today it’s a reality, thanks to Melbourne-based pioneering personalised sound innovator Nura.
Designing with SOLIDWORKS at each step of the process, Nura took the concept – the brainchild of its CTO and co-founder Dr Luke Campbell – and created the Nuraphone, which is making major inroads into the headphone market internationally.
Having met the eligibility criteria for participation in the SOLIDWORKS for Entrepreneurs Program, Nura reached out to Central Innovation, Australia’s leading provider of SOLIDWORKS, for assistance and support. The startup company had initially raised $1.8m through a Kickstarter campaign – the biggest in Australian history – followed by a further $5m seed round last March, with input from Blackbird Ventures, SOS Ventures and Qualgro VC.
Through the SOLIDWORKS for Entrepreneurs Program, Central Innovation provided Nura with two 12 month software licenses for both SOLIDWORKS Mechanical CAD and Plastics. Having consulted with Nura to understand their requirements, Central Innovation team members put forward their case to the SOLIDWORKS Territory Sales Manager, who was immediately excited about the potential of the Nuraphone concept.
The technical expertise and consultation provided by Central Innovation’s local Melbourne support staff was paramount during design development, liaising with the Nura design team to answer questions and provide guidance on maximising the application potential of the SOLIDWORKS products as the Nuraphone prototype was completed, then further refined.
By the time Nuraphone Product Design Engineer Jonathan Yap came on board, the team was set to relocate to China where its manufacturing partner is located for another nine months of work. “We needed to be on hand there to ensure the manufacturing process would flow smoothly,” Jonathan recalls.
“SOLIDWORKS was used every step of the way – it’s how we designed, simulated and tested. This was a very involved process, like all these types of innovations,” Jonathan explained. “SOLIDWORKS is a market leader in CAD software – it’s what we know and what we use. We certainly couldn’t have made the product without it.”
Much of the work in refining the prototype was around fine-tuning of the acoustics. “It was really a question of balancing the properties of the drivers we were using, as well as the physical shape of the sound tubes and surrounding structures,” Jonathan says. “We needed to be able to rapidly iterate – we did close to one hundred versions of this particular component and then tested it on a very quick time cycle. SOLIDWORKS and rapid prototyping methods enabled us to get through 100 iterations in a matter of weeks, which made a huge difference because we were working to a very tight schedule.
“We started shipping the product at the end of last year and by the start of this year, everything started opening up for us. We did a launch tour which took us all around the globe, including product demos at trade shows and music conferences. We won the Best Innovation in Headphones category at CES this year, which did a lot to boost our profile, and we’ve also had considerable success with online marketing.”
Having graduated from its one year SOLIDWORKS for Entrepreneurs Program, Nura is now looking to Central Innovation to assist further with commercial solutions. It’s one of several companies in Australia to have taken advantage of the program, which SOLIDWORKS introduced internationally three years ago to assist startup businesses not only with software licenses but also online training and co-marketing opportunities. The aim is to provide the necessary support to facilitate the process of taking an innovative idea from conception stage through to successful production.
Certainly the product ratings for the Nuraphone have been extremely positive – with many reviewers conceding there’s nothing else like it on the market. At the heart of the innovative concept is the Nuraphone’s self-learning engine, which automatically measures your individual hearing in 60 seconds by monitoring otoacoustic emissions from your ear. This is achieved via a free companion app available via iOS and Android, which plays a range of different sounds into your ears through the Nuraphone. In layperson’s terms, the Nuraphone analyses your otoacoustic response and is then able tune its audio output to your personal hearing capacity.
“Using the Nura app, the Nuraphone is able to measure hearing sensitivities across the frequency spectrum and personalise the output for each individual,” Jonathan explains. “The Nuraphone can compensate for frequency bands in which hearing is more or less sensitive to give the best possible result for each individual.”
Once this process is completed, a profile is created for each individual which is stored on the Nuraphone itself – up to three profiles can be stored on each headset, so you can share with family members.
Unusually for headphones, Nuraphone has both large ear cups and small in-ear buds. The revolutionary architecture splits the sound frequencies, delivering bass via the over-ear driver and higher frequencies with the in-ear speaker. This allows further refinement of the sound profile and can be controlled via the Nura app. The architecture’s ‘dual isolation’ prevents both sound ingress and egress, keeping you immersed in the audio.
While its marketing has been built around the benefits that the product brings for enjoying music, the technology clearly has broader application in facilitating improved hearing generally. The headphones are primarily designed for wireless use – they’ll operate with any Bluetooth connection – but Nura also provides a wide variety of connection options including to headphone jacks, USB-C, micro USB and Lightning cables. As Jonathan says: “Once you’ve done the profile calibration, you can use the Nuraphone on whatever device you want.”
Contact our experts now to learn more about the SOLIDWORK’S Entrepreneurs Program and to discover also how Central Innovation assists entrepreneurs turn dreams into reality.
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