Perth-based wearable tech company Nuheara has had one of its latest products named in Time Magazine’s list of the 100 best inventions of 2020.
The Aussie business’ Nuheara IQbuds MAX earbuds were highlighted partly for their stellar noise cancellation capabilities, but primarily for their audio-processing capability for supporting people who are hard of hearing.
The tech can not only block out background noise, but isolate and amplify a human voice, meaning people can tune out everything except the person they actually want to listen to.
“It is a little bit surreal,” co-founder Justin Miller tells SmartCompany.
Securing the spot was no mean feat. It followed what Miller called a “torturous” process of providing detailed information and answering reams of questions, over a matter of months.
But, the founder sees all that as a positive. A hard-earned accolade is all the more satisfying.
“It’s recognition of what we’re doing, globally,” he says.
About 85% of the startup’s sales are outside of Australia, he adds. And, he sees an uptick in those sales on the horizon.
Nuheara is a listed business, so Miller isn’t able to share any specific figures. But, he says the website has seen a “dramatically significant” uptick in traffic since the list landed.
“It’s drawn a huge amount of attention to us.”
Founded six years ago, Nuheara completed a backdoor listing on the ASX in 2016. Today, it has a market cap of about $68.6 million.
Back in July 2019, the business was reportedly in acquisition talks with global audio giant Samsung, which then backed out from the deal.
Now, Miller feels it was probably for the best.
“We didn’t solicit that acquisition approach at the time,” he says.
“It finished before it really began.”
While the whole ordeal may have hurt the business a little, he says it also “instigated a steely resolve” to succeed.
Now, it’s collaborating with HP to co-develop new audio technology, for example.
“There’s a lot more we can do.”
This is clearly a milestone moment for Miller and Nuheara. But, seeing Australian startups recognised on the international stage is good for all Aussie startups too.
We often hear how tech success breeds more tech success. Miller says that’s a pattern he hopes Nuheara will play a part in.
The founder hopes to make the path a little easier for those companies that follow. And while the Australian startup scene is growing, international acclaim can only help.
“We can do great things in Australia, but it’s that international recognition that will ultimately bring capital and investment to those companies,” he explains.
“I think that’s the most significant aspect of it.”
Of course, this is also good news for the Perth tech scene — one of the more overlooked startup ecosystems.
Nuheara is a specialised tech company, dealing with both hardware and software on a very technical level. People from all over the country have relocated to help build the business.
“We’re pretty much — from a hearing tech point of view — creating our own little hub here in Perth,” Miller explains.
“Western Australia is very much a resource-driven state, and we should be proud of that,” he adds.
“But we can be other things. This is proof of that.”