February 29, 2020 —Imagine a headset designed for dancing the night away in private bliss enabling someone to participate fully in conversation, debate and entertainment.
A collaboration between a startup at Cornell University’s eLab Accelerator, which embraces entrepreneurship, and Kendal at Ithaca residents moved headphones intended for silent discos to a valuable tool for disrupting the social isolation resulting from hearing loss. It turned the model on its ear: going from a technology designed to deliver exclusive sound to one individual privately to enabling persons long excluded to join a listening and conversing society.
Eversound, the company, founded by Jake Reisch, Devin Jameson and Matt Reiners, built the first wireless headphone system specifically for seniors. When their own loved ones began moving into senior living communities, they realized the scope of the potential.
Eversound introduced the headphones to a group of Kendal at Ithaca residents. They were particularly hearing-challenged themselves or generally interested in addressing the problem so they could better engage with their friends.
When the wireless headphone system was tested at Kendal at Ithaca, the results changed the marketing focus of Eversound from wireless silent dance parties for youthful audiences to enhancing hearing for senior living communities.
Kendal at Ithaca residents were enthusiastic adopters of the early system and provided the feedback that helped guide the development of the product. Movies, lectures, and concerts are now better heard and enjoyed in the Eversound system equipped rooms at Kendal. The headphones’ purpose is to re-engage seniors suffering from hearing loss. Studies have shown that 80-percent of seniors experience hearing loss once they reach 85 years of age.
Reisch recalled a 96-year old man, Verne Rockcastle, who had been attending social gatherings in his assisted living residence at Kendal at Ithaca but not maximizing the quality of this time. Rockcastle, who died in April of 2015, was basically sitting in silence – then he put on a set of headphones.
“Verne comes up to us after the event, looks at us with a big grin and says, ‘This is the first time I’ve been able to hear clearly – every word – in seven years,’” Reisch reported. “That was kind of the moment when we were like, ‘Holy crap, let’s get to work.’ ”
Eversound partners Jake Reisch and Matt Reiners were named New England’s Young Entrepreneurs of 2016 by the U. S. Small Business Administration.
In February of 2019, Eversound raised $5 million in Series A financing to expand their company. They moved to a new office building in downtown Boston, and, in a nod to two key persons (seen in photo) that “influenced the Company and made this space possible,” they have named conference rooms for Kendal at Ithaca residents Verne Rockcastle and Jim Stouffer. For residents of over 500 senior living communities, engagement is now an easy delight.
More information about the company is at: https://www.eversoundhq.com/