FORMER Wesfarmers executive Bob Denby and Empired co-founder Justin Miller have teamed up to commercialize a Western Australian invention that tackles the world's most common occupational illness - hearing loss.
Their company, Sensear Pty Ltd, is moving into the final phase of its commercialization plan after obtaining seed funding from Perth investor and company director Charles Morgan, who has acquired a 40 percent shareholding.
Sensear has also obtained $64,000 in funding under the federal government's Comet program for emerging technology companies.
Its technology enables people working in high noise environments to talk without having to remove their headphones or earplugs.
The technology combines highly directive microphones and unique software to filter the different sounds so that speech is enhanced while ambient industrial noise is suppressed.
Mr. Miller said Sensear planned to introduce the technology to the market by 2007.
He believes there will be strong international demand for technology, based on rising compensation costs associated with hearing loss and new government legislation on standards for workplace noise.
The company has completed trials in industrial and commercial environments, including an iron ore mine at Pannawonica, an alumina refinery at Kwinana, and a cement manufacturing plant.
"The feedback we have gained from the product testing has been extremely positive," Mr. Miller said.
The next step in the commercialization plan is an international roadshow to introduce the technology to companies that produce hearing protection equipment.
Mr. Miller said Sensear was currently evaluating the best path to market, which could involve licensing the technology to existing manufacturers of hearing equipment, manufacturing the circuit board, or producing the complete product.
The company had sufficient funding to pursue the different options.
Mr. Miller said the search for funding had been a frustrating and time-consuming experience for Sensear, which had approached several venture captial funds.