From the Orphanage to Inventing Assistive Listening Device: How CloviTek Changed My LifeVitaly Kirkpatrick / August 1, 2017
The Beginning of my Entrepreneur Journey – Ukraine to US
Have you ever felt that you were born for a special purpose and still feel it? Since I was 10, I often felt this urge that I can do more than just go through life just like most people. My childhood wasn’t the best. In fact, sometimes, I think about my past, not because it was haunting me, but because it was a BIG part of who I am now.
Like I stated above, I’m part of that group of people who were forced by the life circumstances to learn how to manage with the little they have. But I never let my unfortunate circumstances change or make me a nuisance. In fact, ever since I was little, I know I can go from “lack” to providing people with a tool that can actually help them. I have always had that urge.
Oh….shoot! I forgot to mention I grew up in an orphanage home. It was an experience most people wouldn’t wish on their children. When I was there, I tried to enjoy my childhood and bear the loneliness around me, being alone in the crowded place, which was not the kind of loneliness that could inspire you. To make it worse, I was moved from the orphanage home to a foster home when I was 12. There were 5 of us then. Of course, the experience at the foster home is one that is best left in the past. I Never really have that stable childhood most people experienced, but I made a vow to never allow it change me. Instead, it motivated me – it made me work harder to escape. I mean an escape from the loneliness and the “lack” at the time. When I reached 18 years, I started living alone and providing for myself.
I was born in Ukraine, and I spent my childhood and a better part of my teenage years there. I left Ukraine for the United States in 2005 with only $3 in my pocket. Through hard work and persistence, I graduated from Utah Valley University as a Computer Scientist in 2009.
I’m a very upbeat person and have great friends and support system. I also love exercising and outdoor activities such as climbing the mountain and sky-diving, you should see a video where I was climbing a mountain; well that’s a story for another day.
After my graduation, I started working for an X-ray company as an Engineer. It was during this period that I noticed one disturbing trend.
My work with the X-ray Company brought me across many elderly in various seminars. I noticed that when most organizations or churches are having an event, they don’t give any special consideration for those with hearing problems. In fact, at the time, there is no viable assistive listening technology to ensure that those with hearing impediments are an active part of any event.
CloviFi Wireless Audio Transmitter for TV
The assistive listening technologies that existed at the time were very expensive and to the best of my knowledge, inefficient.
My discovery led me to start making more research on how to provide a technology that will help the elderly and those with hearing problems. What I discovered shocked me, it was estimated that one out of every 10 people in the United States has a significant hearing loss, ranging from 25 dB (mild) to 90 dB (severe). A significant number of this people are older adults. However, the hearing loss starts in early childhood for majority of teens.
The auxiliary aids available are grossly inefficient and very expensive. With a good number of the elderly not covered by health insurance, I can’t imagine how they will be able to afford the expensive hearing aids at the time. It still beats my imagination that with the number of people suffering from one kind of hearing problem or another, the government is yet to respond to this new problem. Without mincing words, if the hearing loss problem is not checked soon, we could have a bigger problem in our hands in few years to come.
Back to my lab, I started working on a system that delivers excellent sound, allows the user to listen at a comfortable volume, and very easy to carry about. I also wanted to ensure that anyone can get it at a very affordable price. To achieve this, I tested the various transmission system available such as Infrared, hearing loop systems, FM systems, and finally Wi-Fi systems.
Among all these available transmission systems, only one of them satisfied me completely and that is Wi-Fi.
My reason for choosing Wi-Fi transmission system for CloviFi is because I wanted to create the best assistive listening device. Wi-Fi is far superior to Bluetooth and other transmission systems. Bluetooth wireless transmitters have limitations, I couldn’t possibly make use of it because not many people can connect to a Bluetooth, and even the iPhone owners will be left out. With Wi-Fi, the entire church member can simply connect to CloviFi and listen with their own headphones. Moreover, it will allow many people get the device at a far more affordable price.
I was amazed when I discovered I just created something more than assistive listening technology. I originally discovered the need for Wi-Fi audio transmission while running on the treadmill at a gym. It was later that I discovered I can add value by using the same tool to help the elderly and those with a hearing problem, but in doing that, I created a technology that allows anyone transmits audio from TV and indeed from any audio system to your headphones.
This discovery means that CloviFi now not only has the ability to help the elderly but can actually be used by anyone who wants to listen to television at a controlled sound level. It is great for couples; imagine you want to watch television after your partner has gone to sleep; you don’t have to worry about being too loud.
CloviFi device isn’t the only project I’m interested and invested deeply in. However, it is the one that I care about the most. I have always cared about people. This is why I believe that any future projects will actually benefit a lot of people.
Now I’ve found a company; CloviTek, to help people around the world maximize health and quality of life through the latest technologies at a uniquely low cost. Ethics and trust are the main criteria for my work. At CloviTek, We try to listen and understand what people need. First, by listening to ourselves, we identified the need for assistive listening devices that families at home can afford. Over 360 million people around the world have disabling hearing loss with limited solutions at affordable prices available for them. This is still an underserved market and we want to help people (not only with hearing loss) by enabling them to listen to any TV or audio source using their own headphones. So now, by helping those in need, we are helping everyone (at home, business lounges, hospitals, museums, airports, and at other public areas).
I believe that CloviFi is going to impact a lot of lives and the way we experience audio in this ever growing wireless audio market. It is now not only a health device but serves for entertainment too. CloviFi is a revolutionary device, no doubt. In few years time, we are going to be seeing it in various homes, churches, airports, hospitals, and events. With its affordable, compact, and easy to use solutions, CloviTek will revolutionize wireless audio and assistive listening technologies while solving the most common household and business TV listening problems that many face today.