How This Startup From South Africa Is Disrupting Hearing Related Illness

I first met De Wet Swanepoel during Slush Impact conference in 2015 in Helsinki and spoke with him about his startup, the hearX Group, and their offerings in creating good quality, accessible and affordable diagnostic and related solutions for people with hearing related illnesses.

During our very own InnoFrugal conference in Helsinki this past April in 2017, we invited hearX CEO, Nic Klopper come and speak about how they are disrupting the industry sector for hearing illnesses with their “new tech-low cost” approach.

Now they are launching a new product called hearScope and I decided to have a small chat with De Wet and being the frugal innovation evangelist that I am, also wanted to support their new Indiegogo campaign for this device by helping spread the word!

Before going to the Q&A, you need to know that hearScope is the world’s first Smartphone Otoscope for accurate diagnosis of ear disease.

Here is a video showcasing hearScope:


credit: hearScope

According to the folks at hearScope-“The high-quality variable magnification otoscope “pen” connects to a smartphone running the hearScope application. hearScope is a diagnostic aid for doctors, nurses and healthcare providers but can also be used by parents to track and monitor their children’s ear health. In future, hearScope will be enhanced by our image analysis software and artificial intelligence systems to provide accurate, automated diagnoses of the most common forms of ear disease.”

So, you want to know more and help them? They are doing an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. This is a link to their landing page where people can go to receive more information about the hearScope and sign up to receive up to 35% discount for when the hearScope launches on the 1st of August. : https://goo.gl/fyrUcd

Here below is the Q&A with De Wet I did the other day:

Me: How many years have you been in the industry and what inspires your passion for healthcare solutions in hearing related issues?

De Wet: As a hearing health specialist my interest is to see access to ear and hearing care become affordable and sustainable – for everyone, everywhere.

Me: Why did you start hearX and what are the different offerings from hearX?

De Wet: The hearX vision is about seeing healthy hearing for everyone, everywhere. Our mission is to provide affordable access to hearing care using digital solutions that anyone can use, anywhere

Me: Why do you believe that the hearScope is important?

De Wet: Ear infection is the 2nd most common reason kids go to a doctor. It affects 330 million people every year and most have no access to accurate diagnosis for preventative treatment. hearScope is about offering a low-cost diagnostic tool that works with your phone to capture an image of the eardrum so that a remote diagnosis can be made that can direct treatment in underserved world regions. It’s about revolutionsing access to ear care and pushing preventative care forward.

Me: Why Indiegogo?

De Wet: As a social impact venture and technology we wanted to involve the wider community to be involved in the impact we’re after. Indiegogo provides a great platform to showcase the technology and its purpose so that we can put this solution into the hands of the world.

Me: What is the “Frugal” nature of hearScope?

De Wet: So the frugal nature of hearScope is that it will be at least a 50% cost-saving on existing video-otoscope technologies. The real value however is that our artificial neural network can diagnose the 5 most common ear conditions with accuracy >80%. This means access to ear care becomes affordable and available in lower income settings where its currently inaccessible.

Completed The Private Equity and Venture Capital course offered by SDA Bocconi via Coursera

The holidays are a good time to relax but are also a great time to renew and learn new skills. Last December holidays, I completed Delft University’s Circular Economy course and for this summer so far, I completed the Private Equity and Venture Capital course offered by SDA Bocconi School of Management via Coursera.

Here’s to all who are constant learners!

And btw, MOOC platforms like Coursera are great examples of Frugal Innovations! Good quality solutions that are accessible and affordable!!!

And here is the Circular Economy course certificate offered by Delft University via edX !

Frugal Innovation Recipes – Part 3

Shivkumar Kalyanaraman, who is Program Director, Special Initiatives, IBM Research – India has written an excellent article on how to realise the rapid adoption of Electric Vehicles in India.

He has a highly informative article on ownership vs sharing and how circular economy (products as a service) can play a role in markets like India.

In his article titled “Understanding Shared EV Transportation for India: Electric Cabs vs Electric Buses (& RBT) and Metro Rail” he has this to say:
Conventional wisdom is that electric vehicles are VERY VERY costly for India… Or are they really? How quickly can we see meaningful penetration in India? To first approximation solar was expensive in 2009, but has achieved grid parity now, similarly energy storage and EVs are expensive now, but will be where solar is today by 2020 (i.e. 4-5 year lag w.r.t solar).

Shivkumar goes on to list that since the Indian government has stated that they want to have an aggressive policy of 2030 as a deadline year to have All-Electric Vehicle sales in the automotive space. He talks about how to achieve this via three major areas:
– EVs as Electric Cabs
– Electric Buses and Rapid Bus Transit (RBT)
– (Electric) Metro Transport Systems

The key contributor to the EV affordability case is the dropping price of LiIon batteries, the major cost component of EVs. The recent BNEF forecast indicates a EV learning rate of 20-25% to continue through 2030.

Frugal Innovation Recipes – Part 2

Frank Robinson from SyncDev first uses the term “Minimum Viable Product” in 2001. Since then the MVP concept has spread quickly and has become part of business and tech world. Steve Blank and Eric Ries made it the start-up world’s mantra via their Lean Startup methodology.

So what is an MVP according to SyncDev?

We define MVP as that unique product that maximizes return on risk for both the vendor and the customer.
…..
the MVP is the sweet spot in the upper left quadrant of ROI on the vertical axis and risk, which correlates directly to effort and time to market, on the horizontal axis.

Source: http://www.syncdev.com/minimum-viable-product/

What is an MVP according to The Lean Startup?

A core component of Lean Startup methodology is the build-measure-learn feedback loop. The first step is figuring out the problem that needs to be solved and then developing a minimum viable product (MVP) to begin the process of learning as quickly as possible. Once the MVP is established, a startup can work on tuning the engine. This will involve measurement and learning and must include actionable metrics that can demonstrate cause and effect question.

The startup will also utilize an investigative development method called the “Five Whys”-asking simple questions to study and solve problems along the way. When this process of measuring and learning is done correctly, it will be clear that a company is either moving the drivers of the business model or not. If not, it is a sign that it is time to pivot or make a structural course correction to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product, strategy and engine of growth.

So, here’s my take on someone who has never heard of Frugal Innovation and frugal solutions:

Your Minimum Viable Product Is Most Probably Your Frugal Solution

Frugal Innovation Recipes – Part 1

I am starting a new series where I will do some small media images with notes- I am calling them frugal innovation recipes.

I have been thinking for some time how to get the message across in this age of so much information where attention spans are small. I myself am guilty of this from time to time.

There is always room for long-form articles but it is for those who already are interested rather than for those who don’t know about the issue we want them to invest in. And when I look at how social media is being used to gain peoples attention, the following stood out:
– Social media images with text
– 2-3 minute explainer videos

Videos require more effort and social media images with text are easier to do. So, I am starting with that route. I shall be putting out a few of these recipe posts every week. So, onwards and upwards!

Hand-powered Paper Centrifuge Developed At Stanford Costs Just 20 Cents

According to an article published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, Stanford researchers have developed “a 20 cent centrifuge made of paper and string and operated by hand can separate plasma from blood in about 90 seconds.”

And this innovation’s key attributes are:
– ultralow-cost (20 cents)
– lightweight (2 grams)
– human-powered paper centrifuge (named ‘paperfuge’) designed on the basis of a theoretical model inspired by the fundamental mechanics of an ancient whirligig
– open up opportunities for point-of-care diagnostics in resource-poor settings.

Source: http://www.nature.com/articles/s41551-016-0017

Inspired by a whirligig toy, Stanford bioengineers have developed an ultra-low-cost, human-powered blood centrifuge. With rotational speeds of up to 125,000 revolutions per minute, the device separates blood plasma from red cells in 1.5 minutes, no electricity required. A centrifuge is critical for detecting diseases such as malaria, African sleeping sickness, HIV and tuberculosis. This low-cost version will enable precise diagnosis and treatment in the poor, off-the-grid regions where these diseases are most prevalent.

Cheap vs Frugal: A Good Distinction I Came Across In A Business Insider Article

So, I was reading an article on Business Insider and they had a nice infographic highlighting the difference between being cheap vs being frugal.

The article is based on a book titled “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” by Ramit Sethi.

https://i0.wp.com/nordic.businessinsider.com/contentassets/c320a034e6bd4aafbb57a56bdc492be7/57583ba691058427008c77f1.png?w=840

Who Are The Originals? Good Insight Via TED Talk By Adam Grant

A small synopsis provided by TED for this talk by Wharton Professor – Adam Grant:

How do creative people come up with great ideas? Organizational psychologist Adam Grant studies “originals”: thinkers who dream up new ideas and take action to put them into the world. In this talk, learn three unexpected habits of originals — including embracing failure. “The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they’re the ones who try the most,” Grant says. “You need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones.”

Adam Grant starts out by talking about some students looking for funding in their e-commerce company but they were doing it part time. He declined but they turned out to be the founders of Warby Parker. Their business is that they sell eye glasses online. They were recently recognized as the world’s most innovative company and valued at over a billion dollars.

Adam then starts talking about the “Originals” – the ones who can speak out, do things differently and are not afraid to fail and sometimes can also be mild procrastinators.

The procrastinators angle makes sense because (and I admit I am one) when we are in that mode, we come up most often with the right kind of creative and original thoughts. The people who are either doing ahead of time or really bad procrastinators don’t have this proper balance.

More from Adam Grant’s talk in his own words:

But there is good evidence that Firefox and Chrome users significantly outperform Internet Explorer and Safari users.

They also stay in their jobs 15 percent longer, by the way. Why? It’s not a technical advantage. The four browser groups on average have similar typing speed and they also have similar levels of computer knowledge. It’s about how you got the browser. Because if you use Internet Explorer or Safari, those came preinstalled on your computer, and you accepted the default option that was handed to you. If you wanted Firefox or Chrome, you had to doubt the default and ask, is there a different option out there, and then be a little resourceful and download a new browser. So people hear about this study and they’re like, “Great, if I want to get better at my job, I just need to upgrade my browser?”

No, it’s about being the kind of person who takes the initiative to doubt the default and look for a better option. And if you do that well, you will open yourself up to the opposite of déjà vu. There’s a name for it. It’s called vuja de.

Vuja de is when you look at something you’ve seen many times before and all of a sudden see it with fresh eyes. It’s a screenwriter who looks at a movie script that can’t get the green light for more than half a century. In every past version, the main character has been an evil queen. But Jennifer Lee starts to question whether that makes sense. She rewrites the first act, reinvents the villain as a tortured hero and Frozen becomes the most successful animated movie ever. So there’s a simple message from this story. When you feel doubt, don’t let it go.

What about fear? Originals feel fear, too. They’re afraid of failing, but what sets them apart from the rest of us is that they’re even more afraid of failing to try. They know you can fail by starting a business that goes bankrupt or by failing to start a business at all. They know that in the long run, our biggest regrets are not our actions but our inactions. The things we wish we could redo, if you look at the science, are the chances not taken.

My First Driverless/Autonomous Bus in Espoo

My first onboard experience on a Driverless/Autonomous Bus in Espoo near my workplace. They are piloting it for a few weeks here. It was slow, not thrilling but safe ?

2016 MacArthur Genius- Rebecca Richards-Kortum Developed Portable, High-resolution Microendoscope that Enables Real-time Diagnosis And Treatment Of Cervical Cancer In A Single Visit.

Another 2016 MAcArthur Genius- Rebecca Richards-Kortum developed portable, high-resolution microendoscope that enables real-time diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer in a single visit.

Source: https://www.macfound.org/fellows/970/
Source: https://www.macfound.org/fellows/970/

She is a bioengineer addressing global health disparities in low-resource settings by developing point-of-care medical technologies and a new approach to engineering education by drawing from nanotechnology, molecular imaging, and microfabrication techniques, Richards-Kortum has created numerous low-cost and highly practical medical tools.

Richards-Kortum co-founded Beyond Traditional Borders (BTB), an undergraduate curriculum focused on translating classroom concepts into solutions for global health problems. The curriculum includes coursework in engineering, sociology, psychology, and economics, while a capstone project challenges students to work in multidisciplinary teams to build a technology that responds to a global health need.

New medical technologies created by BTB students include an LED-based phototherapy light for treating jaundice in newborns that can be made for less than $100, and a bubble continuous positive airway pressure machine (bCPAP) for premature infants unable to breathe on their own. The bCPAP decreased mortality rates in a Malawi neonatal ward by 46 percent at a cost of nearly 38 times lower than the standard model. Committed to improving access to quality health care for all the world’s people, Richards-Kortum is not only developing novel solutions but also training and inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists to address our shared global challenges.