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.