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.

Author: Venkata Gandikota

Venkata has more than 13 years of technical engineering, research, ideation, strategy and business modeling experience. Based on his experience with the Indian market and realizing also the need for affordable & sustainable solutions for Finland and other European markets, he started The Nordic Frugal Innovation Society in late 2013 with 2 colleagues. By organizing ideation workshops and 2 major conferences involving Cities, Universities, and businesses he started to mainstream the concept in Finland and the Nordics. Gandikota has also written several articles focusing on frugal innovations in the Finnish media. He has also been helping Finnish businesses in India as CEO of Indianeer Consulting and gives guest lectures at JAMK University of Applied Sciences in Jyväskylä. He has a Bachelors in Chemical Engineering from India and a Masters in Environmental Engineering from USA.