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iHear hearing aid can be calibrated over the internet to keep costs low


March 24, 2014

An online platform where the user can conduct their own hearing test and electronically ca...

An online platform where the user can conduct their own hearing test and electronically calibrate the device themselves is primarily where the company is able to reduce the costs

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According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, 48 million Americans (around 20 percent of the population) report some degree of hearing loss. This problem is compounded by the costs associated with having the condition diagnosed and a hearing aid fitted in a clinic, causing many to allow the ailment to go untreated. iHear, an invisible hearing aid, is designed to significantly lower the cost of personalized hearing devices by enabling the user to test the extent of their condition and calibrate the hearing aid from their own home.

iHear is the brainchild of Adnand Shennib, who identified a gap between cheap hearing aids with general, preset configurations, and prescribed hearing aids that can cost thousands of dollars. Shennib, a biomedical engineer who has been developing advanced hearing devices in Silicon Valley for more than 20 years, set about developing a high-quality hearing aid that was low in cost, but could also be customized to suit the user's condition.

The iHear system is made up of a test kit, a miniaturized hearing device around the size of a kidney bean that fits inside the ear canal, a USB device and an online platform.

The first step is for the user to test the degree of their hearing loss using the iHear test kit. This involves plugging the USB device into their computer and a pair of specially-designed headphones into their ears. An online diagnostics tool then allows them to determine the extent of their hearing loss.

Once the test is completed, the hearing device itself is shipped to the user. From here, the user can complete the fitting process themselves, program settings for different environments, and adjust the hearing device at any time.

The company donate a hearing aid to the economically disadvantaged for every iHear device ...

Included is a tool kit, a small triangular device that allows remote control of iHear when it is being worn, while also doubling as a place for storage when it is not.

According to the company, having an online platform whereby the user can conduct their own hearing test and electronically calibrate the device themselves is primarily where the costs are reduced. Though this could provide viable solutions for sufferers of hearing loss conditions described as flat, reverse slopes, high frequency, mild, and moderate to moderately severe, the company emphasizes it is not suitable for severe or profound hearing loss.

In conjunction with the launch of the iHear device, the company is running a campaign called Hearing For All. For every single iHear device ordered, the company will donate a hearing aid (with a maximum of 1,000) to the economically disadvantaged, a group it says makes up 40 percent of the hearing loss population in the US.

Currently the subject of an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, the company is offering single iHear devices for pledges of US$199. Shipping estimated for September 2014 if everything goes according to plan.

You can hear from the team behind iHear in the video below.

Sources: iHear Medical, Hearing Loss Association of America

About the Author
Nick Lavars Nick was born outside of Melbourne, Australia, with a general curiosity that has drawn him to some distant (and very cold) places. Somewhere between enduring a winter in the Canadian Rockies and trekking through Chilean Patagonia, he graduated from university and pursued a career in journalism. He now writes for Gizmag, excited by tech and all forms of innovation, Melbourne's bizarre weather and curried egg sandwiches.   All articles by Nick Lavars

Err, no it incurs a subscription fee to the internet and a home PC making it one expensive way to keep costs low, most UK users would get tested on a Doctor visit, if you own a hearing aid and it is not working correctly, it is usually pretty obvious. Only a coclear implant can give back lost hearing.

24th March, 2014 @ 01:00 am PDT

Using an iNitial lower case "i" with a capitalized second letter iSn't looked upon favorably by Apple™©, Inc. when used by other entities. i'M surprised iHear hasn't been sued yet.

Yonian Anda
24th March, 2014 @ 10:16 am PDT

It seems that you can't see comments on their Indiegogo project unless you are a contributor. That's a shame because I might have joined the project if I could see the comments.

24th March, 2014 @ 12:08 pm PDT

Looks mighty like the Blamey Saunders IHear system which has been around for years, which is very good, and I speak as a user.

James Walsh
24th March, 2014 @ 06:43 pm PDT

I have been a Blamey and Saunders customer for three years. The system consists of a USB interface (about 200AUD) and the open fit hearing aid (about 900AUD).

The hearing tests can be conducted at home without the need for an internet connection, which is only required when updating firmware.

The software includes various interesting audiology applications, designed to assist the partially deaf to improve their conversational ability.

Hearing aids are a means of extorting money from the elderly.

Some of them, nothing more than a miniature parametric audio amplifier, cost over ten thousand dollars.

"Ski-slope" deafness causes depression because sufferers are considered rude stupid and ignorant by those who really are.

24th March, 2014 @ 08:04 pm PDT

Great deal. Hearing aids are really expensive nowadays and most of people are not able to afford it. But this one seems a great deal and good quality. Definitely worth a try.

24th March, 2014 @ 09:21 pm PDT

This is a tremendous improvement in the hearing aid technology and industry. Not only it is innovative and discrete as you are wearing it but it is also very affordable. That is why I am getting a pair for my father and I am sure that he will be please with it since it won't be noticeable.

25th March, 2014 @ 07:44 am PDT

The upfront costs seem attractive. Their Indiegogo site shows the Pioneer kit (one aid for each ear) at $349, but with a months supply of battery modules and ear pieces as a $449 value. That's $100 per month. Seems steep.

Bruce H. Anderson
25th March, 2014 @ 12:40 pm PDT

correction for Bruce Anderson:The battery and seal supply cost only about $10 month and not $100 as you stated. This cost is comparable to the cost of conventional hearing aid batteries. The iHear battery lasts 1.5 about times longer than conventional batteries. Info on the iHear HD use and supply cost be found on FAQ page: http://www.ihearmedical.com/igogo-faq

iHear Medical
26th March, 2014 @ 07:29 pm PDT

I'm impressed..!

As someone that relies on two hearing aids because of my disability (I have Cerebral Palsy) the costs of updating hearing aids about every six years is absolutely crippling.. I'm from New Zealand and have no idea of the American health system but here in NZ it's user pays 100% for my hearing aids plus professional frees as well.. Yes, my last hearing aids cost me $5,600 NZD and I am amazed as my 18 month old computer was only 1/3 of this amount ..!

I for one will be following the iHear story with the greatest of interest..

Thank you to Gizmag for this story..

3rd April, 2014 @ 04:23 pm PDT
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