- South Africa
- Sustainable development goals
- Good health and well-being
- Industry innovation and infrastructure
- Project link
About the project
HearX is a private company specializing in smartphone-enabled diagnosis of outer/middle ear diseases. The company has partnered with the University of Pretoria and the World Health Organisation to provide affordable hearing health technologies to a wide audience that may not have access to health services.
More project information
HearX is a private company specializing in smartphone-enabled diagnosis of outer/middle ear diseases. The company has partnered with the University of Pretoria and the World Health Organisation to provide affordable hearing health technology to a wide audience that may not have access to health services. According to the World Health Organisation, ear diseases, specifically chronic suppurative otitis media, is affecting up to 330 million people worldwide with the majority of those affected residing in low income countries. The HearX Group is attempting to democratize ear care treatment by integrating AI driven diagnosis in common technologies such as smartphones.
Reportedly, three products provided by HearX, namely, Hearscope, HearZa and Hearscreen are integrated with the Group’s AI technology and allow for various levels of diagnosis or hearing tests. hearScope is a world-first smartphone video-otoscope with integrated diagnostic support for ear disease using artificial intelligence. The commercial product is a video-otoscope pen connected to a smartphone running the hearScope application. Users are able to easily take images or videos of a people’s eardrums. The recorded data is then automatically uploaded and processed by the mHealth Studio Cloud system for a diagnosis using artificial intelligence.
Indeed, the system consists of a neural network focused on the diagnosis of outer/middle ear diseases. According to published results, the system is capable of diagnosing diseases with an accuracy of 86%, which compares favorably against that of medical doctors. The uploaded data from the video-otoscope is processed by the neural network classified the image into one of the five most common diagnostic groups:
Serous Otitis Media
Acute Otitis Media
Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media
The diagnosis is then returned to the user with an approximated accuracy. The user then also has the option to request a specialist diagnosis. By doing so, the image is sent to a hearing health specialist partner for a manual diagnosis. The specialist makes the diagnosis and the user is notified in their app’s mailbox.
Additionally, hearZA was launched in 2016 as part of a World Health Organization (WHO) initiative. It is a world first clinically valid hearing test on a smartphone in under 3 minutes. Available on any iOS or Android device, the App is accessible to everyone in South Africa. If a problem is detected, the App links people to their closest hearing health providers based on geolocation in partnership with the South African Audiology Association and South African Speech, Language and Hearing Association. The products offered by the HearX Group contributes to the SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being) and SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure) by addressing the lack of trained healthcare personnel in low and middle-income countries like South Africa by providing an accurate and cheap technology capable of servicing patients at a record speed.