iHear® Medical, based in San Leandro, Calif, has announced the launch of an online hearing solutions platform. The company is now taking orders for its flagship invisible iHEARHD® hearing aid, and the iHearTest™, which recently received FDA approval as the first home hearing screener.
The company reports that delivery of iHear products starts July 15, 2016. The company also plans to launch the iHEARMAX™, a mini behind-the-ear hearing device, on August 15, 2016. iHear’s products are currently being offered in the US, with plans to introduce them in China and other markets in 2017.
The cloud-based platform developed by iHear Medical encompasses numerous innovations aimed at empowering consumers and breaking through persisting barriers preventing people from obtaining clinically effective hearing solutions. These barriers, according to iHear, include overpricing of hearing aids, the stigma of wearing a visible hearing device, and the cumbersome process of accessing hearing care.
“Our goal is to offer effective and affordable hearing solutions, which are in line with prescription eyeglasses sold for under $300,” said Adnan Shennib, founder and CEO of iHear Medical. “In addition to offering dramatically lower cost and inconspicuous wear, the iHear® system offers consumers comprehensive online tools to administer the entire customization process, from hearing testing to individualized calibration of the hearing device, all from the convenience of home.”
The iHEARHD and the iHEARMAX are programmable hearing aids offered exclusively on the iHEAR online store at an introductory price of $299 and $275, respectively. Programmable hearing aids available from hearing aid centers sell for $2,400 each on the average, and often cost over $7,000 for a pair. Generic hearing aids from online vendors and mail orders are less expensive but, can be ineffective due to low quality and lack of customization. iHear products are intended to combine quality and programmability, and are backed by a one-year warranty, and a 45-day satisfaction guarantee with professional support available by licensed hearing professionals.
Consumer-controlled Hearing Aids Customized Through an Interactive Listening Experience
iHEAR devices are customized by a proprietary process of streaming audio to the hearing device and interactively assessing the consumer’s response to simulated “real-life” sounds.
Using these interactive tools, the consumer adjusts the hearing device based on perceptions for loudness, speech clarity and intelligibility for male and female voices, as well as for music. According to iHear, the consumer can perform the interactive tuning process anytime and with any computer connected to the Internet. The online platform currently supports Windows PC and MAC OS computers, with plans to offer smartphone support in 2017.
Adjustments of traditional hearing aids offered by other manufacturers rely on prescriptive formulas, which are based on statistical averages of consumer preferences. Shennib says that these generic prescription methods often produce erroneous and unacceptable hearing aid settings, requiring multiple visits to the hearing aid center for adjustments.
An FDA-approved Home Hearing Screener
iHear is also launching the iHearTest, the first hearing screener approved by the FDA for home testing and over-the-counter (OTC) sales. The iHearTest kit allows consumers to rapidly test their hearing ability at home or anywhere with an Internet connection. The iHearTest reportedly produces an easy to understand, consumer-friendly hearing score, based on the World Health Organization (WHO) grading system of hearing impairment. The iHearTest is suitable for adults who suspect hearing loss, or those reluctant to seek professional evaluation. The iHearTest is a hearing screener and not intended to clinically diagnose hearing health. For a medical evaluation of the auditory system, consumers are advised to consult with a hearing healthcare professional.
According to iHear Medical, the FDA approval of the iHearTest was based on extensive technological development and clinical trials to demonstrate safety and efficacy. Other online and mobile apps for hearing testing are available, but these unregulated tests are considered by many to be inaccurate and do not comply with the accepted standards of audiometric evaluation. Shennib reports that the FDA has previously intervened to remove unapproved hearing tests with unsubstantiated claims of accuracy.
The iHearTest kit includes a USB device for connecting to a personal computer and factory-calibrated earphones. The iHearTest kit is offered by iHear for $49, which includes credit for 2 hearing tests. Additional credits can be purchased online for testing up to 5 family members.
The hearing solutions developed by iHear Medical are in line with the disruptive technology called for in recent reports developed and released by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and the National Academies of Sciences, which recommend more accessible hearing testing and new distribution models for hearing aids that are more affordable.
iHear Medical is a venture-backed firm dedicated to addressing the global need for affordable and accessible hearing solutions. iHear Medical’s new products and business models are intended to overcome persisting barriers preventing people with hearing loss from using hearing aids. iHear Medical aims to pioneer web-enabled hearing solutions, and was founded by Adnan Shennib, who has started and led development at several Silicon Valley firms, including InSound Medical, which was acquired by Sonova-Phonak in 2010.
Source: iHear Medical