Kannada couple develops '80% cheaper' portable device to detect hearing-loss
Hearing loss is a common problem faced by many in India and is often not taken seriously. However, an audiologist couple, Uday Raga Kiran and wife Remya, from Karnataka's Hubli is striving to address the issue of hearing loss and change people's "casual approach" towards it. They developed a low-cost portable device that makes detection of hearing loss quicker and 80% cheaper. Here's more.
Deafness is a silent disability, says Uday
"...Though hearing is one of the important senses, deafness is a silent disability. Unlike poor vision, where one can easily know if one cannot see properly, there is no way for the people to determine any hearing issue," Uday told TBI. "To add to that, people's attitude doesn't help. By the time they realize they cannot hear properly it is too late," he added.
Uday and Remya founded Nautilus Hearing start-up
Despite having no engineering background, Uday and Remya worked on several trial-and-error hearing test devices. Finally, they developed the portable "KIVI" device that can quickly detect hearing loss. The couple founded Nautilus Hearing, a start-up for easier diagnosis of hearing loss, about 18 months ago. In 2018, Karnataka's government agreed to fund their project after Nautilus Hearing won in the government's ELEVATE 100 Programme.
Availability of affordable hearing loss diagnosis is necessary
According to a 2016 study by the World Health Organization, five million children in India have hearing and speech impairment. Deafness is of two types, nerve and conductive, and can be prevented if detected early. Hearing impairment cases can be reduced with affordable devices, believes Uday. The couple blamed insufficient diagnosis for the increasing cases of hearing problems in India, especially in rural areas.
Devices for detecting hearing loss cost Rs. 10 lakh currently
To detect hearing problems, clinics/hospitals require devices costing Rs. 10 lakh and space to accommodate them. Most clinics don't have these facilities due to lack of financial resources and space. The couple found people in some rural areas need to travel 50km for treatment; so, people avoid going to hospitals altogether. Lack of infrastructure and people's take on the problem are serious problems too.
Regular health check-ups test every organ except ears: Uday
"People are becoming more and more health conscious. But regular health check-ups include checking diabetes and cholesterol levels and test every organ except the ears," Uday said. "This is due to the lack of awareness," he added.
How the couple's KIVI device helps solve the issue
KIVI, which means "ear" in Kannada, is portable and weighs only 800gms. It costs just Rs. 2 lakh and takes 10 minutes to detect hearing problems in a person. The device also gives a digital diagnostic report. KIVI doesn't require any space and is 80% cheaper than the regular devices. It has two forms; one for hospitals/clinics and the other for educational institutions/factories.
Success rate of KIVI has been 100% so far
As KIVI is portable, it can be taken to any place in India and people won't have to travel long distances for diagnosis, said Uday. KIVI is currently in the testing stage. The couple might receive medical clearance by 2020 based on the device's success rate. KIVI has been tested on over 250 people and its success rate has been 100%.Share this timeline