Scottish angel investment syndicate Archangels has invested £715,000 in Edinburgh-based startup Hearing Diagnostics Ltd to help it develop its hearing test system.
The company will use the funds to trial its system with universities and hearing aid retailers in the UK with a view to full market launch in 2021.
Hearing Diagnostics’ test is based on the patient wearing headphones fitted with a motion sensor and turning their head in response to random, multi-direction sounds. This test, when assessed using computational algorithms, has proved to be more accurate than existing test systems during pilot trials and is also deemed to be more resilient to imagined sounds and background noise.
The test can also be administered successfully without a soundproof booth and by a shop assistant rather than a more highly paid audiologist, thereby increasing accessibility and reducing cost. Furthermore, the test takes three minutes compared to the 25-30 minutes it takes to carry out a conventional hearing test.
Hearing Diagnostics Co-founder and Chief Executive Claudia Freigang said: “Our vision is for hearing tests to become as accessible and commonplace as eye tests to ensure that everyone with hearing loss receives care at the earliest possible opportunity.
“Investment by Archangels brings us a huge step towards achieving our vision and we are excited to work with such a highly experienced and supportive group of investors.”
Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Hearing Diagnostics Colin Horne commented: “As humans, we have the remarkable ability to pinpoint with precision accuracy the exact location of heard sounds, something which should make testing whether a sound was heard a trivially easy task.
“However, to date, there has never been a testing technology that can deliver highly accurate screening at low cost. I’m thrilled that with this investment from Archangels, we’re now in a position to change this and realise a paradigm-shifting new product.”
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The World Health Organisation estimates that there are 466 million people worldwide who experience hearing loss and that two-thirds of all adults over the age of 70 experience this condition. However, an estimated 86% of hearing loss in the UK goes unmanaged. People with untreated hearing loss may also experience social isolation, depression and cognitive decline as a consequence.
The worldwide hearing aid market was estimated in 2018 to be worth £14 billion, growing at 5% per annum. With non-prescription or “over the counter” hearing aids expected to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) later this year, this market is expected to grow significantly.
Joint Managing Director at Archangels Niki McKenzie said: “Hearing loss is a condition that is experienced across the world and yet the technology around hearing tests has barely changed in recent years.
“Hearing Diagnostics appears to have invented a low cost, accurate and accessible test that will help hearing aid retailers identify customers who need support with their hearing quickly and cost-effectively.”