HearscreenHearing loss in young children can easily go undetected – especially if the children in question don’t have access to medical screening, which is frequently the case for children living in remote or marginalised communities. Now imagine if testing hearing loss was as easy as holding a phone up to your ear and the results were as reliable as the tests conducted by audiologists in a medical facilities. The opportunities for early detection of hearing difficulties make us very excited!

The hearScreen app, which transforms any Android smartphone into an easy to use audio screening device, won the idea pitching challenge at the SA Innovation Summit 2015, in the category: Innovations for Early Childhood Development. The R30, 000 prize was sponsored by the Innovation Edge.

The screening process for hearing loss takes under one minute and can be conducted by people without audiology training. The data from the screening test is then easily uploaded onto a cloud-based server for evaluation.

The app was developed by Prof De Wet Swanepoel, an audiologist at the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at the University of Pretoria and President-elect of the International Society of Audiology.

We are very excited by the opportunities that mHealth innovations, such as hearScreen, can create for South African children and we hope that we will see more scalable, low-cost solutions for shortages in early childhood development services emerging from technological advances.