The World Health Organisation has said that 360 million people in the world are suffering with some sort of hearing loss. The most affected areas are South Asia, Asia Pacific and parts of Africa. Medical experts say that hearing loss is avoidable if diagnosed early on through primary prevention. However, the areas aforementioned are third-world areas and don't always have access to primary prevention processes in avoiding hearing loss.
Thankfully, engineering students are coming to the rescue and proposing a cheaper alternative to octoscopes that would involve plugging an item into a smartphone then taking photos of inside the ear. Students at Texas A&M University in the Engineering World Health department designed a model LED otoscope that will hopefully recieve funding so that anyone can keep a tab on the health of their ears.
This is not a foreign idea, there is a product called the Cellscope Oto that serves a similar purpose. With more and more engineers working on this technology, we could see the tool distributed globally for the health of ears everywhere.
Tessa Bronez, a biomedical engineering graduate, said: "We have a lot of electrical engineers on the team, and they were really excited about doing something with optics."
The engineers decided to use a cell phone to make the otoscope cheaper due to the camera on the phone being instrumental in the process. "A lot of people are surprised to hear that many people in developing countries have smartphones, particularly in the more urban areas where hospitals are," Bonez said.
The team of engineers used a 3D printer, a normal otoscope lens and a motherboard. Then the smartphone can be attached to the device and be ready to monitor ear health. The researchers say the cost is $6.42. This is far cheaper than the estimated price of $299 for the otoscope by Cellscope, that will sell an iPhone case with the attachment on it. The low price point makes the students at Texas A&M University's otoscope design the most economical one that would apply directly to impoverished communities.
Source: Medical Xpress