Edinburgh firm behind 'revolutionary' rapid hearing test gears up for market launch

An Edinburgh firm that has developed a “revolutionary” hearing test has been given a funding injection as it looks to take its system global.

Claudia Freigang, chief executive, and Colin Horne, chief technology officer, of Hearing Diagnostics. The pair are a married couple so social distancing was not required for the photograph. Picture: Peter Devlin

Hearing Diagnostics has received £715,000 of investment thanks to Archangels, the Scottish business angel syndicate. It will enable the firm’s hearing test system to undergo trials with universities and hearing aid retailers in the UK with a view to a full market launch during the coming year.

The capital firm’s hearing test is based on the patient wearing headphones fitted with a motion sensor and turning their head in response to random, multi-direction sounds.

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This test, when assessed using algorithms, has proved to be more accurate than existing test systems during pilot trials. It is also deemed to be more resilient to imagined sounds and background noise.

Niki McKenzie, joint managing director at Archangels, the Scottish business angel syndicate. Picture: Graeme Hunter PIctures

The short test can also be administered successfully without a soundproofed booth and by a shop assistant rather than an audiologist, thereby increasing accessibility and reducing cost.

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 per cent 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.

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.”

Colin Horne, the firm’s co-founder and chief technology officer, said: “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.”

Alongside the Archangels investment, Hearing Diagnostics is proposing a number of board appointments. Charles Sweeney, formerly chief executive of Bloxx and Document Outsourcing Group and a non-executive director of a number of technology businesses, will join the firm as chairman.

Jacqui McLaughlin, chief executive of Archangels portfolio company Reactec, and Phil Harris, the boss of Vert Rotors, will join the board as non-executive directors.

Niki McKenzie, joint managing director at Archangels, which is based in Edinburgh, 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 to identify customers who need support with their hearing quickly and cost effectively.”

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