Medical device developer Nuheara (ASX: NUH) is seeking to expand its addressable audience with hopes of improving the quality of life amongst children suffering from a debilitating auditory disorder – but only if it can establish efficacy first.
Nuheara’s IoT-ready personal hearing devices are set to earn a further seal of approval as the company announced the commissioning of a study by the Ear Science Institute Australia (ESIA) to determine whether the use of its IQbuds can improve listening performance for children with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD).
Currently, there’s no definitive cause of APD with experts divided as to exactly how the disorder occurs or why. It may be linked to ear infections, premature birth, head trauma or environmental factors such as diet, with research ongoing into the relatively new disorder.
Symptoms include difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments, following instructions and distinguishing between similar sounds. Over time APD leads to affected children struggling with reading, spelling and speaking.
Nuheara is hopeful that its IQbuds can serve as an effective tool in mitigating the symptoms of APD and therefore improve the quality of life for thousands of affected children, as well as serving its primary target audience which is adults, and more specifically, elderly customers. Research shows that around 15% adults have some form of hearing impairment.
Nuheara commenced a sales trial of its wireless earbuds, IQbuds, with two retailers in Australia in February after originally launching the IQbuds in 2016.
The product is now being sold via major consumer electronics retailers and professional hearing clinics in Europe, the Americas and the Middle East.
Over the course of last year, Nuheara reported sales figures of 17,000 units with revenue reaching A$4.5 million.
The popularity of its products is on the up, to the extent that earlier this year, IQbuds were included in Australia’s government-sponsored Hearing Services Program (HSP). The company also started shipping its latest product IQbuds BOOST last month, aimed at the mild to moderate hearing loss category.
As part of its work with the public sector, Nuheara received a A$1.2 million research and development tax cash rebate last month.
At the time, Nuheara went on record to say it is “committed to providing research leadership in hearing healthcare” and that the R&D grant was a key element that would help Nuheara lead the field in developing hearing devices for global distribution.
“When we started Nuheara we never dreamt that our products could also support children with APD,” says Justin Miller, CEO of Nuheara.
“We have seen first-hand the early anecdotal evidence which demonstrates the immediate responsive change in some children who have APD when they are wearing IQbuds.
According to Nuheara, the company is reluctant to market its products directly to parents with APD-related issues in their children, before it can substantiate the effectiveness of their products via independent tests and a commissioned study at ESIA.
“As a company, we understand that parents would immediately be open to purchasing products that can help their children. But we wanted to ensure we had a strong evidentiary research base first,” said Mr Miller.
“Ear Science Institute Australia is pleased to collaborate with Nuheara for the purpose of assessing how IQbuds might be utilised with children identified as having APD,” said Sandra Bellekom, CEO of Ear Science Institute Australia.
“As a Clinical Audiologist, I know this will be an important first step in informing whether IQbuds can be used to support children with APD,” she added.