June 1st, 2015 | General | by Andreas Seelisch

Canadians Develop Hearing Test iPad App

A hearing test app created by Canadians for the developing world is now being used at home. Known as ShoeBox, the iPad app was created to offer a lightweight, accurate, easy to use diagnostic tool to screen children for the CanHEAR program in Uganda.

Dr. Bromwich, who is an Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon at the Children’s Hospital of East Ontario in Ottawa, soon realized that the bulky machines found in hospitals that can cost up to $35,000, were not ideal for travelling twice a year to Uganda.

His research team at CHEO came up with the app. During the trip to Uganda that followed, 800 children were screened using 10 iPads.

The iPad app took five minutes, compared to up to 15 minutes on the bulky hospital hearing test machines.

The ShoeBox app makes the hearing test fun by treating the whole procedure as a game, where children sort brightly coloured animals and objects, based on the sound they may emit.

What’s more, Dr. Bromwich and his team eventually turned their sites toward home. The screening app was then being used on children in Iqaluit, Nunavut. Children are usually flown to Ottawa for hearing tests at a cost of $7,500.

But with the ShoeBox app, only the children that have a hearing loss need to be flown to the nation’s capital for further testing.

A member of Dr. Bromwich’s team also came up with the idea to use the device in schools, which resulted in the launch of iHear.

As part of this program 27 volunteer medical students screened children at eight Ottawa elementary schools last February.

ShoeBox is dubbed “the first interactive iPad audiometer with regulatory approval for hearing testing.” According to the company’s website, the iPads used are specially calibrated for use as audiometers, using clinical audiometric headphones.

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