We spoke here quite a while ago about a fascinating new piece of technology in the article "A New Tool For Early Diagnosis of Mid Ear Infections". It detailed a new SmartPhone Video Otoscope invention called the hearScope that the HearX Group was hoping to bring to market. They managed to raise the funds and the HearScope has been available for a while now. We thought it was time to give it a whirl and see if it lived up to the hype. The answer is yes, but it is finicky, let's talk about the HearScope
The product is available to purchase online, but only for a few markets. For instance, buying it from Ireland was a little song and dance. I had to contact them and arrange the purchase and shipment. HearX in fairness responded quickly to my enquiry and worked out how to sell it to me and ship it. There were no faffing or excuses, they simply got on with it. I have to say I like that a lot. A company that wants to do business.
The product retails at $230 dollars without shipping. If you are buying it from Ireland, be prepared to pay taxes on it to customs. For other markets, check with your local authorities. Once I had made payment, the product was within my hands in three working days, that is service.
The product comes packed in a very nice carrying case with the Otoscope and several extra specula and an instruction booklet. Before you buy, make sure your Android phone is compatible with the device. In fairness, most modern Android devices are compatible but if you have an old or quirky phone, check the compatibility.
A Mini USB Video Ear Scope
The device is a thin and lightweight mini USB video scope which comes with several sizes of specula for different ears. There is a focus wheel on the device which is used to set the focus of the device. The zoom ability is housed on the HearScope app which is available on the Playstore.
The device plugs into a mini USB on your smartphone and the downloaded app allows you to see and capture the image and photos. The images will soon be able to be uploaded to their servers where they can be assessed and diagnosed.
The app is simple to use, it takes a couple of minutes to familiarise yourself with it and you should, because you will have a better experience once you understand where the controls are and what they do. The image quality is excellent, however, it takes a while to get used to using the device and that is why I say it is finicky. There is a knack though.
Using The HearScope Device
There is a knack to using this device, so the best process to follow when using the HearScope is:
- Plug the device into your smartphone
- Pick up the device and ensure you are holding it with the top upwards (clearly marked)
- Pick the right size of specula for the ear (makes things easier)
- Put a specula on the device ensuring that the focus wheel is reachable with your thumb
- Hold the device as you are going to use it, hold a thumb or finger about 25mm from the tip
- Focus the device so you can see the ridge lines on your thumb or finger clearly
- You are ready to go
- Put it in the ear and play with the zoom on the app and very gently with the focus wheel until you have the optimal image
- Take the photo by touching the screen of the phone
Like I said, a knack, follow the procedure and you should get beautiful shots of the ear canal and the eardrum, or the ear wax that is plugging your ear. It takes a little bit of practice to get the shots, for instance, you may have to angle the device a little in the ear canal to get an optimal shot or pull the top of the ear up and back to straighten out the canal. You can see two images that I captured of my eardrum below.
A little bit of trial and error will lead to good views once you have focused the device properly before using it. So, I wouldn't say the device is simple plug and play, but it isn't onerous to use. It is an expensive purchase but if you have young kids, it is probably a very worthwhile one. For Professionals, it is a very useful little tool to pack in your kit when you are on the go.
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