MTN App of the Year

Local firm brings app and affordable hearing aids to US

The hearX Group, based in Tshwane, is rolling out smart hearing devices to a global market.

The hearX® Group is a smart audiology company headquartered in Tshwane, selling affordable hearing aids that connect to an app to the US market. The company launched Lexie Hearing® about a year ago, an app-backed hearing aid that won Best Health Solution award at the 2020 MTN Business App of the Year Awards.

The device is currently only available in the US. The average price of a pair of hearing aids in the US is about $4 400. Lexie hearing aids cost $49 per month for 24 months or can be bought for $799. The subscription comes with risk insurance for breakages and losses, regular accessory replacement, free membership to the Lexie Rewards® programme, which offers further discounts, and access to support services via the Lexie App.

Why launch in the US?

OTC model CEO of hearX®, Nic Klopper, says he took the decision to launch the hearing aid in the US because there was less red tape. “In South Africa, you need an HPCSA-registered audiologist to dispense and fit the hearing aid. American legislation makes it easier as hearing aids can be dispensed without an audiologist.” In 2017, the US passed the Over-The-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aid Act to provide greater accessibility and affordability for OTC hearing aids. OTC devices can be bought without a prescription, while Direct-To-Consumer hearing aids are available for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. Any other form of hearing loss still requires consultation with a medical professional.

How it works

Lexie Hearing® offers Direct-To-Consumer hearing aids. It initially connects to the wearer’s phone with Bluetooth and asks the wearer to do a hearing test through the app using an internet connection. The hearing aids are then automatically programmed according to the wearer’s unique hearing profile. Alternatively, wearers can contact Lexie’s hearing experts through the app, to remotely adjust their hearing aids. Users can also monitor the hearing aids’ battery level through the app.

Klopper says US customers can order the device online, or it can be bought from certain Walgreens stores, and that the goal is to ultimately expand its presence to markets around the world. He says it currently has about 3 000 people using the device in the US. There is also a Lexie Rewards® programme, which encourages users to wear their hearing aids more often, winning points that can be used to buy other Lexie products or receive a discount on the monthly subscription. “Wearing a new hearing aid takes some getting used to, but you can do so by wearing it consistently. So users get points by just wearing their hearing aids a certain number of hours a week,” says Klopper.

A multi-award-winning app

The hearX® Group also won Best Health Solution at the 2018 MTN App of the Year Awards for dbTrack, a mobile app and earphones that encourage safer music listening practices. In 2017, it won the Most Disruptive Solution at the MTN IoT Awards for hearScope, a digital otoscope that uses a smartphone and AI imaging to classify images and diagnose ear infections.

The hearX® Group has a presence in 191 countries and supplies B2B tech solutions for hearing health professionals. Klopper says smart technology has allowed his company to make affordable products. “As the tech gets better, we can reach more people and design smarter solutions

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