An Ideal Audiometer For Mobile Practices, Hell, an Ideal Audiometer For Any Practice
First off, the important bit, I received no inducement, gifts or payment of any kind for this article (please offer it, I am not above bribery). So, the thoughts here are my own and haven’t been swayed by any thought of reward. I was fascinated by the Kuduwave Audiometer system and the claims being made about it. Recently, I ended up in touch with a chap named Martin Sattler who works for eMoyo in Canada. They are handling sales of the Kuduwave system in North America. He organised a demo unit for review for me.
I received the Kuduwave Audiometer recently and I have to say I was damned impressed. I posted on Linkedin that I was having a serious Nerd moment unpacking it and setting it up. Serious Nerd happiness, and do you know what, it hasn’t abated. Auto testing, seriously portable, fantastic results, amazing test battery, daily verification of calibration, yes you read that right, daily verification of calibration for your records. Astonishing accurate results even in a noisy environment. This is a truly fantastic piece of kit, in fact quite amazing in several ways, let’s talk about the Kuduwave. So first the bad news, but it really isn’t that bad.
Unfortunately, at present, the software is not Noah integrated, but that shouldn’t put you off, the benefits of the Audiometer outweigh the hassle of double entry. Well, a single entry in fact, if you use the quite amazing auto function on the system. The software is easy to use once you have had a look at the online rundown. It isn’t pretty, while that shouldn’t matter, it detracts a little from what is an outstanding product.
While it is intuitive enough mostly, some things aren’t necessarily that intuitive like the next arrow in the toolbar, why? Just why? Like I said though, watch the twenty-five minute rundown on Youtube and you will be gold. The key is, that the software does the job very well, it isn’t pretty, but it is hugely functional, offering you everything you need to undertake normal audiometry, advanced audiometry (masking), extended frequency audiometry, and speech audiometry.
A Full Test Battery
The Kuduwave uses inserts for audiometric testing, the earcups are for noise protection and house the electronics. That is the joy of what the Kuduwave offers, Speech Reception, Speech Discrimination, Air, Bone, Masking, Extended Frequencies up to an amazing 16K. All of the tests can be undertaken automatically, while I don’t often use an auto feature on an Audiometer, I put the Kudwave through its paces. The auto testing is outstanding, delivering the testing with ease and the minimum of fuss.
You can pause the auto testing easily to talk forward to the Patient when and if you need to. You can then restart the auto testing easily without fuss or fear of failure or crashing software. I really put it through its paces over several days and several tests. Pausing it mid-presentation, re-starting the test immediately and then pausing it again just as quick. The software took it all in its stride, no hassle, no hanging, no crashes.
I even unplugged one ear from the USB mid-test to see if I could crash it, it just calmly announced it had lost connection. Then when I reconnected it, it just got on with the job. That is a pretty sure sign of a stable software set up. Something that can’t be praised enough. I recently lost a hearing test on Noah, because a fitting software threw a fit. It did not make me happy, and it put me under serious time pressure.
Daily Verification of Calibration
This is a fantastic feature, they call it the X Check. The system is built into the audiometer and it verifies the calibration of the inserts across all of the frequencies. It then allows you to print off the verification for your records. It means that you have a paper trail of verification of your air audiometry calibration.
So the kit itself is basically a very lightweight set of outsized ear cups with thin tubes hanging off the bottom of them. There are mini USB ports and USB ports at the bottom outside edge of each cup. As you can see from the image above, foam inserts are placed on the end of the tubes for insertion into the ear.
Accompanying the headset is a long double USB lead set up to be plugged into the cups. Plugging the USBs into the cup can be a little awkward, but bear with it and don’t use a lot of pressure. Eventually, you will line them up properly and they will just slot in. There is also a response button setup that plugs into the USB on the left cup or your computer.
Putting Them On
Putting the Audiometer onto somebody takes a bit of practice, basically, you put one cup on the person’s ear while balancing the other cup on the opposite side of their head. Place the insert into the ear and lead the tube out of the ear between the tragus and antitragus. Then bring the cup down over the ear and do the same for the second ear. Like I said, it is a bit of a balancing act but it gets easier with practice. I have already said it, but it is worth saying again, the Kuduwave is amazingly light. That is good for the Patient and good for you, it is light on their head and easy for you to carry around.
Using The Kit
The audiometer is easy to use, you can use it manually with the same keyboard shortcuts you would use for any other audiometer. It also comes with an auto testing feature which is outstanding. The auto tests that are set up have a South African slant and they offer screening, clinical diagnostic and occupational health testing procedures.
There is also a custom setup for auto testing which allows you to set up your own custom set of parameters. The audiometer is ideal for extended frequency testing and offers testing up to 16K. It means that you can expand your services to ototoxicity testing and get an idea of why some people who have normal hearing up to 8K may suffer from tinnitus caused by losses in the higher frequencies.
When presenting tones, the audiometer system will tell you if ambient noise may have affected results. This system is part of the overall system that allows hearing tests to be undertaken in sub-par sound environments.
Amazing in Hostile Environments
I used the audiometer without a sound booth recently in a relatively quiet room. However, during the test, some idiot was blundering around in the next room slamming doors and generally making a sound nuisance of themselves. Then the loudest phone you ever heard started to ring and just to give me a breakdown somebody rang the doorbell.
The Audiometer never twitched, not once, however, when the Patient coughed during a presentation, the audiometer notified me that the sound level would have interfered with the testing. I really found it very impressive, in fact, my whole experience thus far with the system has been outstanding. Did I say it was lightweight? Hahahaha, it is really easy to carry around, for anyone who is carrying kit from place to place you can’t overstate that.
Benefits to You
I think the system offers many benefits to any business. It allows best practice testing in sub-par environments. That means that you can go mobile if needed and be very happy with your test results. It offers in-depth and extended testing including speech audiometry which means that you can offer all of those tests while mobile. It ensures that you can deliver a full test battery anywhere, anytime.
Think about nursing homes, think about occupational hearing testing, think about home visit hearing healthcare. I know there are other options out there, but I don’t think any offer the entire package in such a lightweight and contained way.
What’s Missing and What’s Coming
For me, the terrible sin is the omission of Quicksin, however, I have spoken to company representatives about it and they say it is coming in a future update. As someone who fits hearing aids as a primary role, I think Quicksin is a hugely important test. I know there are many that don’t use it, but I like it and what it offers. I can handle the non-integration with Noah, and I understand why it is, to get Noah certified costs a ridiculous amount of money.
However, again the company says that it is on the product roadmap. As I said, at the moment it means some double entry, but the benefits of the machine far outweigh the hassle of double entry. They are also working on cleaning up the user interface, however, that is really secondary to the functionality. They also have some other surprising integrated functionality coming down the pipeline which I think will make the Kuduwave the go-to Audiometer for the entire profession.
I think the Kuduwave is an outstanding piece of kit, I was really excited when I got my hands on it and set it up. Using it has not abated that excitement and wonder at what it delivers. If you are looking for an Audiometer that will allow you test in sub-par sound environments, this is the one for you. However, as you become familiar with the device and its easy usability, it may just end up as your go-to Audiometer. The prices are on par with most of the secondary mobile systems out there and I have attached the price list below.
If you are looking for the product in North America, contact Martin Sattler on Linkedin, however, if you are interested in the product in the UK, Neil Mcintosh at Cluistrom is your best bet. They are importing and servicing them in the UK. In fact Neill says, if you mention the Just Audiology Stuff article, he will give you a discount, I would take that while the taking is good.