Tucson-based startup SafKan has developed a pair of headphones that can professionally clean a patient’s ear in just 35 seconds.
Winner of Protolabs’ Cool Idea! Award, SafKan is working on meeting customization requirements during the pivotal beta program stage for its device, OtoSet. The headphones have disposable silicone nozzles that spray a warm saline solution against the walls of the ear canal while sucking the solution and wax back into the nozzles and disposable outflow containers, avoiding messy spills, the company said.
SafKan designed OtoSet to replace the ear & bladder syringe that has been the standard of care for nearly 200 years. Irrigation or ear syringing is commonly used for cleaning and can be performed by a physician or at home using a commercially available irrigation kit, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology. Earwax accumulation can cause symptoms such as:
- A feeling of plugged hearing or fullness in the ear.
- Partial hearing loss that gets worse.
- Tinnitus, ringing, or noises in the ear.
- Itching, odor, or discharge.
- Hearing loss.
OtoSet went through several iterations, using Protolabs’ (NYSE: PRLB) Polyjet 3D printing and CNC machining, to create14 unique parts for the headphones. Once made, the parts for multiple devices were shipped to Tucson, where they are assembled and tested by SafKan. The startup also relied on the grant to finance clinical trials to quickly place working prototypes in the hands of physicians, according to a company statement.
“Without this grant, it would take more time,” said Sahil Diwan, who co-founded SafKan with his brother, Aadil. “This allows us to build these devices, have them be the real deal, and get them to physicians quickly.”
SafKan has completed two clinical trials, and OtoSet is slated to be introduced in a beta program in several cities, including Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tucson, Houston, and Philadelphia. SafKan also plans to roll out a consumer version of the device.
“One of the largest segments we serve as a digital manufacturing company is the medical and health
care industry,” said Vicki Holt, president and CEO of Maple Plain, Minn.–based Protolabs. “So when the opportunity comes to support amazing products like OtoSet — devices that are solving real problems for its users — I’m more than thrilled with the fact that we can provide a manufacturing grant to do that.”