Nanoplug claimed to be making a “100% invisible hearing aid” when it launched its Indiegogo campaign last year. Now those claims are being called into question after an updated design revealed a different looking product from what was originally promised

Editor’s Note: We updated our blog post after a reader emailed us to say she was concerned that the hearing aid Nanoplug ended up offering is a “cheaper” version of the product that was originally promised on their Indiegogo page last year and that the campaign “looks like it was a scam.”

CNET contributor Chris Matyszczyk also wrote about Nanoplug last December and published an update last week, which explains the issues behind this controversy in full detail.

Nanoplug claimed on their Indiegogo page that their hearing aid is a “100% invisible hearing aid” and “half the size of the smallest devices currently on market.” After Nanoplug posted an updated image of their device last week that looks completely different from the image that was originally featured on the page, Nanoplug investors “began to vent their anger on the Indiegogo comments page,” Matyszczyk wrote. He also reported:

I contacted Jongha Lee, the industrial designer behind Nanoplug, who featured in its original launch video. He said he no longer works with Nanoplug and declared it “a scam.” He told me by e-mail: “Personally I did want to expose their scam on the Indiegogo comments section, but I didn't want to make all the backers to get nervous because of me. I don't know what I should do at the moment.”

Matyszczyk also heard from Nanoplug founder Nevena Zivic, who defended the design change:

She told me via e-mail: “It is not our fault that existing design did not [get] approved because it is too small for individual use. But since we invested their money in parts and production, we are forced to use the parts as required. So, we can say, we are very fair in this campaign, and was honest from the beginning. They will all receive hearing aids, but little bit different.”

Nanoplug also addressed the issue in an update on their Indiegogo page.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many options for Nanoplug investors who were expecting to receive a hearing aid with the specs that were originally promised on the Indiegogo page. The information below comes straight from Indiegogo’s Refunds page:

Contributions on Indiegogo are nonrefundable according to our Terms of Use. A contribution is a transaction that takes place purely between the contributor, campaign owner and payment processor. If you'd like a refund for your contribution, please contact the campaign owner directly with your request. [Related Forum Article: Contact the Campaign Owner, How to Check on Your Perks]

We reached out to the Nanoplug team via email through the Indiegogo site for a comment, but have not heard back yet. But in the meantime, we highly recommend that you read Matyszczyk’s CNET story to get a full view of this controversy.

For the sake of transparency, we’ve included the original headline and text of our Nanoplug blog post that we published on January 5, 2015 below. But again, please keep in mind that the size and specs of the Nanoplug device are now being called into question.

The Invisible Hearing Aid. Out of Sight. Out of Mind.

Though we all live in hope that no-one judges anyone or treats them differently by virtue of spotting their hearing aid or other assistive device, the world remains an unpredictable place, and there will always be some who are ignorant and mis-informed.

The Nanoplug, an incredibly teeny hearing aid that's invisible to others, takes that guesswork away, giving the user the benefit of the doubt, and the ability to build confidence and social skills without having to lend concern to the intention of others. 

Given the statistic that 94% of people with hearing loss can be helped with hearing aids - this affordable and non-invasive tech is sure to be received with open arms (we could have gone with "received with open ear canals," but we're trying to stay classy).

The key to the technology is credited to the nano-battery being utilized - which provides 6 days of charge without recharge, is about the size of a grain of sand and is comprised of eco-friendly components (no heavy metals, no toxic substances). 

The likely retail cost of the device is $399 USD and, following a successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, (where they had an original goal of $80,000 and raised a whopping $293,000) the inventors are on schedule to start shipping units of the Nanoplug in March 2015.