University of California-San Diego researchers are working on a revolutionary app that will make screening for neurological diseases quicker and easier than ever!
That’s right! You may soon be able to get tested for things like ADHD and dementia by using nothing more than a phone!
As it turns out, this new app is supposed to make some incredible cognitive health assessments based only on at-home eye recordings.
To track pupil size dilations, the app uses the near-infrared camera that is now built into most smartphones out there as well as the regular front facing, “selfie” camera!
The next step is using those pupil measurements to accurately assess cognitive conditions as per the authors of the study.
Colin Barry, who is the first study author as well as an electrical and computer engineering Ph.D. student at UC San Diego, stated in a university release that “While there’s still a lot of work to be done, I’m excited about the potential of using accessible technology to bring neurological screening out of lab settings and into homes. We hope this opens the door to new explorations of using phones to detect and monitor potential health problems earlier on.”
Pupils tell a lot about a person’s cognitive functioning as they tend to change depending on the situation.
For instance, when you think hard about something or if you’re startled by an unexpected, loud bang, your pupils tend to expand in response.
The app is supposed to keep track of such changes to the pupil’s diameter after conducting a pupil response test and researchers think it can accurately screen for and also monitor a number of different neurological disorders and illnesses without the need for specialized and expensive equipment like the one usually found in a lab.
Psychiatry professor at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and the MHTech Center director, Eric Granholm, explained that “A scalable phone assessment tool that can be used for large scale community screenings could also facilitate the development of pupil response tests as minimally invasive and inexpensive tests to help in the detection and the understanding of diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. This could really have a huge public health impact.”
Sure enough, the measurements taken using the app were comparable in accuracy to those taken via a pupillometer, which is the golden standard for pupil size measuring.
Barry also shared that “For us, one of the most important factors in technology development is ensuring that these solutions are usable by anyone. This includes individuals like older adults who might not be accustomed to using smartphones.”