Technology has increasingly helped medicine to identify diseases prematurely, helping with early treatment and finding new ways to cure diseases.
In the last few years, we have talked here at TC about several different ways of using smartphones and games for medical treatment and if you love this subject, you will be happy to know that researchers at a university in Durham, USA, recently created an app capable of identifying symptoms of autism in young children.
According to the developers, the app has the potential to become a low-cost tool to help identify the disease prematurely in children.
According to the researchers, children with the autistic spectrum observe their surroundings differently. It was from this principle that they started to develop the app.
We know how babies with autism pay attention to the environment differently and don’t pay much attention to people.
Ph.D., director of the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development and senior co-author of the study that appeared on April 26 in JAMA Pediatrics.
The application was developed to evaluate the patterns of the children’s eyes that will be tested, while they watch short films that are produced specifically for the diagnosis, adapted for an iPhone or iPad. Artificial intelligence can determine whether the child looks more at humans in videos or at objects.
We can track eye movement patterns in young children to assess the risks of autism, said Dawson. This is the first time that we can provide this type of access using only a smartphone or tablet. This study served as a proof of concept and we are very excited.
The films developed for the application were specially designed to be able to detect where the child’s attention is directed. Among the films, for example, are images of a cheerful woman who spins on one side of the screen, while an object she holds dominates the other side. Children who are not on the autistic spectrum are able to focus their attention on everything that happens on the screen, with a primary focus on women.
Children who are identified with the disease, on the other hand, focus their main attention on the object. These differences in patterns are crucial for the early diagnosis of the condition, which can facilitate the discovery of changes that will need to be made as soon as possible in the family’s routine for the child’s well-being.
This was the technical achievement that took many years to complete. She demanded that our research team develop the films in a specific way, to divert attention patterns from the eye using only a mobile device.
It’s amazing how far we’ve gone to achieve this ability to access eye movements without specialized equipment, using a common device that people have in their pockets.
Ph.D., associate postdoctoral fellow at Duke’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and study leader.
Although simple, the study can help thousands of children around the world.
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