New app helps people watching out for the signs of oncoming dementia

Age-related dementia is in the cards for many. It is an incurable condition, which is one of the worst things about aging. It is debilitating to the patient as well as his entire family. Now scientists at UCL have developed an artificial intelligence based app, which can help screening people for dementia as well as monitoring the progress of the disease.

The Mindset4Dementia app helps monitoring person's cognitive condition through various cognitive exercises. For now this app cannot diagnose anything. Image credit: Christian Widell via Wikimedia

The Mindset4Dementia app takes user’s  age, health and lifestyle into account and then presents a series of fun cognitive exercises. It is able to look into such factors as short and long-term memory, concentration and attention span, language and communication skills and awareness of time and place. It uses an AI algorithm to screen patient’s answers for various anomalies, which could indicate neurodegenerative diseases. Obviously, a smartphone app is not a diagnostics tool – Mindset4Dementia cannot diagnose anything. At least for now – in the future this app could have even more capabilities.

The Mindset4Dementia app collects data, which will help scientists to develop this software even further. They hope that eventually it will become the next generation diagnostics tool. Scientists have already been working on this app for two years and now it’s been released on the App Store. In fact, after just a few days the Mindset4Dementia app ranked as the 5th most popular medical app on the App Store. Scientists say that one of the keys to its success is compassion, which is built throughout the app. The Mindset4Dementia app uses elaxing colour schemes, has easy to use controls and the content itself is filled with jokes, emojis and other features that help patients to remain relaxed.

The Mindset4Dementia app is not just some fancy questionnaire – not only it gathers data provided by the user, it also checks for some physical signs of the cognitive decline. Hamzah Selim, one of the creators of the app, said that the Mindset4Dementia app can look out for the lack of vertical eye movement, which is a common sign of dementia – “Mindset4Dementia animates an object for the patient to track and leverages Apple’s ARKit technology to quantify the user’s eye movement, mimicking a robust clinical analysis. By directly assessing a range of symptoms, our technology goes beyond competitor solutions who rely on self-reported symptoms.”

The Mindset4Dementia app or any other app is not going to replace doctors any time soon. It might be a helpful tool, but it is certainly not the kind of help and attention you would receive in the actual doctor’s office. However, capabilities of AI are limitless and one day an app like Mindset4Dementia  could provide people with enough information to encourage them to get checked.


Source: UCL