Your phone may be the first to know you're going gaga
The way you use your device signals the onset of dementia long before any doctor's test can
How you use your cellphone could reveal early symptoms of dementia, according to researchers at Oxford University.
They contend that the length of your text messages and the speed with which you find a phone number can be important warning signs, and believe that using artificial intelligence to monitor smartphone usage will identify abnormalities long before doctors can.
It could one day replace the “imprecise and ineffective” current methods of diagnosing the disease, which involve putting patients through a short memory test, they said.
Their research shows that, on average, patients wait at least eight months after first noticing symptoms before visiting a doctor.
Dr Ivan Koychev, a clinical lecturer in old age, said AI could play a vital role.
“It can record how quick you are when you are looking for somebody’s name; how good you are at picking up the words that you need in a text message; how long are your text messages? What is the vocabulary that you use?
“That, we know, is one of the first things to go in Alzheimer’s because vocabulary gets smaller. Or how good are you at unlocking your phone? [These are] little, subtle things,” he said.
Researchers are also exploring the possibility of putting Bluetooth “beacons” around the house to track people’s movements. If they enter a room several times, it is “perhaps a sign that you went into a room, but you’re not quite sure why you went there”.
A smartphone’s GPS data could also be used to show how someone walks around town. “We know that navigational aim is one of the first things that starts to change in people with dementia. People are not as able to find their way effectively,” Dr Koychev said.
The research was highlighted by Michael Wooldridge, a professor of computer science at Oxford University, in a talk at Henley Literary Festival about the uses of artificial intelligence.
He said a new generation of “smartwatches and fitness trackers would, within two decades, be able to diagnose illnesses through their “incredible degree of accuracy”, adding: “[By] feeding all of that data 24 hours a day, seven days a week into your smartphone, we will get personalised healthcare on a global scale.”
– © The Daily Telegraph