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Researchers created an incredible app that can help detect Alzheimer’s

Updated Dec 29th, 2022 11:37AM EST
Pixel 4a 5G
Image: Google

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A group of researchers a UC San Diego has managed to make an app that can detect Alzheimer’s using an IR camera on a Pixel 4. The app utilizes the Pixel 4’s front-facing IR camera, which was used for the phone’s face unlock feature.

This app can detect Alzheimer’s

Detecting Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases can be difficult. As such, researchers are always looking for new ways to detect these terrifying diseases. One of the most intriguing ways they’ve developed is an app that detects Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases. And it does it all by looking at your pupil’s responses.

Detecting Alzheimer’s early can make a massive impact on slowing down the symptoms. And, while music therapy and other treatments are being worked on, there’s still no cure for these terrifying diseases. So, when The Verge released a video detailing a new app from researchers at UC San Diego’s DigiHealth Lab, I was intrigued to learn more.

Researchers in the lab designed the app and it uses the built-in IR camera on the Pixel 4 to measure your eye’s pupillary responses. Your eye is connected to many of the same parts of your brain that are affected by diseases like Alzheimer’s. So, your pupils can help the app detect Alzheimer’s and more.

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An app uses face unlock cameras to detect Alzheimer'sImage source: Apple Inc.

The researchers in The DigiHealth lab at UC San Diego have taken a heavy focus on making health-focused apps and technology that work with the latest and most ubiquitous technology. That means coming up with new ways to detect diseases using the tech we already use every day. This is where the idea for an app that can detect Alzheimer’s was born.

That’s one of the problems that researchers at DigiHealth Lab are running into, though, and part of why they used the Pixel 4 to create this app. That’s because not all phones utilize an IR camera. Google used these cameras as part of the face unlock system on the Pixel 4.

Since face unlock isn’t available on newer Pixels, the app can’t work on those models.

iPhones on the other hand utilize IR cameras for FaceID, which means the app could work on iOS devices. But there’s yet another snag. While the app can detect Alzheimer’s, iOS’s closed-off nature means no third-party apps can utilize that system. Even still, this app is a fantastic example of how we can utilize everyday tech to keep up with our health.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.