Sonde Health using voice as a biomarker for diagnosis

Back in 2013, we profiled Max Little of the UK-based Parkinson’s Voice Initiative, who was in the fairly early stages of voice testing and analysis to aid early diagnosis of this disease. By 2015, he had over 17,000 voice samples, was partnering with the Michael J Fox Foundation, and was seeking to develop a non-invasive, quick, accurate test based on acoustic markers. Dr Little is an Oxford University PhD, currently a Wellcome Trust/MIT fellow at the MIT Media Lab. The Voice Initiative has additional support from PatientsLikeMe, Twilio and Aculabcloud.  But also developed at MIT, by Thomas Quatieri’s team at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, is a broader platform for voice diagnosis. This has been applied to mental health conditions such as depression, respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, and in pilots for TBI, cognitive impairment and…Parkinson’s. This has been licensed to Sonde Health, which hasn’t much on their website but is out of the Boston-based PureTech R&D/venture firm. The acoustic markers they cite are ‘dynamic changes in pitch and harmonics, articulation timing and hoarseness or breathiness that indicate and requires no analysis of words’. MedCityNews, MedTechBoston

ATA’s daily schedule now available online

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”250″ /]Attending or interested in attending this year’s American Telemedicine Association annual meeting in Minneapolis 14-17 May? The daily Saturday-Tuesday schedule is now online here. Plenary session speakers include Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the groundbreaking MIT Media Lab and John Noseworthy, CEO of the Mayo Clinic. There are also Spotlight Sessions on Monday on ‘Consumer Stakeholders Confront Telehealth”, “Is a Prior Provider-Patient Relationship Still Required?” and “The Year in Review: Excellence in Telemedicine Research.” If you’re going, also check out their exposition floor which opens on Sunday with a late afternoon reception. Register by clicking the sidebar advert. TTA is a media partner of ATA2016.

Will robotics lead to the ‘transcendent human’?

Hugh Herr heads the biomechatronics research group at the MIT Media Lab, designing bionic limbs that emulate natural human limbs. In his presentation for DigitasLBi’s New FrontUK conference last week, he wants to go them one better: “We will design nature and change nature under our own power. In the future people will be wearing robots. You don’t need a missing leg to exploit this technology – we will give ourselves new bodies.” He can speak from personal experience, having lost both legs in a climbing accident 30 years ago and designing his own prosthetic BiOM legs to be more powerful and exceeding his previous rock climbing ability. “With technology I am released from these shackles of disability. We will end disability in this century.” The need here is huge, including exoskeletons as assistive devices; the consideration is cost. Marketing (UK) Magazine

Related: his 2014 TedX talk.

MIT’s ‘FingerReader’ to aid sight-impaired in reading

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]MIT Media Lab is developing a chunky plastic ring that in concept and early stage prototype, assists the sight-impaired in reading normal 12 pt. text in a book, magazine or on screen. The ring is worn on the hand (resembles a collar) and the reader points their finger along the line to be read. The camera embedded in the ring scans line by line and ‘speaks’ through speakers on a PC or tablet connected to the ring. If the finger strays too far from a line, there is a dial-tone like feedback sound. It is different than the conceptually similar Reading Pen as being more strongly in real time and reading faster–whole lines rather than word by word. While primarily for the blind and low vision, one of the MIT developers, Roy Shilkrot, a doctoral candidate, envisions simultaneous (machine) translation to another language. With a market of 285 million visually impaired worldwide–85 percent are over 50 (WHO)–there’s a ready-made market right there and for technologies like the Oxford ‘assisted vision’ project [TTA 11 July]. Mr. Shilkrot is shy on the commercialization subject, but given the positive media reception, he should perhaps think it over. TechCrunch (includes video demo), Mashable, MIT’s release and FAQ. Hat tip to reader Luca Sergio of Ethis Communications/Ethis Healthtech, New York

Advanced haptics advancing behavioral mHealth

Haptics is the feedback you receive through a sense of touch–think of the slight vibration you receive on a mobile touchscreen when you touch a ‘button’. Marry haptics to behavioral health and remote monitoring, and you have some interesting devices from MIT’s Touch Lab (formally the Laboratory for Human and Machine Haptics) which have reached clinical testing stage. The four are Touch Me, Squeeze Me, Hurt Me, and Cool Me Down. Touch Me is an array of sensors that vibrate at the caregiver’s remote command to simulate touch. The related Squeeze Me is a vest that inflates, also remotely controlled, to simulate holding, similar to the T.Ware T-Jacket vest [TTA 22 Mar]. Both are for autistic children or those with sensory processing disorders. The touch is to calm and reassure them. Hurt Me is not for the local “dungeon” or Client #9–it’s to assist in the therapy of those who deliberately harm themselves such as ‘cutters’ by simulating the feeling of being bitten on the arm. The pins against the skin deliver controlled pain without breaking the skin. (more…)