A Redwood City, Calif. startup called Neurotrack Technologies Inc. has created a brain health app that is helping scientists unravel the mysteries of memory, and work to find a cure for Alzheimer’s.
Its simple browser-based app screens users for signs of cognitive decline based on their eye movement as they watch a few images presented on their screens. These tests used to take about 30 minutes, and were available only at the doctor’s office using hugely expensive equipment.
Neurotrack has been able to shrink their scans down to a 5-minute, home-based process thanks to technological advances around eye tracking technology, data analytics, machine learning and computer vision, according to the company’s CEO and cofounder Elli Kaplan.
Prior to forming Neurotrack in 2012 with her cofounders, neuroscientists Stuart Zola, Elizabeth Buffalo and Cecelia Manzanares, Kaplan worked in the White House and at the United Nations on global development and health programs.
The CEO said another thing that has helped Neurotrack develop its new app was the spread of high quality web cameras into internet-enabled devices from laptops to tablets.
A single screening with the new Neurotrack app is now free for users around the world. Eventually, the company will charge users for long-term brain health monitoring and recommendations on how to preserve or improve their cognition.
Interestingly, Neurotrack’s brain scan app is language agnostic, so it doesn’t require extensive translation and localization to work for doctors or patients around the world, Kaplan noted.
Cognitive decline, dementia and diseases like Alzheimer’s are seen at similar levels in senior populations around the world regardless of their economic resources.
Kaplan said, “We’d love for this app to have an impact everywhere, especially in places where access to healthcare and specialized care for seniors, who are very often living on fixed incomes, is harder to get.
We think this could be equally helpful for people who are on Medicare and Medicaid in the U.S., as it is for people in developing nations who don’t have local access to great healthcare, and to people who are concerned about memory in general, but may not have the ability, or even mobility, to get help,” Kaplan said.
Neurotrack has raised $9.5 million in equity funding to-date and $1 million in grant funding from NIH, Johnson & Johnson and the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) to develop its technology and begin publishing some of its neuroscientific findings.