AI

Using augmented reality, Altoida is identifying the likely onset of neurodegenerative diseases

Comment

For the past 19 years, Ioannis Tarnanas, the founder and chief scientific officer at Altoida, has been developing virtual and augmented reality tools to offer predictions about the onset of mental illness in older patients.

The company, whose tools have been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (an earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the technology was approved) for predicting Alzheimer’s by measuring brain function, claims that it can determine with a 94% accuracy whether someone will present with the disease six to 10 years before the onset of mild cognitive impairment symptoms.

In 2019, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the U.S. nearly $290 billion, and that figure could rise as high as $1.1 trillion by 2050, according to Altoida.

The number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease is rapidly growing. In 2019 alone, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will cost the nation $290 billion. By 2050, these costs could rise as high as $1.1 trillion, but Altoida says that these costs can be prevented if the disease is caught early enough.

Altoida uses an iPad or a tablet accelerometer, a gyroscope and touch screen sensors to detect what the company calls “micro-errors” as patients complete a series of AR and VR challenges. It’s basically a game of hide-and-seek where patients put virtual objects in different physical spaces in a clinical environment and then try to collect them.

Right now, the company’s technology is only available as a clinically supervised test in a doctor’s office, but the company is beginning to look at bringing its diagnostic tools into the home.

“In this field there are two major waves. Passive digital biomarkers and active digital biomarkers. With passive biomarkers you collect data from sensors,” says Tarnanas. “To give you an example of what this means in real life, [with passive digital biomarkers] you wind up collecting huge amounts of data and you see spikes and associate that with more everyday function or not… you are never sure whether this is due to day to day activity.”

Tarnanas started conducting longitudinal clinical trials around cognitive testing in the early 2000s while he was working on his Masters at the University of Sussex. He then moved to San Diego and worked in the Virtual Reality Medical Center before moving on to Bern, Switzerland to conduct additional research. Tarnanas finally settled in Houston, where Altoida is now based.

“Developing enhanced methods to objectively evaluate cognitive function is a critical component of the next generation digital medicine — a component that is required to not only advance the basic research in neurodegenerative disease, but also one that is required for the development of improved clinical interventions,” said Dr. Walter Greenleaf, PhD, a neuroscientist and Distinguished Visiting Scholar working at the Stanford University Virtual Human Interaction Lab, in a statement. “Understanding neurodegenerative biotypes will dramatically improve our ability to conduct a differential diagnosis at the primary care level.  Improved diagnostics will provide healthcare professionals with the key information necessary to precisely adapt clinical interventions to personalize the patient’s cognitive care. This will ultimately lead to improved outcomes of care and to reduced healthcare costs.”

Some influential healthcare investors are already on board. Altoida has raised $6.3 million in a new round of financing from investors led by M Ventures, the corporate investment arm of the pharmaceutical company Merck, with additional participation from Grey Sky Venture Partners, VI Partners AG, Alpana Ventures and FYRFLY Venture Partners.

“The beauty of active digital biomarkers is that they can actually expand to more conditions,” says Tarnanas. The company is looking at expanding its prognostic toolkits to determining lasting impacts from traumatic brain injuries, and post-operative cognitive disorder, he says.

“As the world’s effort to introduce meaningful therapies for Alzheimer’s disease inches closer and closer to success, it is clear that the greatest benefit will come to those whose disease is detected at a very early stage,” said Jonathan L. Liss, MD, director at Columbus Memory Center and Founder of Columbus Memory Project, who has been using Altoida’s technology since September 2018. “The Altoida Neuro-Motor Index (NMI) device offers an ingenious way in which to detect early disease and track progression without prolonged cognitive testing, tissue sampling or radiologic intervention. The Altoida NMI device is a welcome advancement to the field of cognitive health.”

Altoida isn’t alone in trying to find a way to diagnose Alzheimer’s earlier. Recently, MyndYou, a New York-based company, announced a partnership with Mizuho to bring its passive prognostic toolkit to Japan. That company recently secured roughly $2 million to build out its own solution.

MyndYou partners with Mizuho to expand senior care services assessing cognitive degeneration

 

More TechCrunch

Ahead of the AI safety summit kicking off in Seoul, South Korea later this week, its co-host the United Kingdom is expanding its own efforts in the field. The AI…

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

12 hours ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

3 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

3 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities