Technology has been a strong ally for companies to create new business models. However, it has played a prominent role in providing solutions that will help to understand the body better and identify possible diseases when it comes to quality of life.
In 2020, Mundo + Tech even brought an article about how MIT developed an Artificial Intelligence to create an antibiotic capable of killing superbugs. On the other hand, Stanford University used the technology to set up a test that helps in diagnosing visual acuity.
Recently, 3 Brazilian initiatives were highlighted in the news portals. These are projects that aim to help doctors and patients understand how to improve the quality of life through monitoring supported by technology.
1. Virtual Assistant Helps Optimize Autism Diagnosis
Diagnosing an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in a person is still a challenge and makes treatment to help their development and abilities difficult. Not to mention compromising your quality of life.
To help identify signs of autism, psychologist Andressa Roveda and entrepreneur Leandro Mattos, from Santa Catarina startup CogniSigns, created VERA (Virtual Empathic Robot Assistant), a virtual assistant who will talk to the patient and caregiver.
The conversation works as a social network. People answer a series of questions based on health protocols applied by the global medical community, recommended by the Unified Health System (SUS) and the Brazilian Society of Pediatrics (SBP).
In a second moment, the technology will use computer vision while the patient watches a video to capture, classify and understand the image to transform it into data. The solution is aimed at children, youth, and adults.
As Roveda explains to UOL's VivaBem website, the technology doesn't perform “diagnostics for the TEA; it only performs fast, intelligent and low-cost digital screening. The data collected can serve as a support tool for physicians during diagnosis and treatment.”
The VivaBem article also heard two TEA specialists about the technology. Luciana Garcia, neuropsychologist, a doctoral student in autism, co-author of the book “Autism: a whole look” and director of Clínica Synapses (SP), and Adriana Mandia Martirani, neuro pediatrician at Hospital Sírio-Libanês and Hospital de Julho (SP), believe that the tool can lead a person to seek medical help to have an early diagnosis or even start treatment.
2. PLN wants to identify whether young people have a depressive profile
Researchers in computing, medicine, and psychology at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar), in partnership with FAPESP, developed a natural language processing algorithm (PLN) to identify whether a person has a depressive profile.
The technology will analyze the texts published on social networks to alert if rapid intervention is needed for possible mental health disorders. This will be possible because a watch with sensors will send physiological signals from the clinical study participants.
“We are, at this moment, with the researchers in the area of health that are part of the project, identifying which words and expressions these are,” told Vânia Paula de Almeida Neris, professor at the Department of Computing responsible for the initiative, on the FAPESP website.
The Specialized Virtual Friend (Amive), the initial phase of the project, will have a social network profile to interact with the study participants. From the PLN, he will learn a set of words and expressions that indicate a possible depressive profile (PPD) to analyze patients.
"The challenge is to capture human knowledge and make a machine reproduce it, that is, to transfer to the computational model the clues that we detect in words and texts that appear to be negative mental states, depressive, anguish, of some problem," said Helena de Medeiros Caselli, a member of the team.
However, by having more knowledge about words and expressions, new algorithms will feed Amive, which, over time, will start to create automatic posts and send messages in private mode to help the person identify a depressive profile.
On the other hand, the sensors will be used to deliver objective results to researchers, such as heart rate and other measurements taken by the accelerometer and gyroscope during a state of depression or anxiety.
3. Application brings agility in diagnosing sleep apnea
Sleep apnea affects one in every three Brazilians, and identifying it, until then, in the traditional method is a time-consuming process. After all, the person needs to be lying on a bed and attached to a series of wires and sensors, with the result coming out overnight.
A project designed and validated by Dr. Geraldo Lorenzi Filho, director of the Sleep Laboratory at Instituto do Coração (InCor) at Hospital das Clínicas, helps speed up the diagnosis of apnea. With a small device placed on your finger and connected to an application, it is possible to have:
Movement during sleep.
According to Lorenzi Filho, the solution was tested in 304 patients who also underwent the traditional method of diagnosis. The technology's success rate, according to the doctor, was 90%. Check out the article from Jornal da Record about the application.