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U of Toronto start-up develops improved test for cognitive impairment


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: February 7th, 2018

A start-up from the University of Toronto (U of T) is using artificial intelligence to track cognitive impairment among residents of retirement homes.

WinterLight Labs has developed a tablet-based test that takes roughly four minutes to complete, whereas a standard paper-based test takes around 20 minutes. According to WinterLight CEO Liam Kaufman, the technology picks up on subtle speech cues to spot early signs of dementia. “They pause more frequently,” Kaufman says of affected patients. “They’ll use fewer nouns, so they’re forgetting the names of people, places and things. And they compensate by using more pronouns.”

For testing purposes, WinterLight has provided its technology to Revera, a retirement living provider with nearly 100 communities in six provinces across Canada. Revera’s employees can use the test to more quickly identify changes in patients’ cognitive abilities and thereby provide the appropriate level of care. At the same time, patients have generally found the electronic test to be more palatable than the written tests Revera normally uses.

The collaboration between WinterLight and Revera has received funding support through Ontario’s $20 million Health Technologies Fund. WinterLight has also received significant assistance and mentorship through U of T’s network of on-campus startup incubators including the Department of Computer Science Innovation Lab (DCSIL), the Health Innovation Hub (H2i) and the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL).

Source: U of T news

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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