Smartwatches to detect early signs of dementia

Smartwatches to detect early signs of dementia

Alzheimer’s Research UK has teamed up with a number of other organisations and launched a global initiative that’s set to revolutionise the early detection of dementia.

New device monitors 30 different indicators

The new project is to be trailed by a million people living in UK who will be wearing special devices, which are similar to a smartwatch, that detect early signs of the memory-affecting condition. The device uses artificial intelligence to monitor more than 30 indicators, including speech, gait, fine motor skills and sleep.

The initiative is a partnership between Alzheimer’s Research UK and other organisations which include the Alan Turing Institute, University College London and Newcastle, Cambridge and Exeter universities. This collaboration aims to secure £100million of investment by 2030 in order to build and trial its diagnostic device on a larger scale. The funds already secured have been given by Bill Gates and Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and can begin to develop up to twenty years before symptoms actually present themselves. With recent leaps forward in finding potential treatments for the disease, researchers believe managing and preventing dementia will be the most successful when the condition is caught early.

On the cusp of a dementia revolution

Ex-Prime Minister David Cameron, now President of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “I strongly believe we are on the cusp of a revolution in how we detect the brain diseases that cause dementia and radically improve the lives of the millions on families facing these heart-breaking diseases.

“Early and accurate diagnosis will give future treatments the head-start they need to succeed. Early Detection of Neurodegenerative diseases (EDoN) brings together those at the forefront of this early diagnosis movement.

“During my time as Prime Minister, I witnessed first-hand the devastating impact of dementia on families and made a personal commitment to transform the pace of research efforts across the globe.”

According to research conducted by Alzheimer’s UK, 80% of adults would be willing to take a test to see if they were in the early stages of the disease and developing devices like their new smartwatch could be a low-cost way of identifying those most at risk. Carol Routledge, director of Alzheimer’s UK, said: “Identifying the very earliest changes in these diseases would transform research efforts today, giving us the best chance of stopping these diseases before the symptoms of dementia start to get in the way of life.”

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