Skip to main content

CSIRO accelerates assistance for ePAT Alzheimer’s app

Professor Jeff Hughes’ and his research team’s pain management app, ePAT, is one of only two projects to be selected for support by the CSIRO’S ON Accelerator program. The intensive program, which was open to universities for the first time this year, supports the development of ‘high potential’ commercial opportunities.

ePAT is a point of care app, designed for smart devices, which uses facial recognition technology to detect in real-time facial micro-expressions indicative of the presence of pain. These data are then combined with other non-facial pain cues, such as vocalisations, movements and behaviours, which are also captured through the app, to allow the automatic calculation of a pain severity score.

ePAT will be useful for patients with cognitive impairment, especially those with dementia whose pain often goes undetected due to communication issues. The team has also designed a version of the app for young children.

“The app we have developed is for use in adults who cannot communicate verbally, such as those with moderate to severe dementia. We are planning to build apps for children, these will be different from the adult app as children’s faces change over time. These apps have already been designed and we will commence their development once we have completed work on the adult app, and raised further funds,” Professor Hughes, School of Pharmacy, said.

There are more than 353,800 Australians living with dementia, with the number expected to increase to 400,000 in less than five years, and to almost 900,000 by 2050 if there is no medical breakthrough. An estimated 1.2 million people in Australia are involved in the care of a person with dementia. Globally, 47.5 million people have dementia and there are 7.7 million new cases every year. The total number of people with dementia is projected to be 75.6 million in 2030 and  135.5 million by 2050.

“The CSIRO ON Accelerator program is assisting us in developing and refining our business model, importantly validating our proposed channels to market and income models.” Professor Hughes said.

ePAT has been developed by Professor Hughes, Dr Kreshnik Hoti and Mustafa Atee with the financial assistance of an Alzheimer’s Australia Project Grant.

It is anticipated the app for dementia patients will be released by June 2017.