Over the last ten years, diagnosed children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have nearly doubled, according to the CDC. With its prevalence on the rise, it’s imperative for an increase in guardian knowledge on ASD. In Janurary of 2016, scientists and software developers at Duke University released a new iPhone app called “Autism & Beyond.” Through the use of mathematical algorithms, the app can automatically detect a child’s facial expressions and emotional cues through muscle movements. Currently, the application is being used in a six-month medical research study. Eventually, doctors hope that this application could be used in detecting early autism signs.
Research patients are presented with a short video clip “designed to elicit emotional responses and social interactions.” With this information, the app measures children responses through video analysis and machine learning. Scientists have made it very clear that the app isn’t to be used as a self-diagnosis resource, but as a screening tool for autism. Because there is currently no specific way to diagnose autism, researchers are hoping that the development of innovative technologies can aid in the screening for ASD.