Stare at the period at the end of this sentence for a few seconds. Now, it may have seemed to you that your eyes were fixated on that spot, but in fact, your eyes continued to make tiny motions called “microsaccades.” These involuntary movements differ from one individual to the next. And at CES 2015, I came across a company that thinks these motions can be used in a practical way. The researchers at Saccadous have developed a way to track and analyze these little eye movements and use the results as a non-invasive way to diagnose a variety of neurological conditions.
The company has created a scanner bar that can mount below an LCD display — such as a tablet — that will track eye movements very quickly with fine resolution. It relies on an infrared camera operating at 200 Hz (200 images per second). The researchers have studied the results from a large number of healthy people and people with various neurological diseases or impairments. They have found that differences in these microsaccades correlate with different conditions. They are building a cloud-based system of data and analytics to make use of these correlations.
As a result, the company hopes to build a mobile system that can rapidly diagnose conditions such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s that might otherwise depend on a physician’s subjective observations. The Saccadous system provides an evidence-based approach to diagnosis. It could also be helpful in evaluation possible concussions and other traumatic brain injuries. Best of all, the system could be inexpensive — under $1,000 — and fast. The company is looking for funding help to bring their prototype models into production.