Healthcare Research

New smart watch to detect early signs of dementia

Now 1 million people in the UK will get the opportunity to trial a new smart watch which will test their risk of dementia.

50 million people in the world are diagnosed with dementia. It is the leading cause of death in the UK. There are currently no treatments to slow or stop the brain diseases that cause it. Often the symptoms are not spotted early enough which can leave people venerable.

The smart watch and smart phone app will look at more than 30 different indicators and use artificial intelligence to test the wearers risk. The plan is that within 3 years the prototype will be worn by over a million of over 40’s in Britain.

The watch could help with early intervention of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia which develop up to 20 years before symptoms show but are often not diagnosed until the condition has progressed and there is extensive damage.

The watch has been launched today by Alzheimer’s research UK and its been funded by Microsoft founder Bill Gates. The initiative has been a collaboration between a number of organisations including the Alan Turing Institute, University College London, and Newcastle, Exeter and Cambridge universities.

Carol Routledge, director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Our research shows that 85 per cent of UK adults would be willing to take a test that could tell them if they were in the early stages of a disease like Alzheimer’s, even before symptoms show.

“EDoN aims to harness the growing popularity of digital health technology and big data to revolutionise how we develop early tests for these diseases.

“Developing digital fingerprints that can be detected using phone apps or wearable technologies like smartwatches would provide a low-cost approach to identifying those most at risk of disease.

“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.”

Find out more about the EDoN initiative here.

Minister for Care, Caroline Dinenage said: “We want to make this the best country in the world to live well with dementia and early detection and diagnosis is a huge step toward improving the lives of those with the condition.

“Harnessing cutting-edge technology to spot the early signs of dementia can be used to transform research to improve outcomes and even one day, stop this disease in its tracks.

“This is an incredibly exciting initiative which has the potential to bring together global partners to transform how we treat dementia as well as to live well with it.

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