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Early screening for dyslexia with eye-tracking, cloud-based tool from Optolexia

By Stefan Wijnen, Industry Solution Manager Cloud Platform, Microsoft on March 16, 2016

Filed under Health

Optolexia aims to help schools identify students at risk for dyslexia earlier with a cloud tool that analyzes reading eye movements.

Optolexia aims to help schools identify students at risk for dyslexia earlier with a cloud tool that analyzes reading eye movements

One of the things I love about my job is seeing how today’s technologies can enable new ways of doing things that make a real impact on people’s lives.

Case in point: The dyslexia-screening tool developed by Optolexia, which was named a “Future Swedish Innovator” by SvD, one of the largest newspapers in Sweden. Taking advantage of the cloud computing and machine learning Optolexia aims to help schools identify students at risk for dyslexia significantly earlier than current screening tests. Its solution is a great example of a project that falls into the upper left quadrant of the four-block diagram tool I covered in a previous blog, which is to say that it’s a project that benefits tremendously from being in the cloud with relatively low risk and it was able to be implemented quickly.

As many as 10–15 percent of school-age children are dyslexic, and the International Dyslexia Association estimates there are 1 billion people with dyslexia worldwide. Dyslexia affects a person’s life in many ways. The sooner children are diagnosed with dyslexia, the sooner they can begin learning coping strategies to improve their reading skills and academic performance.

Using the computing power, storage capabilities, data security, and ease of access of the cloud, Optolexia built a portable screening tool that schools can use for quick and easy dyslexia assessments. The solution uses the Microsoft Azure cloud platform and Microsoft Azure Machine Learning predictive analytics. As a student reads text on the screen of a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer with an eye tracker mounted at the bottom, the tool captures the student’s eye movements. The data is sent to the Machine Learning engine in the cloud, which returns a numerical result that identifies the likelihood that the student has dyslexia.

The screening tool is being used in schools in the Municipality of Järfälla in Sweden. “Because Optolexia screening is such an easy process, we may be able to reliably identify dyslexic students earlier in school and provide the educational support that they need for academic success,” says Karin Tosteberg, Literacy Development Coordinator, Municipality of Järfälla.

Mattias Blomgren, Head of Children and Student Health for the Municipality of Järfälla, adds, “By helping children do better in school, we improve their chance of having a good job and a good life and contributing positively to society. For children with dyslexia, early intervention is key to making that happen.”

Optolexia ultimately plans to make the screening tool more widely available with the scalability of the cloud. It is also looking into the possibility of adapting the tool to use eye-movement tracking to help identify people at risk for other conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, ADHD, autism, and possibly even schizophrenia.

See how the dyslexia-screening solution works and hear the forward-thinkers at Optolexia discuss how they were able to move their analytical models to Azure in a matter of hours in this two-minute video. In addition, read the full story in the case study.

Optolexia’s solution is a great example of how a cloud-based clinical decision support system can enable innovative ways of doing things that are efficient, accessible, and beneficial to society.

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