Help for facing neurological disordersErin Smith was an 18-year-old high school student when she noticed that Parkinson’s disease patients in a video by the Michael J. Fox Foundation had a distant look on their faces when expressing emotion.
Smith talked to Parkinson’s doctors and found they had made similar observations. Her research into the medical literature revealed that the parts of the brain that change after the onset of Parkinson’s are also involved in forming facial expressions.
Smith developed an artificial intelligence-powered “selfie” technology called FacePrint to capture those expressions and help doctors diagnose and monitor the degenerative muscular disorder. FacePrint requires only a computer and a webcam and has an 88% accuracy rate, according to published reports.
Now 19, Smith has taken a leave from her studies at Stanford University to work on a clinical trial of FacePrint at the university. The trial was partially funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation and a $100,000 fellowship from the Thiel Foundation. The Lenexa, Kansas native has been featured in numerous publications, including a story this week in Forbes. She hopes to adapt FacePrint for other conditions, such as depression, PTSD and Alzheimer’s disease.
“I really want to optimize for my personal learning,” Smith told Forbes, “as well as for the best way I can help shape and build the future of neurological and mental healthcare.”