One of the most anguishing consequences of advanced Alzheimer’s disease is that patients fail to recognise their loved ones’ faces. This is due both to patients’ fading memory and to the deterioration of their faculty for “holistic perception”—the visual process that helps us recall a “mental name tag” when we see a known person’s face. Needless to say, such forgetfulness is painful and distressing for both patients and their families. That is why an American startup is combining augmented reality (AR) and machine learning to tackle this symptom.
New Jersey-based ThirdEye presented its X1 Smart Glasses at CES 2018 in Las Vegas. “AR technology has reached a point where it can be miniaturised enough to be able to fit on people’s faces, but it is also powerful enough to have features that make a difference,” says founder and CEO Nick Cherukuri. The company has fitted its headset with a neural network that can be trained to recognise human faces. The headset can process several pictures of an Alzheimer’s patient’s loved ones and learn to label those people every time they are in front of the glasses.