A young sister and brother doing their homework.
PREDICTIVE

How Data is Helping Kids Overcome Developmental Disorders

From the moment they are born, children soak up information from the world around them. Many grow up from a young age with technology, such as tablets, smart phones, and more. It is this combination of smart devices and curiosity that helps children build their knowledge.

For some kids, though, learning is a process that takes a bit more time and energy than for their peers. It is these developmental disorders – ADHD, autism, learning disabilities, or others – that new technology using artificial intelligence and deep learning is helping children overcome.

Take India, for example. The growing economic power has the highest population of children with five major development disabilities: epilepsy, intellectual disability, hearing loss, vision loss, and autism.1 CogniABle, a healthcare startup based in India, is using deep learning to help address this issue.

The company is automating the process of early screening, assistive diagnosis, and assistive treatment for children facing development challenges. And there are many benefits to be had.

  • Affordability: Automated early screening and treatment may help reduce the expenses of multiple doctor visits to screen and treat affected children.
  • Accessibility: Using cloud-based software, CogniABle is accessible at home, clinics, or hospitals for medical experts and non-experts alike.
  • Data-Driven: Using deep learning, CogniABle creates a customized treament plan for each child – based on data linked to clinical landmarks. The goal is a higher quality of care.

To learn how medical data is helping create more personalized treatments, we sat down with Manu Kohli, who serves as the startup’s Chief Technology Officer. (Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.)

Interview with Manu Kohli, Chief Technology Officer of CogniABle

1. Can you give us a little background on CogniABle?

MANU: CogniAble is a digital service that uses video data for early screening and treatment of children with autism, ADHD and other developmental disorders. We develop our model using artificial intelligence and deep learning.

Recent medical studies have suggested that a significant amount of children in India face developmental challenges. Some estimates place this number at over 11 million1. With limited clinicians available in our country, many kids remain undiagnosed. And even if they are diagnosed, it is often when they are much older – with untapped cognitive potential.

Through our analysis, early intervention has been shown to support cognitive development. However, those services are not always accessible and affordable. With CogniABle, even a medical non-expert can use our screening service from any remote location by submitting a video using just the Internet. This video is automatically analyzed by our proprietary deep learning algorithms that help measure behavioral and clinical landmarks of children with high accuracy and delivers a screening outcome.

Another aspect of our model empowers parents, schools and other institutions with the availability of an integrated assessment and treatment services available remotely. The treatment plan is absolutely non-invasive in nature – no injections or medication. Our proprietary model customizes treatment in language, academics, and social skills.

2. How is your team putting your business plan into action?

MANU: At CogniABle, our services capture the complete value chain that includes screening and treatment services for autism and other developmental disorders. Here are the steps involved:

Innovate and Align

Development of a prototype to be presented to our primary customer segment group for feedback. We completed this step from January 2018 – December 2018 for both our screening and treatment services. Appropriate feedback was taken from customers during this test release stage to fine-tune our product’s features and user interface.

Beta Test

The prototype for our treatment service was converted to a product and launched to a selected segment of clinics in India and the United States. We received significant feedback that is currently incorporated in our updated service offering.

Controlled Release

In the US, CogniABle’s treatment service will be released to additional clinics. In India, the treatment service will be released to communities of parents after a validation study with a government hospital.

The screening services are undergoing development and it will take around 18 months for our product to be available in-market. This will include:

  1. Development of an AI-based model to perform action detection tasks. (1,000+ subject samples)
  2. Testing our AI model at a blind site.
  3. Fine tuning of the model.
  4. Release the personalized model to the general market.

TESTING: Both our screening and testing services will be tested with a wide range of children to ensure generalization and acceptance. We will validate the product treatment recommendations manually before releasing it to parents or clinicians to execute up to medical standards. With clinical assessment and our deep learning model in place, we plan to perform unit and integration tests on various sub-technology components. The test phase will be carried out for six months before the product can be independently released with minimum human supervision.

GO-LIVE: The product will be released for general use in a controlled environment. Manual checks will be randomly performed on product recommendations and matched with manual outcomes. Treatment recommendation coming from the product are mostly behavioral in nature and non-invasive. However, a robust testing methodology, both unit and integration tests, after the product is released will hopefully ensure adoption and reputation of the product at scale. Continuous feedback will be taken to improve and enhance our product’s features.

3. Are you working with the Government of India or any national organizations to realize your project?

The Vidhana Soudha located in Bengaluru, is the seat of the state legislature of Karnataka.

MANU: Recently, we received a large grant – from a council set up by the Department of Biotechnology in the Government of India – to commercially develop our screening service. We are working closely with a prestigious public engineering institution in Delhi and medical college for product development and clinical validations. With our partners, founders and mentors, we have made significant strides in solution development by complementing each other’s skills and expertise.


MORE: This biotechnology researcher is on a quest to spot genetic disorders with facial recognition data.


4. What were your biggest takeaways from the Data Innovation Bazaar and Bootcamp?

MANU: We had four big takeaways from the Data Innovation Bazaar and Bootcamp, including:

  1. Service Design – Our group discussion led to the proposal of a service delivery design, which would include a tablet as a part of the treatment kit given to parents with children who have developmental disorders.
  2. Value-Based Pricing Discussion – Another discussion led to our team updating our pricing model to be based on value rather than cost.
  3. Equity Distribution – From our session on finance, we talked about preference and valuation.
  4. Meeting with Investors – These meetings were one of the most helpful points as we received direct feedback from investors.

5. Did you learn anything new about Western Digital through this process?

MANU: Yes, I had many new insights into Western Digital:

  1. Western Digital is highly innovative and a leader in the data storage business.
  2. It was great to learn about the company’s journey in mergers, acquisitions, and consolidation. I think that is relevant to our business sector, and could be something that CogniABle witnesses in consolidation and growth.
  3. The promotion of entrepreneurship and support given by Western Digital was enormous.
  4. Understanding the connections between different industries and verticals gives a deeper understanding of how business can be successfully executed.
  5. The products and services related to cloud and edge computing released by Western Digital will help transform the landscape of AI and Machine Learning.

6. Why do you believe that supporting entrepreneurship and innovation in India is important?

MANU: Entrepreneurship is a system that is changing the way we live and work, be it socially or technologically. Since technology is growing and people are coming up with incredible innovation, it is important to provide them with the platform they are looking for. In countries such as India, technology is key when focusing on healthcare and education, where infrastructure and resources are limited.

We need to realize that in this age, in India, we have data available in abundance. It is very important to utilize that data using AI-enabled technology to develop scalable and affordable solutions for large groups of people, driven by a business case.

Entrepreneurship is helping us promote employment, equitable distribution of wealth and income, and smaller concentration of economic power. These new businesses have a hand in raising the living standards of people, which, in turn, plays an important role in our country.

“In the highly competitive world that we live in, transformative ideas are what will separate us from the rest,” states Kohli. “Innovation and entrepreneurship go hand in hand.”

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FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS: This article may contain forward-looking statements, including statements relating to expectations for storage products, the market for storage products, product development efforts, and the capacities, capabilities and applications of Western Digital products. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements, including development challenges or delays, supply chain and logistics issues, changes in markets, demand, global economic conditions and other risks and uncertainties listed in Western Digital Corporation’s most recent quarterly and annual reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, to which your attention is directed. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements and we undertake no obligation to update these forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.

Sources:

  1. India tops in kids with developmental disabilities: Study. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/india-tops-list-of-countries-having-maximum-kids-under-5-living-with-developmental-disabilities-reveals-study/articleshow/65639744.cms

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