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Virtual reality headset claims to diagnose concussions in just one minute

Introducing EYE-SYNC
Here in 2017, fortunately everyone realizes the severity of concussions, referring to a traumatic head injury that results in the temporary loss of brain function. But while there is plenty of awareness, we are still trying to come up with the best way of diagnosing them when they happen.

From smart mouth guards to brain-testing audio exams, we previously covered a few of the potential solutions. An alternative approach, however, is the one dreamed up by Boston-based neuro-technology and eye-tracking startup SyncThink. Their answer? A patented virtual reality system that promises to be able to recognize concussion in just one minute, while being used in the field.

The idea is simple: Pop the headset on a person suspected of having a concussion and see if they are able to properly perform an eye-tracking test. If not, the cloud-connected analytics platform will alert the user (and anyone else who needs alerting) that a likely head injury has been suffered.

“SyncThink develops revolutionary eye-tracking technology products, now in VR headsets, that give medical professionals objective metrics for visual attention,” Daniel Beeler, chief technical officer of SyncThink, told Digital Trends. “Based on 15 years of research, SyncThink’s first product, Eye-Sync, is a 60-second, objective sideline assessment that uses eye tracking to evaluate for ocular motor impairments and vestibular balance dysfunction – the two most common and serious components of a concussion.”

As a company founded by Dr. Jamshid Ghajar, who also heads the Stanford Concussion and Brain Performance Center, the solution certainly is not lacking in the necessary credentials.

The really exciting bit, of course, is the technology’s supposed objectivity. Concussions can be challenging to diagnose because of the different ways they can manifest. Symptoms can be both vague and varied, ranging from tiredness and poor concentration to severe headaches. An objective tool that can, therefore, take the guesswork out of diagnosis could, therefore, be a potentially literal lifesaver. Already, the company’s tech has been used by top university athletic departments and medical clinics, including Stanford University and Massachusetts General Hospital.

“SyncThink’s preliminary focus is on the sports industry, including working with leading collegiate athletic departments and professional sports organizations,” Beeler said. “Eye-Sync is also used in the clinical setting at hospitals and doctors offices, as well as by the government in many capacities.”

Hopefully, tools like this can help make instant concussion diagnosis a reality.

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Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
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