Matteo Lai, Co-founder and CEO of Empatica (empatica.com), a medical technology startup, provides an insightful overview of the diagnostic and predictive capabilities of machine learning-based products. Specifically, Lai details the advances in tech for medical products that can allow individual patients or sufferers to get an early warning that a medical emergency or situation is beginning.
Mr. Lai studied engineering and architecture and he holds dual masters in architecture and innovation management from the Alta Scuola Politecnica. Additionally, Lai co-founded Taaac, a design innovation startup, and has been intimately involved in sundry engineering, architecture, and design innovation projects internationally.
Lai’s company, Empatica, co-founded by Dr. Rosalind Picard, director of the Affective Computing Research Group at the MIT Media Lab, was conceived rather organically. Lai recounts how Picard’s experimental research in autism provided a breakthrough that stimulated further research into epilepsy seizure detection. While working with autism sufferers attached to sensors, a particular individual experienced a seizure and the sensors reacted immediately, thus initiating Picard and Lai’s continued research into the predictive technology behind Empatica’s products.
Empatica’s “Embrace” product is a wearable band that uses advanced machine learning to recognize convulsive seizures and send appropriate alerts to responsible parties who can respond. Through the capture of specific information such as high frequency movement, heart rate, and sympathetic responses, Lai’s sensors’ algorithms can make the assessment, in real time, that a seizure is beginning.
As their technology evolves, Lai expects that their products will allow sufferers to actually receive predictions of adverse reactions on the horizon. In regard to seizure detection, a user might be able to procure data from their Empatica product that predicts, via its machine learning, whether a seizure might occur within a certain future time frame. Much like a weather forecast, the Empatica product may be able to provide a user with a percentage of probability such that the user can make plans accordingly. Empatica’s product is the smallest design of its kind and is the first medical grade, geolocation-enhanced, wearable product for epilepsy sufferers.
The medical tech CEO discusses how his company is focused on challenging neurological diseases, conditions, and disorders, such as epilepsy and autism, stress and depression. By using sensors and predictive technology, sufferers, and their caregivers, can better prepare for events or medical emergencies, thus providing some peace of mind for all involved.