Gaming Technology to Diagnose Learning Difficulties in Babies

31st August 2021

Babies with learning difficulties could soon be assessed in just 20 minutes using gaming technology developed by a Cork brother and sister. 

Experts from University College Cork's Infant research centre have teamed up with global gaming company, Hello Games, developers of the No Man’s Sky game, to create an app that allows young children with learning difficulties to participate in a non-verbal assessment process. 

The unusual collaboration was sparked by UCC professor of paediatrics Deirdre Murray and her brother Sean, founder and managing director of Hello Games.

They developed the CogniToT app to enable young children with learning difficulties to solve puzzles on a screen without needing to understand verbal instructions from the doctors observing the child.

This allows the child's cognitive ability to be assessed even if they do not speak the same language as the doctor or have hearing difficulties.

The app will be available through a new UCC spin-out company, Liltoda.

“The beauty of this application is the child is engaged and self-motivated to complete the tasks, without any instruction from us," said Prof Murray, principal investigator with the Infant research centre.

“This new technology can be deployed on a tablet interface or similar screen, without verbal instruction, and will accurately assess a child’s ability to problem-solve and complete complex tasks in just 15-20 minutes.” 

The app was trialled with more than 400 infants. 

Mr Murray said it is “exciting” to see how the technology developed by Hello Games can work in this new field.

“We are confident that using this technology is a better way to test for cognitive ability in young children,” he said.

Source:Irish Examiner

Photo source: Darragh Kane