In the hope that an autism screening app may help with early signs of PTSD, the Navy is funding research to see if the app can be tweaked to identify the disorder that affects many soldiers, sailors, and veterans.
The Autism and Beyond app uses an algorithm and smart phone camera to read the facial expressions of children and assess emotional responses. Facial expressions can indicate autism, post traumatic stress disorder, and other disorders.
According to Pedja Neskovic of the Office of Naval Research, the general algorithm of the app could be expanded to monitor people over time for PTSD, while interpreting speech and other signals.
“It can find patterns, not just in facial expressions but in different kinds of data sets, such as brain signals and speech, and it can be used on a continuous basis,” he said. “It’s a completely new world.”
“This is a technology in its infancy. You don’t know where it will go,” said PTSD expert William Unger. He is clinical psychologist at the Providence VA Medical Center. “So does this science and this study really then lead to additional questions, additional technological developments which help us to move forward? It very well may. So I’m very excited, even though I’m saying it’s very far off from having utility.”