According to the WHO, 1 in 160 children has an autism spectrum disorder. While some with the disorder are able to live independent and productive lives, others have severe disabilities and require life-long care and support. As a consequence, people with autism are often subject to stigma, discrimination and human rights violations. Early diagnosis and targeted therapy are associated with dramatically improved quality of life, however, only one in four children gets timely care. On average, it takes over 2.5 years for patients to receive a diagnosis from the time they first contact their physician.
The Polish startup Harimata is determined to help people live better lives through early diagnosis and targeted therapy of mental disorders. They have developed an innovative technology to support early assessment of autism spectrum disorder. The technology, called Play.Care, is the first tablet-based technology that detects early signs of developmental delay in children through games. The technology is based on research that suggests that children with autism behave differently while using a tablet-based application than their typically developing peers, which can be used to identify the potential risk of autism through movement pattern analysis.
The assessment starts with the child playing two educational games specifically designed to encourage motor, social and cognitive behaviors. While playing, algorithms measure the child’s behavior through over 340 parameters per second, comparing movement patterns to those observed in typically developing children. Within 15 minutes, a personalized, easy-to-understand report is generated, which provide a skill profile that with a 90% accuracy estimate the risk of autism. In addition, the report can be used to track skills over time to help parents, doctors and therapists make more informed decisions.
Early intervention is important to promote the optimal development and well-being of people with autism spectrum disorder. Harimata has developed an innovative technology that support the early assessment of the disorder, thereby increasing the number of children who get timely care. Globally, access to services and support for people with autism is inadequate, and Play.Care can help increase access to a reliable assessment tool for children and their families who are affected all over the world. In only 15 minutes, the test identify behavioral patterns related to autism, providing support for both parents and health care providers through a period which today is far too time-consuming. In addition, the quantitative nature of the technology enable the tracking over time, supporting more targeted therapy and evaluation of its efficiency. Most importantly, Harimata has developed a technology that can change the lives of children around the world. Early assessment and intervention promote the optimal development and well-being, increasing outcomes and quality of life. It could be the difference between an independent, productive life, or requiring life-long care and support.
The technology has been validated in three scientific studies, with research partners including University of Strathclyde, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Gdansk University of Technology and Hipoterapia Foundation. The startup has previously been part of AINOT, a Warsaw-based accelerator funded by EU, and has received funding from XLHEALTH, a German-based investor focusing on digital health startups. In 2016, Harimata was selected among 100 global social tech projects in the Nominet 100, celebrating people and organizations who use digital technology to tackle a significant social challenge.