The Michael J. Fox Foundation is exploring how data sourced from mobile phones and analyzed with machine learning algorithms can improve Parkinson’s research. The research was crowdsourced via a public competition.
The initial study included 16 individuals — nine patients, seven control. For 8 weeks, 4-5 hours per day, each carried a smartphone with seven sensors collecting data. Inputs of a built-in accelerometer, data about the user’s tone of voice, how much the phone was turned on and used, data from the built-in compass and GPS, and an ambient light sensor were analyzed. A machine learning algorithm was developed to use the data to identify the Parkinson’s patients from the control group and identify what stage of the disease users were in.